Born and raised in the Italian comune of Conegliano, roughly 45 minutes inland from the Venetian coast, IRKO exudes the sort of effortless panache befitting his wine-country heritage, the ineffable swagger that puts a bow tie–donning engineer in the room with some of hip-hop’s biggest names — including Jay Z, Jay Electronica, Playboi Carti, André 3000, Travis Scott, and countless others — because they want him there. Why? With a pension for bass that’s only matched by his dedication to bow ties, IRKO discovered an innate infatuation with sound that predated his interest in music; he’s naturally drawn to the presence of low-end thunder that defined boom-bap and the early days of hip-hop. IRKO’s “quest for bass,” as he calls it, eventually led him to America, following a stint recording out of his father’s garage in the province of Treviso. So, how does an Italian rap fan end up a multi-platinum, award-winning hip-hop engineer? Sweetwater caught up with IRKO to talk all things sound and style. Check it out!