The infamous Italian / Spanish techno act Regal (Gabriel Cassina) has been shaking up the techno scene since 2012. Releases on his own label ‘Involve’ along side disguised labels such as ‘Bpitch’, ‘Figure’ and ‘Enemy Records’ have seen his name spread from his home Madrid to the every continent on the globe.
Regal is arguably known for championing a new sound in techno, with seminal records such as the ‘Alma Matter EP’ and the ‘Acid Is The Answer EP’ on Involve which garnered millions of streams through various platforms and cemented Regals name as a force to be reckoned with.
Regal’s sound through the last nine years has moved through acid, trance, EBM and more, while it all lies under the distinguishable Regal sound. Gabriel Cassina has led a new sound in techno, a sound suitable for big rooms, festivals and has been championed more and more every year. The godfather of this big room techno sound has given plenty of opportunities to artists such as Boston 168, FJAAK, Cosmin TRG, Bambounou, Amelie Lens, Alien Rain and more as they have released on his imprint Involve.
As a selector Regal is known for his pounding set’s that mimmic his productions. Suitable for big rooms and festivals, Regals bombs are made for peak time. Gabriel has graced pretty much any venue or festival that you could imagine, from Berghain, Farbik, Griessmuehle, Time warp, Awakenings, Khidi and more. The seasoned Italian selector know’s how to rock a room. Gracing platforms such as Boiler Room, Mixmag The Lab, Beatport Live and Hor Radio – the Spanish resident is clinical in his approach and lethal in his delivery.
With 19 EP’s under his belt with world wide critical acclaim it only seemed right to take on a new challenge. Regal returns to our sound systems with his first album. ‘Remember Why You Started’ a 12 track LP showing a new but also not too unfamiliar side of Gabriel Cassina. Working through shades of techno, electronica, trance, breakbeat, EBM and more Regal parades his versatility from the first to final track of this 12 track LP.
I chatted with Gabriel Cassina about the new album, moving back to Madrid, his influences and more.
Congratulations on the new album. After over a decade of releasing music, why did you choose to release your debut LP now?
I think this was the right moment. For me an album is something really special, something that has to have a message and a real sense. It’s a story that you tell, not just single anecdotes. Till now I didn’t have a real story to tell and couldn’t find a proper sound for it, to tell this story to other people. But during the first long quarantine I found both and I felt it was the right moment to finally dedicate myself to this big project.
On a similar train of thought, did you intentionally sit down to write the album or were you just creating and things panned out that way?
It was a mix of both. On one hand I knew that it was the perfect moment to sit down and start working on the album, everyday, focusing only on that. But to be honest some of the tracks were just created in the flow, testing and experimenting with things and at some point I realised that the track had everything that it needed and was ready to be played out loud and perfectly fit between the others. Probably it was my subconsciousness that was driving me and translated those thoughts to tracks without me even noticing it.
The album seemed to allow you to present us with a newer side of your production. I noticed flashes of IDM, Electronica and breakbeat throughout the LP, where did you find the inspiration to tap into this side of your creativity?
Actually I believe that this is not really something absolutely new in my productions. When listenings to older productions I think one can find the same flashes, even if they’re a little more hidden here and there. Maybe on the album I just highlighted them more. I get inspired by many things and I consider myself a very eclectic artist as I don’t only listen to techno 24/7 so it didn’t feel like a big deal for me stepping out of those classic techno production cliches.
The tracks on the LP present to us an ethereal soundscape that lies somewhere between the hero and the villain in terms of the story the record conveys. How were you feeling when you wrote this?
I felt like being a mix between the hero and the villain to be honest, it was a hard battle with myself. Two minds sharing the same body and fighting each other.
The album seems very personal to your career thus far; did you have to try reconnect with your younger self when writing the album?
Yes, definitely. During the pandemic and the quarantine I’ve had some very tough moments (as all of us have had, I guess) and was struggling a lot with myself, both as a human and as an artist, and thinking a lot about my musical career. At some point I felt that I just had to look back and get a fresh view on things by re-igniting the passion I had when I started many years ago.
The LP is also the soundtrack to the short film ‘Remember Why You Started’. How did you find translating club music to the cinematic world?
I believe that it’s a natural step. I’m convinced that electronic music (not necessarily club music) already fits into the cinema world and will do so even more in the future. But given the dynamics of the movie world, it’s something really hard to do at the moment even if you’re in a big position and a well-known artist in that scene, so I decided to make my own film to give my music the chance of being featured in a big film production.
You drew inspiration for the album from the seminal poem ‘Divine Comedy’ by Dante Alighieri. The poem is a journey through hell, purgatory and paradise, after over a decade in the industry is this somewhat reflective of your career thus far?
Till now it hadn’t been relevant for my career, but rather for my personal life. The Divine Comedy is a very special book for me as it was an important lecture during my last few years in high-school and it’s something that reminds me of my father a lot. I always get inspired by it when I happen to read parts of it, so I think that my album is a little tribute to the book and to my father somehow.
What was the thought process behind the names of the tracks on the record?
Every track has a double meaning. On the one side they have a meaning related to the Divine Comedy, and on the other side they have a personal meaning, inspired by the sound and the mood of the track and the message I wanted to spread when I wrote those tracks. For example “Burning Old Idols” is a track about idols that I used to have when I started making music which are not my idols anymore – either because they changed the sound of their music, and it doesn’t fit my taste anymore, or because I realised that I don’t like them on a personal level.
Going back a bit further into your past, how did you discover dance music and what gravitated you towards techno?
I discovered electronic music when I was 12 years old, more or less. At that time the sound was quite different from the techno that’s being produced and played nowadays. It went more into a Hardcore and Trance direction. Step by step, year after year, I started discovering new artists and genres and then I finally fell in love with Techno.
When did you start writing music?
It was more or less at the same time when I discovered electronic music. I always liked to create my own music and my first experience with the world of music production was a really simple freeware sequencer called Dance E-Jay.
Your first release came on your imprint ‘Involve’, what was the thought process behind this move?
I was tired of sending demos, waiting for weeks for a reply (and for some demos I’m still waiting for a reply as it never arrived) and having to change my sound as the A&R told me that my style was not fitting the label’s sound 100%. So I decided to start my own label, where I could publish my own music and wouldn’t have to be dependant on someone else.
You’ve been on top of the techno game for some time now, how do you feel about the state of techno as of now?
I think techno is at the best point right now and reached its highest peak of success (yet). I hope that the genre will grow more and more and will get more professional, so that Techno can at some point earn the recognition it deserves.
You recently moved back to Madrid, what prompted the move?
I was born in Madrid and I lived here for all my life except for some time that I spent in Berlin and Barcelona. I came back from Berlin because I didn’t really feel home there, so I actually could have thought that the same would happen with Barcelona. But still I wanted to give it a try, so I left Madrid again. After the pandemic I was missing Madrid so much that I decided to move back. I probably would have liked Barcelona more if I would have experienced the city as it really is, but the lockdown prevented me from that.
How is your studio coming along, has the change of scenery impacted your workflow and creativity?
To be honest, I had a super nice studio in Barcelona. I really loved it. Now in Madrid I don’t have a proper studio anymore and I’m back to headphone and laptop production (with bits of hardware here and there). But definitely different from how it was in the studio in Barcelona. Obviously this has somehow broken my routine and has affected my motivation a bit, but I’m still trying to keep up and I’m back working on new stuff. But I think it’s normal that after the production of an album some fresh thoughts are needed, so it can take a time. I actually worked on a bunch of remixes lately, it helped me getting a fresh perspective.
Did you ever feel pigeon holed to creating a certain sound after the success of your early records or has change as an artist always been a focus of yours?
Sometimes I’ve felt the pressure and thought that people would expect me to stick to a certain sound from some of my old tracks. On the other hand I felt a pressure that came from the opposite direction: that I should try out something different so that people don’t think that I always use the same formula. At some point I realised that the best thing is just to go with the flow and do what feels best to yourself. I don’t like to do the same things over and over again, so I always try to experiment with new stuff, adding elements, taking out others, giving sounds a certain twist… even when I produce something with the same type of sound or energy, I try to do it in a different way than before, to create something fresh.
After a break from club shows, how are you feeling about getting back on the road?
I feel super excited and thrilled. I’m very happy to be finally back, but also a little nervous. It reminds me of my very first gigs, when I felt like being on a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s been a while since the last time I felt like this. And I believe it’s nice.
Where can we expect to see you play in the coming months?
I actually played in Paris for Possession last week and it’s been absolute destruction, and I loved every minute of it. A killer of a rave. I’ll play again in my hometown Madrid for my friends from Fabrik, some clubs shows here and there around Europe, also I’ll be back at my second home in Georgia and some festivals in France, Belgium, Hungary, Scotland, Turkey… just keep an eye on my socials to stay in the loop 😉