Show Off Your Studio: Rhalef’s Italian techno hideout

Techno producer Rhalef takes a seat in the Show Off Your Studio hotseat.

Rhalef Show Off Your Studio


Studio Owner Raffaele Fontanella / Rhalef

Key kit:

  • Yamaha HS7
  • Apple iMac 22 inch
  • M-Audio Pro-Fire 610
  • Korg Minilogue
  • Pioneer XDJ-1000MK2
  • Pioneer DJM-450MK2

Rhalef Show Off Your Studio

Hey Raffaele, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into music production?

I’m Raffaele Fontanella, stage name Rhalef, and I’m from Castellammare di Stabia, Naples. My passion for music started at the age of 10 when I listened to my first dance remix CDs. Thanks to the rising house scene at the time, plus friends introducing me to house music, my music taste started to change. By the time I was in my 20s, I became fascinated with techno and started travelling to capital cities across Europe, falling in love with the different nightclubs I visited. With the experience I’d acquired following the world of techno music, I realised I wanted to start producing my own music. That’s when I decided to start collecting audio equipment and slowly start building a studio.

What’s the story of the studio?

I built my studio one step at the time. I started 4 years ago and all I had was a laptop and speakers that were not suitable to create music with. I started just for fun, listening to my music through my car radio, stereos or my MP3 player. I wanted to learn and improve, and create a real electronic track. So, gradually, I bought more professional equipment for home recording. My studio is in Angri, a town near Pompeii in Italy.

Which DAW do you use and why?

My DAW is Logic Pro X. I started using Garageband on my MacBook Pro, later I used Ableton Live, but the workflow I have in Logic works best for me. At first, I found it difficult because I had never used a DAW, but with a lot of patience, passion and the desire of creating my own music, I got the results I hoped for. I know I still have a lot to learn and to improve on, but creating the music I love excites me.

What is your favourite piece of gear and why?

My favourite equipment is my Korg minilogue. The sounds you create with digital synths and a mouse, for me, can never be as good as the one you create with your hands and real synths. You can adjust filters, oscillators, envelopes and sustains with your hands, in a satisfying way. I think the original sound of the analogue synth is pure and hard to copy.

Rhalef Show Off Your Studio

How much time do you spend in your studio per week?

I spend all my free time in the studio, seven days a week. In the morning I work for a graphics company and every afternoon and weekends are for my music.

How do you use your studio?

I produce my own music here, it started just as a hobby and kind of a game, but as my passion grew up, I managed to finish my first track Never Too Late and submitted it to an Italian record label. They appreciated my work, so I signed a record deal. With the second track Consequence, my first EP came out in 2014. It was in the top 100 techno releases on Beatport for 7 days, after just two days it came out (you can still buy it!). I have already produced 10 EPs for seven different labels. Some of my tracks have been included in techno compilations. I also remixed an old track for a record label that asked for my collaboration.

Rhalef Show Off Your Studio

What is next on your shopping list studio-wise and why?

My next purchase is a drum machine to accompany the Korg Minilogue. I would like to buy a Roland TR-8S and a Native Instruments Maschine MK3. It’s important to have the right device to create grooves with drums and percussion, especially because using both hands instead of a mouse can improve speed.

Do you have any frustrations with your current set-up and why?

What annoys me the most in my studio is my mobile phone. I really hate it when it rings while I’m creating a groove! Over the years of building the studio, I’ve made sure to adapt everything to my needs. The only thing I’d change right now is my laptop – I’d buy a bigger screen.

What is your dream piece of gear and why?

I’d like to get a pair of Adam A7X monitors, I listened to them in a music shop and the sound is fantastic, pure and clean. I would also like to buy a Moog synthesizer. Moog is the best synth manufacturer in the world in my opinion.

What is your top piece of production advice?

My advice is to focus more on the mixing than on the equipment. Synths and drum machines are important, but the real musical machine is the person. Perseverance, passion and hard work is the secret to overcome your limits. Also, taking breaks is important, even if it’s just a few days. When you come back, you’ll see that your track will sound different and you’ll be able to improve it.

What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?

Setting up a studio is not complicated, it is fun. I suggest going step by step. You only need to make a small investment, especially if you are only just starting. Choose a good computer, monitors and audio interface. It is enough to start with your production. Obviously there are a lot of DAWS. You can download a free demo online, try them out, and then you can buy your favourite.

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