After a three-year hiatus, Italian Alessio Meneghello aka Alan Backdrop makes his return to the scene with “Insane World”, an irresistible 32-track hypnotic masterpiece that fuses all the subtleties of atmospheric techno and trance music. We invited him for an interview.
Hi Alessio, a simple question to start this off: How did you come up with the name Alan Backdrop?
It was the simple merging between a name I used to like when I was kid and something recalling the concept of depth being at the same time able to confer a specific atmosphere to a situation.
After a “long hiatus from life,” you’ve just returned with a huge bang. “Insane World” is a collection of 32 hypnotic masterpieces. Did you originally intend to release it on a single LP? Give us an insight into the production process.
Nothing really planned. In the last years my life had a big transformation due to a hernia in the back that causes me a massive sciatic pain, now became chronic. I had to put aside every kind of plan and project about music, interrupting also collaborations with friends and labels who inspire me. I was pretty sorry for this but at the same time I felt completely free to make music when I was able to and how I wanted.
If health is fine it’s positive to have a little pressure and some deadlines to respect, it could be a push, especially for a lazy person like me. But when health is not fine it would be nonsense to have pressure from music. Life is already stressful itself and the creative process should be relaxing and fun, first of all.
Bandcamp is the perfect tool to complete this “circle of freedom”, allowing me to release something when I feel it’s the right moment and in total independence. Not least, giving me an immediate and direct support.
“Insane World” took shape in this way, collecting and putting together under a personal common denominator the biggest part of “fragmented” works of the last years. Not really a concept album indeed, but a collection of tracks and jams mostly recorded in a single take.
You say that Doubt had been your “trusted conductors” for the last three years. What do you mean by that?
The succession of pandemic and problems with health brougth me to a loss of many certainties. It’s not easy to let them go in beginning but at some point, when you totally lose control on events, you finally start accepting and realizing that having doubts can be positive and maybe it’s time for a new beginning or, maybe, it’s just time to renounce to a wrong path. In some moments you are required to be active and make choices, in other moments you must stop and let the life flow, trying to not control and accepting the fact you have no certainties.
With all the difficulties involved, that’s what I’ve been trying to do in these years and being music strictly interconnected with life events, it’s obvious that it gets strongly affected.
A few words on your beginnings and inspirations?
In love with Pink Floyd since I was kid, then strongly attracted by 90’s Eurodance music when teenager. In the first year of high school I discovered Techno music thanks to some talented local DJs playing at the discotheques on Sunday afternoon and distributing cassettes with their amazing mixes recorded on. Shortly after I got my hands on some mysterious cassettes labelled as “Goa”. It was actually a subgenre of Psy-Trance, something very dark and minimal that I still wouldn’t know how to classify with precision. I was completely blown away by that music but, unlike Techno which I had the opportunity to share and delve into with close friends year after year, Psy-Trance always been my little secret fascination as people around me were not really appreciating. I never got into this genre as deeply as in Techno for these reason I guess but periodically always been back to those cassettes, they’ve always been a parallel inspiration for me.
My first attempts to music production started at 15 after being flashed by the software Rebirth RB-338. Soon after I started using Fruity Loops mainly working with samples and trying to imitate the cool Techno records played by those local DJs and trying to imitate those outworldly sounds from the “Goa” cassettes. Coincidence, just recently I found inside old boxes some CDs were I burned many tracks in that period and they made me smile a lot. I was actually surprised because I expected them to sound way more ridiculous!
At the age of 22 I started DJing because I felt in need to be more complete musically and I wanted to share more music with my friends. So I bought a couple of turntables and started collecting vinyls.
Over the years different genres have characterized different periods of my life, but they all have something in common and I guess it is the presence of intense atmospheres and the hypnotic – progressive component.
How would you classify your music in the genre cosmos of electronic music? A blend of hypnotic trance & techno?
I’m not good to classify music genres but probably yes, at the moment I would say so. Mainly Techno about the structure and Trance about the sounds and atmospheres. I think genres should be useful for us to communicate each other and make things easier when searching for new music, but never become a limit. It’s very easy to get stuck by the idea of a genre. This is the music I’m doing in this period, but I surely hope and wish to be always in a constant change.
If you talk about trance nowadays, it’s mainly the pop mash-ups and 90s-inspired retro sounds that dominate the scene. What do you think about this trend?
Everything happens for a reason. I don’t feel like judging what we call trends. Personally, having lived through the 90s, I feel pretty comfortable with this trend rather than others. If every mass phenomenom brings with it negative aspects on the other hand there is always a small circle of people and artists who pulls out the best from it.
Which clubs and events, but also labels and artists, can you recommend to enjoy Hypnotic Trance & Techno?
The “Long life break” we spoke in beginning includes also my estrangement from the club scene and events in general, unfortunately. So it’s obvious that I couldn’t give any sensible recommendation in this direction. But about labels, for sure I would recommend UTE Records from Norway and Space Trax from Germany if you still don’t know them. And all artists rotating around them!
“Insane World” was released on June 30 as a self release.
Originally published in FAZEmag 139/09.2023