2019 has been one of the most remarkable years in HLZ‘s music career. After his teaser for the upcoming Hungarian gig, it’s high time we got to know him better — the Italian master is about to let us have a look behind the curtain!
What is your current state of mind?
My state of mind is really laid back and chilled at the moment. Well, I just came back from a 10-day holiday.
Have you ever been to Hungary?
Once in Budapest, for a few days, some years ago. It’s a beautiful city indeed.
What do you know about our country?
Let’s say I keep an eye on your political situation as for certain aspects, it is mirrored with the Italian one.
Congrats on “Eternal”, the long awaited EP, your debut solo Metalheadz release, for which ArpXP did the artwork. It’s an actual masterpiece. What are the 5 words you associate with this release and why?
Timeless, dark, rebirth, journey, and wisdom. It is a very important stepping stone in my musical career and encapsulates the above mentioned words. It’s definitely my best and more mature project to date.
What were you doing when you were told that this EP was going to be released? How did it exactly happen?
The making of the EP has been a gradual process, so I can’t really remember what I was doing, to be honest. But I can certainly say that “Eternal”, the last track I wrote for the EP, was the final push to release the EP on the main label. Of course, there have been many calls with Goldie, his famous early morning calls, ah! It is always refreshing to hear his enthusiasm and creative input.
What brings “eternity” to your life?
Definitely messing around with my hardware synths doing jams of weird music.
What is your most important “Hidden Memory”?
Well, the whole point of a hidden memory is there are memories that the human brain won’t remember, so I can’t really answer to that. But I would say that the title “Hidden Memory” came up from one of the most realistic dreams I have ever had. From a previous life? From a different dimension? I don’t know but it was a really weird experience.
As a proud local patriot of Manduria, how would you introduce your homeland?
I was lucky to grow up there, it is really a beautiful place. Of course, it has its issues, but you have crystal water beaches and vineyards, so I can’t really complain. Oh, and the people are really welcoming as well.
What is the Italian dnb scene like? Were you an active artist in Italy, too?
The Italian dnb scene is healthy at the moment, with talented producers like Kiril, Was A Be, Neve, ArpXP, Synthetics and many more. In terms of clubs, it is so-so, not bad but could be much better.
I started making music in Italy and I used to be a promoter as well.
What exactly brought you to London from Italy in 2007?
After 7 years in Milan, I decided to move in London for both life experience and music, but I would say this plan had already been active for a couple of years.
What was the start of your new life like in England? What did you experience? What jobs did you do before your music career? I’ve heard about Costa, which you are not keen on.
I did so many jobs, indeed I worked for Costa, a coffee bar company selling awful espresso, hahaha. Really, that job sucked! After that, I worked in a restaurant in Notting Hill for 3 years, honestly one of best times of my life, so much fun and drinks with my colleagues. The impact with London was not traumatic at all because I lived in Milan for a long time, and in my opinion, it is more stressful than London. I simply love this city and I’m not tired of it yet.
Because the process is really similar to making music. You need love, good ingredients and patience for it, it is still a creative project.
Your moniker, HLZ comes from your previous stage name, “Hellraizer” which was changed due to the frequent confusion with “Hellrazor”, a musician Lynx used to work with, until 2013. Where does your alias come from originally?
HLZ is an acronym for Hellraizer, taken from a famous horror movie from the 80s, where the main bad guy had a head full of nails, urgh! At that time I was playing the darkest dnb out there, so it fits properly, ah!
Your real name, Emilio Dimitri, sounds a bit like of some Slavic roots. Is it a coincidence, or do you happen to have a similar family background to Kiril?
It is just a coincidence. My surname has more to do with Greece as Southern Italy was a Greek colony centuries ago, called Magna Grecia, and Dimitri is one of the most common names in Greece. The land I come from,Apulia, is exactly in front of Greece.
Why does the label, Peer Pressure play such an important role in your life?
Because the label of two gentlemen and friends, Facing Jinx and Philth, and the release of their label really gave me the push to start a new path in my music career.
Making music is definitely the most peaceful activity I can have, it is just magical. I’ll quote a sentence from a music teacher I know “The power of music is that if you feel miserable, you write a sad piece of music and you feel better after that”. Of course, music can work for so many different emotions but that sentence is really stuck in my mind now. What could bring peace to the world? An awakening of human consciousness.
You seem to be actively taking part in social matters, too, which I highly appreciate and adore. You are quite protective towards Greta Thunberg, against Brexit and racism (for which you were banned from Facebook for a month), against radical views worldwide. Why do you think it’s important for an artist to articulate a clear-cut opinion on these questions?
I hate when people say stuff like “just stick to music”. We musicians are citizens of this world and I find it more useful to discuss with other people about these topics instead of posting pictures of my life on Instagram. Like Tom Morello said “Music either supports the status quo or challenges the status quo.”.
I’ve read that you have some hearing loss on your right ear. How can you cope with it in your everyday life? What do you advise to do to avoid this problem?
Luckily it is not so bad, human brain is so perfect that despite the fact that I have high frequencies hearing loss in my right ear, it balances when I use both ears. I can really notice the difference if I cover my left ear with my hand, so if you wanna have a conversation with me while walking, stay on my left side. To avoid the problem, please buy custom earplugs. They are as important as your dj setup of your music production studio.
What is not commonly known about you?
I used to be a semi pro volleyball player before starting making music.
You had a writer’s block a couple of years ago. What helped you to recharge the batteries and turn back to drum and bass?
Accepting the situation without panicking, accepting that it could take a few months, or even several months. One thing I did was to listen to my favourite album from my teen years, but there’s not a specific method to battle this. Just have some patience and let the music come back to you.
What is the “Falafel tune” after all?
I love falafel! The falafel tune is a work in progress, one of the many forgotten works in progress. I called it like that because that day I ate one of the best falafel wraps ever!
What was the greatest compliment you have ever received and from who?
The greatest compliment is other people telling me that my music inspired them, either for music or other arts. It’s a really cool thing, actually means that I’ve been capable of giving something to people.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Definitely the release for Metalheadz, it is my favourite label and I’m just honoured to be a part of it.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Playing a musical instrument. I have a good ear for music but I’ve never been capable of learning to play an instrument. Keyboards would be on top of the list.
To my greatest surprise, I couldn’t find anything about your leaving Need for Mirrors. I guess it must be a sensitive issue but would you share any details about the reasons for it?
It has been a good experience but after certain time, it wasn’t working for either of us. Mosus needed his space and I needed my space as well. The aftermath has not been great, but it is what it is. It was cool to write music as NFM, but right now I’m in the happiest and most creative moment in my musical career.
What is your motto?
It’s more like a joke but I quite often say this: “Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow!”. This is the Italian way of life.
Thanks very much, Emilio, and see you in Szolnok on Friday!
A magyar változat itt olvasható.
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