This week's Ibiza Voice podcast star is Romania's Melodie, an outspoken producer and DJ who isn't afraid to stand out from the crowd.
Cristi Tudorache isn’t your archetypal Romanian house or techno producer. As Melodie, his productions veer away from the same minimal hymn sheet that characterises the music of many of his contemporaries. Tracks like 2015’s ‘Acid Sunday’ or 2017’s ‘XM’ are awash with playful melodies, bubbling basslines and swathes of emotion, even if the sounds he uses, never need to shout too loudly. It’s a characteristic that allows his music to fit within the minimal world but it’s not just his approach to his music that makes him stand out from the crowd.
Where many of Romania’s key protagonists maintain a closed book approach to their public life, shying away from social media or interviews, Tudorache isn’t afraid to speak his mind or let the public have a glimpse into his life as a touring DJ via his posts.
A recent post rebuking lazy producers for using lengthy samples, prompted an intense discussion in the post’s comments section and drew some inevitable and completely over the top attacks from trolls. It has since been taken down. Another spoke out about the under-discussed problem of poor mastering of vinyl records. Hardly controversial topics by the standards of other genres, but for the scene in which he ploughs his trade, it is unusual to see an artist willing to publicly speak their mind.
At Ibiza Voice we can only applaud this characteristic and we wish more artists were like him. History rarely remembers the soundalikes and the artists who looked to their contemporaries for an indication of how to conduct themselves in public. The mavericks on the other hand, we remember with gusto.
Ibiza Voice: What have you been up to this year so far and what’s upcoming?
Melodie: I started the year with my first USA tour which spread across 10 states. I have worked on my label and company lately and have prepared music for it. It is called Cinetic Art. I am also releasing tracks on other labels as well. I am not in a rush to release my music. This summer I’ll be playing mostly in cities in Europe.
You spoke out recently on your Facebook page about the issue of lazy sampling practices. It's unusual to see someone from your scene expressing an opinion so openly on social media. Do you think artists in your position have a responsibility to speak out about issues like this?
Hahaha yeah, I am the Music Police now! Just kidding. I want people that want to be artists and want to make music to not fool themselves that it is okay to copy someone’s idea just because so many people and companies make it seem normal. Well it is not, and that’s why people protect their work and we have laws for that. Otherwise there would be so many that would make the change and be free.
It got to a point that I couldn’t take the copying anymore, it's really bad for music. It makes people live in a delusion.
Personally, when I listen to a track and I see the name of the producer, I assume that he/she wrote the drums, melody, the chords, etc. Producing means recording the actual instrument, creating the melody and sound textures, not recording someone’s track. Sampling does not mean that at all, and that was not the intention of the MPC. The truth will always be there even if billions of people will ‘manipulate’ music in this way.
My idea is that once you do this, psychologically because you change it and touch it, you think you made it better and have the right to call it your own now. People were doing that in the 80’s because a synthesizer was $30,000 or more and they were poor. All the pro gear was super expensive. So they just rented some studio time for a couple hundred bucks, and they sounded good at the end of the day. But now synths start from $200 or even less, $50.
I didn't see a real synthesizer until 2004 and if I didn’t have a computer in 1997, I wouldn’t be here. But I didn’t use my computer to record my parent’s records, edit them and tell my friends and the world that they are my tracks.
How did you record your Ibiza Voice mix?
I recorded the mix with two CDJ 2000s and a Xone: 92 at a friend’s place as I don’t have a DJ setup at my studio. The theme was to play a mix where I use more of my tracks. It is very rare when I play them because I have listened to them a lot when I produce them, but now some time passed by and I can listen to them as if they are not mine.
Where do you get your music from?
I look for music online as I can listen to it faster. I like physically digging in [Romanian] record shop, Misbits. I don’t go that often though as it’s time consuming. Juno records has a great catalog and you can listen to the ‘out of stock’ stuff which I like a lot. [I like] Discogs for research. I check promos and play them if they fit what I want to do. I don’t spend that much time lately on digging, I used to spend all day for many years when I started DJing.
Tell us about your record collection, Do any of these records tell a particular story about you?
I have the records I will play at a party (house/techno/minimal) and then I look for records I can listen to, and I can learn something from, that inspire me or they have a high quality production to them.
I don’t care that much if they are new or old. What's more important is how far they push the sound. I have a lot of favourites. I could name a few.
Millsart 'Every Dog Has Its Day Vol. 4' was a good dig. It took me ten years until we met at a record shop in Copenhagen.
The Irresistible Force 'Global Chillage,' I closed a bunch of parties with this record and it’s an amazing experience.
Roy Ayers 'Love Is In the Feel,' I got this in Atlanta without listening to it, It is simple and beautiful. Roy is a genius man.
Mandar ‘Peace Force’
Another proper electronic music release is by James Bernard 'Unreleased Works.' This is on CD though, but I highly recommend it as it is high quality and has a lot of soul in it.
Have you always been a vinyl DJ?
When I started DJing, I was playing only CDs and didn’t have the chance to start mixing vinyl. There was this place in Bucharest where they were throwing parties that I used to go to. Once I dreamt that I got there, the place was packed, like 1000 people. I entered the room, the DJ booth was at the other end in front of me, I could see it in the distance on a small stage. Everybody went to the sides clearing my way to go to the DJ booth, they all looked at me. I looked at the DJ booth and they only had turntables and I only had CDs. Haha , nightmare! This was in 2005 maybe. I started to play vinyl soon after that.
Tell us about the scene you came up in, how did it influence you?
I started to make music when I was around 11 or 12 years old in 1998. I was not interested in parties at that moment. This was 7th grade and I was making hip hop back then with some friends in the neighbourhood. I was making the music and they were dancing and singing on the tracks. We had small shows in discotheques and theatres without being paid of course. It was mostly loops put together with some effects.
When I was 16 in 2002, my high school colleague introduced me to Sasha and Digweed and I got hooked. Sasha was my greatest inspiration in the beginning. I was listening to his mixes all the time. His album Airdrawndagger is still one of the best albums out there.
I discovered the scene in Romania when I went with my best friend to this party in April 2003. John Digweed came to Romania for the first time and as my friend was working at the venue, we were able to get through the back entrance. I was 16 and not allowed to go into parties and you need to be at least 18 in Romania, legally.
I would describe the sound as being British inspired. Very progressive and tribal. In terms of clubs, Space Club, Studio Martin, Kristal in its first years were instrumental in my influence. There weren’t many Romanian DJs at the time. Pedro, Rhadoo and Pagal were my favourites back then. Around 2004/2005, Raresh began to play more often and rose in popularity, he always played pretty nice, groovy and danceable music.
How were you able to follow the scene before you went to clubs?
We had a couple of radio show such as BPM with Rhadoo every Sunday. Another one was Carl Cox’s Global show I think. Then this cool radio channel appeared with only underground music, house, techno, nice mixes and that took the scene even further [although] they became irrelevant too, eventually.
When did you first discover the mid2000s wave of minimal?
Once Margaret Dygas played at Space. It was the first time I heard a minimal set ever, around 2004. At first it was strange, it seemed deep and dark. The way she played was amazing, it was still driving and danceable.
Sunrise just started to book interesting DJs and they had Raresh, a new name and a very good DJ.
So after that I went mostly to parties hosted by Sunrise. They were interesting, bringing a new sound that was more on the techno and house side, not that epic and much drama to it. Romanian DJs started to produce and release music more and more. Rhadoo had a few cool tracks already in the past years.
They started to go international and we loved it, we have a lot of pride in Romania here.
And how did you get into producing?
I was already producing music when people here started to release and I was in a search of my sound already. Since forever I was inspired by international names mostly, and I still am to this day. I sent a my first demo to Unfoundsound label in 2006, but they [didn’t sign it] and I started to work harder and didn't send out another demo until 2013.
The labels were mostly from Germany as everyone was so minimal back home and I thought my tracks didn’t fit with locals. I got one reply from around 8/9 emails from the labels I liked. Raresh liked them and saw a potential in them and I [eventually] released them on Metereze.
What's the hardest challenge you've had to overcome to get to where you are now?
The hardest one was to keep doing it and being motivated. I started making music in 1998 and had my first proper release in 2014. I quit school in 2007 to only make music for my future. I was lucky to have parents who didn’t stress me so much about what I should do with my life.
I asked some Romanian DJs in the beginning if they could help me learn to play vinyl like a lot of people do, but they didn’t have time for a ‘kid’ like me. So I didn’t have a real mentor.
Seven years ago I was still working at a stupid job to make money for gear and wondering would I make it? At the end [the thing that made the difference was] listening to my inner voice more than trends or the people around me.
It’s an inspiring time for music technology thanks to a boom in hardware and modular. Is that having a knock on effect on the music we're listening to?
I love it! Modular is amazing and [creating] the music of the future. Sure, everyone should start making music with modulars. I think we are heading towards a more intelligent, psychedelic sound [as a result]. It is also because of the world we are living in and the social constraints [we experience], we need to escape to a different place and an abstract one.
We are also looking for a deeper experience and music is becoming deeper with unreal textures. We are smarter now in understanding music and we need a time of quality music to build our culture. We need artists that push the boundaries of music. Artists that devote themselves to their inner voice, train themselves and become knowledgeable in exploring the wonders of sound, arrangement and recording. And artists that have a drive to discover some hidden truth.
In music, all is truth. Truth of not understanding, or of a greater understanding of the sound and laws of music. The laws of music are embedded into the nature of the sound.
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