So says Paolo Lodde, whose Duoteque production partner Andrea Cruccu did the leg-work in sending in a demo that piqued the interest of Boxer Recordings all those years ago. It seems that Lodde, aka Dusty Kid, was just along for the ride. But fast forward a few years down the track, and it's a ride that's swept him towards stardom. Since his solo debut in 2005, his heavy electro-techno-house hitters have found their way onto the likes of Boxer, Kling Klong, Systematic and BPitch and have appeared on crateloads of mix CDs (including Diggers' Transitions series).
But The Kid isn't demanding five star hotels and washtubs full of Dom these days. Aside from his growing collection of sneakers, he's still the same young man from Sardinia. Musically, though, it's clear that Lodde is far from the simple fisherman his humble background might suggest. Floating in a musical world all his own with only a Roland Jupiter 6 for company, Dusty Kid is busy crafting his own universe of sound.
You're from Cagliari, which is on the beautiful island of Sardinia. I hear there's a lot of fish, and a lot of windsurfing. What was it like growing up there?
Sardinia has its own particular charm. I mean, people are quite bizarre, both in character and in attitude. They have a strange way of conversing with new people, especially foreigners: extremely cordial and friendly on the one hand, and in another way slightly suspicious!
We are a small nation apart from the rest of Italy, a little bit like Iceland or perhaps Ireland. Unfortunately, the fact of being an island penalizes us sometimes, but we have truly incredible landscapes to offer! And the fish. I must confess that, in some restaurants, it is really wonderful. The fish is really good and fresh and everyone that has been to Sardinia can confirm this!
You're a classically trained musician, which I guess your parents encouraged you to pursue from a young age. What did they think when you traded in your piano for the synthesizer and sequencer?
They started to worry about our neighbours because the noise became unbearable! I remember that my father was asking the same thing, combining all those noises. He said that, in the past, Mozart would have made me pay for the remix!
What do they think of the music you make now?
They don't care much. They are happy with the fact that I succeeded in what I wished to do as a child. OK, in reality as a child I wanted to play in a concert, and yes, now I do in a sense, but of course not with the piano.
Duoteque, the act that got your career going, has taken a back seat to your Dusty Kid stuff now. Why is that?
With Andrea, we arrived at a point where we both decided to go our own way. That's all.
How does the Duoteque production process differ from your Dusty Kid stuff?
It's almost exactly the same way, except when I work on my tracks I put "obstacles" of any kind on them. I try to let the mind travel alone, without treating it like techno or jazz or metal.
The heavy stuff like 'Twister' and 'I Love Richie' seem to be intent on sending a club into a frenzy, where as 'Kore' and 'Cowboys' really look to be journey records. What or who influences the many sounds of Dusty Kid?
Anything I listen to influences me, although I have to confess that recently I've almost completely abandoned listening to club music. In the last couple of years, the music scene has expanded like an oil stain. Now anyone with a laptop can express themselves and create their own music, and this is one of the advantages that technology is offering us. But on the other hand, the fact that anyone can make music with a laptop means the market has been flooded by a quantity of such low quality music (in my opinion). It seems that now the trend is that: everyone is a DJs, and everyone produces. If you do not have your label you're out! You are not a DJ! And, then, you're out if you do not have agency bookings or you are not organizing parties!
Machine Love: Dusty Kid's Roland Jupiter 6
Tell me about the Jupiter 6. Was it love at first sight?
Absolutely! It felt right straightaway and I was extremely impressed by its sound. I would like more if it had the same aggressiveness of a SH-101 in all its nuances, but because it's so simple, I can usually bring out the sound I want it to.
When did you two first meet? How?
It was about two years ago, in the study of a friend. I just saw it in use and immediately I decided that I had to have one!
What's your relationship like? Does she do everything she's told?
Certainly! She's digital, so you can always rely on her. I wish there was a little more time to understand some of its character qualities, but if you use it well you are almost always satisfied.
Can you tell us how you used the Jupiter on a particular track?
On 'Cowboys', I had two layers with sine wave with a maximum decay and spaced by an interval of the fifth. Don't ask me why, but intervals of a fifth allow me to create a sort of trance brain explosion for melodies created with two chords spaced by a fifth. There is a magical something in this that I see in the sunset of the old western movies!
Only in the sense that I've clubbed for so many years that I've absorbed everything that came to my ears. But as I said before, I find that lately the music has become very static and boring. Ten years ago, the day after an evening in a disco, I would remember certain tracks and for many hours talk about them with friends. Today an evening in a club is not the same: if a sound in a track can capture your attention it's hard to remember the next day because all the tracks now are so similar.
What about non-electronic influences? Besides the piano, were there any guitars and drums in your formative years?
The first real tool that haunted me was the drum. But my parents gave me one at the exact moment when the piano caught my attention. There remained one for a few years, along with the violin. Guitar came later, but now I have lost the patience to learn how to play it as it should be played. I would like to resume playing one day as it would be extremely useful to compose a certain type of music with piano. The type of music I'm speaking about is folk and country music, one of my biggest passions! There is something mystical in the songs of Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel, something that I've never been able to explain.
Given your musical background, I've noticed that your productions feel more like songs than tracks. Is this a conscious decision when you're in the studio?
I would say that it is more spontaneous. It's not decided from the beginning. Many people have told me the same thing, so maybe it actually is, but maybe it's because they do a genre that usually lends itself to more tools for DJs than to real music created by a musician. Perhaps it's also because many people who produce techno do not have the slightest idea of what they're doing. Let a track be born from the case and not by conscious processing of sounds in the studio. This is why there are poor quality productions at present. And also because I'm not a DJ, I am a musician.
Now, you're strictly a 'live act' in the clubs. What set-up do you take on the road?
Initially, I would only bring the bare minimum, a laptop with a MIDI controller and a sound card. Now, occasionally, if the situation allows me and I have no time limits dictated by the line-up, I will bring two laptops and more MIDI controllers. I have been known to play live for four or five hours in a row, making a set very mental and frantic. What I would really like to do is not practically possible, which is playing with a real live set-up with all the machinery of the studio, where I can really play with my hands, and not confine myself to send sequences of synths already registered. It would be further more creative and personal, and certainly more interesting to listen to.
Do you play just your own music or do you incorporate pieces of other people's music too?
I usually only play my songs. (Otherwise, what's the point in playing live?) Sometimes, though, I use some old samples like Richie Hawtin, a little for a declaration of intent, a little because they give a taste that I love. There are only two tracks that are not my sound that I play often and willingly, even if they are revised in the studio, where I made a customized version.
'I Love Richie' is named so because of Richie Hawtin. Do you send him flowers or gifts regularly?
No, but I would love to work with him. He is an artist that despite being on the scene for so many years still has much to say! And apart from a demo I never sent anything to him, perhaps also because despite having played some of my tracks, I doubt strongly that he knows of my existence!
What is it about him that makes you go weak at the knees?
I think being able to be so diverse inside of one genre is something extremely difficult, yet he does it quite easily. It inspires me that everything he has produced sounds absolutely timeless, detached from any trend of the moment.
Coming from a classical background, do you ever feel constrained by the technology in electronic music performance? Do you get bored playing the same tracks over and over?
Absolutely not. Without using classical or rock music, I think that electronic music is the only true gender without borders: the fact that you can produce sounds that do not exist in nature (not that the guitar is born from the earth) leaves open every door. You can get where you want without being limited by your instrumentation.
In relation to continually playing the same tracks, on the one hand it may be true in the sense that you don't always have a great deal of new stuff to play. But in reality it would be impossible to go to a Radiohead concert without hearing 'Karma Police'! Of course, I am not Thom Yorke, but I think that whoever comes to listen to me play maybe wants to hear new things together with things that they already know. Obviously live music is so different to edited or printed music. But my heart would cry a little if I went to a concert for Matthew Jonson without 'Marionette,' or a Nathan Fake concert without 'The Sky Was Pink'!
What are some of the things associated with fame that you've struggled with?
What fame?! Nothing in particular, certainly a little fatigue from travel, but it's offset by the satisfaction and fun.
Are there any perks you embraced immediately?
You should see my shoe collection.
Have you ever been heckled at a club? Booed? Propositioned by a girl or girls?
Fortunately no, never that I can remember. I get proposals from girls everytime, but they are mostly blind. Sometimes, unfortunately—but more rarely—even by boys, is it really true that "when you have the bread you do not have the teeth to eat it!"