Face to Face With camoufly: a chat about ‘Faith’, Secret Identity, Passion For Sampling And More [Interview]
When all it started, I was there. It’s not a flex, I swear. It was just a coincidence, but I’m in the small circle of privileged people who can say to have witnessed camoufly’s rise since day one. From when it was a kid’s dream, to becoming one of the hottest names in the bass music scene. What a journey it has been! Pretty much everything he’s done so far has become seminal. His colorful and extroverted digital identity (his “brand” if we want to use business terms), his infamous remixes and his promotional campaigns. Even the covers of his EPs are iconic. All part of a calculated master plan or the result of the right mix of genius and spontaneity? This is one of the questions that have arisen over the years, and this is exactly what I promised myself to discover in my irl interview with him. The very first interview of this kind he has ever conceded.
I already had the chance to chat with him here on FUXWITHIT but nothing can compare to an interview in flesh and bone. The release of Faith, the third and last chapter of his genesis EP series, created the perfect occasion to sit down with him face to face. No masks. No filters. Of course, it wasn’t just his music that I wanted to talk about. I wanted to go deeper. I knew there was a lot more to unearth and a man behind the character to discover. The open and honest chat we had while chilling in his bedroom revealed a smart and genuine person who lives his art on a visceral level and who definitely has a lot to tell.
Faith marks the end of chapter 1 of the camoufly story. With more than 50 tracks released in less than three years, I would say it was quite a hectic journey.
To be completely honest, it doesn’t give me that impression at all. A few weeks ago, after I had everything ready for this last EP, I took the time to look back and I realized that yes, indeed it was a rat race. But then again, everything happened absolutely naturally. I didn’t have to force anything. It was a rollercoaster with some ups and downs but I really enjoyed every second of this journey so far and time has really flown.
Are you still having fun making music?
For sure! Making music is still my safe place. The best moment of my days is when I sit in front of my PC and I let the creativity flow.
As mentioned earlier, Faith is the latest installment in this three-EP series. Why did you choose this format and not a full album?
I like to link my personal experiences and progress to the music I create. I am a person who changes at a very fast pace and the process of curating and publishing an album would have been too long, not compatible with my personality and my needs right now. The multiple EP format allowed me more flexibility and, above all, spontaneity.
I still struggle to free myself from the urge to try to gain everything immediately. But I’m working on it and I’m seeing the first results.
Apotheosis was all about escapism and good energy. With Giant you reflected on the difficulties we have to fight towards every day. Which themes does Faith explore?
Lately I have been very fascinated by the idea of faith in general. Nothing to do with the mystical or dogmatic side of religion. For me, it’s much lighter stuff. The aspect that caught my attention is the belief, common to many religious professions, that there is something greater that you can’t aspire to control. The thought that there’s someone who has more power than you and who knows where to direct your life. God, someone, whatever aligns with this idea. I haven’t done extensive research actually. I brushed up on concepts of Christian culture that I had learned between school and catechesis but my idea of faith starts from a much more philosophical than religious approach. The bottom line is to leave much more to chance. A huge source of stress and discomfort in our society is the delusion that we always can turn our life around without much effort. With the internet, TVs (etc etc), we constantly have in front of our eyes all the things we desire and the change seems so close. within the reach of our fingers. This leads us to keep questioning ourselves and overthink about what we need to do more and why we have not yet achieved our goals. I myself am aware that I’m not exempt from this mentality. I admire and envy those artists who manage to publish four or five songs a year and that’s it. I still struggle to free myself from the urge to try to gain everything immediately. But I’m working on it and I’m seeing the first results.
My inspirations are constantly changing, I am constantly evolving, but the passion is still there 100%.
You mentioned that behind the mask you’re a very dynamic human being. What kind of change have you seen in! yourself over the years?
Many, many things. But fortunately, only the things that actually needed to change. There are key aspects of myself that I wanted to remain untouched no matter what and fortunately, that’s exactly what happened. As I just said, I’m still having fun producing music. My inspirations are constantly changing, I am constantly evolving, but the passion is still there 100%. The biggest difference now is what happens after a song is finished. In the first years, when I was dropping remixes after remixes on SoundCloud, the process was terribly spontaneous. If I wake up wanting to release new music, the track was online before I even had breakfast. If I finished a song at three in the morning and wanted others to hear it on the spot, it would end up on my channel in a matter of minutes before I went to sleep. With official releases (and the EPs in particular) everything is way more, well, “official.” There’s way more planning involved. Between timing and deadlines, there is no longer a place for that carefree mentality that used to give me serenity.
Sampling is art. Period. I don’t think there is room to argue.
I see that you are very advocative about the art of sampling and often you don’t miss to tease those who belittle it.
Sampling is art. Period. I don’t think there is room to argue. I admit that when I discovered for the first time in my life that there were people who “stole” pieces of old songs to use in their own new creations, I was disappointed. It seemed to me like cheating. But it didn’t take long for me to understand that finding the right sample is as difficult as creating a melody from 0. I recently made several posts on Twitter where I explain that my music is actually mainly the result of years and years of sampling.
I think the right quote was ” […] when a producer lays down the perfect sample it’s over for me. writing stuff from scratch is great but there’s something that tickles my brain in Madlib or J Dilla’s stuff.
Yeah, exactly. I don’t want to get too nerdy here but the part about Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’ is very dear to me. Check out the thread because it is truly mind blowing.
Years ago you mentioned in an interview that your main sources of samples were P80SS (a Japanese web archive that has a ton of Asian music from the 70’s and the 80’s) and Andre Navarro’s Youtube channel. What’s your go-to source nowadays?
You probably weren’t expecting this answer, but it’s Tik Tok.
They showed us how being mysterious is not the same as being invisible and inexpressive. It can be so much more.
Since you mentioned them, I take the opportunity to ask you what kind of influence Daft Punk has had on you and on the camoufly project. I think it’s safe to say that they influenced everyone in the past couple of generations but I also believe everyone loves them for different reasons.
Aside from their groundbreaking work with samples, the major reason why I admire Daft Punk I think is one of the most ignored. In the common imagination, they are the ones who have made mysterious their trademark. Indeed, as far as their studio activity is concerned, it is true. But when it comes to telling the fans the story, the meaning, and the message behind their music, it was just the opposite. They created an explicit and vivid world where their music and our imagination can come together. There are the albums, but there’s also the short films and movies which are by no means secondary from a storytelling point of view. This was their way to communicate directly with people. I think it’s incredibly fascinating to see how Interstella 5555 gives meaning to ‘Discovery’ or how Electroma “explains” ‘Human After All’. The latter in particular is a project full of implications. Look at the title alone! Its meaning goes far beyond the music itself, which you may like or not, and it was such a key aspect for them that they decided to contextualize it with Electroma.
They showed us how being mysterious is not the same as being invisible and inexpressive. It can be so much more.
I deduce that this aspect directly influenced the “faceless” component of the camoufly project. Many expected a face reveal to coincide with the release of the first EP.
Actually, camoufly being “masked” is not directly connected with Daft Punk’s helmets or masks used by any other artist. Initially, it has been a stylistic choice mainly dictated by practical reasons. As the project was growing, I asked myself several times if it was appropriate to make the famous “face reveal” as you called it, but I realized that it had become an integral component of the project. I liked it and my fans liked it too. So, why change it? Maybe the time will come, but for now, everyone works perfectly as it is. Rather, albeit with the logical differences, I try to make my own storytelling component that I found in Daft Punk. Twitter and Instagram, Discord and the web are my ‘Discovery’ and ‘Electroma’. Through these means I always try to create my own little world that reflects me and my values. Everyone can enjoy and interpret my music as it wants, but if you want to get to know camoufly and his music on a deeper level, those are the places to be.
Despite the decision to keep your identity classified, you have an incredibly active and extroverted digital presence. Whether they are memes, production tips, or hot takes, you are constantly cranking out content online.
Sometimes I think I should be more “mysterious.” But the truth is that I really believe in the power of connections. And I love having discussions. Interacting with other people is the easiest way to expand your horizons and grow as a person (and as an artist as well). By opening myself this way, sharing my knowledge, supporting my friends and the causes I care about, even showing the dumbest sides of my personality I want to give to those who want to be part of my journey in an open and stimulating environment, where there’s a continuous exchange. Sharing common experiences with which to understand and be understood by others. For example, all ‘Faith’s stems will be available on my site and everyone is more than welcome to download, remix, sample, and experiment with them. As I said before, I am a person who changes very quickly, and being subjected to new stimuli is an essential fuel. This is why I enjoy debating so much with other people who think differently from me. It’s a shame the term different is increasingly associated with the term wrong.
To be honest, I’m done caring so much about what other people think. I’m not the most critic-proof kind person but I realized it’s absurd to be scared to live and do what I want because some people don’t think it’s right.
If I’m not mistaken you were involved in a similar situation not too long ago. There has been a kind of social backlash when you published your Artist-to-Artist NFT guide. Anyway, that doesn’t seem to have stopped you.
To be honest, I’m done caring so much about what other people think. I’m not the most critic-proof kind person but I realized it’s absurd to be scared to live and do what I want because some people don’t think it’s right. There are far more problems to be concerned about than NFTs in my opinion.
So, are there NFT plans for ‘Faith’?
The second single ‘Azure’ was premiered via Sound just a few days ago while I minted ‘told u so’ on Catalog back in January. I don’t think I’m going to turn the whole EP into NFTs but this side of the project is still work-in-progress. Definitely keep an eye on these two platforms!
Last but not least, we need to talk about the cover photo of ‘Faith’.
To conclude the trilogy, I picked the ‘Apotheosis of ST. Ignatius,’ a fresco painted between 1685 and 1694 by the renowned Italian artist Andrea Pozzo. If you want to see it live (an experience I highly recommend), you can find it in the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, in Rome.