You’ve been living in Berlin for several years already. Which place do you like the most?
I’ve been living here for almost four years, since January 2013. However, I can’t highlight one single place. I like spending my entire free time in the studio. When I want to grab a drink, I go to Cafe Futurio to my friend Francesco, who is the owner of the place and also boss of Slow Motion label. There are many interesting places in Berlin. When it comes to clubs, I prefer OHM for sure. Every two months we organize parties of my label, Mannequin Records, there.
Why do you like OHM?
You can feel the audience there. It’s a small club that barely holds 250 guests, and its scene is located at the level of the dance floor. When I throw parties there, I mostly invite my friends — the people who have been supporting the label for years. I guess, the OHM place used to be a boiler room before, and, just like Tresor or Kraftwerk, it has this specific atmosphere, associated with the location in the industrial part of the city.
Many local DJs and musicians can be spotted there, right?
It's true, but they actually can be seen anywhere in the city.
Do you think it’s this possibility of such random encounters that has made Berlin one of the world’s music capitals?
It’s not the only reason, Berlin is exceptional in many ways.
Is it easier to make music in Berlin than in Italy?
I would never start my own record label in Italy, that simply wouldn’t be possible. Half of the clubs which I visit in Berlin would be closed immediately in Italy. The course of life is different there. More control, more bureaucracy: it is much more complicated and expensive to open a party place.
During our recent conversation you’ve mentioned that Berlin audience is no longer “wild”. What do you mean by that?
I haven’t lived here long enough to draw serious conclusions. However, I think that back in the day people used to regard club as a place where everyone takes drugs etc., and now everything has changed dramatically. Many people really understand and appreciate dance music itself, and it has also changed for better.
What can you say about techno? It isn’t underground anymore, is it?
Not entirely, but everything is headed towards it. Do you remember how a famous Hollywood actress talked about her visit to Berghain at a popular American talk show?
Is your label about what was being made before techno music?
Mannequin Records isn’t concerned with techno, its main goal is to find underrepresented bands or republish rare recordings from the late ’70s to mid-’80s. However, for some records I also ask modern producers to rework tracks issued before. It was the case with Ancient Methods and An-i, for example, who got on Bourbonese Qualk and Musimeci respectively.
Is that something similar to copying the sound of the ’90s, which is currently popular?
Yes, it's kind of what happened to minimal synth and dark wave scene. Young artists, whether they want it or not, look into the past, rethink it, and try to put their soul in it. Otherwise, music starts to sound like a copy of a copy.
Do you help Italian musicians?
Yes, I help artists from Italy with releases and promotion ever since the launch of the label. I often organize joint performances featuring bands from Italy and bands from other countries, in order to make the former a bit more known. This has happened, for example, with Led Er Est and Opus Finis. I remember when in 2012 the album by Mushy aka Valentina F. became the album of the month on Rough Trade — it was amazing! Lately, I have been working less with the Italians and have been making more re-releases, but I think everything is going to change in the near future.
Is it difficult to find people from the past and to negotiate with them? After all, some have abandoned music long ago or even died.
I won’t lie, the situations that happen can be rather difficult. Sometimes it is impossible to negotiate with an artist, as they don’t even want to hear about a re-release. For others artists, such as Danza Meccanica, you have to search for 5 years. Working in republishing field is like an archaeological research, as well as conducting sociological and psychological experiments. Well, at least now we have internet, so it has become much easier to reach out to people.
Who do you wish to republish the most?
There is a legendary band, Solid Space. Everyone wants to get their hands on them, but, as far as I know, they are against a re-release. A few years ago I’ve been dreaming about releasing Weimar Gesang, a band which ticked off Milan in the ’80s, but they were against it as well. However, one of my dreams eventually came true: it was the reissue of Bourbonese Qualk, which I am proud of.
Do you think that post-punk and new wave music is the future of nightlife?
I don’t think so. Many techno DJs begin to dig at the roots of the club scene, but they discover bands that in the ’80s played EBM and industrial. It all started in Belgium, Germany, and Holland.
On the other hand, Optimo’s So Low compilation or Contort Yourself label compel us to think that this kind of music is becoming more popular anyway.
What are your plans for the future after all these remixes and re-releases?
We have recently launched a new series of releases, Death of the Machines, that includes only modern artists. The first two 12" records are from Jasss, a talented Spanish DJ and producer, and me. We also plan several releases for the next year.
What about your own music?
It is usually important for me not to release on Mannequin. I'm always looking for a new label, so that I get feedback from other people. It helps with self-development. Speaking of writing music, I have no method. I am an amateur musician who likes to spend time in the studio, to play, and to experiment. I know my instruments well and it helps me a lot, as I want to push each instrument to its limit. Last year I’ve been sharing the studio with Lee Douglas/An-i and learned a lot from him. He is a talented producer and such a creative person, I’ve never met anyone like him.
What is your favorite instrument?
I’ve mostly got classic instruments in the studio, so I won’t surprise anyone: Roland TR-808, Korg MS-20, and Roland SH-101.
What kind of music does inspire you?
I listen to different music: from The Stooges to Piero Umiliani, from Spacemen 3 to Psyche. Different music gives different inspiration and, although I’ve never tried to copy anyone, it influences my work.
Do you think that Italian local scene will earn ist place in the sun eventually?
We have artists to be proud of: Donato Dozzy, Lory D., Marco Passarani. They are the real masters. I respect the guys who run Macao club in Milan and Elsewhere in Rome. Keep up the good work! However, as I’ve mentioned before, the local situation is difficult and won’t improve on its own.