As the dust settles on 2016’s Miller SoundClash DJ competition, we catch up with one of the judges, Luca Pretolesi, who has worked with some of the world’s biggest dance music stars, including Steve Aoki, Borgeous and Diplo.
Vegas-based Luca, gives us the lowdown on his Miller SoundClash experience alongside real insight into his studio setup, workflow and much more...
Luca, please can you tell us a little bit about your history and the work you do?
“I moved to the US, from Italy, 14 years ago and I was able to help local artists shape their sound on the mixing and mastering side. The standard in Europe for dance music was a little higher around that time so I was the guy to bring the current technology and apply it to dance music mixes in the States.”
“This lead to helping Steve Aoki and his label (Dim Mak), then Diplo and his label (Mad Decent). That opened the door for production too. Diplo helped on the production of the Snoop Lion album and mixed it.Currently we work with a wide variety of people at Studio DMI. Our client base ranges from guys in European EDM, to house, bass music and trap. We work with DJs, producers and even labels from all around the world.”
How did you get into the industry originally?
“I started when I was young playing keyboards, DJing and I also went to recording school. During that time there was a big evolution in dance music and my big influences were new wave and electronic music from northern Europe. So it was like putting together the two things. I started as a producer, but with the ears of a mixer. Even before technology had really advanced, I learnt to be creative with my mixes.”
Tell us about your location in Las Vegas, and the benefits of running a studio in the city…
“Studio DMI’s headquarters is in Summerlin, Las Vegas. The Summerlin site is home of our Studio A, Studio B, production room and operation offices. Then we also have a studio on the Vegas strip, in the Wynn Hotel. This studio is more for production and for recording then mixing. It’s a really good sounding studio, but our Summerlin site has the best of everything combined.”
“A benefit of having a studio in Las Vegas is that all the artists come through here. It means they can just stop through to finish up their mixes or setup initial communication for their goals and what they want to achieve.”
You joined DJ Mag as a judge at this year’s Miller SoundClash DJ Competition. What were you looking for in the SoundClash DJs?
“From a judge’s perspective, I was trying to understand a few things. I wanted to understand the DJ’s personalities and see how they fit in the unique Vegas market. I was looking at how a DJ from another country can keep his personality – music wise – but then blend that with a different city. I wanted to see them build a set that is not only technical but also musical.”
Which DJs particularly impressed you on the day - and in what ways?
“The level of all the DJs were high. They all had their own personality and style. Jaffer [the eventual winner] did stick out to me though. The flow of his set was just right. He was able to bring something original. His style was house music, very organic with a good flow between each track. It translated well at a pool party, and I think it was his first Vegas show ever! The crowd reaction was good and he didn’t have to play the ‘hits’ of the moment. He was also able to tell a story in the short amount of time in his set.”
You took the finalists on a tour of your studio on the day after the final - can you tell us a bit about that day
“Yeah, we arranged a nice customized masterclass for the finalists at the studio here and it turned out really good. I made it clear to the finalists that they needed to represent themselves really well as both a DJ and a Producer. So if you’re a 360 artist right now you need to have good sounding tracks. Having a DJ background myself, I was able to give advice on how I think and approach my mixes and mastering. I played a few mixes and we ran an A/B comparison on them and talked about my priority for those mixes. We also did some mastering together. We had a great time!”
What advice did you give to the DJs who came along?
“During the Miller SoundClash live final, I noticed some problems with RMS levels throughout their sets. There was some loudness loss, especially when the finalists played mash-ups or bootlegs. I explained the importance of making sure you have the highest quality of the track you can get when you select your tracks for your set. And if you can’t get a better version, do a quick master yourself to try to keep the overall level of your set consistent.”
Finally, can you give us a quick insight into what you are working on at the minute - what should we be looking out for?
“Right now it’s summer season and the big work before summer is done. One of the biggest records. Borgeous new album ‘13’ was mixed/mastered here by myself and Scott Banks, it’s out Aug 13th. It has a lot of big collaborations and eventually a lot of singles. At the moment I’m getting ready for my masterclass workshops outside of Vegas. I’m looking forward for the ADE event in Oct. I’ll be there for a masterclass as well as speaking on a panel. A week before that I get to bring my masterclass to Rome for the first time ever. Also I’ll be doing some stuff around the US such as attending Pensado Awards, AES, and Sweetwater events. But right now, for me, it’s like summer after summer is more dedicated to networking and sharing knowledge. Of course we never stop mixing and mastering but it’s kind of like it's my summer right now.
You can find out more about Luca Pretolesi and Studio DMI on the official Studio DMI Website.
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