Following the departure of former partner Stephen Fasano, Vito de Luca has been riding solo as Aeroplane for just over two years, helping define the sound of nu-disco. We caught up with Vito for a quick chat about getting the most out of vintage synths, the death of the record shop and why he considers himself “the worst mixer in the world”.
Attack: As a former record store owner, what’s your take on the state of the music industry from that perspective? Is the intimacy of the record store a thing of the past? Do you think it’s going to have an effect on the artists and producers of tomorrow?
Vito de Luca: I loved that moment. I had people in the store every Thursday night listening to new stuff, drinking beer. I think I actually made more money selling beer than records…
Some places still exist but it’s not bubbling like it was in the past. It’ll obviously have an impact on the way young DJs discover music and, from that, the way that new music will influence them to create something on their own. Browsing through thousands of mp3s on Beatport can be misleading if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
In what way is it misleading?
It’s like going to New York for the first time. It’s so big and you end up in the wrong restaurants, wrong hotels, wrong areas and it makes your trip bad. On the other hand, if you have somebody telling you where to eat, where to stay… it’s a game changer. That’s the main difference between real record stores and digital music stores in general. Not just Beatport, all of them.
So do you still use Beatport to find new music?
Sometimes. I use all the websites really, ’cause I often know what I’m looking for and some tracks are exclusive to one site or the other.
How do you discover new stuff?
I’m sent a lot of promos, so that’s a great thing. Also a long time in advance, so my sets can stay fresh there are always tracks that you haven’t heard before and that you don’t know, and you’ll be looking forward to them, trying to dig for them. But also buying, browsing the internet blogs… you just have to remain aware of what’s going on. And DJ friends, that send you stuff, demos, or recommendations. It’s a constant flow of music from wich you have to pick the very best that suits you the most.
In terms of your own production, you obviously use a lot of hardware synths. In terms of the signal chain and processing, how do you make sure you get the most out of your synths?
I have an API 1608 desk, so everything goes through that, and that’s already something! The preamps in it are awesome. I don’t use it much at the mixing stage, ’cause I have to admit that mixing analogue is a pain, but on the way in I try to use as much hardware as possible.
I also have most of my compressors and outboard permanently set up as inserts in Pro Tools, so I can insert them in the DAW as if they were plugins.
Which are your favourite synths and drum machines at the moment? Would you say they play a major role in defining the sound of your music?
Well, yeah, the instruments you use play a major role in the sound of your music! I’m rediscovering the 808 lately, and I also recently bought an ARP 2600 but there seems to be a little bug with the envelope section so I’ll have to get it fixed.
I got really into the Dave Smith Prophet 08. I have a Prophet 5 but there’s something wrong with it so I had to turn to my Prophet 08.
How does the Prophet 08 compare to the Prophet 5?
It doesn’t really, but it’s close enough for today’s music standards.