Domenic Cappello talks ‘Basement Philosophy’

Sub Club resident Domenic Cappello gives us the low down on his debut LP ‘Basement Philosophy’

‘Basement Philosophy’ is the long-awaited debut album from Glasgow’s legendary Sub Club resident and general lynch pin Domenic Cappello, which lands Friday 2nd March 2024 via Alien Communications.

Domenic started making music under his Hutton Drive alias well over 20 years ago, releasing on Soma Records and through his own label: Seven Sign Recordings. More recently, his productions have featured on Sub Club’s Nautilus Rising, Verdant Recordings and Alien Communications.

Cappello’s very own approach to the Subculture sound he has diligently nurtured in his sets and selections over the years is wholly present here – as he travels across varying sonic textures and moods to create something which is captivating and deeply potent in equal measure. A homage to the years of craft he has dedicated himself to without fuss or fanfare – wrapped in pure joy for the sake of being, rather than trying to prove a point, or being anything else that it is not.

Dom very kindly chewed the fat with him, to delve a little deeper into his maiden album voyage and uncover a little more about his work …

It it really 30 years since you first took up residency at the Sub Club?

Yes, I know I look far too young…

How did you and Harri actually meet?

I found him alone wondering the rainy streets of Glasgow one early Sunday morning and took him home. He had no collar so I just kept him.

What’s your take on the state of the deeper end house and techno at the moment?

There’s some amazing stuff coming out just now! It keeps me energised and excited for the weekend. It’s sometimes harder to find, as there is just so much more music being released now. But it’s worth taking more time to find the gems in amongst the crowd.

Does the world need more “Pumping Space Jazz”?

Hahaha ,always! I think you’ve created a new genre there… I’m expecting to see it on Beatport soon.

Why do you think it took you till now to write an album?

I only go into the studio when I’m in the mood. I don’t see the point of forcing it just for the sake of making/releasing music. I know some people can work on music in a 9-5, 5 days a week type basis but that’s just not me. I only do it when I feel it.

How do you view your older productions looking back?

With a mixture of fear, pride and wtf was I thinking…

You choose to stick to 8 tracks as a final format: was this a conscious decision in terms of aesthetics or more deciding to restrict yourself to a particular format?

It was all about what would fit on a vinyl release: 2 tracks a side on 2 bits of vinyl – simple as that really.

What’s your general set up these days?

Kurzweil K2000, Roland gear and Abelton.

Do you have any go to pieces of kit?

Roland Sh2 is my usual go to for bass lines. I had an SH9 too which I loved but sold it years ago. I also love Roland Promars and My K2000.

Coming on to your new album, how did the idea of ‘Basement Philosophy’ come about?

I just wanted to write tracks that would be perfect for various parts of a night in small, smoke filled clubs. Places where people are more interested in dancing like no one is watching, rather than recording shit on their phones.

And what is your Basement philosophy?

A red light and a feeling, obviously.

How would you say your approach has differed now, comapred to making music in the past?

I don’t spend 12 straight hours on a track now. I’ll leave things when I start getting stuck on a track rather than forcing it. I’d end up changing parts of tracks after listening to it for 8 hours straight not realising my ears were just tired. I’d go back and most of the time the original part I’d written was good but I’d now messed about with it too much and fucked it. I think im more patient now and willing to leave things and come back with fresh ears and that’s definitely helped.

With that in mind, talk us through each track on the LP:

Mushroom Waltz

This was the first track I wrote for the album. I was listening to loads of movie soundtracks. Nils Frahm, Hans Zimmer, Tangerine dream etc and I wanted to do something that wasn’t a conventional deep house track but more soundtrack with raw house drums underneath it. I actually wanted it so it would sound like a complete piece of music without the drums, that way I knew I had got the soundtrack element right.

Midnight with T

I started off this track with the chords and just built the whole thing around it. I spent ages on every small sound and I love the layers and textures in it. I wanted to write something that Telford and I would play in the club, as the dancefloor is starting to fill up. But also something that could be played at an afters in the early hours when people have been dancing all night. You play that one track where everyone just melts into into it. When I was writing it, I kept humming a vocal over it and wanted something to just lift the soulfulness of it, adding to the warmth of the pads and strings. The colonel Abrams vocal just popped into my head one day and when I tried it on the track, it sat perfectly and was exactly what I had pictured in my head!

3AM Jamaica St

I wanted something driving but still deep for the club. The dubby stabs and the pads keep it that way, the 303 and kick push it along nicely. I added sub to the 303 after the break just to give it a bit more energy and keep the momentum driving. Also sounds nice pitched down. I had a much harder kick on this originally but when I played it in the club, it sounded too cold if that makes sense. I wanted this to be warm.

Not for Instagram Djs

Pretty obvious with the title haha! I wanted a pumping Techno track to show that you can still smash a dance floor with Techno that is complex, jazzy and funky. It doesn’t have to have big break downs and drum rolls to rock a crowd. The music can still be intricate and have energy. I spent ages on trying to get the sequences right. When I finally cracked it, I was fuckin buzzing: getting all the notes to play off each other and still have space and not sound too messy was really difficult.

Acid Rain

Another track I wrote and thought a vocal would just lift this. Again the vocal just popped into my head from nowhere really and when I added it, it felt perfect. I love the big kick on this and all the chords and keys. It’s soulful but gets fairly driving when the acid line doubles up and takes over. The keyboard solo at about 3 mins is 3 sounds all layered to give it the sound I had in my head. I used a Jupiter 8, System 8 and D-50 to get it the way I wanted.

Burning Past

I was messing about with big chords trying to get something really full of depth and melancholy. I thought I’d try using 10 notes as a chord. Didn’t expect it to work but that’s how this track came about. I sent my mate a rough copy of it and he replied: ffs don’t send me stuff like this on a Sunday, I’m getting all emotional.

I knew I was on the right track after that and wrote the baseline and sequences pretty quickly. I wanted the pad, bass and the 3 sequences all to blend over each other at one point in the track. Starting by introducing them one at a time, then when all 3 are in together before the break and it sounds really full without being too busy. It’s an electro love song 🙂

Moon Jump

This was something I wanted to be like a house version of ‘Not for Insta Djs’. I wrote this in the summer and I think that comes across in the track, more Detroit style modulated sequences that are intricate but funky. I wanted a more disco baseline sound on this with a nice crisp snare. This is pure SH2, the second sequence that comes in over the higher bleepy one took a while to get right, especially as I can’t play keyboard that well. I was happy when I got it right. The strings at the end were actually shorter in the original arrangement but when I dropped it in the club, the strings got a big reaction but then came out too soon, so I extended them and its worked much better. That’s the beauty of being able to test stuff on a dancefloor.

Early Flight

The idea for this was I wanted something long and tracky that just keeps evolving and building. This is one of those tracks that sounds ok in the studio but takes on a life of its own in the club. I did the basic arrangement then just did loads of live takes, hitting notes at various points in the track, sometimes only once or twice to get that feeling of unpredictability over the linear baselines and drums. The 303 just takes it up a notch and adds something else to the groove. I wanted the 303 to be more like Acid Eiffel than Phuture on this!