In the lead-up to the release of Circle², we’ll be featuring a number of artists who work with Circle on our Future Audio Workshop blog. We kick off our series this week with sound designer, Fabrizio Sestito.
To get started, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I am a sound designer for companies such as Sample Magic and Native Instruments. I work in tandem with Nicolò Papini and we are both based in Berlin. In our spare time we work together on our music, exploring Techno and Ambient sonorities. I design and produce mainly for NI Maschine and Reaktor, from drum shots & kits to complete tracks. I also enjoy coding and craft beers.
What inspired you to get into sound design? Is it something you’ve always known you wanted to do?
I’ve been always attracted to electronic music and sound design in general. As a kid I used to play violin and my teacher helped me install a sequencer to practice with a midi orchestra at home. I got into computer programming at the age of 10 through my father, who is also an audio and electronics geek.
I studied Computer Science/Mathematics and, as I was never really good at playing a real instrument, electronic music was the fastest and “laziest” way to be creative, and also it fitted well with my techie attitude. I had a good friend in high school who introduced me to Ableton 4 and the first soft synths, so I started experimenting with music technology.
In 2008 I met Vitalic during a gig in Rome, he was always one of my favourite artists, and we became friends. Lately I have released on his label and from time to time I work with him as a mixing/mastering engineer. He has taught me a lot, especially to be less mathematical and schematic in my creative process.
When designing a sound, what is your process? (Do you follow a set method? Does this vary by project?)
It depends by the context of the project I’m going to work on. In general, if I’m not really familiar with the sounds I have to make, I start analysing carefully the references with my beloved Sonus Faber. I try to guess how these sounds are made and absorb the mood of what I’m listening to. Then I start playing around in my studio, I tend to be really personal and forget about the references for a moment. Eventually something good comes out and then I start thinking how to make it functional, going back to the goal of the project.
How long did it take you before you got to the point of being able to hear or imagine a sound and then design it?
I guess you’ll never reach this point, but it’s continuously improving somehow. Also, the design process is never so deterministic. A lot of sounds come from random and unrepeatable interactions of several factors, the important part is being able to recognise which one could be functional in another context.
You moved to Berlin from Rome in 2011. How does living in Berlin influence your work?
I always felt a bit isolated while living in Rome. I didn’t know a lot of people producing electronic music or sound designing, except some friends that owned a studio and they were mainly recording rock bands. When I moved to Berlin I met a lot of interesting engineers and artists, and it was really easy to collaborate with many of them and also to have direct feedback and criticism about my work. I think this made me grow a lot.
Tell us about your studio setup?
I work in a home studio environment with Adam A7X, MOTU interface, Mac pro running Ableton 9, APC40, Maschine and a bunch of hardware synths/drum machines. I’m a big fan of Elektron, I own an Analog Four and Rytm. On the vintage side I’m in love with my SH101 and my Korg DSS1, it’s a 12bit sampler-synth with analog filters and it’s great for pad and textures.
Some of my favourite plugins are Omnisphere, FAW Circle, NI Massive and FM8, Soundtoys and Cromaphone. We are always renovating the studio and searching out new solutions: today I’m really excited to try Nico’s new DSI Tetra and we’re planning to get a Strymon Bigsky reverb soon.
What other artists’ sound design work excites you? (Do you see any artists in particular as influencers on your work?)
My biggest influence is the Italian progressive rock scene of the 70s, bands such as Balletto di Bronzo, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Goblin, PFM. At the time there were a lot of good pianists with a classical education who started messing around with synthesisers. Right now I really like the work of Alessandro Cortini and Abdulla Rashim.
Do you have any advice for our readers who want to go from using presets to starting to design their own sounds?
I really enjoyed the reading of Welsh’s Synthesizer Cookbook.