HLZ Interview (March 2021)

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Q: Introduce yourself and tell us a bit of the history behind HLZ

A: I’m Emilio aka HLZ, Italian DJ & Producer based in London.

I’ve been making music since 2005. My music career started in Milan, but I’m from Southern Italy.

Mmmm.. what else? I have a problem buying too many synths, I love cooking and i hate pineapple on pizza ah. 

I’m blessed to release music for some of my favourite labels, and music is a vital part of my life.

Q: Where did you get your name from? 

A: The name is an acronym for “hellz”. Long story short, my former stage name was “hellraizer,” butit happened on that at the same time Lynx released some tunes with a producer called Hellrazor, as you can imagine there was big confusion and people would ask me if I was making tunes with Lynx (I wished), so here comes HLZ!

Q:  Who is your favorite non-dnb artist?

A: Now we’re going with the hard questions! Very hard to answer to this, let’s do this, last album I really really loved and listened on repeat. Was: “Thundercat – It is what it is“, sublime piece of music.

Q: What was your first experience with Drum and Bass like?

A: MTV video of Temper Temper by Goldie and I was like “Who the F is this guy?” That was really the starting point, when MTV used to play weird stuff late in the night.

Q: Talk about your recent < Release / Signing to label >>

A: Most recent release is “In Between EP” for a prestige music label based in SF. I honestly love the 3 tracks on this ep and so far the support has been incredible.
with people like DJ Craze, Doc Scott and many others playing the tracks on their streaming shows.

Most recent signing is an EP for Integral (Artificial Intelligence Label ), long overdue as my only EP for them was back in 2015.

Q: What is you’re biggest break / thing you are most thankful for to date in your music career?

A: Definitely remixing Goldie for his Saturnz Return anniversary project on London Records.

He is my musical idol so the fact that he asked me to remix “Crystal Clear” was a phenomenal breaking moment for me.

Q: Who are your top 5 current Drum & Bass artists?

A: Trace, Quadrant & Iris, SD, Bungle, Zero T, -I’m becoming more and more picky about the music I like, but the aforementioned artist’s always deliver tracks that I really love.

Q: If you could collab with any artist, of any genre / style, who would it be and why?

A: Trent Reznor, especially now that he’s working more as a movie composer. I’m fascinated by dark atmospheres ( you can hear in my own music).

and I really like Trent’s vision about music where integrity is a vital part of his vision and, well, he has one of the most beautiful collections of synths in the world.

Q: Describe your favorite bassline of all time, preferably by just describing the sound (no technical terms this is supposed to just be a fun answer).

A: Is not the most known tune but I go for Fierce & Cause 4 Concern – Bermuda, the best way to describe this tune is; imagining if “the Cure” wrote a dnb track. The melancholic tone of the bassline is wonderful, is one of these “5am driving alone ” tunes.

Q: Tell us about the strangest / most embarrassing experience you’ve had before, during or after a show.

A: Ouch so many! Maybe the strangest; a guy that approached me asking “please can I play some techno? I just got out of jail.” He really meant that!

Embarrassing? Keeping out the drunk/rockstar I had in my twenties, one that really made me feel like shit was during a gig in Lincoln ( UK ), the promoter’s girlfriend asked me something while I was playing. (Here a secret for all readers: When we play we can’t hear and understand shit.)

 So she asked something and my answer was “NO”. And I see her face totally disappointed. What she asked? If I could sign a record of mine she bought, and I said NO! I felt so bad that still to this day I apologize to her ah.

Q: Where do you see / hope to see the sound of Drum and Bass evolving too in the next few years.

A: Interesting question, I generally think speaking dnb is very healthy but i‘m really on the fence having dnb in pop charts. I truly think the real essence of this sound has to stay in the underground. 

One thing I hope is producers trying to have more stripped, unpredictable tracks. For me the hyper obsession with the DJ structure is starting to be counterproductive and is a limit to the potential creativity of this music. 

Q: What is one tip you would like to give to aspiring Drum and Bass artists

A: To be patient, is a long road and sometimes a non-comfortable one. As cliche as it sounds, try to have fun when you write music, no matter what level you on.

Mixdown are important in modern music production but, please, do not obsess about it .
Try to think like a kid and “mess around” with your tools.

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Listen and observe precision, per the sounds of HLZ

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About Author

With at first being a Drum & Bass connoisseur, I inevitably became an artist; establishing my own selections and style of heavy, dark, & chaotic neuro. Taking initiative, I started the #TeamNeuro project; rallying dnb artists from state-side to across the globe in support of the genre as whole -Humbly breaking the barriers/limits as an American.