Photo: Press (Cleveland)
Under the name Cleveland, Andrea Mancini has made a name for himself with club music that isn’t afraid of thinking differently about what can set a dancefloor in motion. After releases on Hivern Discs and ESP Institute, among others, the Brussels-based DJ and producer has most recently put out two EPs on Kalahari Oyster Cult, but also launched his own label, SUZI, in late 2021. His mix for our Groove podcast proves once more why he has slowly but steadily become indispensible in the house and techno scene: this is roughly 80 minutes chock-full of exciting sounds and rhythms, trippy and enchanting.
First off, how have the last two years been for you?
The last two years have been quite interesting for me. I did not have many gigs but was growing up in some sense as a human and an artist. I know better what I want and what I like to do. I’ve had the chance to work in the artistic circuit as well, so it’s been quite stimulating.
Clubs have recently reopened in your homebase, Brussels, and you played your first gig at C12 in two years. How has the experience been so far?
It’s been overwhelming for me, in many senses. It’s quite something to be back in a dark, loud and packed place with people around you and maybe two hours are a bit short to get back used to it. But I’m so glad it’s open again. I’ve been digging a lot of music that I want to share with people. It’s weird and great at the same time, like a new beginning.
Having played only a few gigs in the past two years, would you say that your approach to DJing for a live audience has changed?
Yes. My approach has been going towards more clubby sets. People know the freedom that has been taken from them and mostly just want to celebrate and have a good time; I want to give them these moments. But I’m sure it also just depends on the context. During lockdowns we had to play for a seated crowd, or online with no crowd, now it’s completely different again.
“I basically tried to imitate the music I loved without having the skills to do it right, the results were quite creatively rich moments […]. There is some magic in not knowing how to structure your work,” you’ve once said in an interview about your first steps as a producer. How would you describe your creative process ten years after you have debuted under the Cleveland alias?
Nice dig! (laughs) I’m still a believer of not-knowing. I still don’t know my gear super well and still focus most of my musical creative practice on randomness and interesting sounds or loops that just pop up. It’s a pretty slow approach and I’m not the kind of person that has produced 50 tracks during this period. I also work on non-music sound stuff that is still very abstract, which nourishes my music work. Like ambient background music or odd organic patterns that can be re-used in my own productions.
After releasing records on ESP Institute and Hivern Discs, among others, your last two EPs were put out by Colin Volvert’s Kalahari Oyster Cult. What’s your relationship with the label like?
Colin and I have become friends before my first release on Kalahari. I think we met at an ADE instore at Bordello A Parigi four or five years ago. We talk a lot, and the releases came up naturally because he’s a friend. I like his label, so he’s always been one of the first to hear my demos when they popped up.
In Autumn last year, you started the label SUZI with a mini-compilation featuring Rudolf C, Tristan Arp, queniv, and O-Wells. What was your motivation to launch your own imprint and why inaugurate it with this specific format?
Launching your own label being a producer yourself you ask yourself do I want to put out my stuff. But I didn’t want that, I thought doing a compilation with various types of sounds can be a nice introduction to the diversity of sounds they can expect with SUZI. The next one is a 4-track EP and has its own universe also.
Also last year, you held an artist residency at the Casino Luxemburg. What did this entail and what were you working on, exactly?
Since I did artistic studies I always wanted to have the possibility to work with sound and visuals together in a free format. During the pandemic I had time and the opportunity to do artistic residencies, one of them at Casino for a period of six months. There I tried many various multidisciplinary installation researches. The main leitmotif was spaces within spaces that have their own set of rules, all of them having sound and visual work on a balanced level. The residency ended up becoming a solo show with 6 different rooms with various audio visual installations. After this residency I had the chance to go and do one in Paris for 3 months, this research will become an installation exhibited at Casino in Luxembourg in autumn 2022.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
The idea behind this podcast is a mix in two parts, first a more experimental and slow-fast ambient set of tracks that evolves into a second part which is more focussed around club and groove sounds.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
As mentioned before the next step for SUZI is a 4-track EP by a super nice artist from NYC and probably another record this year. Then I’m continuing my artistic stuff with one new bigger project that I’m starting right now, this will take most of my time. I’m also trying to work on a more extended release for Cleveland.
Stream: Cleveland – Groove Podcast 329
01. LLD – Exporter
02. Tammo – Ballet Mecanique
03. Madalyn Merkey -Nexus
04. Ik – Isobutyl
05. Sid Quirk – BFLR
06. The Modern Institute – Limitless Light
07. Toma Kami – Solo Use
08. Mark Pritchard – Dawn of the north
09. Alfredo92 – Untitled
10. Micawber – Sylphe 06
11. Eights Everywhere – Bellmen
12. Hollie – In Limbo
13. Mayurashka – Waterskipps
14. Constant Black – Epsilon
15. Capeesh Society – Endless Happy Groove
16. Constant Sound – Correlation
17. Camu – Drip Nation
18. Jad & The – Trespasser Unknown
19. Akumen – Move My Body
20. Bobby – Variations Of Time
21. Junes – Pools
22. FSK24 – Gravity Island
23. Capeesh Society – Stumbling In
24. Unknown Artist 003 – B2