Talent running through his veins…
David Terranova is a visual artist born in Rome and now residing in New York, responsible for creating a range of dark, thought provoking left-field audio and visuals for music and fashion videos.
David first started out at 19 working in programming for advertising agencies as a Creative Flash developer but after moving to the UK and a love of the East London club scene, David began experimenting more with photo and video which led to the transition into making clubbing videos and from there experimenting more with music and fashion videos.
Not content with his visual successes, David has also been making music nearly all his life.
David’s love of music started at an early age, and from the age of 10 David had started playing both the guitar and piano, and then training in classical music theory a few years later.
His music today is a magical fusion of deep and melodic electronic sounds.
David Terranova took time to speak with Public Description.
Elle: When did you know you wanted to be a producer?
David: Ever since I was a teenager I dreamed of making music for films. Until my twenties I lived in an isolated bubble with not many friends nor cultural influences so I didn’t really know what was going on in the outside world with electronic music. I remember getting Cakewalk 8 on my dad’s PC and I would spend hours on it making all sorts of music on there, that was from the age of 14 onwards, and I haven’t really stopped since. But before that I played guitar and piano and would make songs before I even had a computer. It’s only lately that it’s becoming something more serious, as before I really wanted to focus on having a career in the visual side of things.
Elle: Where do you get your inspiration?
David: Mostly from movies. I’m going through a lot of the classics, from Fellini to Buñuel to Lynch, but enjoy some newer directors like Harmony Korine and Jim Jarmusch and a whole bunch of other stuff from europe and eastern europe. Generally it’s always movies that are on the trippier side of things, combining story telling, imagery and sound into surreal experiences. Beyond the Black Rainbow has been stuck in my head for a while.
Elle: I believe you are of Italian origin? Does your Italian roots influence some of your creative ideas?
David: Yes I am, and no not at all. I didn’t have a great time in Italy while I was there. I spent the first half of my childhood in London (my mum is from Chelsea), but when we moved to Italy when I was around 8 I spent my teens making things difficult for my parents so that I could get back there. By the time I was 16 I dropped out of school and headed to London with my mum for a new life.
I blame a lot of missed opportunities on those years living secluded in rural Italy. I always believe I would have had a more successful path in music had I grown up in London. When I did get there, I spent the following 13 years learning whatever I could about art, music and creativity, although in a far more solitary way than I wanted.
Elle: Can you tell us how you first got involved with doing the videos for REBEL RAVE (a video series for techno label Crosstown Rebels)?
David: I was going to a lot of parties in east london, taking lots of photos and making little videos and animations for the promoters. Damian Lazarus got in touch with me through a friend as he wanted to make a video series, even though I had no professional experience. I borrowed a camera from my brothers’ production company and went on a crusade around new year’s eve in London, following four different DJs for two days without stopping. And the rest is history really.
Elle: What or who is your biggest accomplishment as a director?
David: I don’t consider myself a director. I make various things, from photography to programming, and from music to videos. And in video I do several things, directing is one of them, and I try to do in my own way. But if I could reword the question as what my biggest accomplishment as a creator or artist is, then I would say that every project I work on contains a new set of challenges that is different from the previous ones. I don’t have one in particular, maybe “Afterlife” because it was so technically challenging and had never been done before in this way.
Elle: Is there an artist you would like to work with that you have not yet had the opportunity to work with yet?
David: Not really sure. I have a whole list of people I admire, but I’m not good at thinking of ways to collaborate.
Elle: If there was one word you would use to explain your experience so far while working as a music producer, what would it be?
David: Frustrating – My music is focused on melodies and chord progressions that I have in my head or come up with when playing the guitar, that’s something very natural for me, maybe I’m born in the wrong era. But I find building the tracks in digital format very difficult, it’s been more than 15 years that I’ve been slowly battling with learning how to produce on the side of my visual work, and I’m still struggling to make things sound good. It’s frustrating when you know you have a track that has great potential, but it just sounds bad because of your production skills.
Elle: What is your all time favourite video?
David: Not sure what you mean by video, I’m guessing anything that isn’t a movie?
Koyaanisqatsi (ok yes it’s a movie) is one of my all time favourite experiences, the combination of Godfrey Reggio with Philip Glass gets me euphoric! I love Godfrey Reggio, check out his short film “Evidence”.
p.s. a lot of my favourites are on my Night Hawks blog www.nighthawks.co
Elle: What is next for you?
David: The biggest thing right now is my album I’m putting together. It’s going to take a few months to work on a selection of tracks, old and new, with the help of an engineer. And also building a full audio/visual live show. To have my music officially out there is one of my biggest dreams, so it’ll be a huge achievement that I’m terribly excited about.
But also lots of visual works keep coming in, I’m lucky to be able to work with various people I love, like Nicolas Jaar, Bob Moses, Deniz Kurtel, Damian Lazarus etc.
Elle: Finally what advice would you give to someone beginning in this industry?
David: I’m really bad at giving advice. I would say don’t undervalue yourself, but be able to recognize an opportunity that will need you to work for free as it could be your most career-defining moment, while at the same time don’t let people take you for a ride!
You can listen to David Terranova’s sounds here: