Precursors of melodic techno and heads of one of the most influential labels of the scene: Afterlife
The current underground electronic scene would not be the same without Carmine Conte and Mateo Milleri, the duo that since their debut in 2010 have directed techno music to melodic, atmospheric and ambient terrains. Their label, Afterlife, is today the great reference of the so-called melodic techno genre and each new release turns out to be a bomb in the industry.
With impressive sold-outs at clubs, festivals and prestigious landmarks such as Awakenings, ADE, Hï Ibiza, Zamna in Tulum, Orange Old Theatre, Printworks London, ARCA, Berghain, The Brooklyn Mirage, and more, you are about to discover the story behind the most influential duo of the last decade. In this note, get to know the biography of Tale of Us.
Breaking the myth
It is commonly thought that Mateo Milleri and Carmine Conte were born in Italy. However, the reality is different. Carmine was born in Toronto, Canada 40 years ago, and Mateo in New York, USA 34 years ago. Both at a very young age, moved to Italy, exactly in Milan where they met while studying the career of Sound Engineering at the renowned SAE Institute.
“School was more like a meeting point for us, it didn’t teach us anything we really wanted to know,” says Mateo. “It was more technical stuff. It’s a good school, a famous institute, but it’s more for engineers. We don’t like it.” “Yes, we don’t like it,” confirms Carmine.
On the road to Berlin
Conte’s musical nature stems from his sophisticated interest in classical music and clubs with history. While Milleri’s, for IDM artists like Aphex Twin or Autechre and private parties in lofts and “real clubs”. Two musical points almost opposite but that united from the beginning both of them. “The connection between us is a musical connection, a passion. It’s very strong, actually.” – Carmine says.
Prior to their new residency, the two formed Tale of Us in the Lombard capital in 2008. Name inspired by the song “Two of Us” by Supermayer. Unsatisfied with the university experience and the way music was taught in Italy, in 2009 they decided to settle in Berlin, the European capital and possibly the world capital of techno music at this time. “You learn music by making music,” says Carmine.
First big steps
During the first months of his stay in Berlin, Carmine spent 5 or 6 hours every Sunday at the Panoramabar to connect with the music the way he wanted to. Mateo, on the other hand, had some ideas in his head that he wanted to land soon.
Living in a small apartment in the German capital, the two started producing music. Their first big step happened in 2010 when they released their debut EP “Upon a Time” on the Barraca Music label. However, their initial success came that same year with the remix for Thugfucker’s “Disco Gnome” through Life and Death. This, put them in the sights of renowned producers of the scene.
The upbeat deep house remix was a hook for Mateo to meet with Visionquest’s boss, the renowned Seth Troxler. The latter proposed him to release an EP on his label. That’s how in 2011 would come “Dark Song”. The following two released new music on Life and Death and made collaborations with artists like The/Das and Vaal.
For Milleri, this was the first of three phases for Tale of Us. “In the first phase, we reconnected with the deep house movement,” says Mateo. “I don’t deny that we sound deep house. Most of our peers, like Jamie Jones and Seth, were very successful at it, but somehow we didn’t find our place. It was, I don’t know… it wasn’t really our thing,” he adds.
¿Melodic techno or italian techno?
After feeling more and more alienated from deep house, they felt the desire to explore the passion for progressive house and techno in 2013. But not the techno the Berlin techno, but, one more personal and rooted to their roots.
“Rebirth was the end of the deep house phase and ‘Another Earth’ on Richie Hawtin’s Minus was the beginning of the more melodic, arpeggiated techno stuff. When I say techno, I don’t mean Berlin techno, not at all. We don’t do Berlin techno and we never will, because we are Italian,” comments Milleri.
What we know as melodic techno, they call Italian techno. “It’s more emotional, I won’t deny it. There’s more drama. We’re not going to hide it. We like it.” he adds. “It’s true,” “We like emotion and drama,” complements Carmine.
Eventually they managed to get their own residency in Ibiza. Under the concept Life and Death, they played for five consecutive Fridays at the DC10 club in 2014. Where they were accompanied by Mind Against and Recondite. Together, they brought to the island a darker and purist techno.
That year also saw other remixes by the duo for producers such as Caribou, Gui Boratto and Plastikman. In 2015 they would release singles of their own under the new musical direction of both. Through the R&S label, they would drop ‘North Star/Silent Space’ and on Life and Death, they would play the collaboration ‘Astral’ alongside Mind Against.
In 2016, they founded Afterlife: an odyssey through the realm of consciousness. Launched in the middle of that year in June 2016 in Barcelona. During those dates, Tale of Us had a 13-week residency at Space club in Ibiza. For many, Afterlife sonically revived the island.
The lush, atmospheric soundscapes and rhythms attracted spectators and critics alike. In addition, that residency featured a spectacular lineup that included Nina Kraviz, Dixon, Ame, Mano Le Tough, Mind Against, Vaal, and more.
On June 24, 2016, Afterlife’s first compilation titled ‘Realm Of Consciousness’ would also arrive with 10 magical compositions including pieces by producers such as Monoloc, Woo York, SHDW & Obscure Shape, Somne or Tale of Us themselves. A mixture of sounds where the influence of Berlin is still noticeable.
That year was one of the most experimental for both of them. Their debut and only album to date entitled “Endless” came through Deutsche Grammophon with 10 ambient and atmospheric compositions. An LP unknown to many but declaring the true and honest face of their music.
2017 would also see the arrival of his two-part EP ‘Monument’ alongside Vaal. ‘Realm Of Consciousness II’ would arrive via Afterlife on June 16 this year with 12 masterful pieces from artists such as Denis Horvat, Woo York, Mathame, Hunter/Game, and more. Several of these producers are still part of the label to this day.
For 2018, the duo was part of the 100 best alternative DJs of the year by DG Mag. Also, they appeared in the After Hours update of the Grand Theft game. Their first big live set came on July 05 with their set for Cercle from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport in France.
Their release for this year was their remix of Monolink’s “Swallow”. Afterlife, released the third compilation ‘Realm Of Consciousness’ where 15 pieces were released. The track “Nova” by the Italian duo was part of this LP.
Tale of Us during pandemic (2020)
For many, the time of confinement was a point of no return, while others found the ideal moment to take off. In many other cases, they were able to adapt but above all, reinvent themselves, and that is exactly what Tale of Us did during that time.
After their unforgettable performance in January 2020 at Zamna Tulum, Carmine and Mateo conducted the Unity Live series of live stream sets from their own studio. Other artists who participated in this series were Fideles, Denis Horvat, Mind Against, Stephan Jolk, Mathame and Agents of Time.
During this time, they released two iconic remixes: Cubicolor’s ‘Wake Me Up’ and Moby’s ‘My Only Love’. This year, they also released the Unity series through Afterlife where a previously unknown Anyma (current alias of Mateo Milleri), debuted with the track ‘A True Connection’. As part of Tale of Us, they dropped the track ‘Together’.
Tale of Us during pandemic (2021)
On May 3rd, Carmine Conte’s solo project under his new alias MRAK became official. He did it with a live performance at MUTEK in Barcelona. Mateo Milleri, on the other hand, would do it presenting his EP “Sentient” at Afterlife on June 4th of the same year.
From both, Anyma’s career took off to surreal levels. However, their story we will tell in another biography. As a duo they made the latest release to date titled “Time” alongside Pete Tong and Jules Buckely in late 2021. MRAK on the other hand, dropped their own EP “One” in November.
Among their performances were their set for Tomorrowland’s “Around the World” virtual festival and since August of the same year, they returned to clubs and festivals to continue making history. Some of them were Brussels Open Air, Awakenings ADE with their amazing set at Gashouder and the first edition of Afterlife at the historic Old Orange Theatre.
A new era
2022 could not have arrived in a better way than at the traditional Zamna Tulum in January. Carmine and Mateo added new first milestones like playing on the RESISTANCE stage at Ultra Miami or DJing for the first time at Tomorrowland’s Mainstage a few weeks ago.
Their sets have gone to another level with the spectacular visuals of Anyma’s pieces and the magical projection of arts in all the spectra that accompany each presentation without forgetting the traditional Afterlife logo. A few days ago they returned to Orange for the second time and have a residency every Thursday at Hï Ibiza.
What is Tale of Us?
Mateo Milleri and Carmine Conte do not seek to stand out by accumulating billions of plays or releasing a new track every week. What makes them special is their ability to break poetic and emotional boundaries, bringing reverie and wonder to multiple scenes and levels. Connecting the classical with the present, the disruptive with the harmonic. Pay attention to his themes, you will fly just by discovering him.
What they have done and continue to do is being replicated by many other producers both in the scene and in other genres. A bubble that continues to inflate and at some point will burst, but surely by then Tale of Us will have evolved again.
“Tale Of Us is our story,” says Mateo. “The concept doesn’t allow us to stagnate. We’re not a lifestyle act and we can’t stop evolving our sound. It’s a journey, and the end is the end. Once it stops, you’re dead.”
Thanks to Mixmag from where we have compiled interview excerpts