Since the beginning of the current century, Swiss-Chilean club talent Luciano has had the dance music world at his fingertips, like a puppet master in full control of the show, he has commanded crowds with his rhythmic, percussive-driven brand of deep and tech house.
His Latin-tinged production style has made its way onto some of the most timeless imprints in his genre, including the likes of Perlon, CircoLoco Records, Vatos Locos, and his own Cadenza outfit. Alongside his own tracks, Cadenza has also seen him welcome music from names like Loco Dice, Quenum, and David Morales to the label over the years.
2023 will mark the 20th anniversary of Cadenza, and as such Luciano is gearing up to bring us something special. We recently had the chance to ask him about what he has in store to mark the occasion, as well as his thoughts on DJing in a technology-focused world, AI’s place in dance music, and what guilty pleasures he might be enjoying outside of his professional life.
So how are things in the life of Luciano right now?
Things are going well, thanks. I’ve been taking some time off to focus on my family and work on my recording studio project. We’re currently in the process of upgrading to Dolby Atmos, and I’m just wrapping up the engineering part of the studio so that I can start recording and embark on a new creative process. On the personal front, my family is doing well and we’re growing. I’ve been actively taking care of my youngest child. My aim is to find a balance between my work and family responsibilities, as both are priorities for me.
Your Cadenza imprint – which launched in 2003 – is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, have you anything special planned for that?
We’re in the final stages of planning because we want to offer something special to the community that has supported us from the beginning. I’m particularly excited about an upcoming release with Arapu.
We’re also putting together a book that encompasses twenty years of history, sharing stories about the label’s journey, our incredible artists, and the beautiful music we’ve created. It’s not just about making music; it’s about having a family on tour and the strong bond we’ve formed. I never imagined it would last this long, and looking back at the past 20 years is going to be a truly special experience. I can’t wait to see where it will take us next.
Your own music has also come on record labels like CircoLoco Records, Rebirth, and Perlon over the years, what do you typically look for in a label when you’re considering whether or not to release music with them?
I never really actively sought out record labels. As I approach nearly three decades in my career, collaborations and opportunities have unfolded naturally and organically. When it comes to offers from labels like CircoLoco Records, Rebirth, and Perlon, which I now consider friends and greatly admire their work, it’s all about the exchange of energy. The only thing I seek, based on the type of music I create, is to project myself and my music in a direction that aligns with my aspirations. It’s always a very organic process for me.
And which other record labels might we see you on soon?
‘Hakuna Matata’ is coming out in September on Rawax.
You have a pretty extensive resume when it comes to DJing, having played at most of the world’s top clubs and festivals, what’s something that still excites you about DJing after so many years?
The one thing that will never change for me is the connection with people, and I will never tire of it. It’s something incredibly special and unique, and I intend to cherish it for as long as possible. I particularly enjoy the daytime atmosphere, as people tend to behave differently and the sound quality is better. Outdoor venues also hold a special place in my heart. I must admit, I am completely addicted to people, I thrive on transmitting energy, witnessing their smiles, and dancing with them. A top-notch sound system is also essential to me; it’s the first criterion I consider when choosing where to perform. This passion is what I’ve always longed for, and I want to continue living it to the fullest.
And how do you feel about the way technology is going? With CDJ’s now being able to stream music directly from the cloud and sync technology making it much easier to play sets for example?
I’ve always believed that technology is an extension of our mind, a tool to express our emotions and ideas. It’s important to keep up with technological advancements as they offer opportunities to expand our possibilities. If you have an idea and can execute it within seconds, then technology is a positive force. It simplifies things and makes them more accessible.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of playing music directly from the cloud. I prefer using my hard drives, which store all the music I’ve carefully prepared and listened to. It could be because of my background in the vinyl school, where I learned how to play using vinyl records, and that approach still sticks with me. I really appreciate the tactile experience of handling a record and the quality it brings. It’s more about the idea and feeling for me than anything else.
We’re also seeing AI tech starting to make its way into playlist curation and music production, what’s your opinion on that?
On the one hand, I think it’s great that AI technology is making its way into playlist curation and music production because it simplifies things. However, the easier things become, the less we challenge ourselves to truly become good at something. I don’t believe in talent as some inherent quality; instead, I see it as the result of extreme perseverance and dedicating significant time and effort to a single idea. For example, if someone spends eight hours a day playing the piano for the next ten years, they will surely become skilled. Perseverance is the key to success.
Therefore, when it comes to AI’s role in curating playlists and music production, I don’t want to lose the human touch. I appreciate the human element and the mistakes we make. In terms of creativity, it’s important to embrace imperfections and the freedom to explore unconventional ideas. So, while AI can be helpful in certain aspects, it shouldn’t replace the human factor.
What’s been your favourite non-club track of 2023 so far?
I’ve been really enjoying the music of Hania Rani, a talented pianist, composer, and singer. Her work leans more towards classical music, and I find her pieces really beautiful. Lately, I’ve been listening to her music quite a lot.
And do you have any guilty pleasures that people might be surprised that you listen to?
Oh yes, I definitely have a lot of guilty pleasures. Honestly, I listen to all kinds of music. From pop to commercial tunes, from jazz to Latin music, from ambient to electronic beats, and everything in between. It’s just like with food, I have the same mentality. Why shouldn’t I try or enjoy something? Or why shouldn’t I explore a different country? There’s no need to limit your mind to just one thing. I’m extremely open and curious, and that’s my guilty pleasure. I’ll give anything a try if I can!
Is there anything else you would like to add before we go?
There’s actually one more thing I’d like to mention. As time passes, I notice an increasing number of screens in music performances, with music taking on a secondary role. There are more elaborate shows, giant performances, and a tendency to hide behind massive graphics and elements like that. But I’m always trying to bring music back to its essence – the core of everything. Music holds tremendous importance; it’s a form of language that exists even before we learn verbal languages. I’ve seen it with my kids that even before they start playing or before they were born, as soon as I begin to play music, something within them starts to stir, and a reaction takes place. Music is an extremely powerful tool of communication, and it’s essential to always keep it at the centre.
In recent years, I’ve seen music become somewhat secondary, with social media taking on greater importance, screens and decorations becoming more prominent. But we mustn’t lose sight of the most important element, which is the music itself. When I go to see something I enjoy, I don’t need to see anything else. I close my eyes and allow the music to transport me to another dimension. This is what I advise young kids: focus on the music. It is the primary tool to connect with something spiritual.