Durante: "I Try to Make Music That Can Stand the Test of Time"

The Los Angeles-based, Florence-born DJ and producer dives deep into the sonic influences and classic production techniques on his captivating debut album, 'Enter,' on Anjunadeep, from '00s Cocoon compilation albums to Phil Collins' gated reverb.

9 min
Durante Beatport Interview
Apr 19, 2024
Ana Yglesias

Durante has been obsessed with figuring out how to make the dance music sounds that move him since he was 14. He's been DJing since he was in college, around 12 years ago, and dropped his first track, "Slow Burn," a summery, chilled house tune, a decade ago. Despite his time in the game and the waves he's made in the Los Angeles dance music scene and beyond, he just dropped his debut album, Enter, on Anjuadeep, on April 5th.

Good things are always worth the wait, as is the case for Durante's album, a captivating 49-minute sonic journey through his musical influences and evolution.

"Enter, in reference to my sound, is kind of a synopsis of my life in a way. It starts with that piano ballad; piano was my first instrument, that's the starting point. It evolves into the different kind of music I was into growing up. On the latter half of the record, it's more of the sound that I'm creating for the dance floor and playing in my sets currently, and the music that I'm going to continue making down the road. It's very inclusive of my entire life, in terms of all of the different facets of dance music that I've been interested in and been a part of over time," he tells us.

Beatport recently caught up with Durante over video chat, who called in from his Los Angeles home studio, to dive deep into the new album, his favorite gear and production techniques and more.

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"I wanted it to feel like my world of music that I've created thus far while still being a completely new and different body of work. I also wanted it to feel like a dance record at the end of the day. I love Underworld and the Chemical Brothers and I love that their albums were always extremely danceable."

"Hot Night" with Grimes' bestie HANA sounds like an energetic '90s Euro rave tune. "Leonid" and "Losing Game" are homages to his earlier tunes "Maia" and Split Wick," released in 2019 and 2017, respectively, on Amtrac's OPENERS. (The deep and punchy "Split Wick" remains his sixth-most popular track on Beatport.) The dark, moody and driving "Holding On," featuring Nathan Nicholson's haunting vocals, is inspired by the Talking Heads and New Order he grew up listening to thanks to his mom, as well as the current producers he thinks does that '80s-indebted sound so well; Âme, Dixon and Solomun.

Durante has long admired Carl Cox and Sven Vath—particularly the timeless sound of his Cocoon compilation albums—who also serve as sonic inspiration for Enter. Ever since his cousins in Italy gave him the Cocoon Compilation G CD, he's anticipated its annual release. "It's very minimal," he says of the 2007 Cocoon album, which features an absolutely stacked tracklist including Jamie Jones, Audion, Marcel Dettmann, Tiefschwarz and Stephan Bodzin.

"I didn't really understand at the time, but as I grew with it, I just fell in love with it. It was a big inspiration for me. When I started deciding what genre of music I really wanted to make, that sound just stood out to me as a clear winner. I find it so worldly and timeless. I try to make music that can stand the test of time for many years to come…I try to use a lot of timeless sounds or sounds from earlier eras and incorporate them in a new way."

The album is a celebration of the expansiveness of Durante's sound and the sounds that continue to inspire his enrollment in "YouTube University" for music production. The sometimes-tedious project led to growth in and out of the studio. The original versions of the album tracks only took him two months to write, but three years to finish.

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"Some songs are very easy to finish and some are so hard. Before I started working on the album, I would never finish those songs that were hard to finish. When I decided to do the album, it takes a bit of maturity and with that comes the idea that, 'Okay, this is the song, it can be finished, there's something here,'" the "LMK" producer reflects.

"I think I did that in life too; if something wasn't easy, I would just be like air and go where it was easy instead of holding my ground and seeing it through. That was a really great learning experience."

If he hadn't adopted this new mentality, we might not have gotten "Opalescent" or "Holding On," the latter of which went through three or four different versions before he found the right fit with its infectious '80s indie dance vibe.

But what makes a track sound timeless?

"I think a lot of it is in the sounds that are used. I think the 909 and 808 will always be in dance music until the end of time. Also, using the synths and maybe the samples that were used back in the day. I'm always looking for old sample CDs from the '90s and '00s, before they were uploading samples on the internet. There're so many great samples that can be used to make music sound classic. Also [finding] the synthesizers and learning how they work and figuring out how a sound you love from an old track was made and using it on a new song," he posits.

There are some pretty cool production techniques behind the layered, immersive sounds on "Holding On." The crashing sound comes from picking up and [gently] dropping the Moog Grandmother when the spring reverb is on. He also used parallel compression (also known as New York compression), a mixing technique popularized by New York City mix engineers in the '90s that gives tracks a beefy and punchy sound. He also used a lot of gated reverb: "That was a big sound of the '80s. You hit a snare through a plate reverb and you gate it so that it hard cuts after two seconds…it's all over Phil Collins' music," he explains.

In terms of gear, he currently has five synths—a UDO Super 6, Novation Peak, Elektron Digitone, Korg minilogue and the Moog Grandmother—a Roland HandSonic drum pad, some pedals and monitors all routed and ready to jam out on. While he loves researching and recreating how different sounds were made, he only wants to have gear that he'll use regularly, as to not turn into someone who just has a bunch of synths hidden away, collecting dust. When asked what his dream gear purchase would be the Lexicon Prime Time model 93 delay pedal, which he used a plug-in version on his album.

"Digital is really powerful but it's a lot of the sounds between the notes that digital can't really emulate. It's like reading between the lines in a way," Durante explains.

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"I think it's really important to have sounds be raw in music, dance music, especially. I really don't like dance music that sounds too clean. I think it does the roots of dance music a disservice to have music that sounds too perfect because the roots of dance music were seeped in counterculture and queer culture. It wasn't this perfect sound, it was really raw, because the musicians didn't have access to insane high-end studios. I think it's important to continue that legacy in modern dance music."

Durante became a DJ because of his love of producing dance music, and he sees the dance floor as a separate space from music made for home listening and streaming.

"I don’t want to play Spotify music in a DJ set; that's for long drives or work sessions. Being on a dance floor is a completely different experience…I think it's important for a dance floor to be a place where people can just dance and lose themselves in the moment for hours on end. A lot of times, music that sounds good at home can break up that hypnotism," Durante explains.

"My favorite sets are the ones where I can just go on a dance floor and it completely melts my brain. I don't have to think about anything, I don't know any of the music and I can be a part of this other world. I like to close my eyes like on a dance floor because the lights can be a little bit too intense for me. So, I'm always playing for whoever is closing their eyes and dancing with the music."

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