A catch-up with Cardinal and Invade Records boss Ilario Liburni… » nightclubber.ro
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For a man who’s collaborated with some of electronic music’s most respected names (think Valentino Kanzyani, Ricardo Villalobos, tINI, Thomas Melchior, Rhadoo, Sascha Dive and Dan Ghenacia), you might expect Ilario Liburni to be something of a household name. A man who prefers to stay in the shadows a bit and let the music do the talking, he was even hesitant about doing this interview before eventually coming around to the idea. Anyway, we’re delighted he did as it’s only right we put the spotlight on the Belgium-based DJ, producer and label owner. 

The brains behind the Cardinal and Invade labels, Liburni’s productions are always loved by in-the-know DJs, with his latest on Invade further testament to this fact. Besides hosting his own music, his labels have also homed sounds from the likes of iO (Mullen), Andre Galluzzi, Daniel Stefanik, Costin Rp, DJ W!LD and Gel Abril. To put it simply, the man knows a thing or two about signing great music. To find out a bit more about what he’s been up to recently, we decided to check in with him over email for a very interesting chat… 

Hi Ilario, great to chat to you today. How’s your summer been so far? What have you been up to? 

First of all thank you for this interview. It has been a great summer this year. I decided to stay in Belgium for holidays as the weather was very promising. I enjoyed my first visits to festivals after the pandemic and spend a lot of time with family, friends and enjoying the parenthood of my 2year old son Alessio. Becoming a father has taken a big chunk out of my studio time but that doesn’t mean I’ve stood still. Soon I will release my new EP called “Critical Kush” on my label Invade records and have also been making music for my alter ego ‘The Cyberian’ where I tend to experiment in more melodic territory without any boundaries.

Can you start by telling us a bit about Belgium. How is it in terms of electronic music perspective these days? 

Belgium has a vibrant electronic scene with big talents in all genres. The number of clubs reduced drastically the past decade but there are still a ton of events and during the summer our country hosts leadings festivals like Tomorrowland, Extrema Outdoor, Pukkelpop and more…

From an outsider looking in, it seems like Belgium has always been interested most in techno and more ‘electro-house’ sounds. Where would one go to listen to decent minimal sounds in Belgium, for example?

Clubs like Fuse, Ampere and Vaag program the minimal genre from time to time but unfortunately not as much as they used to in the past. Also in Brussels you can still find some intimate parties now and then.

Part of your heritage is also Italian. Do you take influences from Belgium and Italy equally? 

Both of my parents are Italian, but I was born and raised in Belgium. I’ve been raised bilingually. So I love pasta and I love Belgian fries. I listen to Italian music, Belgium’s finest electronic tracks and much more. So, yes I enjoy the best of both worlds. Proud to be a mixture of Belgium and Italy. 

Tomorrowland is another Belgian festival that’s become absolutely massive, with decent musicians beginning to even play. What’s your take on this? Do you think EDM and “underground” music can ever peacefully coexist at the same event? 

I’m not against EDM, but for sure not a fan of it. But everyone has their own taste, so why not coexist at the same event… Who knows, it might even attract a few people to cross over to the dark side 😊

I’ve attended TML this summer for one day and I don’t think there were any minimal artists or music present (correct me if wrong). Which I thought was a bit strange as these stages had great success in the past. Personally I really missed this genre at the festival this year. But eventually I still had a great day at the festival as it’s always an amazing experience! And I had the pleasure to go with my buddy “Naethan” again as he’s been playing for several years at Tomorrowland now.

You’ve been involved in electronic music for a while now. What’s been your proudest achievement to date? Do you still feel the best is yet to come?

I think the proudest achievement is to sign Ricardo Villalobos to my label Invade Records for a remix of Mystic Bill’s classic track “Take Me Back” from 1990. That’s when the label really got that extra attention. I’m always fantasizing about who’s next on my labels… So who knows what the future has in store for us…

Let’s chat first a bit about your label, Cardinal. You championed some great names there – names such as DJ W!LD, iO and Gel Abril, but you’ve not released there in a few years. What’s the thinking there? Will you bring it back? 

The label had been on hold during the pandemic and during that time I also became a father. So my main focus was on my family of course. We had a great last release with  DJ W!LD / Cab Drivers so there’s no reason for not bringing it back. Just waiting for the right tracks and the right time. 

How did you end up signing some exceptional music and artists? Did they generally send you music or did you reach out? And aside from great music, what else are you looking for when you sign music?

Both actually. Sometimes I reach out to them but I’m also happy that a lot of established artists picked up the label by themselves.  And  I’m always on the look for fresh, extraordinary talents who bring something new to the table. 

What do you think are the biggest challenges of running a label in 2022? Do you still focus on vinyl, for example?

I love vinyl so that will always be the main focus for my labels. Unfortunately lately the waiting times at the pressing plant are enormous. Bandcamp is also something I’m going to use more frequently for exclusive releases and involve more upcoming artists. 

You’re now recently turning your attention to your new label, Invade. What’s the idea behind that one? How does it differ to Carnidal? 

The startup of Cardinal and Invade Records was actually in the same year. The intention was to use Cardinal for more experimental stuff and Invade for the clubbing beats. But pretty fast i just started to release in turn on both labels with no difference in style. 

You’ve also collaborated with some brilliant artists such as Danilo Schneider, Marco Nastic, Valentino Kanzyani and more. How do these collaborations come about? Are you generally someone who prefers working alongside another producer? 

By mutual interest in each other’s music. But in the studio I prefer to work alone. Don’t get me wrong as I’m a real social person but I can’t work properly and be creative when sitting with 2 other people in one room. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to collaborate with other artists, but I prefer to communicate over the internet. just sending ideas to each other and finishing them up. 

Is there an element of compromise involved in this approach? How important is it that both parties agree on most aspects of a release? 

I need to be free to create something without anyone else telling me what’s good or not. It’s my moment to unfold my mood and ideas. Once i think I have something to work with, i send it over to the other artist. From then on i’m open for the changes they make. I respect what they add, delete or edit. 

If you were to introduce your sound to someone who’d not encountered it before, what tracks would you recommend?

‘The Old Cherry Coke Can’, ‘I Feel Everything’ and my own remix for Mystic Bill’s ‘Take Me Back’ as they’re still productions I’m proud of.

What’s next for you that’s really exciting you – both musically and personally?

As mentioned before, my second musical project called “The Cyberian” where I can show another side of myself as I have a broad taste in music. I’ve released a few ep’s digitally already and there’s more to come for sure

I’m also planning a new project with my friend Izaak who is also my distributor and owner of Memoria Music Group. We decided to join forces as a new musical duo and already working on our first release together. 

Keep up with Ilario Liburni on Soundcloud and Instagram

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