Hailing from Italy, Stefano Ranieri has been producing and releasing music for around 15 years, with a sound very much rooted in – but not confined to – soulful house. Over the years his tracks have been supported by Masters At Work, Anané, Carl Cox, Bob Sinclair and Nic Fanciulli, while his 2018 hit Less Talk was picked up by Defected for their legendary Miami album that year. Landing 23 July on Nulu Electronic – the label of Anané – Risonanza perfectly reflects Ranieri’s history and the legacy he brings to his art. From the rhythmic acid kiss of 1942 to the laid-back Grace Jones inspired vibe of Saulè, Stefano explores house music in all its myriad forms across 15 distinct tracks…
Hi Stefano – welcome to DMC. Where in the world do we find you today?
Hy guys, thank you for having me, I’m in my own town, Pescara in Italia.
When did you start writing/producing music?
I bought my first sampler in 1992, an Ensoniq 16 Plus, I remember that you could sample just a few seconds. I’ve always had a particular aptitude for sampling, I enjoyed experimenting, I still have promos in my vinyl collection. At the time it was the easiest way to make self-produced things sound good. The cost, however, was a bit excessive haha.
What was it about music that drew you to that world?
I liked all the musical genres, I remember locking myself in my room in the dark with Walkman and listening to my older brothers’ tapes. I was setting out on my journey in the true sense of the word. I think this is the thing that brought me closer to music, the feeling of freedom it gives you, in life there are attitudes and passions, either you have them or you don’t. I absolutely had the music. Although I have a sociable character, a part of me is introverted, and I was indulging this part of me by taking refuge in music, moments of intimacy that I didn’t want to share with anyone.
Who have been some of your biggest influence in your career, both inside and outside of dance music?
I am a fanatic of effects and synths, when I first listened to “Another Brick In The Wall” by Pink Floyd I was really shocked, I was 12 I think. During those years there was the real discovery of music for me. I have had so many influences outside of dance over the years, from the Clash to Simon And Garfunkel, there was some kind of music before, really crazy. I could not make a list, it would be too long, in dance music surely the Masters At Work have characterized my path. I was also very loyal to Nick Holder’s DNH. When I went to buy records and a MAW or a DNH came out I was not listening in the shop, I preferred to buy them and listen at home with a nice joint.
The title of your new album translates as “resonance” – what resonance would you like your music to have on people who listen to it?
In this album there is my whole life, there are 15 tracks of various genres. Mine has been and is a long journey, I have never focused on just one genre, I always loved to have my mind open between them. I would like to educate people on the true meaning of the word Resonance, that is, for the listener to tune into me. Music has a truly enormous power over the soul, over feelings, over moods, over life in general. In this album there is the opportunity to know me in the deepest way, this is very important to me.
There’s a lot of different styles of house music on here – where do you find inspiration for your work?
I listen to a lot of music, really a lot, each track has its own story, I am a dreamer, I associate music with images and images with music. Ideas bounce from side to side until they merge into a sound. I love making music because it is always unknown, you never know where you will go. I let myself to feel free and be inspired by what happens to me during creation.
Do you ever sit down and say “today I’ll make an afro house track”? Or does it happen more organically than that?
Never, I have never had this approach. I sit and let myself be carried away, it’s really all magic, the genre is absolutely secondary to me, I don’t really care. What matters to me is having the right sound, the one that gives me chills and. I am able to listen to a loop for hours without ever stoping. Ask to my wife, haha.
This is a hard question, but do you have a particular favourite track on the album?
No, simply because each has its own story. What I can say is that on “Please Tell Me” and “C’est Terrible” I spent many hours on the loop playing with the equalizers. They are all important and any tracks I should remove would leave a void, which is why I am sure of this.
What were some of your main creative challenges when making the album, and how did you overcome them?
On the creative side there were no challenges, this Album was born for that reason, in a very natural way and not because it was ‘necessary’. The challenge was in the Mixing and Mastering phase. The whole album was mixed by me and my close friend and brother Christian Mantini and the mastering part was entirely by him. A great result, I thank you Christian for making the impossible possible. Actually this happens often when you work with him!
Have you discovered bits of kit or new tech along your journey as a producer that changed the way you make music?
Sure, I’ve had a lot of Synths and Samplers along the way, but I’ve never been impressed. The important thing is to have clear ideas in this job, you don’t need to have a millionaire studio to create, you need ideas and some right software. I am very Old School in this.
Tell us about your work with Nulu Electronic – you seem to have a close relationship with the label…
When you are lucky to arrive at Nulu & Nulu Electronic and you are a deep soul you can feel the values the owner Anané has given to the labels from the beginning and if you can feel it you can really understand who you want to be and if you can make it. Working with Anané and Christian at Nulu Labels really opened my mind, there is a way of working that I didn’t even think existed, but inside of me I always wanted it to be real and their way is the reality I dreamed of, bringing me bit by bit to show my love for music and production without thinking of genres but feeling the soul and finding the best way. I don’t know if I made the idea. Here there is the true essence of the artist, to be able to take out the best and not just the musical side. It’s a spiritual thing. So I immediately found myself and decided to only work with them simply because they are where I wanted to be.
Where do you find solace outside of music?
My wife and I love the mountains, when we have the opportunity we go find refuge into the nature, here in Abruzzo there are wonderful places. In less than an hour you can go from a mountain peak to the sea beach. We also live in the countryside and often take long walks.
What do you tend to spend your time doing once out of the studio?
I really like to shop at home, I have been vegan for over 10 years and I am a lover of natural products, possibly at km 0. I am always looking for the best fruit and vegetables. I like to make bread at home with special flours, simple things that give me a lot of joy and serenity, I am very connected to traditions.
Given the last 16 months or so of the pandemic, music’s role seems more profound than ever. Do you think the pandemic has changed how you think about music?
No I don’t think so, I lead a healthy life, I have never been afraid of all the chaos around us. I am a positive person, always going to the good side of human side, positive thoughts, and I strongly believe in the spirituality that every human being has inside, you just have to question yourself and bring out your own being. I like reading spiritual book, they help the soul to stay strong and not be afraid of the attacks we receive every day. I don’t watch the news, I’m the one who going to find the best of them. I definitely had more time to think about music in general and about essential things.
Finally, what words of advice would you give someone who feels they have an album in them, but hasn’t started on their creative journey yet?
To make an Album it takes a lot of time and contents/material, so get to work, hard work and dedication and never give up until you find the way and the right people who are able to understand you, then you can do what you feel.
Thanks for hosting me in your space and I hope to be back soon.
Photos by Isabella De Luca & Riccardo Livorni if you can include.