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In Conversation: PureNRG

In Conversation: PureNRG

Andrew Kemp | Features & Interviews

Billed as one of the first acts to make trance work in a live setting, PureNRG are as close to a supergroup as the genre has produced. Formed by Guiseppe Ottaviani of Nu NRG and Richard Mowatt, known primarily by his Solarstone alias, the group came into existence in 2015, releasing six singles to date including “Prophecy”, the anthem for Istoria 2017 Trance Event. Both long-term fixtures in the trance scene, the pair are quite a combination, so we thought we’d catch up with them ahead of their show in Leeds on Friday 2nd June.

Hi Giuseppe, Richard. How did your collaboration come about?
G: A few years ago we were touring together in Australia, we were chatting about how I enjoyed my live performances more than Djing - and how also Rich enjoyed playing live in his old band ‘Emission’ – hence we came across the idea of doing something together.

R: Yes, it was suggested by our manager Paula and it was a proper ‘light bulb’ moment – even the name ‘PureNRG’ was a shoo-in. Our first studio session was such an ‘easy’ experience, the ideas flowed fast & naturally – this is why we enjoy PureNRG so much, we can be creative and bounce off each other in a really positive way musically.

Giuseppe’s old group Nu NRG are often billed as the first trance act to make the genre work in a live scenario; is it a more difficult trick to pull off than when you’re overseeing a DJ set?
G: Well it’s definitely a challenge, especially now that the word “live” is being inaccurately over-used. People tend to misunderstand what a live act is until they see and hear it in action. You cannot imagine how many comments we get from people saying “you guys are really playing keyboards live are you?” It’s definitely something different that the majority of people are not really used to seeing, and that’s the best part; we do something different - something special - and I’m proud to say that I’ve played this way since 2001.

R: He is right, it’s a completely different experience to Djing – which I love by the way – playing live is refreshing – and nerve-wracking! I was worried about making mistakes in the beginning but now I don’t mind – Giuseppe says it is ‘part of the performance’ and people ‘don’t mind’. Good job!

You’ve both been active in the music scene for over twenty years. How have your methods of working changed in that time?
G: In terms of playing at gigs I never changed my approach, it’s the technology which changes – improves over time.

R: It’s probably more different as a Dj – I never much liked playing off vinyl, it’s cumbersome, jumps, sometimes gets scratched - and gets lost on the way to gigs! The technology these days gives me so many more tools to be creative with – effects & looping being just two of them.

What is the secret to keeping things fresh and achieving such longevity?
R: Not dying helps with the longevity!

G: It being a passion as opposed to a job is important – Rich & I are both lucky in that we were able to turn our hobby into a full-time career, with persistence, perseverance and lots of patience – and a little bit of luck along the way.

It’s interesting to see the variety of ways that electronic musicians take on live performance. Tell us a bit about what each of you do during a live set.
G: We have exactly the same set up…

R: Which Giuseppe built by the way!

G: We play various lead elements of each track live, trigger loops, FX and with the brand new setup we introduced live percussion too. It is all very fluid.

R: Our setups are synchronised so everything is in time, we monitor everything with ear buds and we each have sections of each song that we can perform, although we can swap over & improvise too – you might hear Giuseppe playing something random in a random place that can inspire me to do something else on-the-spot. 

You’ll be in Yorkshire in June for a show at Leeds’ O2 Academy, Celebrating 10 years of Digital Society Leeds. How have previous visits to the city been?  
G: I played with Ferry Corsten for DS a few years ago; that was a great show & I can’t wait to come back!

R: My last show with DS was when I hosted the Pure Trance room many few years ago; it’s nice to finally be asked to return as part of PureNRG.

That show has a huge line-up, with Paul Van Dyk, Aly & Fila, Christina Novelli and Gabriel & Dresden among others. Who on the line-up are you most excited to see play?
R: Gabriel & Dresden, they should hopefully be playing some tracks from their forthcoming new album, fingers crossed!

G: I’m looking forward to seeing Paul again as I haven’t seen him since the accident.

Finally, we should finish on some trance music. What’s the definitive track for introducing someone to the genre for the first time?
G: Probably the same track that introduced me to Trance – William Orbit’s ‘Adagio for Strings’ (Ferry Corsten Remix).

R: Peter Steele ‘Mantra’.

PureNRG play at Leeds’ O2 Academy on Friday 2nd June, on a night that celebrates 10 years of Digital Society with big names performers including Paul Van Dyk, Aly & Fila, Gabriel & Dresden and plenty more.

Photo courtesy of Justin Butts

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