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Giorgia Angiuli: electronic essence

Italian techno producer and live artist Giorgia Anguili began her musical journey in the classical realm, before gradually finding herself captivated by the power of electronic sound. She’s since found an international audience thanks to her innovative live sets. With a new album, ‘Quantum Love’, out this month, she tells DJ Mag about where her curiosity took her during lockdown, the healing power of music, and why she’ll never be a traditional DJ

“Forget prejudices. If the music is created with a pure soul, no matter about its genre, let the sounds resonate within you. Explore different things and try to find its beauty in different ways,” says Giorgia Angiuli. It’s advice that the Italian techno producer and live artist would give someone who hasn’t yet discovered electronic music, much like she hadn’t years ago, in her previous life as a classical musician.

Angiuli tells DJ Mag that her first impressions of electronic music were formed through “mistaken prejudice”, and that she considered the music easy and oversimplified. Growing up surrounded by classical music, this clash isn’t surprising. Her mother, father and brother were also musicians, and her early memories were formed at concerts playing holy music and Gregorian chants. Her sibling went on to teach jazz at the historic music school, Conservatorium Nino Rota, in Monopoli, where Angiuli studied too. Her efforts were focused on classical guitar. However, beyond the traditional syllabus, she learned everything from nu-metal and rock to folk. These aligned with her sideline love of hardcore, and pointed to someone with an open-minded taste.

While not many people in electronic music will be able to directly relate to Angiuli’s classical upbringing, they may well be familiar with a prominent crossover anthem that she recalls as being a game changer for her. It was Radiohead’s ‘Idioteque’, released in 2000, that caused her to understand how “complicated and beautiful [electronic music] can be”.

With a vast range of influences, Angiuli has honed a unique sound. Both her classical background and appreciation for dance-driven beats are prominent in her work, often trademarked with complex layered melodies, dramatic harmonies and sparse but considered lyrics. Giorgia is a self-confessed “studio-tech-building wizard”, favouring acoustics over everything.

With a penchant for teaching herself new instruments, her typical live setup changes every time. Expect a smorgasbord of both high and low tech, featuring synths, drums, theremin, modified children’s toys and numerous Bluetooth midi controllers. DJ Mag asks how many instruments she can actually play. She laughs. “I have never counted, actually. I don’t care, it is not about numbers, it is more about the good vibrations you get from each one.”

Angiuli is undoubtedly trained to an extremely high standard in classical guitar. But this theory isn’t applied across the board, preferring to follow her intuition with the rest. “I play them in a very simple way, functional to my musical language,” she says. “The most recent addition is the hang drum, but I still didn’t have enough time to practice.”

Her natural drive and talent for production was quickly recognised. Prior to her solo career, Angiuli was part of an electro-pop duo called We Love, which led to her first album signing on Ellen Allien’s BPitch Control in 2010. Getting a debut released on such an established label so early on signified the beginnings of a fruitful career, and Angiuli recognised this. When asked by her concerned mother, “what do you want to do with your life”, she pointed to what she describes as “a big sign that life was making the decision for me. The path of music was there, waiting for my eternal devotion”.

Her mother needn’t have worried — Angiuli’s instinct was right. Over the next 10 years, she became a known name across the globe, regularly performing live sets on line-ups with the likes of Miss Kittin, Pan-Pot, Monika Kruse and Paul Kalkbrenner, playing everywhere from EXIT Festival in Serbia to Amnesia in Ibiza.

Contacting us from her home in Florence, Italy, Angiuli notes her delight as the autumnal golden light shines onto the red leaves from her window. She’s recently returned from performing two shows in Russia, having also played gigs in Switzerland and Poland during the summer. Angiuli enjoys her busy schedule and the opportunity for travel that her job allows, but it’s a stark contrast from 12 months ago. Living in Italy, whose early Covid-19 restrictions gave the UK an insight on what to expect, the experience was just as challenging as you might think. Yet, from the darkness came reflection and a new confidence for the artist.

“Something changed in my vision about performances, I thought a lot about the topic of anxiety and feeling under pressure,” she recalls. “Being a girl in an industry full of boys, during all these years, made me feel a lot of pressure; I always had to show that I deserved to be there, having the same skills as guys.”

Using the downtime Covid-19 allowed, she had more time to focus on and analyse these sensations, choosing to let go of the fear and move forward with authenticity. “When you are on stage you have a choice — listening to your ego or to your real essence,” she says. “The ego is related to the audience’s applause and the essence is related to the love for music, being grateful for all the people that are supporting you. I decided to stay focused on my essence and not to judge myself too much — being less self-critical.”

Like many other people, the anxiety and fear from the worldwide uncertainty led to Angiuli turning to meditation to calm the mind. Although she’d picked up the practice sporadically previously, it soon became a daily ritual. Remarkably, it “changed her life”, by turning down the volume of her inner voice, as she used music and sound frequencies to help her concentrate without interruptions.

Curiosity is important to Angiuli, which is apparent in the vast amount of instruments she gleefully experiments with. Over lockdown this continued, but with other subject matter: “I explored different topics with a lot of passion and interest: spirituality, meditation, neuroscience and sound therapy; I studied a lot.”

This endless self-development led to numerous new projects. From her interest in sound therapy, she’s now developing a “device for brainwave ‘entertainment’ using sound stimulation” alongside transportation and aerospace group, Angel Holding. Last year, she also partnered with Aodyo instrument makers, to create her own version of its unique electronic wind instrument, the Sylphyo. Available in bubblegum pink or baby blue, Angiuli created five unique sounds for them with names like Fluid Heart and Ancestral, Blue Hugs, all resonating in 432Hz — a frequency known for its ability to provoke a sense of wellbeing. 

Music has clearly always been a central part of Anguili’s life, but what exactly does it mean to her? “Music helped me a lot to communicate in the world with my own language,” she says, acknowledging her shyness. “Creating a song is like writing a personal diary and it is like therapy, I really can’t keep from writing songs. There are also many songs that are too intimate for me and I could never release them.” 

This feeling changed in the past few months. After practicing mindfulness and meditation, her vision became clear. Stating that she now feels comfortable in writing songs with a message of hope, this mindset has culminated in her newest album, ‘Quantum Love’, set to be released this November on her own label, UNITED.

The 13-track body of work is inspired by quantum physics. Statements such as “we are made of energy, everything is vibration” and “we are each our own placebo, happiness can be a choice” underpin the album, which was first inspired by Angiuli’s reading of a biography of the world-famous physicist Albert Einstein — also known for his introversion. She came to love anything related to physics, energy, healing and more, and is excited to share what she calls her “mindfulness experiences” with the world.

It’s often times of sadness that cause the human mind to search for something deeper. Her debut album, ‘In A Pink Bubble’, was dedicated to her mother after she passed away, and helped her to “alleviate my mental suffering”. Three years later, ‘Quantum Love’ is equally as poignant, soundtracking another pivotal time in Angiuli’s life. This time, it was her internal transformation.

At the time of her interview with DJ Mag, lead track ‘Hanuman’ had already been released. The reaction highlighted Angiuli’s global reach, as well as the special connection she’s formed with her fans. Her Instagram stories are awash with reposts of praise, and even intimate piano renditions of the blissful dancefloor melody performed by fans who are quick to recreate her work.

Beyond ‘electronic’ and ‘eclectic’, it’s difficult to pin down a specific style or genre of ‘Quantum Love’, never mind Angiuli’s output as a whole. “I have never composed tracks thinking about the market,” she says. “Maybe my fans feel that I am authentic and I do things with a big passion and devotion. Anyway, I am very very grateful for the fantastic fanbase that I have, they send me many messages and they also inspire me a lot.”

Like electronica, Giorgia recollects how her relationship with social media is also one that blossomed over time. Initially uncomfortable with online presence, she now views each platform as a place to find inspiration — but is wary of its addictive quality. “I think I have a balanced relationship with social media,” she says. “Of course I am still a bit shy, especially if I have to do videos and to talk in front of a camera, but now I am learning to not feel any pressure or self-judgement. So if I am shy and I am not a good talker, I don’t care, it is just me!”

Videos of Giorgia performing have quickly gone viral, gaining her a dedicated following across the world. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has witnessed one — whether filmed in her pastel-coloured studio or with the backdrop of Ibiza’s Es Vedra. “Music is in my blood,” she enthuses. Yet she remains dedicated to her passions as a producer, never venturing into mixing or selecting. “I respect DJs a lot but I feel it is not my language. In my studio I don’t even have any gear for DJing, I just have a vintage turntable for playing with. I am a musician and I have always only played my music live.”

Eileen Pegg is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @EileenPegg