Label Spotlight: Parachute

The Italian label Parachute Records has only operated for a short time, beginning in late 2014 and already releasing five crucial plates ranging from blissed out, California sunshine ambient soundscapes to concertina wire techno that have wrecked plenty of dance-floors and minds, often at the same time. Parachute’s future seems even brighter as the duo known as CW/A preps to release their first, genre-hopping LP Words Unspoken, Acts Undone on October 16th. With their forthcoming LP in mind, I had a chance to sit down with Parachute bosses Francesco Leali (Clockwork) and Thomas Feriero (Avatism) and chat about why not to pigeon hole Parachute as a strictly techno affair, the nature of their CW/A project and how to survive when your water is spiked with MDMA.

Looking at our back catalogue one might be inclined to define Parachute a strictly techno label, but we like to see it as more of a hub for diversity and experimentation.

Hey guys, hope you all are well! We have to go through the most mundane, boring question first so bear with me here. Please introduce yourselves to our readers who may be unfamiliar with both your productions and your label, Parachute.

Francesco: I’m Francesco Leali, one of the two founding members and one of the three A&R’s of Parachute. I have released and performed as a DJ under the Clockwork moniker for some time before starting the CW/A Live project with a friend and co-worker Thomas Feriero.

Thomas: I’m Thomas. I’ve released material as Avatism, House ov Leaves and CW/A with Francesco. Parachute was founded by Manf and Francesco and I only joined a bit later, but I’ve known these guys for ages.

I consider myself lucky enough to be able to live off my passion, which basically entails me being around music during most of my free time, and I’m totally fine with that.

Outside of music and label business, what do you guys do to wind down?

Francesco: In all honesty I don’t have a specific hobby or activity that makes me dissociate myself from music. I consider myself lucky enough to be able to live off my passion, which basically entails me being around music during most of my free time, and I’m totally fine with that. I used to play tennis before realizing I was terrible at it and subsequently decided to use my time more productively.

Thomas: I have to admit I’ve had very little free time recently, but I’m not complaining since I really love my “job.” Recently I’ve been reading the first half of novels I don’t particularly enjoy and playing Metal Gear Solid 5.

Before any interview I dig around a little and do my fair share of research before writing my questions (as any good journalist ought to do) but I found very little regarding Parachute outside of it being described in a previous interview as a “hub” to house the live project CW/A. Since then the label has grown and expanded its roster of artists. From the onset, was bringing in other artists a main objective for you guys with Parachute?

Francesco: Parachute was never born with the intent of limiting itself to exclusively releasing music from Thomas and I, that was never the case. When Manfredi and I decided to take on this journey a couple years back we wanted to be able to release, yes, a breed of darker and more abstract works, but at the same time not limit ourselves to Techno and its numerous sub-genres. I think we all have an extensive history in music and all came from different backgrounds that weren’t necessarily related to electronic music. That is something that made us work together and bond over our musical interests. We all have a very specific take on what we want to listen to and release on our label, and bringing new raw talent to the table was also a priority we gave ourselves.

I had no interest in running a strictly techno record label, it would have been a bit of a waste, considering our very different musical backgrounds.

Thomas: As I mentioned earlier, I only joined a bit later and only after I realized what Parachute could really become. I had no interest in running a strictly techno record label, it would have been a bit of a waste, considering our very different musical backgrounds. We all love techno, but not necessarily more than we love post-rock, ‘90s electronica, punk or industrial, and I’m glad we all quickly agreed to delve into a more open direction. Parachute is quite simply a platform for music we love.

Parachute, like all great techno labels, has a very strong visual aesthetic. I believe the artist Kero is behind all of the release artwork. Can you all speak on that relationship and how that developed?

Thomas: Manf introduced us to Kero as she was working on some designs for his other label, Life and Death. While we liked what she was doing, I think it really “clicked” after seeing what she did with Madteo’s Insider EP on Morphine.

Since its birth in 2014, Parachute has maintained the gritty edge industrial techno while cultivating an almost cathartic sense of melody behind the clouds of barbwire and the buzzing drone of tape hiss, in particular the strictly ambient release Void Transcripts illustrates my point more clearly. So in a round-about way do you as collective seek to balance out the constant “greyness” that much of the industrial stuff wallows in with splashes of color or did it more or less just “come out that way”? 

Francesco: I don’t feel too comfortable categorizing Parachute as being strictly a Techno label in all honesty. We have a pretty straight forward assessment criteria in deciding what we should and shouldn’t release, so I feel that pinpointing a single genre is too much of a limitation. It’s not exactly a matter of balancing out releases as much as putting out something we think is an all-round well structured product in its entirety. Our aim has never been to monetize or be critically acclaimed in the Techno scene, but to release music we look up to and hope can inspire and make a difference independently from its success. Void Transcripts (along with other releases we have planned) definitely helps getting this point across.

Our aim has never been to monetize or be critically acclaimed in the Techno scene, but to release music we look up to and hope can inspire and make a difference independently from its success.

Thomas: The label is obviously somewhat rooted in techno, but we are branching out as much as possible and Void Transcripts is just the first of many releases to venture into new territories. We have a lot of really different things getting released next year: from proto-punk art rock to new wave, from techno to “organic” industrial. Now that you made me think about it though, there is some kind of connection between it all. I guess “gritty with splashes of color” sums it up pretty nicely.

As a big fan of ambient music the thing that struck me most about Void Transcripts was its heavy use of guitar tones as the backbone for many of the tracks – an intriguing creative choice. The “organic” quality of the guitar lent a much more “human” element to the otherwise industrial-bent of Parachute’s back discography. What was the impetus behind releasing the strictly ambient LP? Were you guys worried about the reaction that the release would have possibly generated? 

Francesco: Looking at our back catalogue one might be inclined to define Parachute a strictly techno label, but we like to see it as more of a hub for diversity and experimentation. I acknowledge that up to now we haven’t showcased all this diversity, but releases to come will. I think we kind of played it safe to start with by releasing techno oriented works from artists such as Answer Code Request and the late Max_M, who don’t really need any introductions if you’re familiar with today’s techno scene. But we also felt the need to give space to so many more younger talents we wanted to have on the label such as Dead Heat and D1T1 in this particular case. Worrying was never an option though, once we all agree on something we put it out there and hope people who come across it enjoy it as much as we do. That’s pretty much key in the process of signing music for Parachute.

Parachute almost immediately followed up the blissed-out tranquility of Void Transcripts with the truculently noisy compilation LP entitled Fabric Safety Apparatus Vol. 1 with guests like Metrist and South London Ordnance appearing on it. I hope the inclusion of “Vol. 1” means that there will be a Volume 2? Is that in the works or will time reveal all? 

Francesco: Yeah, that’s exactly the case. We are already working on F.S.A Vol.2 and are pretty excited about it. If everything surprisingly works out as planned, it’ll see the light of day next year.

Speaking of forthcoming releases, CW/A’s debut album Words Unspoken, Acts Undone is due out this month and ranges from purist, floor functional techno to jungle to early ’90s electronica. It seems poised to be breakout album, given the breath of styles and genres covered. Is the album a reflection of your live shows as CW/A or was it formed in the studio and then road-tested before hand? Can you elaborate more on the creative processes that went into the album’s creation?


Stream the premiere of “Mind Problems” from CW/A forthcoming album Words Unspoken, Acts Undone


Thomas: We weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel: we just wanted room to be able to bring in all the influences we could under one roof, with the focus being a club/festival setting. Most of the tracks were originally just loops and ideas for our live sets, which we then would test out at shows and eventually bring back into the studio. It’s definitely a reflection of our live shows, although it’s a bit more “polished” and less improvisation-focused than the performances.

Following up on how Words Unspoken, Acts Undone was created, both you (Avatism and Clockwork) are big gear heads, what are you favorite pieces of hardware that you can’t see your studio without?

Francesco: Although we didn’t use it as much as I would have liked to for our LP my favourite piece of hardware would be our Rhodes Eighty-Eight Mark II, such a beautiful instrument all-round.

Thomas: Probably the Clavia Nord Lead 2: cheap and cheap-sounding, yet so expressive. I’m close to getting tired of it though, we’ve been sleeping in different rooms lately.

Going further, the LP’s name Words Unspoken, Acts Undone is a very evocative one and can mean a whole bunch of things to a wide array of people. There’s so much percussive energy within it, that the name is almost like a weird misnomer. Can you elaborate on why you guys went with that title?

Thomas: We really wanted something that sounded right, so we went for something rhythmic that still held a lot of meaning for us. The title is supposed to highlight the choices we made during the LP’s production: mainly starting CW/A, Parachute and taking a temporary break from successful projects to focus on new things that inspired us more.

After my Adamant LP I felt uninspired, and that’s when I decided I wanted to go back to the drawing board and explore my roots further and come up with something new.

Five years ago I was just making music in my bedroom as a hobby: my goal wasn’t really to turn it into a living, and it was fairly normal to be working on techno on Monday and some ugly vocal pop on Wednesday. Then suddenly something clicked and I was playing every weekend with the music I was making in a singled out moment: it was amazing and I will forever be grateful, but I felt like Avatism was just part of what I had to say. After my Adamant LP I felt uninspired, and that’s when I decided I wanted to go back to the drawing board and explore my roots further and come up with something new. That’s how House ov Leaves, CW/A (with Francesco who was in a similar situation) and some other still “secret” projects were born, and I think the album title sums up this change in not just our music, but our approach in general. All of this entails a lot of risk and it also means leaving a lot of things behind, hence the name.

What are some of your most memorable, horrible and down-right crazy memories from touring?

Francesco: That would be this one time I had seven gigs in seven consecutive days, all of which were in different countries. The amount of stress I had to got through that week was insane. I wouldn’t categorize it at all as ‘horrible’ but definitely ‘downright crazy’. Never doing that ever again.

This one time I had seven gigs in seven consecutive days, all of which were in different countries. The amount of stress I had to got through that week was insane. I wouldn’t categorize it at all as ‘horrible’ but definitely ‘downright crazy’. Never doing that ever again.

Thomas: I have quite a few, my friends always joke about how I should write a diary about all these mishaps. The most recent one was when I played at a festival in the middle of nowhere last year and upon arriving at the “venue” I was told the only thing they had to drink was water with MDMA. I kid you not, they had completely ran out of “regular” water. I stuck to vodka and beer (provided by people camping nearby) and after playing my set I fell asleep while the driver was bringing me back to the hotel, only to be woken up by him passing out and crashing the car. Good times.

Favorite venue or club that you’ve performed at?

Francesco: That would be Fabric in London. I fucking love that place.

Thomas: There’s so many, I think most good clubs have something special and unique happening and it’s almost impossible to pick a true favourite. I have to agree with Francesco, Fabric is always great, but so are many other cool spots, it’s hard to pick one.

After a long night of performing, what kind of music(s) do you listen to for relaxation? 

Francesco: That would probably be Lustmord’s Heresey LP. Besides being a masterpiece in its own right, it allows you to just sit back, relax and enjoy those soundscapes in all their beauty.

Thomas: Hmm… The last thing I want to hear after performing is more music actually. I used to listen to Holden’s The Inheritors in hotel rooms a lot though… it sounds good even with tinnitus and awful laptop speakers.

What are some of your favorite releases at the moment?

Francesco: As of now I’d say it’s Jam City’s Dream A Garden, JK Flesh’s Posthuman LP and Battles’ La Di Da Di new album on Warp.

Thomas: I’ve been listening to Helena Hauff’s full length, Myrkur’s M, FKA Twigs’ M3LL155X EP and Vince StaplesSummertime ’06 a lot recenty. I’m also loving Tropic of Cancer’s new one.

Artist/producer/favorite DJ who you want to collaborate or b2b with?

Francesco: I’d love to be able to work in the studio with Arca at some point in my life.

Thomas: Hard one… maybe Thom Yorke? I doubt it would ever happen, but I’ve always looked up to all of his work.

Favorite record label?

Francesco: TriAngle Records

Thomas: Ninja Tune and XL had a really great comeback recently but my favorites right now are probably Ilian Tape, Blackest Ever Black and TriAngle.

Ok guys, last question, who would you like to Big Up for we close out?

Francesco: Big Up to anyone who managed to read this whole interview without falling asleep at least once.

Thomas: Big Up to everyone who keeps following us despite all the changes and crazy shit happening.


CW/A’s Words Unspoken, Acts Undone is due on October 16th 2015 via Parachute.

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