Less than a week prior to their upcoming ‘Lunare’ release, or tell-taling rather on the UK-based label, Chapter 24, the Italian trio consisting of Riccardo Cappelli, Riccardo Rinaldi and Luca Mercatali sat together to chat with Torture the Artist from their studio in Northern Italy. Co-founders of the label Three Hands Records, ‘Cap,’ ‘Rixx’ and ‘Lu-Me’ respectively, collectively (no pun intended) known as Three Hands Collective indulged in some nerd talk, and without restraints delved into their romantic and passionate approach to music and production, and imparted some insight on how to balance a ‘collective’ as three uniquely different characters. Find out how THR and THC came about, the importance of going out into the dancefloors as part of the production process and how to best take inspiration from the moon, listen to ‘Till The End Of Dawn (Africa Dub)’ from their Lunare EP, as Torture the Artist casts the spotlight on Three Hands Collective.
Torture the Artist: Hello guys, tell us something about your typical day.
THC: We don’t actually have a typical day, but when we feel particularly inspired, we lock ourselves in the studio and give life to our dreams.
Torture the Artist: What relevance does the moon have for you personally and for your music?
THC: We love the moon. Making music under the moonlight creates a very special mood. We often work at night, and when you can see the moon through the window it gives you an extraordinary feeling. It’s like being suspended in time and space, and the last such abstract journey gave life to what would later become the Lunare EP.
Torture the Artist: Aside from running the label ‘Three Hands Records’ you produce music under your moniker ‘Three Hands Collective’. Three hands for each section – is this how you split work or who takes over which task within your trio?
THC: We all listen to demos and share and discuss new ideas together. We are constantly emailing each other with comments about new tracks on the web and evaluating the benefits of having a new artist on the label. We are very interested in signing new artists to our label, so a lot of time is spent listening to demos.
Rix (Rinaldi) works as a full-time studio engineer and Luca and I listen to old and new records all day and make new tracks. Rix is the nerd – all day he is learning about new software and looking for new sounds. He spends his days mixing and mastering tracks for the label and also working for other clients. Of course, running a record label means that you also have to deal with contracts, read and write emails, work on your Facebook and other social media presence, etc…
The three of us hit it off immediately and the very next day we were sitting in front a computer with some keyboards, synthesizers and drum machines, writing our first song as Three Hands Collective.
Torture the Artist: What was first: the idea to found a label or to produce music as a trio and what was the decisive moment when you decided to go for either one in the first place?
THC: The turning point was the moment Rix came to live in our city, Bologna. A good friend of ours introduced us a party. At that time, Luca and I had a lot of good ideas but did not have the instruments and the knowledge to realise them.
The three of us hit it off immediately and the very next day we were sitting in front a computer with some keyboards, synthesizers and drum machines, writing our first song as Three Hands Collective. As DJs, we had already developed a good instinct about how to structure a song to make an impact on the dance floor. From that moment on, Luca and I worked hard to master the software (Ableton Live) and to learn how create a good, well-mixed sound in your own studio. When we visit the mixing studio, the songs are already finished and need only a bass check, a good polish and mastering.
When you are hunting for a special little groove for a track, you have to ask Luca.
Torture the Artist: A successful trio relies on balance and compromise; how do you manage this relationship?
THC: Cap is the guy that buys a lot of new records and has a good measure of the current record market and scene.
Luca knows the good stuff from the 70s to today and has a huge collection of rare vinyl. When you are hunting for a special little groove for a track, you have to ask Luca. Usually it takes just 10 seconds for him to take a record from the shelf and say, ‘how about something like this?‘It always works.
Rix gives the tracks a finishing touch in the studio and also come in with new stuff he has found or been sent. He come from the 80s and has an impressive range of classic gear, the 808 and 909, keyboards from the Juno 106 to the Yamaha DX7…
Sitting in a club and drinking a beer while listening to good DJs is a good way of working.
Torture the Artist: Describe your typical daily interactions. What is the longest you have gone without talking to each another?
THC: It’s not a matter of the amount of time spent together, but rather the quality of your time spent in studio or discussing new ideas. Usually all three of us meet up together one or two days a week. We try to go DJ gigs together to listen to what’s being played and to have some fun in the club. Sitting in a club and drinking a beer while listening to good DJs is a good way of working, haha! Because using your ears as part of your work is just as important outside your studio, to help with inspiration.
A lot of people these days tend to stay in their bedroom and spend too many hours in front of the computer making tracks.
A lot of people these days tend to stay in their bedroom and spend too many hours in front of the computer making tracks. That’s ok, but you have to get out and meet real people, listen to how music really sounds in a club, not just on YouTube. See with your eyes what sort of stuff people like more and how they react to a particular song in the club.
Usually it takes just an hour to come up with a good idea when you are producing a track. Maybe you can fix something and make it better two days later or next week. But the first hour is the only one you really need.
Torture the Artist: Name a track for each team member that describes him best and give reasons for your choice.
THC: Cap: 4 Voice – Music Hypnotizes is a track that gives me good memories from my rave youth.
Luca loves all the tracks of Klaus Schultze. He loves to listen only on vinyl and is not a fan of Spotify and YouTube. The only music he can conceive of comes on wax.
Rix is the opposite, he is all about digital and streaming. The song Rix loves best is Nils Frahm – Says, as it represents a perfect union between ‘real’ instrumental music and electronic sounds.
Torture the Artist: Do you often think about travelling through time, and if so which era would you like to visit and at what age would you prefer to be entering it?
THC: Ah! This is a very complicated question. Time travelling is a dream for everyone I suppose. Going back with the benefit of hindsight and not making the same mistakes would be the best thing people can do. But this is of course impossible so it remains a dream. If I had to choose I would live as a musician during the Italian Renaissance – perhaps I would play a variety of dulcimer and use it to make hypnotic music!
Torture the Artist: Speaking about travelling through time and space, what is the most ‘spacey’ track you have ever listened to and what has been the most abstract piece of music you have produced?
THC: Spacey: surely Jean Michel Jarre – Second Rendez-Vous.
Abstract: probably a new song of ours that is still unreleased and will be out in October on Valkea Music, the new label of our great friend Benny Blanco.
Even if the music comes first, the name of the track is for us the more important thing.
Torture the Artist: What is your process when conceptualizing a track – do you think of the title first then go with the theme or do you let it play out and then come up with the name?
THC:Even if the music comes first, the name of the track is for us the more important thing. You can connect images to a good song title and make your own movie in your head. And usually we do this before we put the first note on a track. Imagining your music before you make it is a great aid to the creative process. Sometimes watching a real movie on TV at night can give you some ideas and inspiration. Soundtracks are always a good starting point.
On top of this, experimenting with new synths, modular and arpeggiators is also the fuel for making new music. We have to remember that we are not accomplished musicians, and sometimes making a certain part takes more time than for a naturally gifted musician. But ultimately, it’s all about the ideas. With technology and computers you can quickly bridge the gap. Also, we are not setting out to make pop songs, but rather the intention behind our tracks is to make people dance and to lose themselves in the sound we create. This is the most important goal for us.
Torture the Artist: Do you often get lost in your tracks? If you were to choose to spend a weekend getting lost in one, which would it be?
THC:It would be ‘Desert Rose’ with a Moscow Mule in my hand. I could not ask for anything better! <smile>
Torture the Artist: Let’s talk about your music a little bit, and it’s totally okay for you to love it. Name your favourite production of your latest EP on Chapter 24.
THC: The song we love the most from the EP is the title track, ‘Lunare’. It was made over a very long period of time, starting many years ago. And we still love it, even though we have listened to it a huge number of times. It continues to feel romantic and sexy, like a relationship with anItalian woman!
Torture the Artist: Are there any artists whose music have left a lasting impression on you, both personally and musically?
THC: For Rix, it would be some of the great artists of the 80s, from Fad Gadget to Kraftwerk. For me and Luca: Mike Oldfield, Jean-Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze, Pete Namlook. The real magic is when you listen to those records and it takes you a while to realise that they are from a long time ago! Those artists truly made some magic that has been sculpted in the stone of electronic music forever.
Torture the Artist: Who is an artist you would like to collaborate with, and why?
THC: We really like Tale of Us. We have a lot of respect for Karm and Matteo,we consider them to be visionaries and innovators and are one of the best acts in the electronic music scene right now.
I’ve never been good with words, I let my music speak for me.
Torture the Artist: You are entering an elevator and meet the boss of your favourite label. What would you tell the label boss to leave a lasting impression?
THC: I probably would not say anything. I would take off my headphones and put them over his ears. I’ve never been good with words, I let my music speak for me.