Techno Tuesday: Diving into the world of improv techno with 999999999
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
It’s hard to believe that 999999999 (pronounced “nine times nine”) have been around for a mere two years. They’ve turned the underground scene on its head since they broke into it with brute force, proving just how fluid techno can be with an entirely-improvised set up with each performance. Not much is known about the mysterious pair outside the fact that they come from Italy and have a penchant for hard, acid-fueled industrial sounds — that’s why Dancing Astronaut decided to wrangle them in for a deep dive into their career. They dish on their preferred hardware, their creative process, and how they’ve found their way to the top of their niche.
You guys are quite the enigmatic duo. How did you meet and decide to begin making music/performing together?
Originally we are from the same city, Venice. We were both djs and producers in our hometown, we have similar tastes in music and one day we decided to record something together and we were happy of the result, so we decided to launch our own project.
Are any of you classically trained? If so, what instruments did you play? And what made both of you fall in love with electronic music?
No, we don’t have any musical background, first instruments we played were synths and drum machines. It was only about training a lot with what we had. We fall in love with electronic music because before playing we were also clubbers and we were fascinated by this world.
Tell us about perfecting your process; ‘live improvisation’ sounds scary to the average music consumer, or even the average DJ. What key lessons have you learned in your journey thus far?
We didn’t like to play tracks from other people all the time, we preferred playing what we create with our instruments and of course improvise with them, different patterns and doing some cool things in real time. That’s the key of our performances.
Any pieces of hardware you favor in particular, both in the studio and performing live? Why is this? What about hardware you’d like to own or try out in the future?
We are using almost all Elektron stuff (Analog Rytm, Analog Four, Octactrak), perfect machines for live. And of course, for the acid sounds, the 303, not the original one unfortunately, but good clones like Cyclone TT303, Roland Tb03 and Avalon from Abstrakt Instruments. Many effects like reverb, delay and that’s all. I think we don’t need many other stuff, we prefer to use what we have but using all functionalities.
You are also known for your hard, acid-laced techno. What draws you two to this sound as opposed to others? Does it work easier in this format, is it more inspiring to you, etc?
As we told before, we were both djs and we were inspired by the old 90’s acid techno records and that’s what we want to recreate with our releases and live. That old school techno touch, few sounds but well mixed together.
You have released a couple things in the past to supplement your live sets. Do you have any plans of making releases a more regular thing, or are you going to stay firmly in the improvisation zone for the time being? What is your overarching musical vision?
Yes, of course we worked very hard for new records to be released in 2019. So you can expect many original tracks from us on our own label, many collaborations with other labels and artists with other tracks and remixes.
We’re interested to hear about your artistic journey, which we imagine might be a bit more ‘difficult’ for someone as niche and outside the status quo. How did you find your way onto so many prolific dancefloors already, and what are some hardships you’ve overcome in your journey to be full time musicians?
We were simply not happy on being dj on our hometown, where you have the chance to play only if you know somebody and not for your mixing skills. So we felt the need to be listened outside Italy too and the first logical step was to start making tracks and invest money on a new label. We did it and it went very well and it was so fast, we didn’t expect such a great feedback in a short time, but at the same time we believed so strong in this project, working hard every single day, so we are very happy of what we reached now. If you produce good music, you can always find somebody who can give you a chance and that’s what happened to us with our first gigs, then people saw we were good in performing live too and it was easier.