Roza Terenzi (aka Katie Campbell) is one of the breakout stars of the electronic music scene of the least few years, so we’re super stoked to have her recently join our training team.
A hit run of 12″ vinyl releases across a range of cult labels established her name and saw her quickly snapped up for major festival lineups across Europe, resulting in a touring schedule that would put most established touring DJs to shame.
With a recent move to Berlin on the heels of her debut LP release “Modern Bliss“, we caught up with Katie to talk about her creative process and get some tips on how she developed her craft…
Its been a standout couple of years for you, is there any particular time you’ve heard your own music being played somewhere that has spun you out?
I think exactly a year ago I had just flown into Berlin from playing in Rome the night before and went straight to watch S.A.S.S. play in the garden at Berghain – I was dancing in the little undercover bit behind them and someone dropped “That Track” (from my LP) – before it had come out or even been mastered or anything.. I had sent it to the girls in kind of demo stages and it was super special to get to hear it for one of the first times on a big system there.
How do you see the role of music that is traditionally oriented towards club spaces in a time where the future of clubbing is very uncertain? Does it change the way you think about producing? Does it change the kind of music you listen to?
At the moment it has been changing the music I listen to.. mainly because i’m not preparing every week to DJ in clubs – i’m taking it as a welcome break for my ears to focus on different styles, ones that I love equally but often can’t spend as much time exploring because it’s not a priority. I’ve been listening to loads of downtempo and IDM, some liquid DnB and jungle, things that feel fluid and I can have rolling in the background whilst I cook or do other things. I’ve found it harder to dig for more club music because there is no context right now – the image of people moving, the feeling of the dancefloor, testing things to crowds; it’s not possible. But recently i’ve made some more dance music and been listening to faster more banging mixes as some motivation and variation! I’m ready to get back in the zone.
What would you go back and tell yourself as a beginner?
Some advice I wish I had heard earlier as a beginner was to allow yourself time to develop! You can never spend too much time listening to music and learning, becoming confident in what you like and what you want to make or play – it’s the foundation for everything. It also links in with not comparing yourself and your own process to anyone else, everyone moves at a different pace and it’s not to say what’s wrong or right. Also share & collaborate! Even if it feels terrifying.
The tracks across Modern Bliss reference 90s production in a really fresh way, were there any pieces of hardware or techniques that helped you nail this particular sound?
I definitely use a few key bits of gear that tend to transport you back to that kind of 90’s feel.. one would be the Yamaha CS1x, mainly for pad tones, dreamy textures and some bass. Another main one would be the Waldorf Micro Q – I think I used this on basically every track on my LP in some way or another! My favourite technique is to send midi notes through and go wild on the arpeggiators, playing with the resonance and cutoff on the filters, trying to create loads of movement and colour within the tracks.
How are you using Ableton in the Studio?
I generally start a session by jamming around on a few bits of gear, maybe a drum machine or a synth just to get a little groove going, sometimes it might just be a certain sound that inspires me or takes my mind somewhere else. Then once I have something basic going I generally record these parts separately into Ableton so I can manipulate them or use effects to process them, chop them up, basically sampling my own recordings. Sometimes I might start by creating a midi sequence and sending it out to my hardware to begin, so I can focus more on how it interacts with the rhythms or other elements. Ableton really then takes on a strong editing role for me, considering sound design and blending samples with my hardware to allow the creative process to take new twists and turns and find new ways to push genres. I always start in Session view to make things more groove based and then record out to Arrangement view – so I can fine tune and work on the structure.
What do you usually do when stuck on a track?
Take a break and listen to a track i’ve been really into, think about which particular elements i’m drawn to or how it’s structured to get some refreshed insight into how it’s put together or little things to try out that might take mine into a different direction. I think always having a bit of space is good – sometimes a few weeks away from a track after trying different things and getting nowhere is all you need. Listening to my gut and not forcing things.
How much is music a solo pursuit for you and how does collaboration factor into your work? Or when and how do you turn to others for feedback or input?
Music used to be a very solo pursuit for me, it was all in my head and my way of working felt very internal and not so suited to collaboration or jamming – as time has gone on I have realised the crucial importance of collaboration, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone to grow and learn. I have really enjoyed collaborating with people especially over the last few years now I am confident as a producer and being able to communicate my ideas. I think getting feedback is really important, this is something I have always done – sending music to a few trusted people who I know will give me honest criticism (not that I always take it on!) but it’s really healthy to get different perspective, I usually do this once i’ve finished a demo version of a track.
What do you have coming up release-wise this year?
I wanted to take a bit of space from my LP after that was released to let it breathe, I have a record coming out on Kalahari Oyster Cult; a collaboration between Fantastic Man & me. Also a bunch of remix’s including one for RAMZi and Adam Pitts. I am working on a solo EP which i’m aiming for end of the year/start of 2021.. hopefully will be launching my own label if all goes to plan.