In his signature black shirt and almost ubiquitous shades (this shot is the only time we’ve ever seen him without them), Maurizio Colella looks the picture of an international DJ chilling poolside before a gig. Under his moniker of EDX (or Enormous Diverse Xample), the Italian producer now based in Switzerland has become a familiar face to the Las Vegas club set through his residency at Marquee, next appearing July 21 at the nightclub. We caught up with EDX to compare music to pizza and to chat about his B-boy history and nerds of the Helvetic variety.
You were originally a hip-hop DJ. How did you make the switch to electronic dance music?
More than 20 years ago, I used to have the classic DJ double-up menu: I was a graffiti painter and I was a DJ. When electronic music took over Europe in the ’90s, it took over my musical heart as well. So I switched in ’92 to dance. I’m still a B-boy, still have the breaks in me. I’m really into this hip-hop generation. But now it’s 20 years of dance music, and it’s still here. It still touches me.
What are a few signature EDX tracks that will give new fans an idea of what you’re all about?
Actually, there are a couple of tracks that I'm really happy about. I'm sure the most popular over here are one of my remixes I did for Kaskade for his track "Angel on My Shoulder." Really still a track I can play out even if it’s five years old. There are two tracks on my album especially written out that are quite played a lot: "This is Your Life" with Nadia Ali and "Give it up for Love."
Your album On the Edge was released this year, and features “Everything” with vocalist Hadley, for which the video was filmed at Marquee Nightclub. What was it like working with her, and what are some other key features to listen for?
From the first day [working on the album], I tried to have a very diverse approach. You can find a chill-out track, a progressive-house track, an electro track, a more noisy club track … you can find a little bit of everything, but you always will have the feeling that you’re listening to an EDX track. It took 18 months to work on the album. “Everything” is one of my favorite songs. I really love it. It makes me smile still today after I heard the track so many times. I recorded that one more than one year ago. There is a track with Nadia Ali "This is Your Life." This is also really big. There is a track with Tamra Keenan called "Warrior" that I really, really, really, really love. I think it’s the best song on the album. She's well known from her single with Kaskade "Angel on my Shoulder" or for "Here I Am" with David Morales. What a talented songwriter. One of the best voices ever in my opinion. But there are a lot of instrumental tracks like "Embrace" I'm really happy about. It’s not a standard DJ club album. It’s a song-driven, more mature album.
Do you have a go-to source for sound samples, such as those on your track “Warped Minds”?
Actually, the most time you invest is in developing music, developing sounds, developing ways to make digital plug-ins sound crazy. I have a really good engineer I work with in the studio. He puts a lot of love and energy in it. Sometimes you work also with samples. I have sample CDs [going] back 20 years through today, and you can find them all over the Web, a lot of good sample CDs. It’s just a lot of research. At the end, to produce a song it’s something that happens really quick. Like bang, bang, bang! If you have the right tomatoes, the mozzarella and you have everything ready, you can do a pizza in 2 minutes. It’s going to taste good, but only if you have the right ingredients.
How would you describe the Helvetic Nerds—label, a collective, a movement?
We tried to bring together the most talented artists/producers we have in Switzerland. Recently, we started to have new, younger talents also added to the bill. We released music under Helvetic Nerds. But we also give everyone the opportunity to use our system. We like to get in touch with the remixers, singers, clubs, newspapers … a whole 360-music coverage. We started with a combo of four artists: Dinka, Daniel Portman, Chris Reece and myself. Now it’s [becoming] more of a platform for young artists. Just a really great thing to give young people that don’t have any clue about the music industry a platform to reach out to the world.
How about the No Xcuses show?
Actually, I had my own radio show more than 20 years ago in Switzerland on the regional FM radio in Zurich. I tried it again 10 years ago. You need a lot of dedication to do a weekly radio show. I started again one year ago with No Xcuses. We started up in 20 countries. In the U.S. we are aired on SiriusXM on Electric Area. It’s just amazing. Once a week [I] dedicate [myself to] finding new music, finding new talents and new beats. Now the No Xcuses brand stands not only for a radio show. We overlapped a little bit into an event brand. We have a couple of cities all over the world.