A year ago, Durante was going to school in Florida and making tunes in his bedroom. Now, the 21-year-old producer lives in Los Angeles, works full time for OWSLA, and is pumping out some top tier House tunes — namely the vibey, piano-laden smash, “Slow Burn,” which saw release today on Nest.
With the high spirits of release day in effect, we had a quick chat with Durante about the single, his decision to leave school to pursue a career in music, and his goals of creating more soul in the electronic world of dance music.
Download “Slow Burn” for free here and read on below.
K so starting off, tell us a little bit about your back story. Give me a bit of a breakdown about your musical background and how you eventually linked up with OWSLA and made it out to LA.
Music’s the one thing I’ve always gone back to and it’s always been there for me. After moving to the states from Italy I started playing piano at the age of 6. I was also pretty good with computers growing up too. When I heard of Fruity Loops in middle school, I was blown away. I was all, ‘You mean I can use the computer and make music at the same time!?’. That was a really awesome moment for me.
Regarding getting my start with working at OWSLA, I really have the label manager Blaise to thank for that. Before he was with OWSLA, he was head of artist relations at a startup called Grooveshark. I was lucky enough to intern in his team there, so after he moved to the label, I asked him of any internship opportunities in the industry. A few days later he called me and told me I could start as an intern for him. From there I really just put my head down and worked really hard until I got the offer to drop out of school and work for OWSLA full time in LA. I think I stopped going to class the same day I knew I was moving.
Was there any question in your mind about dropping out to pursue music and the music industry? Any regrets about your choice?
Not at all, I can easily say that LA has been pretty good to me so far. I’ve made a lot of really great friends and I get to meet a lot of super cool people almost every day.
Do you think living out this way has affected your musical process? I know you’ve dabbled in different sounds in the past but “Slow Burn” sounds like a new chapter almost.
Definitely. Since I moved out to LA, I realized how much higher the bar is than ever before. Working for a record label full time introduces you to so much incredible music, and sometimes it becomes a little demoralizing. It’s also tough because I work full time during the week, so I only get nights and weekends to work on music. In that, I’ve definitely refined my process & workflow into just trying to work faster & smarter to finish songs quickly. I think it’s definitely going to be for the better in the long run.
How long did it take to get Slow Burn where you wanted it? Did you and Chuck Ellis get on well together in the studio?
YES I think we started working together in early July? We were just hanging out at Chuck’s place laying down some vocals on some random beats I had made. It was also the first time I tried Tikki Masala (so good). It was just a fun hang out session. Later when I took it home to mess with it more, I built out a completely different song around his vocals we recorded and it just clicked. The funny part is that saying this now that I started working on it in July in the scope of things doesn’t seem like that long ago, but I’ve spent so much time working on this tune that it feels like ages since I started it.
You guys wrote some pretty thoughtful words in here. Does “Slow Burn” have a personal meaning for you?
For sure it does. I’m big on attaching a lot of meaning and thought behind the music I create. I’m sure everyone will find their own meaning to it, and that’s what I love most about it. For me it’s been my story of the summertime, and this girl I met back in February. We’ve been taking it really slow relationship-wise and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences yet. When Chuck first sang the vocal it hit me hard, good love really is a slow burn.
That’s a hella cute answer. So The Sound You Need premiered this last week, and it’s already almost to a quarter million plays already. Have you been surprised with the reaction you’ve gotten thus far on it? Or did you have a feeling when you wrapped this up that this might be the turning point of something big?
WHAT THATS CRAZY!!! Honestly I like the tune but yeah definitely surprised with the reaction it’s getting, that’s really awesome.
So you’ve pulled some interesting influences for this tune. Are there any producers you’ve been really hot on that you were listening to a lot of while putting “Slow Burn” together?
Yeah for sure, I was really listening to a lot of the roots of house music. Guys like St Germain, Kerri Chandler & Frankie Knuckles were all big inspirations for Slow Burn. They really commanded soul in a genre that now feels so electronic. That’s what I’m trying to bring back, the soul of electronic music.
Is that why the piano has such a strong role in Slow Burn?
That, and I think it has a lot to do with me playing the piano since a young age. Processing the piano was a lot of fun because it’s become such a familiar sound over the years. I don’t want to be considered solely a piano house producer, but this one was definitely special to me and I’m sure I’ll work with it more in the future.
Speaking of the future, what do you have planned for the rest of the year? Any other tunes in the works?
Yeah! I have this tune I’ve been playing in my sets that’s really fun due to drop fairly soon. Also working on some remixes and just locking myself in the studio so always looking forward to creating more music.
Dope. So last Q here and it’s kind of cliche but I think it really applies to you. You were a young bedroom producer not too long ago. Now you’re working for OWSLA, playing shows with Sonny, and releasing some top tunes. What would you say to the kids grinding it out that are in the position you were, say a year or two ago?
Be about it, know your history, practice a lot, stay positive, don’t sweat the little things, learn something new every day, stick to your roots, & live in the moment. All of those space pictures with quotes on them on tumblr and those 21 tips to live a better life posts on buzzfeed are a pretty good starting point too. But for real, if you know what you love to do, and you work on it tirelessly, it’ll start to pay off. Granted, I’m super honored to be where I am now and it definitely didn’t come without a stroke of luck (or two), but I’m a firm believer that hard work leads to great opportunities.
Great answer man. That’s it from me brotha thanks for chatting.