Alex Dam & Zambiancki are well known names in the Deep Tech genre. This duo produced records with labels Whoyostro, Floorpiece Digital, Pitch Records & Ovrdose Deep and now drops the marvellous ‘Sapore’ hard hitter on our new Album AMPLIFY. We held an in depth interview with these italian producers to discover how the approaches and views concerning certain topics. Read more below.
We actually only know you guys as Alex Dam & Zambiancki, together that is, but on all socials I find you guys separate as two solo artists working together. I think it’s time for a joint bio, so tell me guys, who is Alex Dam & Zambiancki? And how did you guys meet and how did you end up in this musical journey together?
These are good questions to start with. At first, when we met in Amsterdam in Claire in the summer of 2019, I produced and released stuff before I met Alex. Alex was working on his solo album at the time and I had my own productions. After we met we started working together but we also kept the artist profiles apart. We do have separate profiles on Beatport and other social media channels, but only recently we communicate as a duo.
We tended to mix our sounds during this time. Zambiancki came from a more minimal, microhouse sound and while I was more of the garage techy whilst trained to blend it with a more deep house sound. Besides these differences we always tend to have a very smooth production flow during our work and this made it possible to really start working together and producing as one group.
On the other hand it also worked for us on the DJ-side as well. After some gigs in local clubs here in Amsterdam we were booked for a gig in Edinburgh. Things started to work out pretty well, but then. Corona.
We started working together with full focus and not in the way like yo let’s mess around. Zambo had his releases and I wanted to put up stuff as well. I wanted to change the sounds of the industry: try something new.
At this one point I felt like the solo-projects were out and I felt more inclined to work with Zambiancki, because of the great quality and flow of our work. It felt like this makes me complete. Full focus. This is what I want. Good output and this makes me satisfied.
Z. When I met Alex I was already looking for more than just minimal really. I felt a little bit constipated and anticipated to look for more styles. It was definitely a good start for us. In terms because immediately things worked out smoothly on workflow. I worked with other people before, but with Alex certain practical problems were handled quite well and this peaked my interest.
I personally believe a lot of this music, a lot of the sound, our industry produces comes from the way how things are done in production. How things are put into the software and handled from pre to post production. The workflow has to be solid and quality comes from good proces.
We are a duo.
What were your early musical influences and how do these differ from now?
A. Mostly the harder stuff. Garage and Tech House. But the local scene in Amsterdam also introduced more deep sounds. When Zambiancki introduced the minimal side to me I also developed the process of my own sound. In a way we both were looking for other sounds, but not for a new musical personality per se.
Z. I was with minimal and very dry in terms of composition. I was looking for a more harder techy sound to complement my future sound.
In a way we both were looking for other sounds, but we were not necessarily looking for new musical personalities per se.
And Zambiancki, in terms of music references, what inspires you with regard to non-dance music?
My influences are more from this side of music. I evolved from a listener to a musician. I used to and still listen to a lot of jazz, soul, funk and rock music. Modern jazz and NuSoul are very interesting. And it gets better the more you listen. Everything tastes better if you cook it for a longer time really. Italian saying.
And for you, Alex?
For me the music I listened to was always electronic. More electro-styles and deep house. And hardcore. But I was also following a lot of musicians from the Italian Hip-Hop Scene. You have this huge Hip-Hop scene in Italy and I was really into that.
Do you guys feel how these genres have influenced your music?
Z. Yes. I can hear it into the fact that you can hear two steps into our tracks. We are always trying to get groove and I can really say Modern Jazz influences my productions. Those feelings, those structures and compositions are really important for me in making my music with Alex.
How would you describe your sound?
A. It can be called a minimal deep end sound with UK garage and tech influences. It wants to be like a sophisticated minimal groove, but added with harmonics and swinglike percussion or harder bass lines coming from tech. We never go too much on one side. It is like a good balance. It’s minimal that has been touched by UK garage and tech.
Z. I would like to add obviously our sound is evolving and that’s good. It needs to have impact. I look for a certain impact and feeling.
A. And EMOTION. Emotion emotion emotion really. Imagine I am on a dance floor and waiting for that drop and get that intense feeling.
This urge for emotion. Does it have it to do with your Italian roots?
A. Yes. Haha. Knew that was coming. I don’t know, but being present on the dancefloor and listening to the club music I get the urge to get that passionate emotion.
Z. The urges and feelings are very difficult to explain in words. However, this music is made for movement and dancing and letting our bodies do it’s thing. Let yourself be moved and this comes from that urge, that emotion.
What would be characteristic elements specific to Alex Dam & Zambiancki in terms of sound?
Z. Well if I can start. As a producer I do not like getting stuck in doing the same specific things every time to let the listeners know this is my production.
However, it is true that you need to communicate your uniqueness in some way to differentiate from the rest, but, I like doing that in a very subtle way. It’s hard because we are inclined to fall into that loop of repetitiveness, doing things easily and producing stuff that is in demand.
After five tracks I know at what stage I am in my creativity concerning these kinds of sounds, and then it is time to step back and reinvent the catalog in another way. It helps in reinventing my sound, but also helps staying way of falling into the positive feedback loop of signature sounds. It is important for the personality to come forward, in essence. In the long run that brings more realness and uniqueness to the sound, I would say.
A. That’s why this is requiring us to do more releases and more studio time really. Everything in the process has to be done very carefully and poses a dilemma: you try to avoid the pitfall of the signature loop and at the same time try to give your music more unique elements to it.
If you keep evolving people that follow also notice that evolution in the personality of the artist. It is like a journey.
Where do you produce your music?
A. In our new studio. We got a nice place in the former radio ‘Nachtlab’ building in Amsterdam and built a nice cozy studio. A goal we’ve reached. With the new productions we needed a more professional touch to it. With this new environment inspiration can come quicker that the former set up. We are also surrounded with befriended artists so we can feedback us more and faster. The feedback is also of high quality. The new studio and the area provides more inspiration.
And what does your studio gear consist of?
A. Our set up now consists of what we formally had in my bedroom. We brought the Yamaha studio monitors with us and we have our SSL output interface and our Virus synthesizer. We have the Northern racks and Ableton Push from Zambo.
With those synthesizers we do manage most.
Z. Those two synthesizers are very important in our music. It was also a new step to switch working with hardware and it really changes your approach and workflow working with synths. Also, it is easier and faster to develop sounds: if you have an idea, you go.
A. AND we finally have a table in which we are able to sit down and produce while standing up, changing and experimenting the way we perform and changing the way we feel about the sounds.
Why is that? Why does producing while standing up is better? Or why not?
A. Well. It makes you more able to transmit how the body feels about the sounds. When I stand up I can feel it more and jam better to it, you know? I can move around. I get more impact and in a way it feels better. It does make you feel it better if it works in the club environment.
Z. I don’t know if it is better, but it is good to have both perspectives. For instance, for arranging and mixing it could be better done whilst sitting down, but standing could help in other tasks of the process, yes.
It is good to feel the music in space and have a try feeling when it is put out.
Could you describe any new takes of the production process?
A. Come to our studio session and just watch. Hahaha. Who joins our session, knows.
Z. It is a very intense vibe haha. It is important that you are there and also do something.
A. I personally like to think things over a lot. Eventually I just know what I want to produce since I have this groove in my mind. I can just put it out on my hardware or the computer. You also have to break your own walls in your mind- these mind constructs like “i cannot do this or that”- in order to really master your own potential. Spend time on it, make it sound nice and master it.
Z. Do not be scared to look for something from someone else and to include it in your music. I do not mean to copy something straight away, but listen how others arrange, how they produce and learn how it is made. And if you have a good reverse engineering mind you can produce anything you like. Always rely on your ears. It’s music.
And If you guys reverse engineer how do you approach this?
Z. First I try to understand how it is synthesized or sampled, if it’s a layered or real or not. Then I try to understand how this is processed and mixed into the sounds.
Concerning Sapore (Original Mix), AMPLIFY, UNMUTE001 (2021)
What is the meaning of the track? What was your inspiration for this project? And what do you really like about this track?
A. Sapore means taste. It is a track that combines a few catchy elements really. It combines rolling subby basslines with this jazzy housey vibe and this emotional top in the second part of the track.
It reverses the track emotionally. It introduces a whole new part in the track where other elements of the mix are brought more forward than previous ones. It works quite nice and I think it is always nice to introduce
new things. I want to see if people really get the same goosebumps as I get when the track evolves with the new stabs.
Z. We used some real drums and the real sound of it. We like to have a layer of real acoustic instruments on the electronic part. It gives a real complex result which sounds really real to our groove in a way.
We found inspiration in this saxophone sample that worked on the minimal and the house elements of the track. Second to that, the spark of Sapore was found in a little drum sample. We did work before with saxophones but with more experience and more depth in our production we decided to try it again.
I also want to mention that all the previous work did help inspire us to do Sapore. All the work done before leads eventually to Sapore. Sapore is like a journey and evolution.
Where does this track really need to be played?
Z. Costa Rica.
A. On an UNMUTE party in Costa Rica. It is not original, but it does bring the vibe.
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