Interview with LLEO: From Venice to Ibiza

Alessandro Gatto a.k.a. "LLEO" is an Italian DJ and music producer and resident in Ibiza. He began his music career in the underground clubs of Venice and playing several private parties in Veneto, a north east region in Italy. His knowledge of Audiofficine Venezia lead him to begin his studies, receiving his first diploma in Virtual Studio, Ableton Live and a completion of mixing in 2008. LLEO currently resides in Ibiza during the summer and during the winter travels the world playing different gigs. If you want to find out more about this Italian fellow (like we did) check out the interview below.

Text: Ward Nijhuis

- For introduction, could you tell our readers a bit about yourself and your background?
I think I should begin to explain a couple of definitions about me and my way of being. “Determination” is the first one, It’s probably my best quality, “never give up”. Apart from the various ups and downs in my youth I never stopped believing in what made and makes me happy: music. “Expression” is the second one. I'm very thoughtful and this leads to exploit the CPU of my brain at 100% to find new ideas and solutions. This particularity often overloads my brain and I need to eject and re-order all my thoughts. Music has always been helping me in making this easier.
The last one, “sensibility” is another word that characterizes me. I developed this way of being over the years, perhaps due to my education. I've always been used to being respectful towards others. Understanding, investigating and learning more about the people around me is a characteristic of mine. During music performance this is in my favor, in life maybe a little bit less.

- How would you describe your music style?
My music style is incredibly diverse compared to an ordinary DJ. My time spend from home definitely influences on my style. My tour in South America has had a great influence in regard of Latin groove that I love to introduce into my DJ sets. At the same time, what marked me most, has been and is my summer residence in Ibiza. About genres, what prevails in my DJ sets is definitely deep house. Depending on the situation, I switch over to tech house. I like to incorporate genres such as Nudisco, which is certainly more melodic and relaxing. My last experience in Ibiza made me dust off older musical genres: the Funk from James Brown and soul and smooth jazz. In my five-hour DJ set I combined a variety of genres. I focused on a generally more current style, a mix between Funk and RnB, revisited in an electronic key.

- You told us you dreamt of 'becoming a good and acculturated personality in the music scene.' Did you accomplish this dream? How does it feel to follow your dream?
As I told you my goal is to become an acculturated personality in the music scene. At the age of 23 years old I must say I have realized this dream. It might sound a bit exaggerated, but it definitely feels like I'm on the right track. I am certainly convinced that listening to the roots of music is what allows us to appreciate and produce the best sound of our days. Studying the changes in the various genres is important. I feel lucky because I’m having the opportunity to play in 'cosmopolitan' clubs. I come in contact with people from all over the world, with each of them enriching my music culture. I explored new horizons and discovered different tastes. This makes the quality of my DJ set increasingly high. I feel like a black sheep in wanting to chase this dream. Being a good DJ, for me, means to be a good and acculturated personality in the music scene, and not only regarding to electronic music. DJs sometimes tend to forget that.

- So what can we expect from LLEO in the future? Are you working on any releases we should keep an eye out for?
LLEO is constantly evolving. He's never satisfied. Always being away from home led him to have a thirst for knowledge. The goal is to cross European borders, as I already did, to South America. At the same time I'm turning my interest to the European capitals. Soon I will be going to Paris and London and I'll end up in New York. My approach in the last months to make a “live set” has led me to start a new project that has its origins in the city of Milan. I met a singer, a saxophonist and a guitarist who proposed me to work together. We tried and we are very happy with the result. My deep house seems to blend in beautifully with the warm sounds of the sax; in the meantime, the guitar gives the touch of funk. The addition of a rather special male voice makes the result pretty interesting.

About personal productions, I’m about to launch an EP that includes my track and a remix made for a South-American DJ and producer who is composing great songs. The track will be called "Palma de Mallorca", which is not a random name. When I was producing that part of the song, I was in Ibiza’s airport and they were announcing a flight to Mallorca and I immediately recorded that voice.

- From Venice to Ibiza. You are now a resident at the Ibiza club Experimental Beach. How did you end up there?
My thirst for travel led me to Ibiza. 2013 was my fourth year there. I came in contact with many personalities of the Ibiza nightlife. I started in 2012 doing PR-work on the beach of Playa d’em Bossa, the more crowded beach of the island. I used to sell tickets for the big clubs and this gave me the opportunity to keep in touch with the bigger promoters. On a gloomy day in March 2013, one of my Facebook friends shared the opening of a wonderful new club in Ibiza. I saw the photos of the club and I was amazed. It has an amazing view on the Mediterranean sea and it's located on the beach of the national reserve of Salinas. It was exactly the kind of club I was dreaming of to be the resident DJ.

The next day I booked my flight to Ibiza and in the afternoon I arrived at the gates of the venue. I will always remember the moment when I went in and asked for the manager. He came to see me and I said to him: “I love your club, I'd really like to play here”. He asked for a demo-CD and I gave it to him. But I did not want my CD to end up on a pile of other demo-CD. So I gathered all my courage and said: “You know, I'm coming all the way from Venice to your club just to talk to you”. He told me that he wanted to listen to my session and asked me to return the following Sunday. He gave me the opportunity to show what I was capable of. From that day on, I was the resident DJ of Experimental Beach. After a few weeks I heard that before me there were a lot of DJs who tried the same, but I was the right one, I was the best. It was and still is a big satisfaction for me to know that my music was right for that club. This made me very proud.

- What has been your craziest Ibiza experience?
After four years on the white island, I have had many crazy and magical moments. The interesting thing is that every day is a different day where everything can happen. Many people who live on Ibiza can say the same. Perhaps the moment I cherise most has been three years ago. For me it was the beginning of everything. I was working for Space Ibiza and my boss, who became like a brother to me (he gave me the opportunity to perform in Bolivia and live there), told me that he needed me as a DJ for the Café Olé’s after party, a famous party at Space Ibiza, every Saturday. He told me that I had to start at 7 in the morning to play in the nearby “Essence” , a club in Playa d’em Bossa. Space resident DJs came to play and dance to my music. The vibe was amazing. After 14 hours of work to promote the night and six hours of dancing at Space I had to start at 7 in the morning. My hands were shaking from exhaustion and excitement. At the end, my colleagues complimented me and told me they really did not expect a good performance like that. It was my craziest morning.

- How's the underground music scene in Venice compared to Ibiza?
On one hand we have Venice, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, famous for its history and its architecture. And on the other we have Ibiza, the capitol city of parties, craziness and fun, famous for its clubs and its beaches. I had to leave Venice, because I realized that place wasn’t what I needed for becoming the person I wanted to be, musically and personally speaking. The underground music scene in Venice is so small. The problem is the composition of the city: old houses and old citizens. Parties are scarce and young people cannot develop their taste in music styles, especially for the one I like to play. We don’t have a club in the city centre. To go dance on a Saturday means taking a boat and then a bus, to even arrive at a club. DJing in Venice is a sort of “mafia”, you need to be friends with the club owner or take people to the club to get the opportunity to play 30 minutes without being paid.

The few clubs around Venice have potential but unfortunately people are often too drunk and drugged out. Not to slag off the people who are going there just to listen to the music and have good time. Ibiza, I think, has a few of the most important clubs in Europe. That makes it the perfect place to catch some of the big names. You can find everything; from commercial to underground. This make Ibiza’s electronic music scene the most diverse. You can visit some commercial parties and, during the same day, find a young guy who pushes deep vibes in a club on the beach, breaking down the house. Venice is nice to visit for history and museums, Ibiza for the music culture and for having fun.

- Do you have any advice for the young DJs/producers out there?
I can give the same advice I give to the young guys who ask me how I ended up in Ibiza. I tell them that it’s not easy to do. You have to think about leaving all your hobbies, your family and friends behind. Leaving your typical university study and find a school that focusses on music/production. After that, you need to book a one-way flight to an European capital city. It can be Ibiza or it can be Berlin, depends on what you want. Then, open your ears and listen to what’s going on. What people like. Learn english very well, it helps a lot to comunicate. I suggest also to increase your musical knowledge, and I'm not talking about spending 5 hours on Beatport. Take your grandmother’s disco records and listen to them. Listen to what was there before electronic music. Listen to the old to understand the present and create the future of electronic music. This should help them to know about what they play.

Another suggestion is find someone who can explain them how to DJ with vinyl. This is so important! Syncing is an easy and creative way, but you first have to know the basics of DJ-ing. There’s a thing, at the end of my speech, I usually say. In Italy we use to say: keep the head on the shoulders. I explain to them the world is bad, and the club scene is not that dreamy and funny as people think. Leave drugs outside of music. If you like music, you don’t need that stuff. You have to put your mind before everything to live and survive with doing what you like most.

- What has been your track of the year 2013?
2013 had a lot of great tracks. During the summertime I played some special tracks regurarly but the one that probably has been the track of 2013 for me is a production of Fred Berthet aka DJ Steef called “Venusian Missing”. It has been taken from a song called: “Heaven & Hell is on Earth” of the 20th Century Steel Band. The French producer re-interpretated it in a Nudisco style. A really nice song!

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