MitiS Talks Transmuting Classical Piano 'Foundations' into Electronic Artistry
Pennsylvania native drops new EP and reflects on his dance music emergence.
As a classically trained pianist turned electronic producer, MitiS has an inherent approach to making music that is uniquely his own.
It’s highly likely that 25-year-old -- born Joseph Torre -- is the only artist in the scene whose musical repertoire has taken him from the stage of Carnegie Hall to the basement of The Lizard Lounge, and he may forever be the only producer who can make such a claim.
His latest offering Foundations EP takes us back to his elegant, melodic roots infusing house and dubstep grooves with a texture immediately identifiable as the MitiS touch.
“Foundations is going backwards in terms of musicality,” says Torre. “It’s straight melody. I chose the title for the EP because I’m going back to the foundations of what made MitiS MitiS. I used to not care about how something was labeled in terms of genre, so I’m getting back to that.”
His first major break came with the release of his Born EP in 2013, written about the birth of his son. Where a less dedicated artist might have given up on music and gotten a “real job” upon learning he was going to become a father at such a young age, Torre hunkered down and made a record that put him on the map. Since then, he’s put out 3 other EP’s and a string of singles that he says were more commercial-minded than true to his personal taste and musical sensibilities, a bold yet deeply humble admission from any artist.
“As I’ve been going along I found myself getting caught up in structuring my songs to be played in the club. Trying to make music for DJing has taken a toll on me the last 3 years. Foundations is still club-friendly but it’s more about making your mind vibe and chill rather than engineering hype,” he explains.
Torre stepped out of the piano recital and competition circuit into the rave in 2009 when he attended the Starscape Festival in Baltimore. He’d been dabbling in old Tiesto and ATB, where he developed his love of pretty trance and house sounds, but it was Bassnectar’s set at Starscape that changed his life forever.“
That’s when I got into bass music and understood what it was about. I thought ok, I’m a pianist and I love playing and making music, I just need to be writing more. I kept on with the classical compositions for awhile because I’d invested so much time and energy into it, but I was getting pulled more into production. I started with Garage Band.”
After a year or so he graduated to Reason, adopted the moniker MitiS in late 2012, and the rest is history. Torre’s next big adventure has already consumed him as he prepares to unleash a whole new live show in late 2016. "So far my shows have just been a DJ set. But now I have the opportunity with this release to change that up so when you come to a MitiS show you’re going to hear all MitiS music and it’s going to be a journey through melody. I don’t want to say too much except that I’ve wanted to go live in my shows for a long time, growing up a classical performer I loved playing live and I’m ready to get back to that.”
Til then, we’ll have to soak up the live elements of MitiS on the new EP. The title track ‘Foundations’, featuring vocals from Adara, boasts a re-sampled guitar sound purely for atmospheric reasons creating a warm, lush backdrop for the vocals and beat. “Whenever you put an acoustic sound on an electronic production, everyone knows it because it’s a completely different texture – it changes everything. I reversed the guitar sound so it sounds completely different, almost like a bell, so instead of being in your face it sets the mood.”
And moody it is, beginning with the first instrumental track ’01.16.2016’ that kicks off the Foundations journey in an other-worldly realm, sounding like a cross between a movie score and a church hymn. Torre’s piano playing is the thread tying each song together, and not just from this EP but his career as a whole. Long time fans will be thrilled by his returning to his classical-driven sound and new listeners will get to discover the real MitiS for the first time.
“I think every artist struggles with what the mainstream is doing and you can end up subconsciously moving towards that,” he says. “Going backwards isn’t always a bad thing.”