Interview: Pietro Da Sacco (Igloo Magazine)

Pietro Da Sacco

1. Greetings, Pietro! Igloomag recently celebrated its 17th birthday! Could you tell us what inspired you to found this webzine way back then in 2000?


In the mid to late 90s I used to purchase a lot of music via an email list-serv known as s://kimo music. PJD, who I used to order from frequently, had an «Igloo» section on a placeholder website around 1998/99. I'd always enjoyed not only collecting experimental electronic music, but reading articles too. As I eventually started to write for Grooves Magazine (Sean P.) in the early 2000s, and later for e|i (Darren B.), I concurrently worked with PJ on the "Igloo Magazine" idea—an outlet to review music in his shop, and in-turn provide a resource for listeners to read (and purchase) their favorite releases all in one place. Eventually, I teamed up with musician friend David O'Toole (aka Antarktica) from the Töshöklabs imprint— he used to send music demos for feedback—and helped to design the initial igloomag website. I kept in contact with one of our admins —Ron C. (aka Rontronik, Smartbomb owner, and Töshöklabs co-owner)— and I had a few friends around the globe interested in writing for this «new» zine in early 2000. We're now inching our way towards 18-years online, with Smartbomb having worked up a full site redesign in 2011. That's the condensed storyline. I've always been an avid listener and collector, and felt that writing about music would be the best outlet to expose underappreciated musicians from around the globe.

2. What does the name Igloo mean?

As mentioned earlier, Igloo Magazine (aka igloomag) stemmed from s://kimo music. I grew up in Windsor, Ontario (across from Detroit, Michigan), and was well acquainted with the frigid Canadian winters. The name aptly worked, so it became an official 'zine just as s://kimo unfortunately shut its doors. I took on igloomag full speed, finding any spare moment to push it forward, while still maintaining a full-time career in Civil Engineering. Staying aligned with the «cold» theme, I started a record label with Tim Koch (n5MD, deFocus, Merck, DataDoor) called Tundra Music and released the split vinyl EP titled Glaciarc from Maps & Diagrams and Tim Jackiw in 2002. We had plans for other releases but decided to dissolve the label and move on to other interests. s://kimo, Igloo, and Tundra—you can see the (cold) pattern.

3. What difficulties and complications did you have to face while creating the webzine?

Keeping current, and in tune with the plethora of music that is released these days has always been a challenge. On our initial site launch, we suffered a server crash loosing many articles that were queued up and coded — yes, we used to write and use code to publish articles back then! With a couple months behind schedule, we were able to network with our contributors, and gather all the articles again to launch. Another challenge is keeping a varied perspective in our pages, and avoid being pigeonholed. Seeing as the initial site was manually designed, it took a little effort to get the general design and functionality set, but that's all been worked out over many years.

4. What is up with the music stage right now? Has the situation drastically changed since the moment Igloomag was launched? Is it any different right now?

The music stage has (obviously) changed in the last 17+ years. Back then the medium was almost all physical releases (CD/vinyl) — and now a majority of promotional goods are delivered digitally. The music still remains strong and intact, however, filtering through hundreds of releases means that I depend on our contributors to offer ideas for the site based on their own tastes—this creates for unique article submissions. I'm very proud of our contributors and their dedicated submissions. Special thanks to Gad, Alan, James, Robbie, Philippe, Stephen, Andy, Chang, and especially my wife (Francesca) for putting up with all the time I spend listening, writing, editing, and publishing!

5. What are the main principles behind Igloomag?

At first, Igloo Magazine’s focus was mainly on electronic music, but over the years, thanks to the colorful taste and adventurous spirit of its founders and contributors, it expanded into new realms of sonic discovery. Seeking to provide coverage for musicians creating left-of-center music that is not covered in general music media, Igloo Magazine publishes articles in the capacity of Newswires, Reviews, Features, and Profiles for artists that wouldnt normally receive the light of digital ink.

6. What music-related magazines or other kinds of media do you consider reputable sources?

There are many, but several have unfortunately fallen by the wayside too. Vital (email) 'zine has been running for several years, EAR/Rational Music, Fact, Headphone Commute, Electronic Sound and music shops like Boomkat, Bleep, Forced Exposure, Experimedia, et al, are all reputable sources of abstract electronic music coverage. I've likely missed one or two, but I tend to stay focused on Igloo with intentional blinders on, so forgive me.

7. What is your stance on critical reviews of music releases? Is it worth it to spend time writing these kinds of reviews or is it better to skip them altogether?

Critical (or not so positive) reviews are perhaps the most difficult thing to write about and are a direct cause for unnecessary stress and misplaced energy. We spend most of our time working with music our contributors (and myself) find uniquely, and creatively moving. Unfortunately, with so much music coming out these days, it's not easy to sift through the avalanch. I try to follow the mantra that DiN label owner Ian Boddy once said in an igloomag interview a few years ago: «Music has so many permutations and avenues to explore that it is impossible in any single life time to see it all. So you have to go on a personal journey that takes you down paths and tracks that are unique to you»

8. What do the words Intelligent Electronic Music mean for you? How would you personally define its meaning? 

I would define Intelligent Electronic Music (or IDM and its sub-genres) as music that defies standards or pre-conceived notions. It is music that has an unusually consuming sound, abstract yet engaging, and uniquely crafted for the brain. Of course, there are many variations in which IDM ventures into more extreme terrain, but even within the sonic chaos, one finds comforting rhythms, odd bleeps, and paths of musical discovery. This question is a very subjective topic which is inherently based on the listener.

9. We have a lot of respect for projects like Gridlock. Could you tell us about how you got acquainted with Gridlock and their music? 

I got acquainted with Gridlock in the late 90s when I used to host a weekly radio show in Windsor, Ontario called Audio::Nimbus (CJAM). Initially I'd collect early releases, and play their music on the show. After my move to California (2001), both members from the group (Mike C. from n5MD and Mike from Wells Mastering) became friends with my wife and I as we launched Digital::Nimbus—a weekly radio show broadcasting from KUCI in 2002. Gridlock performed live on the show in September 2003 — an amazing showcase, and one that I believe was their last as a group. I've kept in contact with Mike from n5MD all these years later— as a matter of fact I still use a pair of Gridlock monitor speakers they gave us to this day! Here's the broadcast link with audio and image archive: http://digitalnimbus.com/playlists/69.

10. What kind of music do you personally listen to? What other musicians are you a fan of? 

Too many to list! Meat Beat Manifesto (and Jack Dangers related projects) is an all-time favorite, and I would not have met my wife if it weren't for MBM! More about that in a bit. To make it easy, I (personally) listen to a large amount of music—some favorites can be found on Digital::Nimbus' playlists as well as my own articles at igloomag.

11. Tell us about Digital::Nimbus. What kind of a radio program is that? 

There's quite a history there! 

D::N is a radio program (now a monthly mix/podcast) that features an assortment of experimental electronic music spanning many decades, genres, sub-genres. The show started in 2002, and is a resource to reveal some our favorite tracks in the music collection. My wife and I are behind D::N, and we intend to keep the mixes alive and well.

DJ set

12. How did you get into DJing and playing music? 

I specifically remember a time in the middle to late 90s when the urge to do more than collect and listen to music became more clear. Around this time I used to listen to a few radio shows (ie. The Chuck Horn Show on WDET-Detroit, The Doomsday Machine on CJAM-Windsor, and Brave New Waves with Patti Schmidt on CBC-Canada.) In 1998 I was able to get my own show when The Doomsday Machine's host moved to Toronto—and that's when Audio::Nimbus began. It was a continuous arch from there, a weekly show, a few DJ spots around downtown Windsor (ie. I started a weekly live showcase at a place called Milk Bar once called Milktronics.) With my move to California early 2001, and meeting my future wife through the Meat Beat Manifesto «Zombies'» list-serv around 1996 (still active today), we merged creative monikers to start Digital::Nimbus. All the while, igloomag continued to grow. Again, there's so much history!

13. What storage media do you ideally prefer for the music you listen to? Do you prefer CDs, vinyl records or digital audio files? 

All three mediums are a preference to be clear. I'm an avid CD collector (many 1000s) and the vinyl racks are also pretty hefty since merging with with my wife's vast vinyl collection. For ease of lugging around heavy wax and CD's, I'm a fan of high bitrate digital audio files as long as they include full package (ie. artwork, liner notes, etc).

14. What other interests do you have besides music? (Hobbies, fascinations, books, movies) 

Hobbies would include collecting music, writing, and reading Carl Sagan books (I'm still catching up to his classics, with «Cosmos» being a favorite.) My wife and two kids are my joys of life, and we enjoy taking road trips up the California coast line.

15. What does the future hold for Igloomag and what should we expect from it?

Expect continuous and thorough coverage of music that is abstract yet engaging, and uniquely crafted for the brain (and/or feet.) We intend to keep our relationship with contributors around the planet to catapult us through another decade. Hopefully our readers enjoy the ride too! Thanks for taking the time to ask some questions, and your interest in igloomag!


Questions: Ilya Kudrin/Midnight