To mark the tenth edition of Studiotalk we introduce Italian DJ/producer and Smile&StayHigh bossman DJ Cream. The Bologna based artists was instrumental in setting up the Homequest crew: a collection of Bologna-based electronic music aficionados with a penchant for vinyl records and analogue hardware. Established in 2015 - exactly 20 years since Bologna’s so-called “Golden Era” of house music - the nine-strong team is undoubtedly one of the most exciting stories to emerge from Italy’s house music scene for quite some time.
Cream describes his own sound as a “mix of classic samples and classy house music”, which goes some way to explaining his relationship with Phil Weeks and the latter’s Robsoul imprint. As part of his work at Homequest, he had an influential hand in shaping Return to the Classics, an instrumental Hip Hop album out on Robsoul Jazz. Cream’s latest endeavour is Smile&StayHigh, a sub label of 320kb that recently played host to his debut solo EP, the brilliant, sample-heavy sounds of “MPC Trips”. Titled in homage to the famous sampler that spawned the tracks, it serves up a thrilling insight into the sounds of a producer who we’re quite sure you’ll be hearing much more from over the next while.
We caught up recently to chat about the music production side of his artistry, and take a tour of his studio. Cream has kindly shared some of his top tips & tricks and go-to bits of kit.
1. Talk me around your studio set up; what are your go to pieces of Hardware & Software?
The heart of my studio is my MPC 3000, 80% of my tracks are made only with that! Another really important piece of kit is my Roland TR-909, I love that drum machine and it's Bass Drum is a must have! I also have a Roland TB-303, that unique sound doesn’t require an explanation ☺.
For basslines i’ve got another thing that I really use a lot, the Yamaha TX81Z, the typical bass that you can hear in 90’s Italo House is that Lately Bass.
After i've made something that I like with all these beauties I record everything in Ableton Live and if I have to edit something I do it with PC.
2. You predominately produce all your music on a MPC 3000. How did the relationship with the MPC come about for you and what advice would you give to someone wanting to break away from their DAW and go for a hardware sampler?
I’m a big fan of that machine, the approach is different from a DAW because with a PC you can do the job of 100 pieces of hardware, but for sure it's not the same. I need more patience but I prefer to play my snare instead of writing my snare.
3. There are a handful artists like Mr.G and Phil Weeks that are renowned for their MPC live sets. It’s a set up which really intrigues me. Could you explain the set up and process of performing MPC show in a club?
It’s not easy because you can do a lot of things with an MPC! The easiest way is to send the 8 different outputs to a mixer then jam with the samples and the sequences that you have prepared on your MPC, this is a really easy set up that works super good! You also have MIDI that allows you to send the clock to another machine like 909 so they will run at the same tempo, you can also send your outputs before through external effects and then into the mixer for more action. ☺ these are some of the way that I utilise them, but there are a lot more!
4. Earlier in the year you released your ‘Face the Groove’ EP on the legendary French label Robsoul Recordings owned by Phil Weeks. How did that signing come about? and what advice would you give to young producers wanting to approach labels with their demos?
Yes that’s like a dream come true for me, I grew up with the Robsoul sound, this EP means a lot for me. I met Phil Weeks in 2013 in a party in my hometown Bologna, after that night we stayed in touch and he introduced to me “the MPC world”! I started “training” on my productions and after some years here’s my EP.
The biggest advice that I can give to artists like me is keep going and don’t stop, it will take some time but it’s a part of the game!
5. You are heavily involved with 320kb Music which released your ‘MPC Trips EP’ on vinyl via their sub label Smile&StayHigh. The track that really stands out for me is the A1 track ‘My Choice’. Its that swinging groove and raspy bass notes. Talk me through the process you followed to create that track? What tips and tricks have you got to achieve that sound?
I made that track with my MPC 3000 and the Yamaha TX81Z, I didn’t do any particular trick but I’ve been really inspired by one of my favourite Italian producers Deep Choice aka Enrico Mantini. That track is “my choice”, my interpretation of his sound.
Buy the vinyl here -->
DJ Cream - MPC Trips EP [Smile&StayHigh]
6. When it comes to studio day, ready to start a new project, what would be your structure for making a track?
First of all I need to roll a joint and find the right samples, then I start with the beat, arrange a bassline and most of the time I add the vocal part at the end, but it really depends on my mood, I don’t have a regular scheme.
7. “How do I add warmth and texture to my tracks”? is a question I get asked a lot from the students I teach. What tips / tricks and techniques could you share for anyone looking to improve their productions?
I sample almost everything from vinyl and that sound is already how I like it…. Otherwise I don’t know how to get the same warmth.
8. I see a lot of artists making edits and bootlegs these days which get great crowd response in clubs. What advice would you give to a producer wanting to get creative with sampling and make edits?
In my opinion sampling doesn't necessarily mean making edits. I love to edit old tracks and give them a personal touch, maybe you cut something that is not what you like and so on…. Editing is really fun mostly if you are a DJ!
9. Could you name some artists that are set to breakthrough in 2018?
Now there are a lot of talented artists, Jackie and Nudge from my 320KB crew, Mattia Trani on the techno side, DJ Rou, D’Arabia, Black Loops and so on.
10. Whats next on the release front for DJ Cream?
I’ve just released the Smile&StayHigh02 “Hustlin’ EP” that features an Italian singer called Alo, you should check it out! The BoloRepresent03 various that contains my track Dig-IT that's just been released and I’m preparing something really special for the Smile&StayHigh03, so you have to stay tuned!
DJ Cream - Hustlin' EP - [Smile&StayHigh]
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Bolo Represent 003 - Various Artists
Buy now at Redeye Records -->
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Our sold out first BLOC party in May with headliners Latmun & Detlef we return to Greys Yard for another 12 hour House & Disco session set beneath the stars, surrounded by the rising structures over looking the abandoned street in the heart of Newcastle! This time we bring Knee Deep In Sound head honcho and Labyrinth Ibiza party starter. Step up to the BLOC Hot Since 82! Yorkshire's finest, widely-known for his prolific productions, Pacha Ibiza residency & his epic DJ sets, Daley maintains one of the dominant forces among the top tier of House music! We also have featuring almost 30 other DJs on the bill, with some massively rising names in the game, spread across the three rooms at the BLOC / Terrace : House & TechHouse / Club : House & Techno / Diamonds : Disco