Cristiano Cellu is an emerging Italian producer who evidently knows a thing or two about constructing high-class sounds. The owner of the Be Apart label, his is a sound that tends to be focused in the direction of the dancefloor – and it’s also one that’s apparent in his label’s modus operandi. A joint venture with fellow Italian producer, Simone M, the label has been building up steam of late thanks to a string of releases that have caught the ear – and the imagination - of some of the scene’s more celebrated acts. We checked in with Cristiano recently to see what he’s been up to…
Lets start by going back a bit. What is your first memory of music?
Oh, so young, I remember that my dad used to play vinyls of classical music with his old turntable when I use to lie on the sofa
Can you remember the track or album that made you want to create music of you own?
Yes, I knew that I wanted to create music when I listened for the first time to “Kabale und liebe & Daniel Sanchez – Mumbling Yeah”. I never knew why, maybe this stimulated something strange in my mind.
And was there one DJ/gig/moment where you realised you wanted to embark on a career in electronic music? What do you think you found so inspiring about it all?
I think for me began without a perfect moment like “I wanna be a DJ”, I began as a joke and after some private parties just with friends, this introduced me to people that work in the clubs, after a while, these people began to believe in me, and after all I’m here, I think that I really love to do it, so why stop?
I think everything is inspiring in this world, from a friend that finds some music and calls you like “go to listen thaaat!!!”, or trying to take your dad in the studio and see he’s moving his ass on the beat, I think everything can do a little bit to help you improve yourself, nothing is meaningless.
The year has got off to a great start for you thanks to your release alongside Simone M on Be Apart. What’s the whole ethos behind the label? And what made you want to set up your own label in the first place.
Yes, this year has had a really great start, (how we say) you can scream it! We began Be Apart in the first place because opening a label for us was a dream, and after some years of working together we find the force to start a label our way. Now we work day and night for it; travel, studio, research of music and artists, parties, social, and more. Everything is important and everything must be done in the right way.
We noticed you’d Federico Grazzini on remix duty. Obviously Federico is something of a legend in Italy especially – I guess you were really delighted when he agreed to the remix?
Just to let you know, for me and Simo, Federico was something of a legend.
Since we were young we used to go to listen him around Tuscany and Italy, when he said “Yes” I remember that we jumped and screamed around the studio for about an hour.
With the remix, did you give Federico free reign to do as he liked? Or did you ask him to go for a certain style? With getting a remixer on board, do you ever worry in case you’re not fans of the remix?
Yes, we liked the sound of Fede, and then left him free to do his thing. I personally think that when you search for a remixer you try to find an artist that you like at 100%, then it’s for them to create something you dislike, however with Fede we go in a secure way, as always.
Lets chat about the title track on there. How was it produced, what was the inspiration and how does it work when you guys work together in the studio?
We create “Phaconto” in the Simo’s studio, he found the kick & bass that we worked on for a few days and put them into an Elektron Analog Four to create the other stuff, it all works well in a short time, then we arranged everything else and we found a cool shot of voice to add.
Due to time constraints we don’t work always together in the studio, we live within 10km but our lives are very busy and the time is so little, however when we manage to meet up, we work spontaneously and easily that we have a certain sound together.
Was it a case of experimenting for a long time before you found exactly the sound you were looking for? Or did you know what sort of track you were going to make when you went into the studio?
I think I never found my way exactly, I love to experiment in the studio and I’m not a track-machine. I’m always putting off finishing a track when someone asks me, and it’s always a war to create an EP where the tracks fit together, but I know it and I go straight on my way with my hundreds of open projects with the most disparate genres inside.
How do you think working together helps you both? What would you say are your best respective qualities?
We work most of the time separately, we approach this in a different way for when we create together, when we meet it’s to discuss and suggest to each other with the right VST for hi-hat or the right harmonizer to add on the main lead, we are like brothers in these moments, there are no secrets between our studios.
I think we work so well together, Simo has a vision of the complete track and an amazing ear for the mix. For my part I think you have to talk with him, but usually I’m the visionary about the breakdown, I’m a little bit crazy with my endless automations!
Regarding the label’s name, Be Apart, is that a statement from you guys? i.e. ‘we want to be different, to stand out’ etc.?
Yes, we thought a lot on the name of the label, and we thought about a name that was definitely inside us.
Be Apart comes from the idea to be different from the usual mass of people that work in this industry, this was our only rule, and I hope this message can be clear to all with the our music.
Personally I can confirm that we are working in our way perfectly, with our first VA, and with this EP you can listen to something out of the classic genres.
To find this, our research is long and hard, but the music is out there.
What’s your current take on the electronic music scene in Italy?
We live near Florence and we have the Tenax club and the Lattex Plus, for this I think we live in one of the best scenes for the electronic music in Italy, overall my personal thought was that it’s so bad to see around that the “Resident” DJs are so rare, clubs are closing their consoles to young people, who are failing to have the opportunity to form themselves artistically.
I had the good fortune to grow up with people who had the mentality to make you grow through a mess-up, step by step, and I can say that I'm very proud of my journey even if I never been a resident of a historic console.
Do you have a favourite place that you’ve performed to date?
Yes, I live one of the best hour of my life last year at the Sziget Festival, with our friends at Truesounds Music, friends and amazing guys before big artists.
What Italian DJs/artists are impressing you the most lately?
There are many friends, incredible artists, and people who are not only talented musicians but really fantastic people like Fideles, Pongo, Luca & Elia (Undercatt), Klaudio Greeko, Crowhea, Matteo Spedicati, and many many many many many more.
I firmly believe that the movement of Italian artists is expanding very positively
What more should we be looking out for from you the label in 2018?
From Be Apart I can only tell you that we are working, I can’t say more, we like to say the things when all is confirmed!
From me as a solo artists I can say that I have an EP on Serkal, a track on Truesound Music and a lot of unsigned tracks, but I must find a moment of mental firmness to understand what to do with them.
Also this is the year where I create my second project called ‘Half Of Me’ that is a more musical project where I put more emotion than dancefloor.
Cristiano Cellu & Simone M’s ‘Phacanto’ is out soon on Be Apart.