Florence-born, Berlin-based DJ and producer Fabio Florido has been making his mark on dance floors around the world over the last 10 years, releasing on labels like Minus, Night Light, Plus 8, and now his own imprint, Runa. The artist—who has become synonymous with a distinct brand of hypnotic and tribal techno—puts together spiraling hybrid sets that bring elements of DJing and live production into relief on the dance floor.
Following his appearance at Native Instruments’ kickoff party for Beatport LINK at Bärenquell Brauerei – which you can watch in full below – we sat down with Florido to talk about how he put his intricate set together, how music got him through the pandemic, and how spirituality and meditation play a role in his creative life.
You’ve dedicated the last five years of your life to meditation, sound healing, and plant medicine. Can you explain how you got involved in this world and the ways it’s influenced your music and your creative life more generally?
I like to follow the flow, and that flow brought me to meet a shaman from South America and we connected, really, really intensely. He gave me some ceremonies with plant medicine. It was an incredible, life-changing thing for me—I was already questioning things and wanting to know more about myself and my relationship to other people, my relationship to the world, and my mission.
Besides that, the shaman gave me 30 gigabytes of music that he collected over 30 years. And that was the biggest present. After that, I was just listening to this music and remembering these experiences. I could feel the positive impact that this music had on me, and I started reading about how certain music and frequencies can have a healing effect on the body. I started digging more after that. I wanted to take a sound healing course—not really to play the gong and singing bowls, but to learn more about sound theory and which frequencies touch different chakras.
Was the music you were gifted indigenous to South America?
Yeah, it was from South America. It was very indigenous. But it wasn’t just played instruments, it had pads and ambience. The shaman [who made it] was from Uruguay, but he was a normal man, 56 years old, with a MacBook. So I had all of this music in MP3 files with no names. That was the very beginning.
Since then, I haven’t had many expectations. I just continued to be in the zone and to listen and learn. Some friends taught me how to play the handpan and the HAPI drum and the Fujairah flutes as well. During the lockdown, I was super grateful for this. I mean, I love techno, and I will play techno forever, but after one and a half years without experiencing or playing anything, it was impossible! I allowed myself just to dive into these ambient realms, and that was what kept me really on-point during this pandemic.
Do you lead meditation workshops or is it more of a private practice?
For the past four years—up until the pandemic—I’ve been doing two or three retreats per year with this shaman. We go to the mountains in Barcelona. It’s a beautiful place. We have one group come for three days, and then a new group comes for another three days. I play live during the ceremonies or even just mix with TRAKTOR. It’s been a very nice experiment and people really, really like it.
Meditation takes a lot of effort. You just have to do a little bit, day by day, and you have to be consistent. It doesn’t have to be half an hour. It can even just be 10 minutes! The first weeks are just a battle with your mind. But then you get over that and you realize, “Oh, wow, so I can actually control my mind! I don’t have to be absorbed by my thoughts and scenarios that never happened, or worry over things that might happen.”
Have you found that engaging in spiritual practices has influenced your creativity beyond your recent interest in making ambient music? Has it changed how you approach techno as well?
Yeah, totally. But I didn’t really think, “Oh, now I’m going to change that,” it just happened. I opened my own label, Runa, at the beginning of the pandemic because I knew that it would be difficult to find a home for the music I had in my mind and that I would have to spend time just trying to find labels. “Runa” is Peruvian, and it means a man or a woman that has one foot in the material world, but the other in something more ethereal, so they’re able to be on both sides.
I started to add certain frequencies and pads underneath the kick of fast techno tracks. I received messages from people saying, “What was that?” It was a really positive response. So I was like, “Okay, it’s working.” If you do sound healing, they say that these particular frequencies need to be alone to do the proper work. I mixed them with grooves and synths, but still I found that people got something from it.
You also do a lot of field recordings in nature, and you’re a self-described “nemophilist,” or lover of forests. How would you characterize your connection to trees and nature?
I record water, rivers, the wind or birds. They’re really clear in my ambient stuff, but I’ve also used them in techno releases by passing them through a lot of filters. You wouldn’t know that they’re birds, necessarily, but they are.
I love to read a lot, and to study different disciplines. I was reading that there’s something in our molecular system that responds to nature. When we go out in the forest, something happens. There’s a sort of communication with the forest or the plants. They induce a calming effect, and balance and relax our systems. I decided to consciously try to capture this.
We’ve all been to forests, but you might just be walking and full of your thoughts. I started to really try to be aware when I was in these environments. I tried to stop when I noticed something. There’s a beautiful thing with flowers, for example. They can actually see, because they function with light. They don’t see with eyes, of course, but they can see energetically. When you actually look at a flower, the flower looks back at you, and there is an exchange. It’s fascinating to me.
It seems like Berlin, with all of its wild greenery, would be a great place to take advantage of this interest.
Yeah, it’s full of forests. And they are all super green. Of course, I also love parties, and I love to rave for two days. So if my life was only about going to forests, I know the other side would be missing. So that merging of the two things is really beneficial. We need to rave, too!
Your set for Native Instruments’ live stream is mostly techno. Can you explain how you put it together and how you used Beatport LINK?
It was super cool. The Bärenquell Brauerei in Berlin, where it was filmed, is amazing. The room was perfect. The lighting was cool.
The way I play is that I’ll choose a bass line from a track I like, and then the highs from another, and then I use the Roland TR-8 for live drums. And then underneath TRAKTOR, I use Ableton Live for some additional effects and will put those in ambient sub-frequencies. With Beatport LINK, I created a playlist and I just pulled up tracks and played them, with the exception of some that weren’t on Beatport yet, which I imported from my library.
Are you working on anything you want to talk about?
I have a new release on my label coming out in the beginning of June, and then some remixes. I like to try different things. I’m also doing a techno remix for a psytrance DJ; we connected at the beginning of the pandemic, and it’s going to be quite a huge release on one of the biggest psy-trance labels. It’s coming out in September. I’m also contributing to a cancer research compilation. I also have a compilation coming out with my new booking agency, Blakksheep, and a new EP on my own label in the coming weeks.
Check out the entire TRAKTOR x Beatport LINK live stream event here.