Interview with Gaetano Parisio
“Nothing makes me happier than feeling respected by those who share my same passion”
It was an autumn Wednesday at noon. Barcelona was enjoying a beautiful day. We were walking around the city centre until we came across the address. Gaetano Parisio is a legend of techno music made in Naples. Maybe that’s why his closeness, his kindness and his humility when he received us in his living room was surprising. In the background, jazz music at not much volume. His wife and his dog accompany us while we sit down to drink coffee and talk about his and Neapolitan techno origins, his long break far away from the decks and his promising return with the new Origens project.
Joseph Capriati said once that you and Marco Carola put Naples and Neapolitan Techno in the map. Such a strong sentence…
First, thanks to Joseph for that. Marco and I were just part of the story. We are an important part, but not the only characters in this movie. What made something unique was the exchange and influence between different artists. That relationship between artists made our movement special and strong. Rino Cerrone, Danilo Vigorito, Davide Squillace… We were all sharing everything: knowledge, tricks, studio practices… That’s the only way of creating something that can perdure the past of the time.
Where did you get your first influences, and which were them?
I was 10 or 11 years old, and I was already listening to music all the time. My mother used to play the guitar and my brother was always listening to music at home. Also, names like Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode and New Order became my first approach to electronic music. Afterwards, I started clubbing, and my vision changed completely. That’s when my background started to grow.
In a DJ’s career, there’s always a day when you say: that day changed my life…
I have no doubts about mine. I was 20 years old and I travelled to France to attend a party in a Roman coliseum with Björk playing live and Jeff Mills deejaying. I was already DJing at that moment, but I only had Chicago techno in my Rekordbox. After that day, I called my mother and told her that I had just realized that playing music is what I wanted to do in my life. So, I started to dig on different styles and that’s when my digger career started.
So, Jeff Mills is one of your biggest influences.
Absolutely. He made some mistakes mixing records that day, but the music he played was just from another world. Still, nowadays Jeff Mills is one of my biggest inspirations.
Apart from Jeff Mills? Maradona, maybe? (laughs) Well, also Michael Jackson when I was a kid.
I dare to say that Italy, your country, is the only one who has put its name in an electronic music genre itself (Italo-disco). You said once that you don’t think there’s a strong relationship between that golden age of house and disco in Italy and the appearance of the Neapolitan Techno scene.
Italo disco and house movements didn’t have any importance for the later production in the Neapolitan scene. They just gave us one more reason to escape from Naples’ approach and become international. The only way to be well-known outside was by starting our own music and labels, which is exactly what I did. In this sense, Italo-house and disco showed us that growing abroad and reaching foreign scenes was possible. Also, a lot of people from those movements moved later to the Neapolitan techno scene. They were kind of a door to our movement.
Was it easy to buy vinyl records at that moment in Naples?
Not so easy. We had only 2 shops, and you had to know well the owner in order to get the best records hidden for you. I used to travel to Rome with Marco (Carola), or even to London, to dig some records.
It’s maybe a pity that nowadays DJs don’t do that anymore, don’t you think so?
They don’t need to do it, you know. They just need to search on the internet and download in some seconds. Maybe we are losing the value of what searching means. We can lose the most precious things. If you don’t have to invest energy, time, or even money to get the music, maybe music loses value for those artists. We should be careful about that.
How would you define to somebody interested in electronic music (in general terms) what makes Neapolitan Techno different from other techno styles?
I don’t like to compare it to other genres. We give to techno a more funky approach, adding some Latin flavours, percussions, also using some gadgets like compressors as instruments.
For new generations, it’s hard to believe that Marco Carola was, alongside you, one of the starters of the techno movement in Naples. Do you also feel like Marco has changed a lot his approach to club underground music?
It’s obvious that he has changed. I’m not going to discover that. But, as soon as he’s happy and he really believes in what he’s doing, it is totally fine. In this world, there’s space for everyone. But for sure the techno movement loses a big talent, especially as a producer. But I’m more than happy for him if he also is happy.
So, musically speaking, you miss that old Marco Carola?
Absolutely, since he was a friend and a partner to work with back in the days. His contribution for the scene was huge at that time. When I met Marco, his background came from house, not from techno, so maybe he’s now just jumping back to his origins. You never know. The most important thing is to love what you do, whatever it is.
You’re both a producer and a DJ. They’re 2 very different jobs, but it looks like, nowadays, the second cannot happen without the first. Is this something to be happy about?
We have to accept it. It was already like this before. To become well-known abroad, I had to produce my own tracks in my beginnings. Being on both sides of the medal is crucial. I’m a DJ because that can make me become a better producer, and I’m a producer because that can make me become a better DJ.
You stopped touring for almost 15 years. Did you also break with music production at this time?
Yes, I took a break to focus on me and to recover myself. It was therapy. Music was a way to get to the point. If I’m here now, talking to you, it’s because I recovered completely. So, I found what I was looking for.
Recently, you were back on track with a 3-vinyl set in Alicante’s Metro Dance Club, showing your new concept Origens. I guess the name speaks by itself…
One of the things that I tried to do recently is to remember exactly the motivation, the way I used to move and to play when I was 25 years old, let’s say. I was a guy without fears. I just wanted to push more and more. With Origens, I look for that. I mix with 3 vinyl decks, and I try to abandon my comfort zone to reach bigger creativity and to be more active in the DJ booth. Playing 3 vinyls, you don’t have time to have even a drink. No distractions allowed. It demands a lot from my side. That’s what I needed to come back.
How was the night?
I played 2 hours and the reaction was amazing. The club is historical, and I felt it was culture behind. People got really impressed. I think they never saw somebody playing 3 decks. I was curious before the set, and I got super happy after it.
What can we expect from Gaetano Parisio and Origens from now on?
I found the cake in the fridge, now I want to finish it!! (laughs) I’ll keep working on this. They trust in my vision, and I’m so grateful that people gave me so much time and energy to prepare this. I’m aware of the responsibility I have, not only for me but for the people working for me. I feel really optimistic.
Going back to your studio, do you produce with the same approach as always, or have you changed something – both in the techniques in the studio and in the result in terms of sound?
Last 2 years, I worked on recreating my approach. I don’t want to emulate what I was doing in the past. Things change with time, and we have to adapt. There are 2 ways of being recognized as a producer: your style, and the sounds that come from your studio. I have some little techniques with certain machines that make me recognizable, and I realized about it when I opened that gadget again after my break. Nowadays, producers have too many things working at the same time on the computer, and I think it’s important to focus just on the ones that make you special.
So, I guess you’re planning to release new music soon.
Yes, and with the same concept behind it. That’s why I’m keeping the same labels. If I changed my vision, I’d change also my labels and create new ones. But, since vision remains the same, also the labels should do so. I will reactivate 2 of the 3 imprints: ART and Conform. ART is my personal series. It’s only me releasing music there. For Conform, I selected 10 tracks from the back catalogue, and I asked artists that I think they have been loyal to the music through these 10 years to re-edit my old music. I’ll release 3 or 4 vinyls. Doing so, for the first time my old catalogue will be released also on digital, so it’ll become reachable for new generations.
Could you reveal any of the names involved in that Conform release?
Some of them are Dave Clarke, Oscar Mulero, Ben Sims, James Ruskin, The Advent, Sterac, Truncate, Jonas Kopp, Cari Lekebusch, Steve Bicknell, Alexander Kowalski, Danilo Vigorito… I called them all after my almost 15 years break, and all of them were immediately super happy helping me. And that was super motivating. Nothing makes me happier than feeling respected by those who share my same job, my same passion.
It should be touching when you come back to the scene after so many years, and you see the same people still working on building his sounds and being faithful to the same musical approaches.
I said exactly that on a Facebook post some days ago. This is going to be a tribute to them, to all those artists I respect a lot. It’s not a tribute to me, but from myself to them. They are really an inspiration for me.