Wow guys, I must say – 2013 has really been a breakthrough year for you. But you guys have been a team since 2005 right? How did you guys join forces in the beginning?
We’ve been friends forever. We were both born in the same small coastal town in the center of Italy, on the Adriatic side. It’s the kind of place where everybody knows everybody else. Until 2005, we worked in music separately, both of us starting at the age of 13. Cesare used to make beats with an Atari Falcon 030 and an Ensoniq ASR-10 sampler. Nicola was listening to a lot of old vinyl from the collection of his uncle, who used to be a radio DJ. He really got into Salsoul Records and the music of Larry Levan. Then in 2000, Cesare moved to Milan where he worked as a sound engineer and arranger for different studios producing club music. Nicola had many experiences in clubs and events all over Italy, where he met lots of international DJs and producers. After these different experiences all over Italy, we decided to join forces – in DJ-ing, clubbing, and production. Hence, the NiCe7 project was born.
I recall your 2007 remix of ‘Colombian Soul’ by Mark Knight and D. Ramirez was the hit track on Toolroom that started it all for you guys. How did Mark Knight scout you out for the project?
To be honest: he didn’t scout us out…we were the ones who came to him! When we heard ‘Colombian Soul’ for the first time, we were crazy about the melody. But it was too heavy for the clubs we normally play in. So we made our own version, in a new arrangement but with the same main melody. We were excited about the result, so we sent the remix to Mark. He liked it a lot and decided to release it soon after. It was incredible to reach the top 10 in Beatport with our very first release.
I happen to really admire the name “Nice7”, but I do always wonder, as I’m sure a lot of your fans have as well: where did it come from?
It’s still top-secret.
I know you guys have done a lot of touring throughout Europe, holding down your home country Italy as well as hitting countries such as the UK, Spain, Romania, France, etc. Are you looking forward to your US debut? There has been a lot of demand over here for Nice7.
We’re actually getting many booking inquiries for gigs in the US. We are really excited to play over there. As soon as we get our working visas, of course!
I’m glad so many of your original tracks and remixes have climbed the Beatport charts over the past year, especially the mixes for Jon Cutler and Tube & Berger, as well as your own club smasher ‘Bassline Soldiers’. Do you guys have a personal favorite, or do they all mean something special?
We always try to put something special in all of our tracks and each one has its own story. But if we had to choose, we’d say ‘Time to Get Physical’ from last year’s EP Back to Basics on Noir Music is our favorite. We felt its magic right from the start. No matter how much we worked on it, we were always excited to hear it. Even now, more than a year later, it gives us that same feeling. We think our fans love it too – since they are always asking us to play it.
Can you explain how you two work together in the studio when making music? What software or instruments do you use? How long does it usually take you guys to finish a track?
Cesare does more of the technical work and the studio arrangements. Nicola is always looking for new music and different ideas to work on. But we do everything together, both in the studio and during live sets. In the studio we use a DAW Cubase 7, Universal Audio plug-ins (on two UAD2 quads) and a Native Instruments soft synth (including Maschine). We also use in every track an analog synth like Roland SH-101, Moog Voyager, Waldorf Pulse Plus and a virtual analog synth like Virus TI and Clavia Nord Rack 2x. The synths are recorded through a Neve 73 preamp clone with a RME Fireface 800 audio interface. It usually takes a couple weeks to finish a track; we always want to be sure to do something we really like and that we want to release too.
Now for a pretty controversial question in the DJ-world: vinyl or technology? What do you guys use when you play sets? What is your stance on this ongoing debate?
We are in our mid-thirties, so we’ve been using vinyl for almost 20 years. But new technology makes our jobs easier, and it certainly weighs a lot less. Right now, we’re actually playing with Traktor using vinyl timecode controllers. It’s the best way for us to play with turntables but still travel light. As for the other DJs: we don’t care what they use. Everyone is free to choose the best solution. The only thing that really matters is the music.