Izil’s Ilario Liburni and Izaakson talk Memoria, Invade, EPs and more… » nightclubber.ro
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The Izil project has been steadily making its way up the international scene since it was brought together by longtime friends Izaakson and Ilario Liburni. The two have collaborated on numerous music industry projects in various capacities. As a solo artist and the owner of Cardinal and Invade Records, Ilario Liburni is increasingly prominent. Among others, he has worked with Ricardo Villalobos, Thomas Melchior, and Rhadoo. Izaakson is the driving force behind the much-renowned Memoria Music Group.

Since 2010, the business has been involved in a variety of sectors of the electronic music scene. The two upgraded their development to a full-grown level by fusing their styles and backgrounds with passion and friendship. This opened a new door for their project and allowed them to bring their love of music outside of the studio and in front of an audience by performing their first shows in 2022. With their latest record, the Operator EP, out soon via Memoria, we figured now was a good time to see what was happening in their world…

So let’s start by talking about the Izil project. How did you guys meet one another in the first place?

We met in about 2008. In those days, especially in Holland and Belgium, we were both playing a lot as dj’s.  There were many crazy parties during that time. We also played back-to-back for the first time, and we’ve seen that during these sets, we had a solid connection.

After that time, Izaak became a father for the first time and made the decision to give up his career as a DJ and concentrate on the business side of the electronic music scene. But we stayed in touch and started to work together with our record labels.

How would you describe the music you make?

It’s almost impossible to categorise electronic music. It occasionally covers a lot of ground, ranging from very housy to almost techno. But always with a minimal approach. It’s probably safe to say that it must always have a lot of groove, melodic elements and thick bass lines.

How does the collaborative project work for you guys? Is it all online or do you get to meet up and hit the studio etc? Are you comfortable with both approaches?  

Even though we are located in different countries (Belgium & the Netherlands), the distance is only one hour. Each of us has a studio where we collaborate on projects. The world is so much smaller now that we have the internet. But because we take Izil more seriously, we frequently drive up and down. Especially during an EP’s last stages. We individually create in our own unique ways, however we would prefer to decide on the mixdown while seated next to one another in the same studio.

Are your tastes pretty similar? Do you ever disagree on what should be released and what shouldn’t?

Of course, we’ve only been collaborating closely in the studio for a little over a year. We haven’t had any substantive discussions thus far. It fits with the way we operate naturally. It does occasionally happen that one has a different opinion from the other. However, we generally leave this place soon.

On a similar note, do you ever pass your music by other people to hear their opinion before it goes out? And do you test the tracks on crowds when you play?

A duo has the benefit of constant feedback from a second person. It is our endeavor and our idea. To provide each other with this input, we both have more than enough experience. We don’t solicit opinions from other artists because of this.

Of course, we check the records while we perform. We create our own masters to hear how they sound in a club. It also happens that after playing we decide not to do anything with. But luckily we often get confirmation of what we had in mind.

Ilario, you’re best known as the man behind Cardinal and Invade Records, whereas Izaakson, you’re best known as the man behind Memoria. Both of the labels have reached great success over the years – what similarities do you see between the two labels? 

There are many similarities. We have also worked a lot with the labels in different ways. The music scene in which we operate seems very large to outsiders, but in reality it is only a small community. So you always meet each other everywhere and there are collaborations across the board.

I believe Memoria has an ‘express service for pressing vinyl’ which is obviously really great these days with delays. How did you manage to sort this? 

You are referring to Memoria Music Group now. In addition to the Label, we also run a vinyl distribution. Because we have been doing this for years, we are good customers of various pressing plants, we often get some benefits. 

But in general, we also must wait a long time for our records. Vinyl’s success is great, but worldwide it means extremely long delivery times and high prices. I foresee that prices will not fall much anymore but may even rise. Hopefully this will make Labels think more carefully about what they release on Vinyl. In the past 5 years I have really seen that everything is pressed on vinyl. I don’t think that was a good development.

How many copies are you pressing these days? Memoria run the distribution too, right? Has your approach to how you distribute music changed in any way over the last while? 

The numbers vary enormously per label. We distribute almost 100 Labels, so I can’t give a clear answer on that. But in general, sales have fallen dramatically in recent years. In the past there was much less supply, but higher quality releases. Back then we sold thousands of records from one release. Now those numbers are usually around 300 with peaks up and down.

As I mentioned earlier, it all has to do with the quality. Vinyl must be something special. But nowadays almost every Label can get a P&D deal directly from the larger webshops around there. I think that’s a very bad development because you just see the quality decreasing. As a Label you also have a responsibility in this. Nowadays every starting Label wants to be ‘vinyl only’ and release five vinyl records in a year. My advice is to use multiple platforms to share your music. This way you create a larger group of fans. Then after a few releases you have a great EP, find a good artist for a remix and press it on Vinyl. Not the other way around.

Let’s talk about the latest collaborative release between you guys, the Operator EP. Can you tell us a bit about the vibe you were going for here? And maybe a bit about the production process?

We have tried to make a varied EP that immediately makes it clear what we as Izil stand for. We mainly make music for the clubs. Minimal with balls!

“Operator,” a straightforward track with gritty kicks and snares meeting harsh chords and melodies, is the ideal way to open this EP. Another club anthem with slamming beats, resonant chords, and captivating vocals is “Get Around.” With “Look At The Line,” the B-side, we delve a little deeper. Almost Lo-Fi.

Can we expect to see more from the Izil project over the next while? 

We already have a lot of records ready but we want to find the right way to 

launch this project. We opt for a gradual way up instead of releasing everything immediately. Fortunately, we have a large network and we have received a lot of positive reactions in recent months.

We will release the first two EPs on our own labels, Memoria and Invade. We have that ready, of which “Operator” is the first. This year we will also be touring a bit more. So many fun things ahead!

Keep up with Izil on Instagram and Soundcloud 

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