Layton Giordani – Exclusive Feature InterviewFebruary 10, 2019
Hailing from the city that never sleeps New York New York, Drumcode artist Layton Giordani a prodigy in the Techno/ tech house scene has had a meteoric rise, a massive future awaits ..
Mike Mannix: Cheers Layton, it’s a pleasure to get to talk to you. Before we discuss your current success, can you take us back to when you were coming up, in the game in New York, from what inspired you, family background and the environment you found yourself in and how it formed the man you are today?
Layton Giordani: Hey Mike thanks for inviting me! Yea so New York is a very special place for me. I was born and raised here. I grew up with three sisters and a single mother. I lost my father at a very young age, so my mother took care of us and gave us all the best she could.
I’d like to think the reason I’ve become so successful is that I learned how to stay determined, resilient and confident.
These traits came from my mother. Growing up in New York, I was exposed to house music at a young age. New York has had a thriving house/techno scene from the 90’s up until now. When I was about 14 years old, I started getting heavily interested in the music…Before then, I was pretty average. I played a lot of sports, did tons of surfing but nothing really stuck as a career passion and I was pretty much your typical teenager.
When I got into high school, I made friends who were also into the same music as me and it starting turning into my obsession. At first, I started going to nightclubs that had “teen nights” in NYC. Crazy right? It’s pretty funny to think about it ‘cause we had a funny style too. We all use to spike our hair and wear tight clothing with our infamous Jordan sneakers or Pumas. We eventually managed to sneak into the Pacha New York 21+ night and that’s when our lives were really changed. Danny Tenaglia was the first DJ that I saw at Pacha NYC. He played a really extended set and took me on my first journey from house music through to tribal and techno. I can honestly say that from that night on I knew I wanted to be a DJ.
Besides the music, we were exposed to something so unusual that night. Some of the things we saw were cross-dressers… guys that were girls and girls that were guys, drugs, alcohol, the rave dancing. It was all so strange, but it didn’t matter. Everyone was free no matter who they were. People could be who they wanted to be – our minds were blown. Pacha, New York City holds a special place in my heart because of this. After a few nights of experiencing the real NYC nightlife, I immediately saved up for gear and I didn’t stop there. I also became heavily interested in producing music on my laptop. Further on I was fortunate enough to play many different nightclubs in NYC. I eventually started to become a well known local DJ.
In New York, there has always been a lot of competition and it’s hard to progress in this industry unless you were able to get things done with a team or on your own. I was this young kid trying to build some hype and when you’re a fresh talent in the scene it’s really hard to push past some of the early boundaries. I was working really consistently and luckily a lot of the music I was producing made some noise locally. I was able to get a lot of guidance from the NYC nightclubs/promoters. Eventually, I landed some great residencies like Output, Brooklyn and met some inspiring people like Carl Cox, Adam Beyer & that’s when my life began to change.
MM: Once you got the itch to mix, did you know then that this was going to define the rest of your life, and was this your dream?
LG: Yep exactly. I never had any other dream but this one here. I wasn’t really much for school because when I discovered music it was all I cared about. I became non-stop with it. The only thing I could think about was music and DJing. My family didn’t really support it much until they saw me playing quite often. It’s hard to convince people music is more important than school for obvious reasons you know?
MM: Is there a secret to success or is it sheer grit and determination, backed up with how you think and act?
LG: There is no secret, no hidden doors and no handouts for me. I had started from the bottom as a bedroom DJ/producer and I had to build my name from there. It’s all about networking and like you say, sheer grit and determination. I never gave up and sure I had so many moments and doubts, but it’s like I said before, I have this tough ambition inside of me from my mother. I was so resilient to no matter what happened to me,
I had to make my dream come true. I couldn’t picture my life any other way.
MM: Tell us about your residency in Brooklyn club ‘Output’?
LG: Output opened so many doors for me, I’m forever grateful. Specifically to the one guy who believed in me and helped make it happen. This place is a mecca and I was able to meet so many talented people. I was playing with Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, Monika Kruse, John Digweed, Len Faki, Hot Since 82, and so many other great people. I learned so much here and met so many people. I learned from just watching them play and checking their techniques or feeling their energy. I’ll never forget this place. I developed a lot of relationships with DJ’s here and for that alone, I’ll cherish Output forever.
MM: Since then you have got to work with some of the biggest most respected names in the industry, so tell us then about your production process and sound design when you were in the studio that eventually got you noticed by the likes of Adam Beyer, Deadmau5, Joseph Capriati, Carl Cox, Alan Fitzpatrick, Tale Of Us, Lane 8 and Pan-Pot. What was key?
LG: Producing has always been therapeutic for me. It’s kind of like another world once I put on my headphones and start writing music. I pour a lot of emotion into my music and I think this is my trick to making my stuff special. Usually, when I start it’s just with a melody or some type of hook. From there I build the landscape around it. I like to think once I know how the melody feels I can build the movement to it. I think it’s actually a bit backward, but that’s how I work with melodies. For my drummy stuff, I like to focus on the swings and grooves before I add the kick drum to it. Once again backward too haha! Usually, I see most people start with a kick and so on.
MM: What are your thoughts on today’s scene overall and if you could what would you change?
LG: The scene is growing so fast its crazy. I pray it continues to have a healthy existence and not just be a fad. If I could change something it would be the criticism. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but at the end of the day, we’re in it for the music. Does it really matter if you’re wearing a rainbow, black, and white or enjoy commercial music? The most important thing to me is people should be having fun, smiles on their face no matter what they are, where they come from, you get the point.
I think some people are too caught up on what the “real techno” style and music is.
They’re forgetting what it’s all really about. I think people will continue to evolve and be less judgmental overtime. I’ve seen it getting better already over the past few years. The amount we have grown is so crazy and I’m just so happy to be a part of it.
MM: What’s your best goosebumps moment?
LG: This is a tough question to answer! I’ve had so many. I get them when I’m making music and when I’m listening to it. I also get them from the exciting news, I get them from hearing the crowd go nuts when I play my first track. I’ve had so many good moments I’d just like to leave it like this. My most recent goosebumps moment was when my manager told me I was asked to play the Gashouder, Amsterdam for Awakenings. This was on my dream come true list for a long time.
MM: Your music is an extension of you because it is you projected into the physical realm, is it a spiritual thing and do you think of the impact your energy has on the dance floor?
LG: Absolutely, it’s a spiritual thing. To me, music is the most spiritual thing in this world. It helps me project something I can’t bring to words. When I make music, I think of the energy it will have on the dance floor. At the end of the day its dance music so
I infuse my energy and my melodic vibes into an audio waveform that people can listen to, dance to and feel.
MM: Tell us about your relationship with Adam Beyer leading up to the epic EP ‘Unspoken’ and what you learnt from it?
LG: I met Adam in New York. He was playing an extended set at Pacha NYC and I was able to slip him a USB. He loved one of the tracks and played it at Awakenings a few months later. From there we stayed in touch and I was sending him a lot of music. Eventually, I sent him ‘Unspoken’ and he hit me that he wanted to release it. Our bond has grown a lot since then and he’s now one of my good friends. To think it all started with that release is something else. So grateful.
MM: You adjusted to walking in the big shoes, how do you maintain your focus, and do you still get your starry-eyed moments?
LG: Yea, quite a bit of work to adjust. I’m still adjusting. I think I’ll always adjust or adapt in new ways constantly. I’m still very young and got a lot to do. It’s not really hard to maintain the focus. I’m obsessed, so I breathe this dream career 24/7. Admittedly, I still get these starry-eyed moments. I experience a lot of new things like shows, crowds, and working with people I’ve been a fan of for a long time so how could I not? It’s all surreal.
MM: 2016/17 were massive years for you with multiple releases through Adam Beyers Truesoul, and Drumcode culminating with your debut album ‘Where it Begins’. Tell us about that phenomenal period and the highs and the challenges and what it means to you personally?
LG: I’d say 2016/17 were my years – I really had to push boundaries and get my sound out there. I knew I had Adam’s ear so
I shut every distraction off and worked diligently on music. I was so determined and had so much new inspiration I was just pumping out music
. At some point, Adam didn’t know what to do because I had so much music he was playing. Eventually, he threw the album offer idea at me and when he planted that in my head I just went even crazier in the studio. It was my chance of a lifetime, and all my hard work was starting to pay off. For me “Where it Begins” is actually what the name is. It really was where it began for me. It was my intro to the rest of the world of who I am debuted directly from Drumcode. I’d say the most challenging part was just delivering this project and being worried about what people would think of this newcomer who started with an album on Drumcode. Here I am this new guy given an album and I was worried it wouldn’t perform well with sales/listeners. I was just being paranoid though, Adam knew exactly what he was doing and I trusted him every step of the way. Everyone loved the album and it gave me a massive kick-start to my career.
I still can’t believe I did an album for Drumcode. It means the world to me.
MM: Tell us about your new collaboration EP ‘Space Date’ with Green Velvet and Adam Beyer, how it came together, and how you developed a close friendship with Green Velvet over in Ireland?
LG: So ‘Space Date’ is a collab between the three of us. It was finished in a matter of days and just happened organically. I had a show with Curtis (Green Velvet) in Ireland and I was playing before him. When he came in the booth I was like “Yo bro you’re the best, you ready?” He goes “yea where you from?” I said “New York.” He goes “what?! I thought you were from Holland” I go “naw man were both from the States!” from there it was an instant bond. He’s from Chicago, I’m from New York. We know each other musically already because of that and from there I ended up finishing that whole Ireland tour with him on his bus. Adam & Green Velvet were already homies so when I gave the idea to Green Velvet he was down and he sent back the vocals and opinions. I sent it to Adam and he finished it and we all loved it. It must of took like 2-3 days. Came together so smooth and came out so fast.
MM: What’s the fucking maddest experience you have encountered in life or at a festival club, playing or attending, don’t hold back?
LG: Oh, bro don’t even get me going. I got stories for days. From people running around naked jumping onto strangers, to accidentally locking myself into a bathroom where I couldn’t get out. I think my latest funny story was when I was playing a festival over the summer. I’ve seen one of those electro DJ’s try to do a stage dive and completely busted his ass and crush the people below him. I mean
he wasn’t crowd surfing at all. He landed on a few poor souls and the concrete. He def hurt himself.
Hope he’s okay but damn, I was dying of laughter.
MM: Biggest life challenge you’ve overcome?
LG: Traveling constantly. It takes a huge toll on the body and isn’t as easy as people think. Especially if you stay a lot in New York like myself from time to time. It means a lot of time away from family and friends. I’m a pretty social person but also love my career so I try my best to keep everything balanced. I have both of the best worlds.
MM: What do you hope your legacy will be?
LG: I’d like to have my own successful record label, festival brand and some new special residency in New York. I’d also like to find the future whiz kids of techno like Adam found me.
It would be good to keep our music going and give people the chance like I was once given.
MM: Tell us about the massive track ‘Live Again’, that you did in 2017 with the iconic legend Danny Tenaglia, how it came to be and the idea behind it?
LG: So…basically I had this track going and it needed something special. I had made it when I was living in the Netherlands on a rainy winter day. I thought maybe it would be interesting to do something with someone and Danny has undoubtedly been one of the biggest inspirations of my life. It was a shot in the dark and didn’t think it would happen, but I asked if he wanted to collab. So awesome to say he hit me back almost instantly and said yes! I came over to his house and we shared some music and hung for a bit. A few days later he sent some new material over for our track and it worked beautifully. He’s an idol for me and will forever be New York’s biggest DJ legend. The most humble superstar I ever met. No one will beat him ever. NEVER.
MM: Biggest track(s) that changed your life?
LG: Danny Tenaglia, Celeda – Music is the Answer
MM: Who are the up & coming or (established) artists/producers we should be paying attention to today and why?
LG: A good friend of mine and quite the producer, Weska. He’s Canadian and now lives in Berlin. He’s just did a track actually for Drumcode’s notorious A-Sides compilation. I like to think he’s similar to me and feels the music the way I do. I think he’ll do big things in the near future 100 percent.
Another person would be B.traits. Although she’s pretty established already and quite well known I think her productions are about to boom very soon. Her latest track ‘I Feel The Music’ is sooooo good. She’s got a huge future.
MM: What’s next?
LG: Well of course new music first and for most. I’ve already secured my next Drumcode EP set to come out before the New Year! Also, I have a lot more shows now. I’ve really been focused on DJing and becoming more unique and learning some new things. I recently switched my setup to a full pioneer mixer and CDJ’s with the RMX 1000 and I’m really feeling it. Most importantly though I’m just doing what I love and staying humble and thankful. It’s a blessing and it’s still just the beginning for this 25-year-old DJ from New York.