This interview was first published on The Sunday Times.
Following a hypnotic experience at Ħaġar Qim two years ago, French DJ, composer and sound engineer Vincent Villius – better known as Aes Dana – is collaborating once again with Mario Sammut (artistically known as Cygna) for a second live performance in Malta.
The two artists’ ‘silent’ concert in Ħaġar Qim, held back in 2012, had left the audience hypnotised by the visual/sonar experience that used cutting-edge technology to link our heritage with modern-day.
The upcoming concert, titled A Panoramic Friday the 13th, promises to be equally uplifting, with the performance complemented by a video-mapped stage (set up with the help of Studio7) for stunning, realtime effects.
Cygna andAes Dana will also be supported by Sonitus Eco, Duncan F, Claire Tonna, Stimulus Timbre, Across Borders, Microlith and Nebula. Aes Dana is expected to stop in Malta for some days after the performance in order to plan new projects with Cygna.
A Panoramic Friday the 13th will be held on Friday at Buskett Road House. For more details click here.
Aes Dana interviewed
You recently remastered Cygna’s album Opus Ena on your label, Ultimae Records– what led to this decision?
Opus Ena is an outstanding album which really deserved a new mastering to reveal the beauty of the compositions, enhancing some of the frequencies, dimming others. I took the decision to work on this prior to a digital release on Ultimae Records.
What are you expecting from the upcoming concert?
I’d say a good soundsystem, and a welcoming public. Warm weather, of course, since it’s outdoors. I hope the success of our previous concert in Ħaġar Qim will convince audiophiles to join us for this long ambient, downtempo and chillout night. We’re bringing together a bunch of high-flying artists who I’m sure will delight everyone.
What can you tell us about your collaboration with Maltese artists like Cygna?
Mario Sammut, better known as Cygna, is a true genius, a free and bubbling artist. We click together and, in the studio, we create and compose at a very fast pace. There’s a new sound that comes out of the fusion of our minds, styles and expertise which ishighly motivating. We’ve got a few projects coming up together and an album for Cygna to release on Ultimae Records for sure.But we are also planning collaborative tracks and an audio sample collection.
What has been happening on the musical front since the release of Pollen?
I released an audio sample library entitled Aethers 01 in December last year; it’s a collection of field recordings, atmospheric pads and drum elements dedicated to all music producers. Ultimae Records released the USB key in a neat metal box, and for the digital version we did a partnership with Loopmasters. I can humbly say it was a success and now I’m working on the second chapter.
I’ve also been working on all the Ultimae releases, mastering and artwork; developing the studio and mastering works by many international artists, and working on various remixes and my next series of vinyl releases, [Far & Off ].
This is not your first collaboration with Aes Dana – how did your music association start and why do you enjoy working together?
It started a bit more than two years ago. The first track was made purposely for the Ħagar Qim concert andour wotkflow was so natural from the first time we set in the studio to work. Both of us are very efficient and know our tools. We have common backgrounds, which also enhances our collaboration.
What can you tell us about the setlist for the upcoming concert?
Apart from an outstanding specialised sound system, we will have special lightning and projections. The stage will be video-mapped for stunning realtime effects,all of which is done with the help of Studio7, who always support my projects.
The featured artists will slowly lead to Aes Dana’s extended two-hour live act, during which he will be spinning some of his new works. We will set up a sonic pyramid housing a surround system in which a 10-minute soundwork will be playing in 5.1 sound.
In the meantime you’ve also been working on a lot of collaborations with other artists, from musicians to theatre, artistic installations and others. Is there a particular project that is close to your heart?
Alot has been happening in the last 12 months. I’ve been writing music for films like Simshar and Sħab, writing music for television series, theatre performances and even producing other Maltese artists’ work. I’ve collaborated on tracks with Carbon Based Lifeforms, Chapter Zero and Aes Dana,performed at festivals abroad and am working on interactive installations for upcoming local festivals. But I have to say that I mostly enjoy theatre productions.
What are your most recent inspirations?
Honestly,I don’t believe in the term ‘inspiration’. Nothing inspires me, or also it could be that eveything does. So inspiration is not a variable which pops out here and there, but rather a constant, evolvingelement.
I hope that soon I will find time to sit down and start a new album for Ultimae Records, and in parallel prepare for two big projects: one similar to the Ħaġar Qim experience and the other a concept album entitled Music for Theatre.