Given what an incredibly tough year 2020 has been for the music industry, DJs and producers could be forgiven for hanging up their headphones and waiting for the storm to pass. But not Marcello Baccheschi aka DM-Theory aka M-Theory aka CIMI, who’s about to release his first full psy techno album on IbogaTech. With Breakthrough dropping on Monday 7 December, we managed to get Marcello out of the studio for a quick interview where we chatted about techno, tequila, changing genres, witches and of course, his new album...
First, congrats on completing your debut DM-Theory album, Breakthrough, which is due out on 7th December on Ibogatech! I absolutely love the new tracks and artwork! Has it taken you long to put the album together and is there any kind of theme or concept though it?
Hi Tara, thanks for having me today and for the great feedback. I wrote Breakthrough in about one year, I guess it would have taken longer if it wasn’t for the pandemic that kept us locked in. The album concept is a 75 minutes DMT-inspired techno journey where you get launched through the veil into a new dimension. Also the track titles are part of the concept; they reflect the steps of the journey from the making of the ‘spice’ to the blissful aftermath.
You’ve used the musical tag ‘melodic house and techno’ to describe your new sound. Do you feel the music industry has gone a bit crazy with these genres and labels? What is the difference between melodic house and organic house? Please explain…
When you upload a new track or it gets released, especially on Beatport, you must associate it to a style category. There isn’t a ‘psy techno’ tag yet, so most of the time my tracks end up under the ‘melodic house and techno’ tag.
Surely my new sound isn’t house music! It’s techno with psychedelic influences. I would generally categorise it as techno, but try arguing that with techno purists! They wouldn’t allow it because of its psy trance influence. That’s kind of why there’s this huge crossover of genres and labels these days.
To be honest with you, I have no clue about the difference between melodic house and organic house!
It’s hardly a secret that the pandemic has been especially tough on musicians and as a full-time DJ and producer you must have had a difficult year. How on earth have you produced such an incredible album full of rolling basslines and uplifting beats in the current climate?
We all know that the arts and entertainment is one of the worst affected industries in this pandemic. If you live in the UK, you also know that this government decided that a big chunk of newly self-employed people don’t deserve any support. I’m one of them.
There are days when I wonder how long I can survive without gigs. However, when I’m in the studio, I close the door to the outside world and nothing can distract me from what I love to do.
I’ve spent many hours making music in the last eight months with the idea of sending a positive message out that one day soon we will dance together again. I’m glad this album comes through as uplifting.
As many of your fans on here will know, it’s hardly your first rodeo and you’ve been in the studio saddle for nearly 20 years now. Did you find the creative process very different when producing a psy tech album to psy trance, or do the principles still remain the same?
This is my 3rd artist album, with over 200 releases since 2004. In my experience, the basics of music production don’t really change when I work on a new track: kickdrum, fat bass, basic percussive loop and then I explore the more musical elements.
However, when I write a techno track, I often make a main hook or melody before the bassline. This way of producing enables me to explore and sometimes find new interesting combinations.
As one of your psy trance groupies, I love the fact you’ve managed to bring some of the energy and vibe of psy trance to techno to produce such atmospheric and addictive psy tech tracks, bringing an extra kick to avoid the ploddiness of some techno. What’s your secret? How did you redirect your sound?
I used to love techno before discovering psy trance back in 1997. Since then and for many years, I thought techno was flat and minimal. I blame psy trance for this because it’s a complex sound and full of emotions in comparison.
I re-discovered techno a few years ago through some discerning friends involved in that scene. I enjoy Chris Liebing, Boris Brejcha, Charlotte De Witte, and many more.
I’ve noticed some psy-like elements popping up at times in their sets and maybe it’s one of the reasons why I got inspired. So, one day I sat in the studio, I opened a blank new project and after two years... here is DM-Theory.
Do you have any tips for other producers who would like to change their direction and genre?
I believe we all have our own way of dealing with change: a lot depends on where you want to see yourself in the future. One thing I can suggest is that if you want to be original with your sound, you should listen to what you like the most but do not copy any of it.
If you were on a desert island and only had a bottle of tequila and one CD, who would you invite and what would the CD be?
Who told you my favorite shot was tequila?! Of course I would share it with my partner as she likes it too, but it doesn’t matter which CD as there wouldn’t be any CD players on a deserted island. And in any case, I would use it as a coaster for the tequila!
Have you seen any good films/TV series or read any books during lockdown that you’ve enjoyed?
A brilliant series I really enjoyed watching is Mr. Robot. It’s a great story about hackers with a plan to hack and ruin the world’s biggest corporation. I have even sampled some of it for a track.
Now, after a one-year wait, the second part of His Dark Materials is finally on TV. I’m looking forward to watching a new episode every Sunday until Xmas.
We’ve all been missing gigs so much and can’t wait to get out on the dance floor. What’s been the longest set you’ve ever played and was it impromptu?
I’m also really missing the dance floor as well as the stage; I can’t wait for the day we can gig and dance again. I think my longest set was in Trinidade, a small village by the sea in Brazil in 2003. Fabrice Psytwin organized a last minute free party at a bar by the beach and we were the only two djs playing. We decided to do a back-to-back, as we didn’t know how long the party would last.
We started playing at 11pm, about 200 people turned up and the vibe was great. The owner of the bar was happily making money and kept feeding us caipirinhas all night. We ended up playing for about 10 hours.
Once things get back to the new normal, what’s the first place you would like to travel to?
Anywhere, as long as I’m under the sun, by an idyllic beach and with a festival not too far away.
Having played at some of the world’s top festivals, what would be the first one you would teleport yourself to?
Universo Paralello as it perfectly fits with the previous answer.
Controversial: would you take the COVID vaccine if it was a prerequisite for traveling there?
I think I would. I only need to compare my life of the last 8-9 months with my life before Covid when I could travel.
Back to the more serious business of dance music, your new album Breakthrough contains some awesome collaborations, including MVMB, Jossie Telch, Boundless, Tecnica, Synesthetic and Audio Anonymous. I’m sure there’s a story behind each track: please tell!
Ibogatech, as a label, is still fairly young but there’s an awesome team behind the curtains working really hard, and a roster of excellent artists to be very proud of. I’m happy to be part of this techno family.
I wanted to have only artists involved from the label as co-producers for my album. There’s many to choose from, but I went for the ones closer to me and my sound. The plan since the day I decided to work on an album was to ‘keep it within the family’.
I have to ask about the inspiration behind Hypnotic Witch; was there a specific witch in mind?
Well, when you land into a new dimension after the breakthrough, you often bump into some unfamiliar beings like elves, jesters and witches. Once I met a beautiful witch who kept on saying, ‘Look at me’, until I got hypnotized. She’s the inspiration behind the track.
Now that your album is about to be unleashed to the world, what’s next on the agenda?
It’s really important to not step back and chill after achieving such a big milestone. The time that I set aside for creativity and music production hasn’t suddenly dropped down. On the contrary, there’s an M-Theory sample pack in the pipeline as well as a DM-Theory vinyl! More info soon...
I also have about ten confirmed releases from January onwards. 2021 is shaping up to be a good year, I do hope so. We all deserve it!
Finally, a few quick-fire questions:
Regular hummus or Marmite hummus?
Squat or club?
Tequila or sambuca?
Tequila all the way.
PC or Mac for studio?
Always been a PC man.
M-Theory classic set at Boom or DM-Theory set at Ozora?
Can I have both please?
Aliens or robots?
Robots as long as they have a switch-off button.
South Park or Family Guy?
The blue pill or the red pill?
Neither. The Matrix was twenty years ago.
Thanks for your time Marcello! Can’t wait to hear your album at a loud party!
Thank you, Tara, for the interview. Can’t wait to be able to perform again and see all your smiley faces! I still haven’t listened to my new music on a big rig, AAAARGH!!!