Following a recent tour through Australia and a North American tour earlier this year, international sensation Maurizio Colella, better known as EDX, returned to the Windy City on July 16th for a set at Studio Paris in Chicago. The producer/dj from Switzerland has been able to establish an increasingly large following thanks to his high energy weekly podcast, No Xcuses, and numerous chart topping releases such as this year\’s Cool You off and Breathin\’. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with EDX for a one on one interview at the Paris Bistro Club & Bar prior to joining the action upstairs featuring Kalendr and EDX.
John C: To start, I would like to thank you for taking this interview and I am excited for your set tonight. Your biography describes you as an Italian residing in Switzerland. Are you a Swiss native or did you move from Italy?
EDX: I was born from Italian parents in Switzerland and grew up in Switzerland. My parents were from Italy, but I am not.
John C: I am actually a first generation Italian in America.
EDX: Ah, from where?
John C: My mother’s family is from Calabria.
EDX: It is a bit different in European countries. When you were born here, you received American citizenship. When you are born in Switzerland, or any other European country, you are not born a German or Swiss citizen, you are still Italian. It’s different, it is just like different cultural sub parts. I am sure you speak Italian?
John C: Unfortunately I do not. I can understand it fairly well, but I do not speak the language myself.
EDX: You wouldn’t understand from speaking the language from Calabria, it is extremely different. It’s even hard for people from Northern Italy to understand.
John C: That would explain my struggle in Italian classes.
John C: In Switzerland, how is the dance music scene and culture? How has it influenced you?
EDX: Well, in the early 90s, we experienced the whole techno movement which came after the Acid House movement took over. We first went through this whole festival thing in the 90s and then again in the last 10 years, and now we are seeing it coming back again. So it is something that is a part of everyone in Switzerland, and it always was. There are different genres of electronic music, with different artists in every decade which stood out and made it somewhere in the world. So there is a very solid electronic music scene in Switzerland.
John C: So dance music has been a mainstay in Switzerland. As I am sure you are aware, here, it has recently reemerged into mainstream popularity, where this new ‘EDM’ movement is taking off stateside and is probably the biggest movement for the music since the early House and Techno movements. Do you notice a difference between the culture you experience here or the fans?
EDX: I feel like we are going 20 years back when I see it. Everything which is happening here seems to have already happened 20 years ago in Europe. There is some differences, however, such as technology that is present now. Back then there was no internet or social media, so it is the same thing but now from a different angle. Now artists promote themselves, they have facebook and all these different channels. But it is literally the same thing as the early rave thing, people getting together, having fun, enjoying the night out, whether that is a festival or dance floor, dressing up, and there is still this sense of one family or community thing. It is interesting to see it again. It is in America, so the approach is different. In Europe, it wasn\’t just a movement, it was a lifestyle and turned into a big thing for a whole generation. In the US, it’s the same thing, and it is now turning into a culture.
John C: So the same, but in an opposite direction?
EDX: Yeah, and it’s good. In the US when you see people get involved, they are on it and they want to do it in the best way possible. We didn’t have any know how back then, we just did it. But it’s nice, its cool too see it is coming back, and it is great to be playing here for me and every other artist from Europe.
John C: Expanding on the beginning, you mentioned there was a lot less instruction available and you were just sort of learning how to do it. Did you get into producing as a result of being a DJ, or the other way around? What was your introduction to being an active part of music?
EDX: Well, I started to produce, I would say around 94-95, but that is also when I became a full professional DJ. I released my first few records in 97-98. Since then I developed into different genres and eventually developed my EDX project. So I was first a DJ and then a producer.
John C: Looking back at your early career, you had released a lot of remixes, even with some very popular artists, such as Deadmau5. During the early years of your career, who were the artists you personally looked to for inspiration and looked up to at the time?
EDX: You know I grew up when classic house and gospel house was very popular. There were a lot of these artists like David Morales, Tony Humphries, Barbara Tucker and all of the New York, Detroit and Chicago angle that we were always looking up to. You know I feel as if they were not as popular in the US, at least not like they were in Europe, including artists like Armin Van Helden, to name another from here. On the DJ perspective I was really digging artists like Carl Cox, Laurent Garnier, and I really liked as well, DJ Hype, who for me was one of the best DJs and provided a lot of influence for turning to being a DJ and just choosing to follow my dream. I was the young kid standing behind him and watching him and it was really great.
John C: I feel similarly about artists I have had the opportunity to witness live. Lets discuss how your venues have progressed from your early days of DJing to now. Even from solely a Chicago perspective, where you performed at EDC Chicago, will take the stage at Studio Paris tonight and earlier this year you performed at the Roof on the Wit, What setting do you seem to enjoy DJing for the most: the more intimate club setting or the larger festival setting?
EDX: Well, I am playing both layouts a lot, so it really depends. I grew up DJing in clubs, and I even had my rave era, and now I DJ at festivals. It does really depend. I like playing for smaller crowds, because I can work much more with the crowd over a 3-4 hour set. I do really like festivals as well. Festivals are always such great energy because you have to cut your set down to like an hour. Sometimes, that is also something that can be really nice because you can challenge yourself. You have to keep your energy really high but you still want to make it a journey for that one hour. If I really had to pick one of these, I prefer the open area. I enjoy the special feeling of being outside with fresh air. I wouldn’t say I like one more than the other…maybe… an outdoor, more open club. That is like Italy, where all over the beaches there is a lot of music.
John C: We actually have a beachside festival here in Chicago, although it was cancelled for this year, called Wavefront.
EDX: Yeah, Wavefront! They canceled it?
John C: Yes, there was some behind the scenes issues that needed to be worked out, but there was a new festival in its place called Riverwest. So no Wavefront this year, but rumor is it will return next year.
EDX: Oh, ok.
John C: Looking at yourself, in terms of being EDX, and the music you have released under this project, you have maintained this characteristic sound I would describe as a very melodic form of progressive house meets trance, and it is done in a very unique way. Lately, you seem to be shifting more into the deeper side of house. Is this a directional thing for you, where you see yourself moving in a new direction or do you see yourself wanting to diversify and release tracks amongst more genres.
EDX: You know, it is like a journey. If we look back at 2007, when I re-launched the EDX project, like EDX 2.0, and you listen to one of my first releases, like Premium line, and you listen to this year’s releases like Reckless Ardor or Cool you off, technically it is very much the same. The difference is in 2007 it might have been 128bpm and in 2014 it is now around 121bpm, so we didn’t really completely change the formula, we just made it slower, more edgy, and less noisy. I am not sure I can say that I have really sought to change anything.
John C: I don\’t want to imply that you are changing as an artist, but more so discover if you are finding new influence, maybe causing you to produce with a slower track speed and other shifts leaning towards the deep side.
EDX: Yeah. If you look back at EDX version 1, which would be like 97 to 2005, I used to remain very classic house and remixed artists like Kool and the Gang, Lauren Hill, Armin Van Helden and Too Funk, and I would work with people like Michael Proctor, Jay Williams, Michael Watford, whom were more on the soulful house side. Back then, I was at a maximum of 124 bpm, and I feel like I am getting a bit back to my roots as an artist. I am always trying to not only keep a signature sound, which as you mentioned in your question is very melodic and based on good feelings and vibes, but I also want to evolve in a way, but I still want to keep my identity.
John C: That last statement leads into a similar question. These days it seems like a lot of producers are turning to using multiple aliases, most commonly when they decide to cross genre lines. Would you define EDX as a project not defined solely by genre?
EDX: Well I am trying to just work with a frame I have built for myself, but I want to move from one boundary to another. For me it is very important to focus and stick to one project. For now I am really pushing the EDX brand and that is why I am not trying to push any other aliases. I used to executive produce for a lot of artists a few years ago, and I still am working for different aliases, but I would not put any focus on them for now.
John C: Under the EDX project, your podcast No Xcuses, celebrated it’s 175th episode last week. What led you into starting the podcast, and what is your favorite part of doing it?
EDX: I feel like everyone that does a podcast has the same idea behind why. For me, it was very important as I traveled the world in different clubs and festivals, different cities and countries and I was meeting so many people who supported me showed me love while provided good feedback. So I wanted to do something for them, so I could give back to everyone on a weekly basis. It also allows me to focus on new music every week as now I spend hours each week searching for new music. But it is a nice way to connect to the fans. I am now talking in the podcasts again, and it is a nice way to interact and a good way to reach people that are not able to go to clubs, maybe because they are too young or they feel too old.
John C: It is appreciated. How about outside of the EDX project and outside of electronic music in general, what other types of music do you listen to?
EDX: Well, I am pretty open about music, so I nearly listen to everything. To be sincere, I am working so much with electronic music that when I am off, I am not always turning to music, I find other ways to seek down time and enjoy some inner peace.
John C: That is understandable. There is one last thing I wanted to touch on. I had an opportunity to read the letter you had written to your fans on Facebook today….
EDX: [Laughs – as if it was unexpected to make it into an interview so soon]
John C: Actually, I appreciate seeing artists that realize the importance of their fans, such as the role they played in their success as an artist, and are willing to show appreciation for them. What I wanted to discuss came near the end of your letter, when you mentioned you wanted to turn the table for your fans and give back to them for the support they have shown you. What does the future hold for fans of EDX?
EDX: Well every year I try and give something back. Last year we did have some opportunities to fly some fans on a private jet, we did it last year in the US and we did it in Europe as well. It was a great experience for the 2 or 3 fans that won, but this year I want to do something that is more for everyone, I want to do something where we can all participate together. We are going to launch a remix contest for next week and then in a couple more weeks we are going to try and do seminars, maybe on Skype, along different giveaways and bootlegs, but we haven’t fully locked in the year. The first remix contest should be launched this Friday. Actually, it is very important to me. At the end of the day, I mean, it is nice to be home and have your own music, but in the end one of the best things is traveling all over the world and seeing that there are people everywhere that show appreciation and are touched by what you are doing back in your small studio, located in small neighborhood of a big city in Switzerland. You can travel to the south of the US, to Brazil, to Russia, Australia, China, Japan, and all over Europe and see people get touched by what you do. There are some fans that know the lyrics to your songs better than you may know them yourself, because you have had to move on to new things. But everyone has a story to some songs, sometimes it is “this is the song from when I met my girlfriend, or maybe “this is the song that help me get over my girlfriend.” [Laughs] It’s a blessing what I am doing and I think it is really important that DJs show appreciation and give something back.
John C: Well as a fan I love seeing that type of approach and as a young producer I am always looking for new learning experiences. The fans appreciate things like the remix competitions being made available.
EDX: Yeah sure, and we will guarantee release. For this release contest it will be released on multiple labels, on Ultra, on labels in Mexico and Brazil, in Germany on Countore, in Australia on OneLove Totem. It will be an opportunity for artists to have a remix on 8 of the biggest dance labels in the world and, at the end of the day, we also have our own imprint. You never know out of these contests, we could find new talents we can develop and support like we do for our Helvetic Nerds artists.
John C: Sounds very cool. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to interview you and share it with our followers.
EDX: Thank you and hopefully you will be sticking around for a bit of the noise upstairs?
John C: I most certainly will.
…and stick around I did! By the time I had exited the Bistro club to transition back upstairs to the Paris Studio night club, a line of fans eager had gathered to enjoy EDX\’s set. Inside the club, patrons were already enjoying the excitement as Chicago regular DJ Kalendr controlled the decks. It wasn\’t long, however, before an eruption of applause began to take place as EDX took to the stage.
The set was the perfect closure to our interview as EDX led the room with energetic and dance floor packing blends of progressive build ups, filter sweep leading into melodic bridges and dropping chart dominating fan-favorites. It may have been a late night on a Wednesday, but from the inside of Studio Paris you would have never known. The crowd was enchanted by EDX\’s signature style, which, as expressed in our interview, showed diversity in track selection, but led the dance floor through a very calculated journey. While EDX promises to concentrate more time on giving back to his fans, the intensity of his set made one thing certain: Pleasing his fans has always been EDX\’s priority.
A special thank you is owed to Maurizio, his manager Malik and Sean from Canvas Creative for providing us with this opportunity.
Want to vote for EDX in the DJ Mag Top 100? Click Here.
-John C (Twitter).
Also, feel free to check out the teaser to EDX\’s remix of Cash Cash – Lightning: