Music from Sand – Interview with Diego Stocco

Music from Sand – Interview with Diego Stocco


diego-stocco

Diego Stocco

Diego Stocco was born in Rovigo, Italy in 1976. He discovered music at the age of 6 when his parents, hoping to calm him down, gave him his first electronic keyboard. He gained his first credits as a composer when he was 16. For years he created the audio identities for three of Italy’s most important national stations, Radio Montecarlo, Radio 105 and RDS. He has recently launched an experimental album called “Music from Sand”.

“I had some sandbags in the backyard that I used in November during a rainy day. I was moving them to a different spot when I heard the noise of the sand. I thought that maybe I could try a new sound design technique so I bought some piezo film transducers and started to experiment with them.”

1. Welcome to FreeMeditation.ca, please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you’re from and how you got started in the field?

diego-stocco-drying-rack-1

This picture was taken during various sound design session I did when I was producing soundsources for Spectrasonics Omnisphere™.

My name is Diego Stocco, I’m a music sound designer and composer. I’m originally from Italy. I got my first paid works as a composer when I was 16, I dropped out of school very early and I started by composing music for ballet schools and playing during their lessons. Pretty humble things, but at the same time valuable opportunities to start making experience. After that I started teaching in private schools, playing live with different bands and working on radio jingles, at first with local radio and then for 3 national Italian networks and other European stations. I gained more experience and started to work on bigger and different projects, I lived in several cities around Italy working in several studios. In 2001 I started to collaborate as a Producer with a company here in the US called Spectrasonics, I’m one of the main sound designers for three important software musical instruments, Atmosphere®, Stylus® RMX and Omnisphere®. In 2005 I started producing for a company specialized in trailer music called Epic Score, and from there I’ve been working on more films, TV shows and other type of projects.

2. Have you always been artistic from childhood? Or did it start to appear later in life?

I started to play all of a sudden when I was 6, I’m not from a family of musicians. My family and I were visiting some friends and their son had a Bontempi electric organ, I started playing it and it’s been love at first sight!

3. You have recently launched an experimental album called “Music from Sand”. There are 2 pieces in this album that are created from the sounds of sand and water. Could you tell us more about this experimental compositions and what initially made you want to create this album?

Music From Sand is part of a journey that I’m taking into exploring sounds present in nature. It’s not about mixing natural sound effects with music, it’s about shaping playable sounds out of noises coming from natural sources. This is an exploration in progress, that’s why the album contains only two tracks. I’ll expand this concept with future works. To record the basic sounds I used different custom techniques, there’s a video where you can see how I created the sounds from sand. Once the sounds were recorded I used a software sampler to map them, so they could be played at different pitches. I created several variations of them, each one working in a different way in the musical context.
When I composed the music I used the same approach I’d use if I’d be playing traditional instrument, some sounds play the melody, some sounds the arrangement and then other make the rhythms.

4. What changes have you undergone in your workflow as an artist over the years? And what changes do you anticipate in the future?

There’s been an evolution in my way of work, I started with synthesizers, then I got more into acoustic instruments and later on I started to be curious about the sounds present into objects and materials. Another major change happened in 2005 when I started building my own instruments. I realized that in order to create truly unique sounds everything had to be done from scratch. I started making short videos of those instrument to show more details and playing techniques, but there wasn’t a real plan behind. Later on I felt I could express something also through videos, so I improved my editing skills and tried more structured ideas. The future is an open territory, the more experiments I do the more I realize how much out there is still unexplored.

5. Could you tell us more about building your own instruments and the overall experience. You have used different devices such as car horn, drying rack and also modified the existing instruments in order get different sounds out of them.

I created some sounds with an old car horn, by pointing it to the piano board I added a lot of natural resonances.

I created some sounds with an old car horn, by pointing it to the piano board I added a lot of natural resonances.

I love building and customizing instruments because it gives me a new angle in creatively thinking about new sounds. If you see a guitar, you pretty much know what’s the sound of it, but if you see an instrument that you don’t even know how to call, it opens up a fresh perspective, and makes the process of creating a new sound much more natural and interesting. In some cases, using a musical object in a unusual way can lead to interesting results. When I was recording that little car horn, I was pointing it toward the piano soundboard, and that added a lot of interesting resonances to that sound.

6. Where do you get your inspiration as a composer?

I’d say from from what’s happening around and inside me. To me music always been a spontaneous experience, I was playing years before I was able to read music. But honestly I never felt any joy in the mechanical process of learning scales and the piano technique. I see the joy of music as moving from note to note freely, without any precise plan. Just enjoying the feeling of the piano resonating in front of me. In my professional activity there’s obviously a great amount of technical and practical aspects to consider, but it’ very important to constantly nurture the essence of inspiration.

7. Are there any specific techniques you use as a sound designer that you would suggest to someone who is starting out in the same field as you?

I receive many e-mail from students and aspiring sound designers asking me this, many of those focusing too much on the technical aspect of getting the best computer possible, basically relying too much on machines and not enough on their sources of inspiration. I get asked often to list the software I use, imagining I’m using a magic tool that does everything at the click of a button. My Grandfather once told me “a car engine is the sum of many small pieces, you take them singularly and they don’t do anything, you put them together and you can make a Ferrari” : ) It’s the idea of building an “engine” that gives meaning to all the small things necessary to create new sounds. Without ideas it’s easy to spend hours only trying to “assemble” something. I always recommend to read and learn as much as they can, to listen carefully to the sounds around them, to learn to analyze sounds for what they are, a sum of simple things combined together in interesting ways. Softwares and equipment in these days are very affordable, ideas are more “expensive” because they require you to put your brain in motion.

8. What project are you currently working on? Could you tell us about one of your favorite projects? What excites you most about these projects? What would be your dream project?

I usually can’t disclose the name of the projects I’m working on, but I can tell you that I’m working on a movie. I’m trying not to get too attached to any specific project in particular, sometimes I enjoy listening again to some works I did but I like to focus on the present and keep moving forward toward new ideas. I don’t know what my dream project is, I feel like having a dream too big could be an obstacle, because it’s like putting everything else on hold waiting for that big dream to happen. I have a lot of tiny dreams and it’s great that I can achieve several of them every day.

9. There are many young artists that are reading this interview, if you were able to give them the most important advice you know regarding the creative music industry, what would that be?

When I'm looking for new ideas I often customize what's around me in that moment. I wanted to create deep and grungy bowed sounds to thicken up the basses of the strings section, as well as clusters and discordant transitional elements. I used a heater as the body for a bowed instrument. I attached piano and bass strings to it, tighten up with bolts and screws, with pierced metallic bars as bridges pushing against the heater, trasmitting the vibrations to the entire structure.

When I'm looking for new ideas I often customize what's around me in that moment. I wanted to create deep and grungy bowed sounds to thicken up the basses of the strings section, as well as clusters and discordant transitional elements. I used a heater as the body for a bowed instrument. I attached piano and bass strings to it, tighten up with bolts and screws, with pierced metallic bars as bridges pushing against the heater, trasmitting the vibrations to the entire structure.

From what I learned the most important is to take a deep breath and get ready for a long marathon. A creative career is very challenging, it’s like working to obtain two things at the same time, recognition for your artistic efforts and monetary reward to keep moving forward. Nothing is granted and the threshold to break in order to get noticed is getting thicker every day. Talent is essential but it’s not everything, the person you are make a big difference. A career in music never stops, you only keep moving to the next step, becoming successful is a privilege that allows you to invest more of your energies in more projects. I’d suggest to ask themselves if they are willing to invest the majority of their time into music, how much pressure they can really handle, what they really want to achieve in life, and how quickly. I have friends that went from being a garage band to a national stage very quickly, and unfortunately back to that garage in less than 6 months. They weren’t the ones that made the leap happen, so they didn’t have control when the producers decided that they were not profitable enough. Other friends that, despite an amazing musical talent, set for their careers inflexible expectations, and ended up in jobs that are very far from what they hoped. A career in music is not easy to achieve, it requires a huge amount of time, passion and true dedication. If the objective is quick fame and money there are plenty of alternatives out there.

10. Thanks again for providing FreeMeditation.ca with this opportunity to interview you. We wish you good luck on your next projects.

Thank you for the interview and I wish all the best to those who are pursuing their dreams with a positive spirit.

http://diegostocco.com/

http://diegostocco.bandcamp.com/album/music-from-sand


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