Earlier this week we caught up with a man who’s been consistently influencing the face of techno music for almost two decades. Hailing from Naples in Italy, Marco Carola is one of the most highly respected and hard working dj/producers in EDM today, touring relentlessly, while also holding down a Monday night residency with Cocoon at Ibiza’s Amnesia during the summer months.
This year saw the release of Play It Loud! on Richie Hawtin‘s Minus label, marking the first full length record from Carola since Open System which dropped on his own Zenit imprint 10 years ago. So already 2011’s been a huge year for Marco Carola who’s just returned to Europe after a Stateside tour. We were lucky enough to catch up with him during a rare break in his hectic schedule, and here’s how it played out:
Interview & some awesome footage from his set at Time Warp in Amsterdam after the jump.
GDD™: In keeping with GottaDanceDirty™ tradition, let us kick things off by asking what you’ll be drinking?
MC: Strawberry Caipisakê. It’s a Caipiroska made of sakê.
GDD™: Learn something new everyday, I’ll check it out. So which city are you based out of at the moment?
MC: I’m based at home in Napoli. I’ve previously lived in Frankfurt and London, but I’m proud to be from Napoli and love to return to my home there whenever possible.
GDD™: So growing up there, who and what influenced you?
MC: For me, the main influence was the Kiss Kiss Club, which has since become a big national radio station in Italy. I’d been going there with my best friend since I was 12 years old. His father ran the place, and his brother played there regularly. It’s there that I fell in love with techno and wanted to become a DJ, so I bought the clubs old turntables when I was 15, and would hang out there and in their studio all the time. I started DJing with three decks because that was what the club had, so it was definitely a big influence on me and my style.
GDD™: You’re credited with being among the first to build a major city’s music scene from scratch in the early 90s. What advice do you have for budding DJs and event promotors who reside in cities that aren’t already blessed with an electronic music scene?
MC: Being around Kiss Kiss Club all the time, was what got me started. I think the best thing you can say to young people starting out is that you have to make it happen for yourself. If there isn’t much going on where you are, then try and make something happen. If you don’t try then you won’t be able to do anything or get anywhere.
GDD™: In 1995 you became the first Neopolitan artist to commit techno to vinyl, do you still play vinyl sets?
MC: No, today I use Traktor, but with vinyl control so I still have that old feeling. It was a gradual thing really, I didn’t just stop one day. I simply found that over time I was taking records with me to gigs and not playing them. Being digital suits me and what I play these days, as there’s so much music you can’t even get on vinyl now.
GDD™: So besides the hardware developments, how has the musical climate differed from a techno DJ’s perspective, from back then in the 90s to present day?
MC: I think many people will point out the influence of the internet, which I have to say, that while record labels are making less money, it exposes more people to the music. You might not make much money from records, but a young DJ can get a tune he’s made heard and start getting DJ gigs because of it. I think that’s a pretty good thing. It’s opened things up, so that people far and wide can find the music.
GDD™: You’re a veteran DJ/Producer with over 20 years of experience in electronic music, how do you stay current and up to date with the ever changing techno climate?
MC: I think it’s about staying involved in what’s happening. When you’re home and listening to music, listening to promos, going out and seeing another DJ, you have to be involved in it all, you know?! I spend a lot of time in the studio; it’s like exercising your brain. If you have a couple of years without doing anything in the studio and you suddenly go in, I don’t think you can make good music. You need to exercise yourself, and the more you do it, the more the ideas come. People sometimes think it’s the reverse: that if for three years you don’t do anything, then you’ll have amazing ideas. But no, it’s the opposite: if after three years you then go into the studio, you’ll do shit. You need to exercise your brain, then ideas will start to come.
GDD™: Some great insight for our readers, thanks for that. So is techno as a genre, growing once again and witnessing a resurgence?
MC: I don’t think it really went away. Certainly in Europe it seems to be as big as always, if not getting bigger. Maybe in other parts of the world it’s growing. In America, of course there’s Detroit which continues to influence everything, but maybe more people in other parts of America are becoming more open to electronic music.
GDD™: How do you personally dig for tunes, and do you have particular record shops you check out on the regs?
MC: I actually mainly get them online, either buying them from the online stores or listening to lots of promos. As I said before, it’s important to listen to what’s out there, and find new stuff. I move on from tracks very quickly, so I’m always trying to find something new.
GDD™: After two decades in techno, what would you view as the highlight of your career so far?
MC: It’s very difficult to single out moments over a career. After twenty years as a DJ and a producer, there have been so many! Playing at Amnesia in Ibiza is always amazing; but also whenever I play in Napoli, I always get a bit nervous before because everyone is there for me, and it’s great; when I play for a really long set and it reaches an amazing moment when the crowd are all totally into it and they all start screaming in the same way; playing alongside friends like Loco Dice or Richie. There are just so many!
GDD™: So let’s talk about the new record: What inspired the direction you took with “Play It Loud”?
MC: It took a long time to decide on a concept that I was happy with for the album. I tried a few times to get started on something that I was happy with, but it just wasn’t happening, so that’s why it was so long since my last album. I didn’t want to do something if I wasn’t totally happy with the concept. What made the difference, was moving from analogue to digital production, I knew that whatever I did, it had to be a reflection of me as a DJ and what I play in the club. This style is what I’m good at, and if I tried to do something different, it simply wouldn’t be as good! I then had to be able to test it out in the club, taking loops and tracks, and playing them out to see what was getting a good reaction and what needed more work. This was only possible if I worked digitally, whereas with analogue, once you start something you have to finish it, and there isn’t the chance to keep going back. Once I had all the tracks, it made the most sense to put it together as a mix because that’s the contet in which the tracks were designed: to be played in DJ sets.
GDD™: So with that said, do you consider yourself a DJ or a producer first? and with the growth and accessibility of music-making technology, do you think that being one or the other is something that matters anymore?
MC: I think perhaps these days it’s harder to make the breakthrough as a DJ if you are not a producer too, but at the same time, you need to play gigs to make a living. Since the internet has changed the way the industry works, a lot of money has to come from DJ gigs, but to get them, you normally have to have had a release that people have noticed, it works both ways. It is possible to do just one: there are producers who rarely or never play out, and there are DJs out there who are known just for their DJing work, but the general model today is that one will help the other. I was born as a DJ, I started when I was 15, so that always came first, but I think now they’re both equally important to me; If I’m not doing one then I’m doing the other!
GDD™: How was your recent tour of the US?
MC: A lot of fun, the dates in Miami and SXSW were really cool, so when I get back over I hope that there’ll be some more cool parties like those!
GDD™: And what does the rest of 2011 have in store for Marco Carola?
MC: Lots and lots of DJing, including all the summer festivals and the Cocoon Ibiza residency. Then I hope I’ll be able to do some more remixes, and perhaps work on some new material for EPs.
GDD™: Super busy then, best of luck with it. Cheers for taking the time out to chat with us Marco, look forward to catching another of your sets soon.
If you missed Marco’s Essential Mix back in February, then check it out here, and also be sure to scope out footage of his set at Time Warp in Amsterdam from earlier this year: