An Interview with: Andrea Caccese (Dead Rituals)

 Some formalities first then…

Name: Andrea Caccese

Artist name: Dead Rituals

Where are you from/Based? Naples, Italy

Genre(s): Shoegaze, Alternative Rock, Post-Punk

Any label affiliations: Hideout Recordings (Our own label / studio)

On to the good stuff…

You seemed to record for this project between America and Italy, what’s the reason for travelling so much for the records?

I am originally from Italy, but I spent roughly 15 years abroad. I’ve been living in New York City over the last few years, where I was playing in a few local bands. I started recording the first Dead Rituals EP there, but it was completed in Melbourne, Australia, where I stayed for a year. Eventually I decided to move back to Italy, where I hooked up with some old friends and we turned what was mainly my solo recording project into a more collaborative band, where we can experiment with different ideas and sounds.

Who produces your material?

I am a big studio nerd, and I amassed a collection of nice instruments and analog gear over the years. I love to use some of my favourite vintage preamps and compressor, which aren’t as great as utility tools, but they are amazing at coloring the sounds in unique ways. The immediacy of analog is a big part of the sound for me, but the versatility of digital allows me to work quickly and effectively, which today is essential.

What does your set up look like? (Hardware/Go to plug ins etc)

I mostly record through vintage tube and FET preamps from a company called Altec, but I also love modern stuff like the 610 preamp from Universal Audio. Their stuff is particularly known for the Motown era sound, and it is definitely not subtle. When I don’t need color, I simply use interface pres from RME or Apogee, depending on what I am after. I use a lot of hardware compression as well, with a few FET altec units from the 70s, as well as affordable, but trustworthy stuff like DBX 160s and SYMETRIX 501s.

In the digital domain, I’m comfortable with Logic, and i tend to use plugins from Soundtoys, Oeksound, Klanghelm and Black Rooster Audio – they sound excellent and cover most of my needs!

I also have a nice selection of instruments, with some drums and percussion, a dozen guitars and basses, as well as a few analog and digital hardware synths. I am kind of new to synths and it was initially scary to dive into it, coming from a very raw punk background where all you needed was a loud amp and a scruffy guitar! However, I feel like I discovered a whole new world. I have a Moog Sirin, which I really love for cool monophonic sounds and bass tones, as well as as an Organelle and a couple of the Volca series units from Korg. There is something quirky and lo-fi about those which I really like

Dead Rituals Performing Live

What is your current hardware/pedal setup and what couldn’t you live without?

I have something like 50-60 pedals and some of them live on my live board, others are exclusively for studio use. In the studio, I am in love with my vintage Boss DM-3 analog delay. The DM2 gets all the good press, but there is something about the DM-3 that really speaks to me. It’s the perfect “Always on” type delay for subtle effects. It gets some use on vocals too!

I always change stuff around, but one of my “can’t live without” effects would be Mr. Black’s Eterna reverb. It is a magical algorithm with a character I just haven’t found on any other reverb. It can be subtle, but it can also go in near oscillation, with a gritty, modulated edge to it. It’s all over the Dead Rituals EP, and even more so on the newer stuff we’re currently recording.

What happened to your other projects such as ‘I used to be a sparrow’, what is your musical background and how did you end up here?

I spent about 7 years in Sweden, and I Used To Be A Sparrow was my main music project there. I co-wrote two albums with my talented friend, Francis Pettersson, who is now making music as Francis Moon. Eventually I left Sweden and moved to the States, and he moved to Holland, so we couldn’t really viably continue to make music as I Used To Be A Sparrow, but we still try and collaborate on stuff when we can – Francis recently did some vocals on Dead Rituals’ song, Melbourne! Now that we’re both in Europe we might be able to do more Sparrow stuff at some point, who knows!

Your new song Closer has had an impressive amount of plays, have you promoted this song differently to your other tracks?

As a small independent artist, I realised that promoting a first release from a brand new musical project can be quite difficult. The idea was to focus on heavily promoting one song only, but I couldn’t bring myself to only do one single, so I preferred to release an EP instead, just to have something more out there. The song “Closer” was released with a music video, which thankfully was picked up by a few bloggers and even an MTV feature that focuses on new artists, which was kind of a nice boost for it.

Not to sound arrogant, but I think that the other songs would have done just as well if I had the time and resources to promote those the same way as I did with Closer, but since I only really had the opportunity to push harder on one song, I figured that was the one to bet on, just because it was the latest one I wrote for the project and felt fresher in my mind!

In a perfect world, I would have loved to have the budget to do similar animated music video for each track, and have enough budget and free time to promote them all equally.

Something I struggle with when it comes to my own music, is that I can have two songs that I believe are equally as strong but one just naturally out performs another. What do you think make some songs more successful than others? Do you think it’s always an accurate reflection on how good the track is?

I think that the way people respond to music involves something more than just people liking one song over another. There are just so many factors at plays and at times, content presentation and pure chance matter. For instance, people often overlook music that’s release as audio only, but the very same song can grow hugely popular with a music video that’s fun or engaging. Or one day, you can have a blogger or a playlist maker who is really  into one of your tracks and give you a nice shot at some greater exposure, purely out of someone’s personal taste.

As an artist, I’ve loved some songs I made, that have not really gone anywhere or have never even been published, but I don’t really think about it – In the end, I like to make music that makes me feel good, and if other people like it, even better! If not, I’ll always still cherish each song and the memories associated with each project.

What are your main goals for 2020?

Survive Coronavirus, and record more music! I am currently learning how to play the drums – I am at a basic level but I am a pretty self-sufficient drummer for studio work in relation to my music and the drum parts I write – I’d love to get better at that too!

How often do you post and how do you know when a piece of music is ready to share?

I would love to get in the habit to post more work-in-progress stuff or in-the-making kind of stories, but I often get too immerse with the music that I don’t even have a phone nearby aha – So far, I’ve been posting some brief studio snippets and fully-finished songs when they’re released!

What gear is on your wish list right now?

I would love a Pultec equalizer in hardware form, as well as a really nice hardware reverb, possibly a cool spring!

Who are you listening to at the moment?

At the moment I am loving the latest Mac Miller album, Circles. I definitely recommend it to anyone, not just hip-hop fans. The production and songwriting on that record are exceptional, and there is an incredible variety of styles and sounds on there!

For more from Dead Rituals follow the links below…