…and the Doppler D – Effect

Sound Talks With…Jazz-O-Tech

I’d like to start with a simple and obvious statement: “I am a music freak”! Due to my constant search of music within the realms of the unknown and the non-standard I found myself immerse deep into pretty crazy “semiorganic” stuff which turned out to be a well stablished movement called Techno Jazz. After some research I found out that the artists I was listening to were part of a bigger conglomerate of professional musicians and producers orbiting around independent label Jazz-O-Tech. The result of these odd collaborations among musicians from different fields and style is something I used to call Modern Avantgarde Experimental Jazz and, the more I listened, the more I wanted to know and discover. That is the long story short of how I came to have the chance to chat with Mattia Prete (DJ, electronic music producer and Jazz-O-Tech Manager) and Alex Sette (Jazz drummer, DJ and founder of Jazz-O-Tech). In this very special issue for us, we were given the opportunity to hold a very nice conversation with these two visionaries of the out-of-the-box kind of sounds.

What is “Techno Jazz” and how did it influence you to come up with the idea of creating Jazz-O-Tech and start gathering and promoting artists from so different music fields? Was it a singularity that triggered the whole thing or was it more like something that was going on simultaneously in several places at the same time?

Alex: the idea comes from my background as Jazz musician (drummer) and subsequently electronic music DJ. Although this might sound strange to many people, I always found lots of similarities between techno music and jazz music: they both like to experiment and have been considered avant-garde movements but at the same time techno parties and jazz/swing parties make people dance. The techno jazz idea came through as a “vision”: we want to bring jazz in the most important techno clubs in the world. So 4 years ago myself and Mattia started Jazz-o-Tech and today we see flourishing around us many different groups and bands which have the same vision and are actually playing techno jazz….we love that!!

Anyway the truth is that when you put together a jazz musician and an electronic music producer they usually immediately get on very well together because have the same “adventurous” artistic spirit and crazy things happens during our sessions…that’s the magic of techno jazz.

The more conservative listeners and musicians might be skeptical or even reject the Techno Jazz movement due to its (in some cases) extreme load of experimental sounds as well as the inclusion of non-standard digital “instruments”. What’s the thing that will help embrace Techno Jazz’s musical value and recognize its positive input on experimental music? Do you care at all about its acceptance?

Mattia: We like to be considered an avant-garde and experimental concept and have always had the ambition to come up with our own “signature” sound, a sound that looks to the future rather than the past. Live performances are and always will be the ultimate testing ground for artists, labels, and the genre of music represented. Our goal is not only to unite the two genres in question, but also to make our audience dance, because that is what the essence of techno jazz represents for us: It is when the structure of jazz improvisation dances to the tight rhythms and grooves of techno. And during the “This is Techno Jazz” party we throw in Berlin, people really dance and have fun!

Alex: It is also important to listen to our music without placing any kind of limitation, prejudice or “mental boxing”. Typically the negative reaction that sometimes we get are from people who complain: “hey this is not jazz!” or “hey this is not techno!”. We try to explain that our project is to put together techno producers and jazz musicians and let them be free to create whatever they want. We don’t ask ourselves “is this jazz? Or is this techno?” No, we just want to define a new genre and that’s Techno Jazz which is  neither jazz nor techno.  There is Techno Jazz, a Technological Jazz, with an infinite possibility of variations and results….only the artists can decide what the boundaries are.

Where do you think ideas for experimental sounds come from, from inside (the mind and the soul) or from the outside (the world surrounding us)?

Mattia: In my opinion, we musicians reproduce existing sounds in our universe and combine them to create new forms, variations and discoveries. What most influences the creation process is probably our state of mind, way of perceiving and reproducing music, and the social context in which we live. Each musician also identifies with the sound of a particular instrument or machines, synths, which reflect the musician’s sonic vision, thus forming a combination of factors that lead to the realizations of musical compositions.

It is clear that the artists involved in the Techno Jazz movement, their tracks and live gigs are at a very high musical level of performance and creativity. Also the post production results and studio mastering are exceptionally good. Is this a common trend within the movement or is it due to a very fine filter and meticulous scouting

Mattia: We try to do as much as possible to collaborate with professionals who have the sensibility to discover new horizons of techno jazz but also the courage to devote themselves to something exciting and to collaborate with musicians from another genre. Given that we select and collaborate with super professional artists, the quality of the recordings that we receive is usually very high. Anyway, for any final polish to the mix and final mastering we send all our tracks to our sound engineer “the wizard” Luigi Di Filippo from LRS Factory in Rome, to whom we owe the credit for the consistent quality of our productions.

From all the songs ever made by humans, which one in your opinion is the craziest of all?

Mattia: there are many, of the crazy productions to date I recommend listening to STUFF. and Amon Tobin.

Alex: so may incredible musical compositions have been made in the past years and centuries, difficult to choose…but I am never tired of listening to all the productions done by the Weather Report in the seventies….they are an endless source of inspiration and they were pure genius. Actually probably the very first to introduce synths in jazz and as such a sure reference point for Jazz-o-Tech project.

The whole industry is heading towards becoming 100% online-based for listeners, performers as well as for producers. Everyday more labels and platforms are stepping into the subscription based realm? What are your thoughts on this? Is this the best approach we have for now? What is your proposal as a label?

Alex: Today’s market requires labels and artists to work on many different channels and mediums, digital and physical. We at JOT don’t really have any preclusion: we go where our followers are asking us to be. We therefore have done many digital only releases, and then vinyls, CDs, possibly cassettes in the future.  Subscriptions: yes that’s an option but not sure it’s really going to be game changer, at least for us, but we might give it a try in the future.

Where is Jazz-O-Tech’s real playground, in the studio or on stage? Why?

Mattia: They are complementary; you can’t make a good show if you don’t spend the right amount of time in the studio.

Alex: I totally agree with Mattia. Behind each and every project that our artists release with Jazz-o-Tech, there is so much musical research and that is primarily carried on in the studio. However, the real essence of JOT is during our live shows and parties when our artists and DJ’s perform and improvise in front of the public: let’s not forget that our project is very much about dancing and partying while listening to great music. Live performance it’s really where the Techno Jazz magic happens.

There are many factors that play important roles in the evolution of music such as the hardware, new tech, the infinite human curiosity and creativity, etc. Which one do you think is the key for experimental music’s development in modern times?

Mattia: I’m pretty sure all the elements you mentioned are important, but the real key is the inner spirit. This is the only way we can continue to develop our curiosity about this abstract art and be devoted to it.

I find it extremely important to open your mind to outside input, as well as listening to different genres, going to concerts, talking to your audience and taking time for yourself.

In my opinion, this helps not to get fossilized about something, but to feel free to express yourself and translate into music all these inputs you are exposed to.

Now that “This is Techno Jazz vol 2” is out, what’s next for Jazz-O-Tech and the Techno Jazz movement in Europe or globally? (Next releases, collaborations, tours, etc?

Alex: We will continue to push this album for a while, with new videos, a number of This is Techno Jazz parties, and many more surprising initiatives. We are also preparing some remixes of existing albums. Overall in 2023 we want to focus mostly in bringing our parties and live performances throughout Europe. We do have in mind some important new collaborations but that’s something that is going to materialize more in the second half of the year.

Have you ever thought of setting up collaborations between artists from other more organic fields or backgrounds like classical, ethnic or any other more conservative, alien or unpopular fields?

Mattia: Yes, absolutely, you can Check the track “ZAMOVLIANNIA”, my collaboration with Ukrainian quintet DZ’OB. They are a group of classical elements (violin, bassoon, oboe, cello, drums) with an academic formation.

What, in your opinion, is the future of music in terms of tools and instruments and how will it affect the creators, performers and the audience? What do you think a live performance will look like in 20 or 30 years

Mattia: Everything you have mentioned absolutely will affect our approach to music, and I am pretty sure that in a certain point we will be replaced by AIs that make music and play concerts for us 🙂 Till that point I believe we can put the good basis and inspire the current and next generations with the sounds we believe in.

Alex: Instruments and tools are just tangible means for artists to express a vision and send a message. The message is key in music because the message creates emotions and captivates the heart of the listeners. So whatever the technical evolution will be, the key to music will still be its ability to create emotions  and communicate a vision, as it was 5.000 years ago.

What do you think should be the role of experimental and meaningful music (and musicians) in the development of the human race and the creation of a better world?

Mattia: For millennia music has been an accompaniment to humans and their evolution, and today more than ever we need it to be even more present in the life of the community.

Music is fundamental to creating synergy and communion among humans, as well as with its power it succeeds in transforming and improving our days.

Whether it is experimental, serious or not, I consider the use of it especially in work environments such as offices and other places of gathering fundamental and not only in supermarkets and stores where it is used as a tool to finalize sales.

If through science or any other method, we manage to prove the existence of a creator, god or great designer of the universe and you were chosen to select the background sounds of the encounter, which song (of all songs ever made) would you choose for such an event

Mattia: Roly Porter – Mass

Alex: Leonard Cohen – Halleluja

Here you can check a collaborative selection we have with Jazz-O-Tech and which we keep updated in real time. Enjoy the ride:

Here some of our favorite artists under Jazz-O-Tech:

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