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Q & A with Ilario Liburni owner of Invade records / Cardinal

In this interview, I had the opportunity to ask Ilario some questions how he handles his time in the studio and his label work


Invade accommodates many well-known artists like tINI, Tripmastaz, Cab Drivers, Dan Ghenacia, Chris Carrier and no one else than Ricardo Villalobos and many other very talented producers. Let's jump directly to the Q & A

I just like to play and experiment with hardware synths. But it is perfectly possible to make awesome music in the box.

How do you select music for Invade & Cardinal?

Once or twice a month I listen to demos sent by artists thru several mediums like email, Facebook, SoundCloud,… I’m not saying I'm listening to all demos but, to be honest, I mostly aim for artists where I’m already aware of their music. It’s not easy to listen to all demos as there is a lot of junk and sometimes even not the fitting genre.

Is it a difference when you listen to good and bad mixed promos?

Would it affect how you would choose tracks for your label?

Yes of course. I think it’s important that the demos already need to sound as it should be. It doesn’t have to be mastered though, just a fine finished mix will do.

How important is it for you to receive properly mixed promos?

Demos that are not properly mixed, tells a lot about the artist. If they can’t deliver a proper mix, I don’t think they are ready for sending out demos.

What was the biggest challenge of setting up a label from scratch?

It wasn’t easy to start a label from scratch. I really didn’t know anything about it.

Even after doing a lot of research on the internet, I still didn’t know how to.

Years passing by, I started to meet people in the business, label owners, distribution companies,….and that’s where I got all the necessary info to start a label.

Once you have all the info and the right companies to work with, it’s actually a pretty easy thing to do. I even got so excited that I started 2 labels! Invade Records & Cardinal.

Would you do something different today?

What were your most significant learning in setting up a label that works?

No, I don’t think so… I’m pretty happy how things went with my labels. I managed to get some of my favorite artists which also had a big impact to reach more artists I like.

What are you thinking of, whenever you start a new track, do you have already some ideas in mind or do you just start jamming?

Pure jamming! I never know where the track is going… Sometimes I start with a really deep minimal sound and finally ends up as a jacking house track or the other way around.

Cool sounds come out of playing with those knobs on the synths.

Usually, when I try to make something that’s in my head, it’s a waste of time… Not that I don’t manage to make it, but it just sounds better in my head then when it comes out of the speakers…

I prefer to hear a cool sound or loop and work around that.

Do you always start with the same element? Which element is it that you start with?




Texture or Spatial sounds>

Music gimmick/Loop>


additional elements….

That's pretty much what I do most of the time. But like I said, it’s mostly jamming and experimenting with synths, sampling, and plugins.

You have tons of gear. Some producers say that less is more and that too many options can overwhelm you and your creativity. What do you think about this?

I just like to play and experiment with hardware synths. But it is perfectly possible to make awesome music in the box. I am pretty lazy, so it happens sometimes that I’m sitting in my chair with my feet on the desk, and the only gear I’m using is my computer mouse.

How is the learning process when you get new gear (hardware/software)?

I read an interview with Varhat where he said, that he read every manual of his machines very carefully. What is your strategy?

I don't like to read and I certainly don’t like to read manuals. I'm pretty sure I don’t know everything about my synths, but enough for my needs.

Now and then I peep in the manual if I really need to figure something out. But most of the time it’s trial and error.

Can you suggest some production related books or other books that inspired you?

I once read a book about a little girl who had special powers and could move stuff with her mind. I think it’s called ‘Matilda’. That didn’t help much. :-) No, I don’t read that much.

I own a few music books that I bought for ‘music production’ school, but I never finished that school and I don’t remember using those books. I buy music magazines though and I watch tutorials on Youtube…

What are the 3 Top learnings in Production that you had in the last six months?

I’ve always been pretty sloppy with mixing in the past. I wanted to finish the tracks fast and didn’t pay a lot of attention to the mix. That is something I’ve been working on lately and it’s really interesting to learn using plugins and to use your ears right.

Take your time to make something sound better. Listen again and again with fresh ears… Until it sounds better than a few days earlier.

Don’t work too long in the studio. The ears and the mind need some rest. You will make bad decisions when you’re tired and half deaf.

Use different speakers to listen to your mixes. Even the cheap and crapy speakers are important.

Also, make sure your song sounds good in mono and stereo. Try to find the middle ground. These are little things that made me realize how important they are for a final mix. It works…

Are there sometimes situations where you listen to a track and ask yourself; ”damn how did producer X this fucking sound?”

Yes of course. There are geniuses out there that can create amazing sound. It’s hard to compete against them in the studio. They are so talented and maybe they have a musical background. I’m more than happy with my skills right now, but I’m learning every day and I hope to improve my sound by practicing.

How do you explore to find this new sounds or that specific sound?

I listen to a lot of music of artists I like, and I try to decompose the tracks. Trying to figure out how they make these catchy elements like bass, drums, and gimmicks. What kind of synths they might be using to create it.

Sometimes it happens that I create a sound by accident and it reminds me of a really cool track that I heard before, I will definitely start to work on that sound.

If you could spend one day in a studio to produce with a mentor of you, who would it be and why?

Villalobos of course… I would just shut up, watch him doing his thing and absorb as much information as possible! I also like Livio & Roby. Really curious about their way of work in the studio. And there are many many other artists that are worth learning from.

Do you challenge yourself in the studio? Let's say with time limitations or something else? Do you have any specific techniques for that?

If you’re working too long on a track, you might get lost and loose time. Don’t hesitate, delete and start fresh again.

This question sounds at first a little weird, but I think it’s one of the most important for many music producers out there, Music Production is time-consuming... How do you manage your time with your friends/ Relationship / Work / Production etc?

Well, for me it’s hard too. I have a day job. I work every day from 8 am to approx 6 pm (except in the weekend) in my father's company as a warehouse manager.

Coming back home from work I’m helping my girlfriend with cooking dinner, doing dishes, take a shower, spend some time with my girlfriend and most of the time I’m too tired or lazy to start working in the studio.

So usually drop myself on the couch and watch TV. I also do sports like running, futsal and gym.

So let’s say I almost never work in the studio during the week. In the weekends I try to work as much as possible, but then there are also gigs and I love to hang out with my friends.

No, I don’t have that much time! Hope to get more time in the future, cause I really need to hit that studio more!

Do you use reference Tracks to mix your stuff, if yes, what kind of Tracks are these?

I use all kinds of tracks to compare my mix. But I don't’ really have a specific track though. First of all, I will always try to make it sound proper for myself, then later I will compare with other music.

Find out more about Ilario Liburni:


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