Diego Stocco Can Make Music Out of Anything, Including A Burning Piano

Diego Stocco is a sound artist. Simply put, he makes music sourced from the intricacies of organic and inorganic structures. In one piece, entitled Burning Piano, he doused 88 ivories with butane, took a blowtorch to them, and played out a composition. In another, he repurposed a dismantled keyboard with the neck of a bass guitar and the ensuing piece, Bassoforte, sounds like it’s straight out of the discordant western symphony that is There Will Be Blood. Stocco also composes music for films and videogames. We sat down with Stocco to get to the bottom of finding the music in the space between.

The Creators Project: First off, where do you get your inspiration for most of your pieces?
Diego Stocco: It happens by coincidence most of the time, and by coincidence, I mean when everything starts to converge together into a particular idea.
At that moment, I feel ready to do it and the various details, including recording and playing, become clear.

When did you start creating your own instruments? Was it out of sheer fascination or a desire to create sounds you couldn’t achieve with ready-built devices (keyboards, guitars, etc.)?
I’ve always been into building stuff, and that’s because of my family background. My father is a butcher, my grandfather was a truck driver, my uncle was a welder, an uncle carved wood sculptures… I absorbed the concepts of building, fixing, finding alternative solutions to do something, and later on applied them to instruments. Take a guitar for example; I was wondering, what happens if I use thick piano strings or rubber bands instead of regular strings? Eventually, after many attempts and damaged instruments, I was able to point my energies in the right direction and started building things I could actually play.

Your work seems to shed an important light on the sheer number of sounds present EVERYWHERE. What’s your philosophy behind the sonic interaction between you and the inanimate?
Sounds are indeed everywhere, and the moment you can control them in a musical way it opens up a lot of creative options. I think curiosity and ingenuousness can help a lot when making music with non-traditional sources. The point here is not to show a perfect control of the instrument, but to be inspired and have fun throughout the experience. There’s always something to learn and it could possibly lead to something else in the future.

Can you also shed some light on your creative process? The tracks on your site seem to begin with a loop or two, but you also do a lot of scoring for movies and videogames. Where does it begin?
Every project is different. In some cases, the nature of the piece is written. Sometimes it’s more design-oriented. It always starts with an idea, with a direction I’m pointing to; a particular sound or phrase played on one of my custom-built instruments can inspire me. I create every element from scratch, loops included. They can be based on my own performances or end up the result of a sound design session.

Are there any essential technologies behind the work that you do? A favorite microphone or program or that one lucky circuit?
I have some favorite equipment that I’ve been using through the years: Pro Tool is my DAW of choice, Røde for microphones, Apogee for converters and API for microphone preamps. If there’s one lucky circuit, I hope it’s somewhere inside my brain. :)

Nice. Finally, what are you working on now?
I’d invite you to keep an eye on my Facebook page, I’ll say something there when I’ll be able to tell more.

Below, a few more videos of Diego making music out of literally anything.