You can also add Francesca Lombardo to that pretty esteemed list. Italian-born and classically trained, Francesca carved her own path in electronic music by criss-crossing the globe as a DJ and live performer, whilst building up a formidable back-catalogue of music. An initial start with Crosstown Rebels and Damian Lazarus has led to the producer starting her own labels, Echoe and Echolette, and she created a live show, which, in some instances, incorporate a full orchestra. 2017 is looking like another huge year for Lombardo, with an upcoming debut album release plus more dates touring her new live concept.
Ahead of her DJ perfomance at Pitch and the Days Like This afterparty, we caught up with the songstress to discuss the past and what’s laying ahead…
First off, we have to ask: 2016 seems to have been a real year of turmoil/rejuvenation/change. What for you stands out as the biggest change within the scene last year? And a decade from now when you look back at 2016, what will be the biggest highlight/memory for you personally?
I feel the biggest change by far is that electronic music itself has exploded! There is a way bigger audience for it, with so many festivals and huge crowds. It’s amazing to see all this energy within the scene. The fans seem to be getting younger, which is incredible. They finally seem to be moving away from EDM and getting in tune with the underground. People have woken up to the music!
When I look back on 2016 I have to say the main highlight was launching my new Echoe imprint, a sister label to Echolette. We got off to a really good start with great momentum release wise. I’m very excited for plans to come. Also, can’t forget getting my cat minibar last year, he’s the best!
At the beginning, Crosstown Rebels played a vital role in nurturing your career. How did that relationship come about?
Damian and I met in Miami during the music conference, we instantly bonded, connecting over music and after a bit I started sending him some of my earlier tracks. He gave me good advice and soon wanted to sign some stuff! It was a lovely experience working with such a good friend like Damian on releases.
You have been at the front of the global scene for over 4 years now, yet you haven’t released a full length album! We believe you are currently working on that? If our spies are telling the truth, what can you tell us about your upcoming debut album? And why has out taken so long to release?
Your spies are right! I have been working on my album but I wanted to focus on my DJ career for a bit, putting out dancefloor tracks and building my profile in that world. The LP is a bit of a departure from this scene. It is a lot less club focused, meant to work across many different environments and is compositional in nature, bringing in a lot of my classical training whilst also focused more around my singing. I feel I am now in a better place to show this different side to me, making the story behind the album clear!
Recently you put together a live show which sounds very interesting! What does the live show exactly consist of in terms of members and production? And have you written a whole host of new music specifically for this performance, or have you re-worked your past productions to fit into the live arena?
It’s made up of me singing, whilst playing keys and synths alongside a four-piece string section and double-bass player. This set up has been a lot bigger in the past, even up to nearly a full orchestra but we have refined it to this for now, as it seems to work well!
The live show was designed to showcase material from my album.
With your past productions featuring a lot of your own vocals, you seem to have a real appreciation for the art of the live performance. This is a two-pronged question: Who do you rate as one of the all-time best live musical performers (vocalists) and why? And are there any new artists on the global scene your currently rate highly?
Bjork! She’s just a completely unique and three-dimensional artist / performer. The last time I saw her was at Wilderness Festival, where I was also playing live at the time. She was so engaged with the crowd; you could tell everyone felt connected. The sound of her voice was massive and she clearly paid attention to all aspects and details of the show, including some amazing costume changes. It was really inspiring!
Tom Adams is a new artist I rate, I love the way he sings and plays piano, it’s really delicate with some amazing effects and his voice is so different! All of the work he does is very one of a kind!
Your labels Echoe and Echolette are doing really well, with the last release being by Parisian duo Birds of Mind. To date all the tracks have had a focus on brooding and introspective grooves. Are the label releases indicative of where you are at musically, or is it more a case of the same thread runs through all the music sent to the label?
I receive all sorts of demos, some definitely not suited for either labels! I’ve always just picked the tracks the speak to me, it kind of feels the same as finding and buying a track you love but with the bonus of getting behind it in a more personal way, it’s really rewarding!
One of the our favourite sets from Burning Man each year is your recorded set from Robot Heart – it’s always a highlight! How many Burning Man’s have you attended now, and what is the main appeal of the festival for you?
I think it about three or four now but it’s hard to tell, they all blend into one and I don’t really keep count! I love Bruning Man, funnily enough I have just been dreaming about it the last three nights in a row, so it’s clearly on my mind! I cannot wait to get back and there may be some nice Burning Man surprises in store for the future!
Did you play at or attend any new festivals in 2016 which you can recommended to our readers?
Magma Festival for sure! It’s on a beautiful island in Nicaragua made up of two volcanos, such an amazing place to play and I took an incredible boat ride over to it that I will never forget!
You will be returning to Australia to play at Pitch Arts & Music Festival in Melbourne and Days Like This Festival in Sydney. The lineup is sensational and might just be the most forward-thinking lineup of acts ever assembled in Australia! Who on the line up would you recommend our readers watch out for?
Definitely excited to see Gold Panda, he’s a bit different, I love his music and I have never seen him play live before! Also, Stimming, as I haven’t seen him for ages and he was one of my absolute favorites back in the day! Love his weird pieces of equipment, no one else has them! He’s a genius!
Saturday 11th March: Pitch Music & Arts Festival, VIC (Day)
Saturday 11th March. Sydney (Night), TBA