Our first premiere of 2017 comes from Lithuanian progressive-stalwart Donatello and one of the most recognisable voices on the scene right now, Shane Blackshaw. ‘Catch 23’ drops soon on Stripped Recordings, and here we give you an exclusive premiere and interview with Donatello.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us!

First of all, can you tell us how you got started as a producer and DJ?

I started DJing in early 1997-98, I think. My first party was at home and at school.I was having 2 audio cassette players called “Vilma”, and It was really fun trying to change tracks without any BPM controls 🙂 Around 1999 I bought my first belt-drive turntables called “Gemini” and I started collect vinyl. That was the early beginning of my DJ career.

What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

My biggest jump In career was around 2002 when I won DJ championship in my hometown Kaunas and almost in the same period I was invited to be a resident at the club “Exit”. That was no 1 club in Lithuania where every Saturday there were artists like “Deep Dish, Satoshi Tomiie, Peace Division, Sander Kleinenberg, Anthony Pappa, King Unique and many more. In 2008 I started my producer career. In 2011 together with Kastis Torrau and Arnas D we did a remix for the Sasha remix contest and we won 1st place. That was another big jump in my career.

There seems to be a cluster of progressive talent coming out of Lithuania at the moment – in addition to yourself, there are your regular studio partners Kastis Torrau and Arnas D, and Stripped label-mates Phonic Scoupe. What do you think accounts for this? Is the scene in Lithuania in a healthy place right now?

In early 2000’s progressive house conquered the scenes, clubs and hearts of people. That was something that changed our minds. I wan to say special thanks to one of the EXIT club owners Ignas. He brought that progressive house sound to Lithuania (and he pushed me in to that DJ career too). So many people where listening to progressive house. 2000 – 2009 we can call a real clubbing era with progressive house sound in Lithuania. But around 2009 everything started to change, and since there’s been no one dominant music style. I could say we have a rising techno scene now. And I could say that our music scene in Lithuania is on the right way, and very healthy because people aren’t stuck in one musical style. Now you can find everything, from deep house to techno, from minimal to tech house. So many different venues, different artists, DJs & events. Now clubbers can choose any type of event and listen to their famous sounds. I think our scene is on the right way like never before.

Can you please tell us a bit about your studio setup just now?

We share our studio together with Kastis Torrau & Arnas D. We don’t have a lot of hardware or super high end stuff. But we like to use studio gear for some period, then change it to something new. But of course you will always find in our studio a few different analog synths and drum machines.

Your new track, ‘Catch 23’, features Shane Blackshaw, a name that’s going to be familiar to every prog-lover from his work with Kastis Torrau & Arnas D, Phonic Scoupe, Paul Hazendonk & Noraj Cue, as well as his solo releases on Manual. How did you get involved in this collaboration, and how did the creative process work?

This track was one of my favourite tracks in the past few years. When I finished it that dreamy mystic melody was playing in my head every single day. I understood that vocals for this track would be like a cherry on top of the cake. So I showed that track to Norman (Stripped Recordings) and asked him to help me with vocals. And he did it. Maybe in 1 and half weeks I received the track with a preview of Shane Blackshaw’s vocal. And believe me, it was so good! Now I’m very happy with this amazing collab. This track is still one of my favourite tracks that I ever made.

The release is coming out on vinyl first, a trend that seems to be becoming more common again. Without restarting the whole vinyl vs. digital debate, why do you think labels are returning to vinyl? Do you still get a thrill holding a “proper” record with your music on it?

My DJ career started with audio cassette, then for many years i played with vinyl only. So that real feeling to hold a record in your hands is in my blood. In 2011 our remix for Sasha track “Cut me down” was released on vinyl. In 2015 my remix for Stas Drive’s track called “Carnival 69” was released on vinyl again. After that I started collect favourite tracks on vinyls again. And sometimes I play public at vinyl only parties. This is my passion for now and yes, I still get a thrill. And when Norman agreed to release my EP on vinyl format I was more than happy. I’m still very happy and can’t wait to hold that record final version in my hands…

What other releases have you got in the pipeline at the moment?

I’m working now on few EPs, one for Sudbeat label, one for Click records. One of my earliest remixes this year soon will be released on Manual records.

What else can we look forward to from Donatello in 2017?

The biggest thing what I want to make happened this year is finally launch Lights Out record label. This is my no 1 goal for this year.

Any New Years resolutions you can tell us about?

My new years resolution is very simple: more sleep & more healthy life this year.

Current top 5 records?

1. Donatello & Shane Blackshaw – Catch 23
2. Andhim – Tosch ft. Piper Davis
3. Lars Wickinger – Allien Landing
4. Rockaforte – Destiny
5. Christian R – Dnoces

‘Catch 23’ is released on Stripped Recordings on vinyl on January 24th and on Beatport mid-February.

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