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Five Minutes with Anthony Naples at New Forms Festival

During our time at Vancouver's New Forms Festival last weekend (our full review can be read here), we took a few minutes to catch up with a handful of the event's artists. After sharing our interview with Lee Gamble yesterday, today we check in with rapidly ascending New York DJ/producer Anthony Naples, who told us about honing his craft over the past 18 months, the goals for his fledgling Proibito label, and his hopes for moving beyond the "outsider house" tag.

XLR8R: After your first records were released, it seems like you picked up DJing rather quickly. Have you found that there's a steep curve to learning the craft?
Anthony Naples: Yeah, I think so. There's a little leeway when you are starting out, but for me right now, the only thing I'm necessarily concerned with is not clearing the floor. At the end of the day, if people are in the room, you're doing something right. It may not be the most heady thing, or on the other end of the spectrum, it may not be the kind of thing that totally "rocks the party," but somewhere in between is what I'm going for now. You really have to start DJing publicly—there's no other way to start. You can DJ in your bedroom for a decade, but then you step out in front of an audience, and it can easily suck. I think it's funny when people make it sound like you are supposed to start out as an amazing DJ, but if you've never DJed out in front of people before, then you haven't really ever done what DJing actually is.

When you started making music, was the idea also to eventually start DJing out as well, or did you not think about that at the time?
I actually started both at the same time, making music and wanting to DJ out. Going to New York really solidified it for me; going to Mister Saturday Night in this loft space and seeing people who were actually dancing at warehouses and stuff. It really all came together at once—the same time I started DJing was the same time I started making my own music. I think it's funny when people pretend like they've been making music since they were 13. You can actually just start doing something and have it be something that you fall into; it doesn't have to be a process that takes a predetermined amount of time.

Have you ever considered doing a live set as opposed to DJing?
Yeah, definitely. It's kind of already in the works, but I have to save up for the equipment. I don't really come from a hardware background, and I can only buy one piece at a time. Once I get a nice, fat analog drum machine, then maybe. [laughs]

You have said that you didn't start out using hardware, but it sounds like you have been moving in that direction.
Yeah. Now, with every record, I try to get a new piece of hardware, like a gift to myself. There's not much money in this, so I just try to buy something for myself with work money with each new record. If I ever do an LP, I think then I'd try to figure out how to take it all out with me [on the road].

Have you developed that sort of gear lust a lot of producers have?
No, it's a bottomless pit. [laughs] I have an MPC, a few FX pedals, and a mixer, and they do the job; basically, [it's the same as] what I was doing on a computer, but it's just more fun to use the hardware than having it on the screen. There really isn't much else I would want to get other than a 909 or some 909 copy so I wouldn't have to sample those sounds.

What's on the horizon for your Proibito label?
Well, I did a record that should be out on the 24th of September, and then I have three or four more planned that will be out in the next two months. One is from a friend, Hank Jackson, who just did a record for Mister Saturday Night. I'll be putting out an EP of his. Another one that will be out soon is from Austin Cesear, and after that I can't say just because they aren't mastered yet—not that they're a secret or anything.

Did you start the label with a certain philosophy or stylistic guideline in mind?
I worked for a record label for a little bit and saw how it ran, and thought that maybe I could add something to the current landscape of music by putting out other people's work. I never planned on releasing my own tracks, but it just kind of happened. So, I didn't really have a philosophy going into it, but I remember hearing something that Bill Kouligas from PAN said about how if you're going to run a label, you should know what you're doing it for. So now, I've started to think about what I'm trying to do with Proibito and make it into something that hopefully outlives me as a producer and can go on to be something that also just outlives the current state of how things are. It's not a coincidence that I started the label and the records are selling because of what's happening right now, but if the label can outlast that and go on for the next five and then 10 years, then it would have really done something.

In some ways, it feels like you're transitioning to the next part of your career. Maybe you're not so much of a "rookie" anymore. Are there any specific goals you have going forward, or are you more just waiting to see what happens?
I'm more just seeing what happens, I don't have a particular upward trajectory in mind, if that makes sense. I hope a lot more people will hear the music I make, but I don't have a goal in mind in the sense that there will ever be a point where I can say, "Okay, now I can stop because I've accomplished everything." [laughs] I hope to not be making house music in the next year; I hope. I hope I can still DJ, but I hope it can be a little more wide-reaching than this current niche. I don't only listen to house music, I barely listen to it at all at home to be honest—I don't even really to listen to music at home for leisure actually. I just make music when I have the chance, and when I'm not, I just go and do other things. When I listen to music most is when I'm buying records or DJing, but I don't think that'll always be house music, and I hope that's okay. I'd like to get out of the bubble of this "outsider house" bullshit. [laughs]

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