PROGedia – A psychedelic vision from Italy

PROGedia, the new project from the multifaceted Italian producer Fed Conti talks about early musical influences and the upcoming release of his new album, ‘Dioscuri’. From jazz, prog rock, psychedelia, breakbeat techno and movie soundtracks, ‘Dioscuri’ is the culmination of Conti’s eclectic tastes and influences described in his own words as “musical anarchy”.

Master sampler Fed Conti has a way of making grooves sound as light as a feather, elevating kraut and jazz phrases to dreamy realms which intrigue the imagination. PROGedia is the newest alias of the Italian producer Fed Conti, also known as Mahjong and Nardis. After having played his Hammond organ with several jazz deities, and produced samples for Coca Cola and Universal, he is finally unleashing his true creative vision in the debut PROGedia album, ‘Dioscuri’.

Following the first album single ‘We Are The Night’, ‘Down’ is the next offering from PROGedia’s debut LP. ‘Down’ was published on 28th January and features a new remix from acclaimed British producer The Bug, treating listeners to a blend of heavy studio electronics, powerful vocals and grunge influenced guitars.

Hi Fed, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Firstly I wanted to ask how the last 18months have been for you and how have you found navigating your PROGedia project through the pandemic? What positive can you take from this time?

Pozdrav prijatelji 🙂

I found myself stopping my ongoing life a few months earlier than all this Covid “Odissey”, so I was somehow prepared to stay home (in my music studio). At that time, I was getting back to my countryside area after 5 years of city life, intense social life and clubbing of course. The point was to make a balance of life and music, which I approach both in the same way as indeed all my different music phases always reflect my lifestyle itself. For example, I was already in a kind of lockdown during the late 2000’s when I was jailed in my studio all the time doing several tracks for Tv Series, advertising, and sample replays for more than 100 records, including some for acclaimed DJs. And yes, I was workaholic doing many more things including managing my own digital labels – my only purpose was to be lucrative and to show my parents that music was a serious job!

The music business has changed a lot with social media and streaming services so I cannot deny that I found myself lost more than once in the last decade. But at the same time all these experiences made me who I am today, and PROGedia is the resolution of many of my previous conflicts born from a big necessary reset. And with Covid I had a double reset, it has been tough, but I can say I feel better, in music first.

You have a great recording career with your Fed Conti productions, how did PROGedia come about? What was your inspiration? And what sets PROGedia apart from your other releases?

It’s complicated LOL.

When I started producing, I was mostly a jazz musician who heard Saint Germain and Llorca saying: “I can do that!”.

So, I did and after a couple of years of crappy demos I started to get some interest for a very early project of mine called ‘Sun & Soul Shades’ releasing my first vinyl called ‘Goldmine’ with DNH records owned by the Canadian DJ Nick Holder. From there I started to regularly produce acid jazz, funky house and lounge tunes under various monikers. I even produced too much, and this fragmented my discography a lot, especially when the curiosity to do even more genres including the hardest ones came out day by day. I challenged myself to do almost anything, sometimes for business, sometimes for a momentary passion. Like when I was a big Dubstep fan before it commercially exploded and before the never-ending wobbling sound which everybody was playing including me LOL

Then I focused on Techno around 2015. My primary motivation after years of conventional sounds and radio edits was to have more freedom to experiment out of the box with my own productions as well as in DJ performances. It was the period where I was Djing in the most coveted Italian after party hosted at Doctor Sax, Turin, playing techno on 2 decks and maybe a symphonic piece on the third one in key.

That’s the story behind when I focused my music life in the recording studio more than when I was playing 80 gigs a year in the late 90’s and early 00’s as pro musician in Jazz, Soul, Blues and Rock live acts.

The PROGedia inspiration started from silence, here’s the twist!

Facing a big crisis which made me momentarily stop producing music for the first time after 13 years and to sit back to rethink all the accumulated experiences in life and music. Being able to stop everything and see (which was helped by the lockdowns) what would have come to mind breaking the noisy silence in my head without listening to anything more. Without following anything in particular and letting the strongest experiences from my past only naturally combine in a new way and regain a new enthusiasm like I haven’t felt for years. And just cause I was not considering any particular strategy, being me for the real first time without caring about being a musician or a DJ. Music is music.

Renaat (R&S) has been the very first person who really understood me. Pushing me to do better and to fight my doubts which have been too influenced from years of market considerations and trends.

With the album signed to R&S Records – How did this unison with the label come to happen?

I’ve been in touch with R&S since 2015 when I was still producing my kind of melodic deep-techno. But nothing happened until I found my own way with the first PROGedia tracks in the early 2020 during the full Covid madness. ‘We Are The Night’ which was released on November 5th both on digital and vinyl, has been the track which convinced Renaat to invest in this multifaceted project of mine. I remember those days when R&S posted on the social media a new manifesto of the label mentioning the new artists that would present the new tone of the label, and reading I was part of it made me think that all this struggle was worth it.

What’s next for the PROGedia project?

I’m working on PROGedia’s live-set which I recently inaugurated during the streaming charity event ‘Grooves For The Mind’ last October 29th which has hosted several artists from the UK, Berlin and Amsterdam including Bushwacka and Dave Clarke. It went super well, I didn’t expect so much love and interest in my new music and sound philosophy, so I’m perfecting it and getting more confident with this setup which includes both Ableton live with controllers looping all individual tracks from my studio productions plus an external loopmachine with dozens of pedals and a combination of a Hammond Organ, Electric Piano / Clavinet plus hardware and Vst synthesizers. This setup includes some unconventional boxes like a breath controller which I use to modulate the expression of the jazz trumpet which I play on keyboard unleashing all my jazz ghost notes.

What other artists have inspired you? And which musicians do you keep going back to play their records?

So many, cause I really heard all the past century music from the beginning. Even before digital services I was spending so much money when I was a teen buying all the cream of the good music from jazz to rock but in particular the biggest innovators from my point such: Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Jaco Pastorius, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Keith Emerson, Brian Auger, Chick Corea, Jimmy Smith, John Medeski, John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa. Frank is one of them who I constantly play and I’m still discovering even though I started listening to him in the 90’s. If we consider that he unfortunately died too soon in ’93, his entire discography has been so intense and varied breathing such a unique freedom expressing all his extravaganza including personal thinking and sarcasm, all which made him a Genius from many sides: if Frank were alive today, he would have many uncomfortable things to say about Covid and the music scene LOL.

Of course, I have my electronic music influences as well!

Kraftwerk first! Then in much more modern times, Massive Attack, MAW, Royksopp, Aphex Twin, Noisia, The Prodigy, Thievery Corporation, Sven Vath, Too Many Djs, I’m in love with their Radio Soulwax mixes which I often re-play.

Finally, if you could pick one record to remix, what would it be and why?

It’s hard to say one! Cause my musician side would fight with the electronic part of me LOL and I’m a Gemini with ascending in Gemini, so let’s say two 🙂

First, I love to remix big vocals, so let’s say a big classic which always touched me, ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ by Massive Attack.

But at the same time my musician approach as remixer would say something orchestral from the legendary Ennio Morricone like ‘Giù La Testa’ from the famous western movie. That period was just pure magic, the compositions and sounds where the full orchestra was blending with the electric guitars and that lovely 60’s drumkit.

My motto is “play innovative music, with sarcasm”

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