Mathame | Mixing from Mt. Etna

In the end, technology always wins

Written by

Leslie Jensen

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Photo by: Pedro Barbosa / Hackt

Matteo and Amedeo Giovanelli–otherwise known as DJ and production duo Mathame–have become synonymous with the emerging ‘cinematic techno’ genre, renowned for crafting atmospheric storytelling experiences on the dance floor and transformative listening journeys. One of the most in-demand electronic acts globally, Mathame originally formed on the desolate slopes of Sicily’s Mt. Etna volcano, where the brothers were living in almost complete solitude. 

As the eldest brother, Matteo first ventured into the world of DJing before teaching his younger brother Amedeo how to mix. Matteo eventually went on to study film and became an award-winning film director while Amede studied violin in conservatory, contributing to their grandeur, cinematic style. When their family moved to Sicily, Mathame was born. Through countless hours of experimentation and refining their sound, Mathame emerged as an entity that transcended the boundaries of conventional electronic music.

Emerging onto the club scene after explosive releases on Afterlife, Mathame quickly gained notoriety for their sonic vision and immersive performances. In line with their cinematic approach, their live audiovisual shows are mesmerizing multisensory journeys of intricate visual designs, curated to enhance the emotional impact of their music in the dancescape and craft cinematic stories. 

Today, Mathame released their long-awaited debut album MEMO via Astralwerks. An ethereal masterpiece, MEMO transports listeners through lush melodies, pulsating rhythms, and intricate soundscapes. A juxtaposition between hauntingly melancholic tracks and explosive dance floor apt beats, MEMO stands testament to the production prowess of the duo. Exploring the depths of human emotion, the thirteen track body of work takes listeners into the captivating Mathame universe.

Read below as we spoke to the duo about their influences, debut album, and visual identity.

On June 30th, you will be releasing your debut album ‘MEMO.’ When did you start working on the album and can you tell us about the creative vision behind it?

We started working on the album in Mexico in 2019 after we created our track ‘To Hope’ in Tulum. When the pandemic hit shortly after, our album writing sessions became displaced from 2020-2021, which definitely affected our writing inspiration a bit. All of 2022, we continued to write new material and selected the best to include in the album. Once traveling resumed post-pandemic, we began touring again. Our lifestyle is always on a journey, always traveling for gigs, always off to another continent and country. MEMO serves as a travel log of our memories and impressions from being locked down to being able to dance again then back to lock down. We experienced a rollercoaster of emotions the last three years, which we collected into MEMO. 

Why did you choose to name the album ‘MEMO’?

We actually chose the name of the album on a flight from Buenos Aires to Dubai, when we had a lot of time to brainstorm. I [Matteo] always use the voice memo app to record harmonies and melodies while traveling; I saw the app and was inspired. I told Ame “why don’t we call the album MEMO because that’s how it functions, as a recollection of our ideas and memories?” It was very simple and natural for us to use this as the title. 

How would you describe the overall tone of the album and your music style in general?

For the album, we tried to find a balance between dance environment tracks and listening environment tracks. On a compositional level the structures and mixing levels were not always the same so we tried to reach a sweet spot in the middle. The overall tone as a result is a balance between the two atmospheres. This balance is reflected in our live shows as well, you can lose yourself in listening to the track but also want to dance to it at the same time. We reconstructed our dance language to transform the album into a listening piece while staying true to Mathame’s sound. 

Beyond traditional dance hits, many tracks off the album are very emotive and evoke a sense of introspection. What specific themes are you hoping to convey through the album and how do you personally resonate with those themes?

Overall, our fascination with science-fiction themes radiates throughout MEMO. Science-fiction forces us to see things from different points of views and different times throughout space, which decentralizes the human experience, making it little in comparison to the galaxy and the future. It gives us a different perspective on our contemporary world, which we explore in the album. Other themes include darkness and light, love, synthesis, and contrast. We hope MEMO allows our listeners to reminisce on their own ecstatic memories and achieve a state of consciousness, on a deep trance level. MEMO serves as the first chapter in our story.  

You had a very unique upbringing at the base of Sicily’s Mt. Etna volcano. What was that experience like and do you feel it has influenced you creatively?

We lived in Sicily on Mt. Etna for 5-6 years while we helped run our family’s bed and breakfast. Sicily is where we really learned how to work, it was a very raw experience. We were working on the farm, serving guests, working on the ground among other duties. The work experience at times was tough and in the winters, we were completely isolated on the slopes. You can hear and feel the volcano rumbling, it’s very magical. The experience was useful to understand ourselves as a person and as artists. It’s where the Mathame project started. We were very disconnected from everything and were able to get very deep into our craft; our time here influenced every aspect of our music. 

How does your sibling dynamic affect your creative process? How do you navigate composing and producing your tracks as a duo?

We are very strict on our composition rules, which is why our tunes always sound more or less Mathame. When it comes to our brother dynamic, we treat each other as soldiers in the same army. Matteo will write an initial idea on paper, then Ame will fill it up with his ideas, sometimes good sometimes bad (haha). We are a good counterbalance. If we don’t find a compromise, we don’t release the music. We always need to find a balance. 

Are there any specific musical or non-musical influences that have shaped your artistic vision and sound?

We are both trained on classical music. Ame studied violin for five years at a conservatory and I [Matteo] worked for many years as a film director. As a result, we draw a lot of influence from science fiction movies, Japanese anime, film scores, and classical composers such as Vangelis and John Williams.  

You have been using AI artistically for years, including in your AI mix series, AI generated single artwork, music video for ‘So What’ and in your stunning Audiovisual show. How do you feel about the current conversation surrounding AI?

AI for us was always used just as a tool to help enhance creativity and existing ideas, we never used AI just to get something done quickly. We believe that there should be more regulation regarding the use of Artificial Intelligence as soon as possible as unregulated AI has negative potential in the hands of everyone and those who don’t understand how to properly use it. AI generated content should be blocked, in our opinion. We believe we are on the edge of a technological revolution. The current conversation is comparable to the advent of photography at the start of the century when everyone was worried photography would substitute the job of painters. In the end though, technology always wins. 

Mathame has a very strong visual identity, expressed through your artwork and immersive audiovisual show. Can you elaborate on the relationship between your music and visuals? What’s the process of curating the visual components for your audiovisual show?

The process for curating our visuals is very similar to our music process. We come up with a scratch idea and find a way to represent that vision in the most honest and pure way. Music for us though is very personal, yet when it comes to our visual process, there is more teamwork and collaboration involved. We have our internal artistic directors working with us. But in the end, both Ame and I have to agree and be sure of the visual identity we want to convey. 

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