Anyone who has been paying attention to the Romanian techno scene the past seven or eight years has more than likely been suitably impressed. Artists like Petre Inspirescu, Vlad Caia, Raresh, Rhadoo, and Cristi Cons have taken inspiration from minimal techno kings Baby Ford and Ricardo Villalobos, and transformed it with a distinctly Romanian touch with classical influences, and long, all-consuming atmospheres. Through labels like [a:rpia:r], Amphia, and All Inn Records, an expectation of quality with listeners has been created. We caught up with Cons in December 2014 to talk about some of his inspirations, his Amphia label with Caia, and future projects!
1) Can you tell us some of your earliest musical influences? Who are some artists that inspired you? Some records that inspired you?
The first records that I’ve heard were from my parents collection. They are both musicians so we had a lot of classical music records, but also some Queen, Beatles, Deep Purple or various jazz records. One of my first favorite non classical songs was “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
2) Can you tell us about your background in classical music?
I’ve been playing the cello since I was 7, until I graduated the University of Music in Bucharest. It’s been what I was pretty much doing with all my time until I’ve started to be interested in electronic music.
3) Your music mixes techno and house sounds with traditional classical elements such as cellos and violins. What connection do you find with techno and classical, and why does this connection interest you?
The connection between electronic and live instruments sounds interesting to anyone I think. I have experimented on some of my early tracks, recording bits and pieces of my cello playing but I haven’t really gotten into it that much. I’m still fascinated by the things I learn by working with electronic gear after so many years of just playing an instrument. It’s like learning to play another instrument all over again. The more I find out about both worlds the more I enjoy working with them. I will definitely try to experiment more in the future.
4) Amphia only releases 1 or 2 records a year in vinyl-only limited runs, so quality seems to be of utmost importance for the label. Why is it important that the music only be released on vinyl and not any mp3 format?
Well, I think vinyl is something real. Of course you can listen to an mp3, but vinyl is something that you can touch, admire, collect, pass on. Once you work on creating something, I think it’s important to see it materialized, like a score for instance. Vinyl gives you that opportunity. Not to mention that it sounds better and warmer than digital. Everyone knows that :)
5) Like the music on the records, the sleeves for all the Amphia releases build a strong image, striking a balance between simplicity and intricacy. Is the cover art just as critical as the music?
It’s important to have a connection between image and sound. They complete each other. We have been trying to achieve this balance with every release. Sometimes it takes some time to find the perfect artwork for the music on the record but combined, it gives you an idea of the artist and label’s vision.
6) Six of the first seven releases on Amphia are from you and Vlad Caia under various monikers. Is the label a platform for you and Caia to release music chiefly, or would you like to release other artist’s music more frequently?
The label started out as an idea to release the music we were experimenting with at the time, combining it with remixes from producers we appreciated then and now, but that changed. The releases were mostly Vlad’s and mine because we had so many ideas we were excited about and wanted to put out, music we did as SIT or Verico with Vlad and Raresh, but we are definitely open to release any kind of music that we appreciate.
7) Is it essential to only release Romanian artists on the label?
So far we’ve just released our own productions and some of our friends. It came easy as we are a group in which we share the music that we do. We plan on releasing Romanian and non-Romanian productions in the future, the idea is to fit the direction we plan on going at that point.
8) When did you begin making your own music? When did you begin djing?
I’ve started djing almost ten years ago in my hometown of Craiova. It was something new and fun at the time, I didn’t expect it to go anywhere. After I finished high school and moved to Bucharest to study the cello, the djing hobby was put on hold, but after a year or so I bought a new computer and started to make music and it all came back in a way. I guess I started to be serious about it 6 or 7 years ago.
9) What do you enjoy most about djing? Do you prefer creating music over djing?
Production and djing are quite different but there is definitely satisfaction in both! Production for me is creation! You can always discover new ways to experiment and learn about the process. It’s a constant method of evolution. Djing also involves creation but in another sense… you create a mood, a connection with the people in front of you. Digging for music is really fun and a important part of djing. It gives you an identity through the music you find and play.
10) Can you explain your process of doing a remix? Is it more important to build a completely different song rather than keeping elements of the original track?
I think the process is different with every project. Of course, it’s important to keep elements from the original track, but also to bring your own input on the track. It’s sometimes a challenge to find the elements that fit your vision of the track and integrate them in your work.
11) What are your upcoming projects? Upcoming remixes? Do you have a new single or album on the horizon? Any news on the next Amphia release?
I will have a few remixes released next year, but me and Vlad plan on putting a lot of energy into the SIT project. The next Amphia will be released at the end of March and it will be by one of our friends. More details will come soon :)
12) What were some of your favorite records of 2014?
There was a lot of good music released in 2014. I really enjoyed Thomas Melchior‘s release on Aspect Music “The Return of the Cosmic Kids“, Lazar Cezar‘s “Om Vedea” release on Understand, or Wolfgang Haffner “The remixes” on Rockets & Ponies to name a few…
13) How did you first hear about Discogs? What’s your favorite feature of Discogs? Your least favorite?
Discogs is one of the first platforms I heard about when I started digging for music. I think it’s essential for any dj. The more time you spend on it the more you will learn. My favorite feature would be the information you can discover about every artist, label history, etc. My least favorite: you don’t have audio samples or youtube link for every release, but then it would be too easy :))