Thursday, 21 August 2008

Interview: Flemming Dalum

Flemming Dalum is one of the world's most famous Italo-collectors, actually having a collection that can be decribed as "near complete"! His legendary mixes such as 'Amazing Run In The Tube Vol 1-3', 'Lost Within The Fog And Strobe' and 'Dance Of The Obscure Robot' have long been favourites on the playlists of both CBS and Magic Waves, championing obscure gems alongside more established underground classics. We had the pleasure of interviewing him about all things Italo Disco...

How and when did you first discover Italo Disco?

- In 1982/83 a friend of mine played some Italo records he bought on a
holiday in Italy. One of them was KOTO – "Chinese Revenge". I was instantly hooked to this pure synthesizer masterpiece. So far I listened to more commercial stuff – but with the synthesizer a whole new universe of sounds emerged right in front of me: I was really hooked – and have been ever since.

In 1983 the same guy asked me if I would like to go with him to Milan
to buy Italo records. The first of many trips to Italy...

That's basically how I discovered Italo Disco and my passion about Italo Disco started.

What are the most special memories you have from the early days?

- Ohh so many great memories....

Of course my visits to Disco Magic and Il Discotto were outstanding. Being able to buy all the records directly from the source was absolutely fantastic. The guys at those famous distributors were really surprised over me travelling all the way from Denmark to Milan... just to buy records. It gave me a unique possibility to find ALL the Italo classics.

At that point we hadn't the internet – I mean, now everybody can order records from all over the world and have them within a few days. Definitely not an option back then! So it gave me a huge advantage, having certain records a long time before everybody else.

For example: I bought Valerie Dore - 'The Night' from the Merak record shop in Milan – it arrived/"hit" the Danish radio stations approx. 6 or 8 months later... Same thing happened with several other releases.

Also great memory to experience the Creatures live show at A'ltro Mondo Studio in Rimini. Robots on the dancefloor in 1983!! And the state-of-the-art laser show. I also remember being inside the spacefly as something very special.

Another nice night in Rimini we visited the Cellophane Club – and met
Giorgio Paganini. He was so surprised and at the same time really
happy to hear about our love for his 'Gimme Love' track. We had a long
conversation with him.

... I could go on.

(Flemming Dalum outside Cellophane club)

(one of The Creatures kidnaps a girl at L'Altromondo Studios)

I read that you made in total 11 trips to Italy to meet with the main distributors, is this how your collection became so legendary? And what was it like to observe the Italo phenomenon in its glory days first-hand?

- Yes that's right – in total 11 trips in the years 1983 to 1986. It was fantastic – just imagine stepping inside "THE ORIGINAL SOURCE" of Italo Disco and being able to buy everything! (even with fair/cheap prices: approx 2.5 to 4 euros per record).

And at the same time the guys who worked there were very cool and friendly... I also contacted them by phone in-between the trips... to be 100% updated.

(Discomagic's distribution department in 1985)

Did you visit many clubs while you were over there and what do you remember the most about them?

- Number one is without doubt L'Altro Mondo Studio in Rimini..... with the Creatures show and everything. I wish I could bring you back to experience that vibe and atmosphere. Also a lot of others clubs were cool – Cellophane Club in Rimini was also super nice.

And in Milan there was this super dope underground club called "Plastic" - very freaky. Smoke machine and strobe running all night – very raw atmosphere. They didn't play Italo. Other clubs in Milan were "Odissea Due" (huge discotheque) and "Mistral" (which had lots of great
neon light/effects).

I also visited a small club in north-west Italy called: "Pata Pata" and became friends with the resident DJ – so he invited me to DJ: meaning I actually played a 45 min. Italo DJ-set in Italy ;-)

(Flemming Dalum outside Pata Pata club)

Who were the greatest Italian DJs in the old days in your opinion?

- Well several – hard to pick one. But I have to mention Jonathan (Jan Edouard Philippe) at Studio Jonathan 67 in Switzerland. I'm very inspired by his way of mixing on several compilations for Il Discotto...

Can you tell us a bit about the scene for Italo in Denmark where you are from? Scandinavia in general seems to have always had a special relationship with Italo...

- I don't think Denmark had a special scene for Italo... Sweden was
much more into it... with Beat Box records etc.

When Italo Disco faded into obscurity in the late 80s as Chicago House and various other forms of American and British dance music came to dominate the market, how did you react at the time and what did you do for those years through to the late 90s? Did your passion for Italo stay strong or did you need a rest from it by that stage?

- For me the real Italo sound/period stopped in the summer of 1986. This was my last trip to Italy after records, quality wasn't high any more and the sound also changed... so I moved on into House and later New Beat etc. My passion for Italo was always there.

When the CBS launched you were a vital contributor to them, both through providing classic mixes full of Italo gems and through extending the general wealth of knowledge about a lot of these very rare and often overlooked records. How did this relationship come about and what are your feelings now the CBS is gone?

- CBS was the perfect place for me. Ferenc also has a true passion for Italo and Disco, so that really made me want to contribute and share my passion. It started by coincidence - I was typing: "italo" on the net... and out came: CBS. I sent Ferenc a mail and received a friendly "greeters" back. A shame CBS ended - because my little mission wasn't over. Still lots of nice more or less unknown records to share in mixes etc..

But I believe something new will start soon: "Intergalactic FM".

You're the man behind Belgian label Flexx's recent re-release of Ghecko 'Firelight' - are there any other nuggets we can look forward to you bringing back in the near future?

- Actually it was the label owner Tom who asked me. So I guess he is the man behind the release – let's say I helped with it. I only do this for fun and again to share my passion. I still have a
demanding full-time job – besides this I manage to find extra time to make mixes and edits.

And recently I teamed up with Steen Gerulff from "Body Electric"...really exciting.

Lots of new projects in the pipeline.

Which Italo records are your personal favourites after the many years you've been into it?

- Hard to pick one or two – the list would be long...

You're renowned for your themed mixes such as 'The Last Days Of Italo Disco', 'French-Spanish Italo', etc Which is your personal favourite of these?

- I like them all.... all my mixes include records which mean a lot or something to me.

What does it feel like to be able to say that you've been into this music now for over a quarter of a century?

- Great – I really used music to relax and to recharge my batteries over the years, plus I still find energy when I'm mixing. 25 years with Italo and the 80s style gave me a unique and almost complete overview – which has proven to be very useful for me.

It was great for me to find CBS, and actually make a few new disco discoveries! That's the interesting part about collecting Italo and Disco.... There always seems to be more out there, just waiting to be found.

Which of the current batch of artists/producers do you like the most?

- A lot – actually most that were played on CBS...

In what ways has Italo benefitted your life?

- Some amazing memories from the 80s – but also now a lot of very cool friendships with other Italo freaks from all over the world...

What other genres of music do you enjoy you listening to?

- I've always been interested in the underground and was growing up during a time where lots of styles emerged – such as: Hip Hop, New Beat, Electro, Electronic Dub, House, Breakbeat, Techno and early Hardcore.... It's been great to be amazed over new styles
during the years. Now it dosen't seem so innovative any more....

So I've been back to my "roots": Italo, for some years.

If you could drive any car down the highway in the world listening
to any records, what would they be?

- Often Italo like: Peter Richard – 'Walking on Neon'... Brian Auger - 'Night Train to Nowhere' or more unknown tracks....

What other obsessions/passions do you have in life?

- Hmm besides music: I used to play a lot of badminton earlier in my life...

And of course: my family.

(sorry, have to ask!!) What is the rarest italo record of them all in your opinion?

- Tricky question – so many rare records. Hmm if I mention one... then
"the records hunters" will start searching for it and soon it's not THE
most rare record anymore...

Well OK anyway here's a shot: DIVIETO DE SOSTA - 'Forever' (Poker records).

What do you think of the current resurgence of interest in Italo?

- It's already been around for some years now... I love it.

Finally, where do you think the future of Italo Disco lies?

- There will always be an interest for Italo Disco, maybe not always big....
But I believe Italo will here be forever.

(inside Il Discotto)

(SIAE, the Italian music publisher)

(Merak shop, legendary supplier of fine Italo vinyl)

(the tube at L'Altromondo Studios)

(photos courtesy of Flemming Dalum)

To download Flemming Dalum's 'Italo Fetish' Mix containing the ultra-rare Divieto Di Sosta track 'Forever', click this link:

Flemming Dalum 'Italo Fetish' Mix


Flemming Dalum mixes to download

Flemming Dalum on myspace

Flemming Dalum on discogs

Friday, 15 August 2008

Interview: Novamen - Mr Pauli & DJ Overdose

Mr Pauli and DJ Overdose, otherwise known as Holland's leading electro-exporters Novamen, have been releasing records together since 1998. While Novamen releases tend to appear once every couple of years, both are prolific with other projects that include The Hasbeens (Overdose and Alden Tyrell), Matzo & Pauli (Mr Pauli and DJ Technician), Los Hombres Nova, Pauli Y Overdose and Get It Boyz amongst others, on a variety of labels that include Clone, Viewlexx and Bunker. Magic Waves has been proud to have exclusive mixes from both Mr Pauli and DJ Overdose in our playlists, and Cyber Dance Records has just released Mr Pauli's jaw-dropping remix of Ali Renault's 'Zombie Raffle'. With The Hasbeens 'Keep Fooling Yourself' and Mr Pauli's 'JapFab' being probably our favourite tunes of the summer so far, it seemed like the perfect time to have an interview with them.

Mr Pauli:

You're known as a lover of both italo and electro, and both influences can clearly be heard in your various different projects. Can you tell us a bit about how you got into them and what tracks and producers influenced you the most?

- That is the music I grew up on. I think one will always like the soundtrack of growing up. But there's much more music I was listening to that influenced me. Pop music from the 80's has been a very big influence. I was addicted to watching video-clips on MusicBox and SkyChannel and those kind of pre-MTV music channels. So I think for instance Duran Duran has been just as big an influence as let's say KOTO.

What are your memories of the italo pirate radio days in Holland?

- Those are memories of being a kid riding my BMX bike on hot summer days. I wasn't doing music myself yet so the music is just a soundtrack to my youth. Was listening to the radio a lot when I actually had to be sleeping. Already then I was a creature of the night. I could never sleep when I had to be asleep. So I listened illegally to the illegal radio...

How did you originally become involved with Viewlexx and the CBS?

- The first Novamen EP was released on Murdercapital records in 1998 or 1999. And Murdercapital is being run by the same person that's behind CBS and Viewlexx.

Your electro project Novamen (with DJ Overdose) is one of your most long-running, can you tell us a bit about how it started and how things have changed for Novamen since those early days?

- Well Overdose and me have been homies for over 25 years so it was only a matter of time before we started working together. When Overdose was living in an old high-school building and I was in dire need of a place to live, I moved in for a few months. So when we had all our gear together in one room, we just HAD to do some music together. Then and there we became Novamen. Since, we've had periods of doing stuff and periods of not doing stuff, and it will probably stay that way.

The Matzo & Pauli EP on Viewlexx is a great record. Can you tell us something about Matzo & Pauli and if we can expect any more releases in future?

- Matzo is of course DJ Technician and has also been a homie for ages so for that reason it was inevitable we were going to do something sometime. Both being italo-lovers but only producing electro stuff, it was time to do something in the italo department. We had loads and loads of fun making those tracks, which is of course very important, and still like them today because of that. Actually today I find the music more industrial than italo. Four other Matzo & Pauli tracks exist and who knows if they will get released some day?

Where do you draw inspiration for your music from?

- From other music I guess. I'm not the kind of guy that gets inspiration from flowers or a nice landscape or things like that. Oh, and spending time in other peoples' studios gets me motivated to go home and be productive.

I hear you work mainly with samplers, can you tell us about the way you use them in the studio and what other bits of gear you particularly like?

- I use my MPC2000XL for sequencing the whole studio and as main sampler. Mostly sample drum sounds but of course also all kinds of other stuff. Used to sample most synth parts too when I only had one synthesiser, but now I have a few synths so I can have one playing a bass-line, one playing strings and one playng a lead etc etc. No need for sampling synths anymore. The Roland Juno 106 was my first love and still use it in every production. Great machine. The NordLead1 was my second love, but after 10 or so years it's not really exciting anymore. Still very useful. Use it live all the time. The (lack of analogue) sound can get kind of boring though. Lately I've been enjoying my new Prophet 8 synthesiser a lot. My first real synth for real men ;-)

What other contemporary producers and musicians do you listen to?

- I listen to lots of stuff but I can only name 25% of it....oh yeah lately I like Beta Evers a lot!

What are the best, worst and most ridiculous gigs that you've ever played?

The worst gig was a gig I couldn't do because my MPC crashed at the very moment I was pushing the start button. The place was packed with italo-lovers and I was planning on doing a killer set that night. Not a nice experience at all.

The coolest gig I can think of now was the first Novamen gig we did in Detroit. We arrived late at night. First time there so that was cool to begin with. We drove to one of those completely deserted areas which Detroit mainly exists of, got to a place so underground it wasn't even a venue, and outside we found the nastiest poster EVER with our name on it! Great experience!

I never played a ridiculous gig ;-)

What new releases do you have lined up?

- A four track EP on Clone containing 'JapFab' and 'Questions' (ft. Nancy Fortune & Fred Ventura) and a Bumper 12" on MDEX records. Three tracks, one is called 'Never Stop', and a remix.

What record of yours are you happiest with and why?

- Well the Mr Pauli Viewlexx V-16 release is pretty satisfying. That release got Mr Pauli on a roll.

Where do you think the future for both italo and electro lies?

- Never thought about that really. For me both genres will never fall out of grace.
Electro is something electronic music producers tend to fall back to when their original style is milked dry, so I think that will always be around. Certainly as long as music is being made with machines.

Apart from music, what other passions/obsessions do you have in life?

- Interested in lots of other things, but music is the only obsession.

If you could be driving any car down the highway listening to any track you liked, what would they be?

- Depeche Mode has some great driving tracks. Which are also very suitable when not driving by the way... If cash wasn't an issue I would probably be driving a Rolls Royce Phantom, hehe...

Five records that have rocked Mr Pauli's world?

- These records still rock my world , but especially triggered something in my brain when they were released.

1. Prince - 'Purple Rain' album (and after that all his other stuff until he stopped using his LinnDrum basically)
2. Michael Jackson - 'Thriller' album. (I mean, my God what a solid album that is!)
3. Jonzun Crew - 'Pack Jam' (the first dark-ish electro track i can remember. Listening to those chords I was always like WTF is happening here!?)
4. Trans X - 'Living on Video' (that was really the future when I first heard it. Still can give me goosebumps)
5. Divine - 'Shoot Your Shot' (and later of course about everything disco Bobby O ever did)

DJ Overdose:

I remember reading you and Ingmar (Mr Pauli) had a band together in the late 80s, can you tell us about that? What was your background before, and do you think it had any similarities to what you did with Novamen?

- The band was called Kuntebe which meant nothing but sounded fun. We made kind of Red Hot Chilli Peppers stuff, it was more about practising than anything else, all we ever did was play one gig at a school. Ingmar played bass and I scratched in the band, it had nothing to do with electro.

I fell in love with hip hop when a friend of mine got a cassette with 2 electro/hip hop compilation albums - the Dutch Ben Liebrand-compiled 'Scratch Tracks' and the British 'Essential Electro 1'.
I heard 'Electric Kingdom' and 'Boogie Down Bronx' at least 10 times a day for 6 months or so, and I still love those tracks. I think I was about twelve then.

You're known for your skills on the turntable, but also for your passion for producing italo and electro - can you tell us a bit about your different musical influences and how they manifest themselves in your music?

- I'm not so passionate about italo or even electro for that matter, I don't own one italo record and the only newer electro records I have are Dopplereffekt's first two which are already from a while ago and I bought one DJ Funk record a year ago - 'Shake It Baby'.

For me it's hip hop I love, not the new 'bling bling' but the old self-made man pouring your heart out stuff and then it can be about whatever they rap about. That whole 'get the best producer on every album' and going from making zilch to a hell of a lot of money killed hip hop is what I think. There are counter movements I know but they all seem to sound like what Tribe Called Quest was doing way better ten years ago to me. The electro I play is to me at least hip hop meaning I like the stuff that has rapping on it, I'm not so much into electro that is more on the techno side, of course some stuff I dig a lot like Model 500 and from good old Holland, Electronome.

I only really got to know italo from playing and hanging with I-f... what I remember as being like "wow this shit is good" is a car ride we took when going to play in Geneva. We played Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and an italo mix he did, at some point Felli's 'Diamonds In The Night' came on... we got on top of the mountain as the sun came up and we saw the lake of Geneva, it was magical, I love that track. Other tracks I really like are The Creatures 'Believe In Yourself', Immortals 'Ultimate Warlord', Azoto 'Exalt Exalt' and a lot of others too but I wouldn't know the name of the track or the performing artist.

Why do you think that the Netherlands has such a special affection for italo?

- I think it's more The Hague than the Netherlands or at least it used to be, maybe because in a way it's summer love beach-party music and The Hague is a city by the sea.

And we all know pirate radio stations used to be all over The Hague and all kinds of antennas were scattered around the rooftops, I think maybe we got brainwashed like MTV does to the kids nowadays.

I hear you use the legendary SP1200 (or it was your first drum machine?) - any other favourite pieces of studio gear and why?

- My first drum-computer was a Kawai, I think the model was R5; it was not a very cool drum-machine but I learned a bit of programming on it. Some years later a friend saw an ad for an SP12 turbo actually which is the 1200's older brother, it has 5 sec sampling time instead of 10 for the 1200 and it has it's own drum sounds which in the 1200 they left out but you can load them from disk which leaves 5 seconds again and the 1200 can reverse samples. Best improvement was a 3'5 inch built-in floppy drive against a Commodore external drive. After the SP12, Technics SL1200's are still my favourite piece of equipment, I love putting on records.

For the rest anything that gets the job done is cool to me, I care more for a song to be good than the sounds in the song to be good; actually I love a song even more if it's really good with crappy sounds - not too crappy though there is a fine line. But of course certain sounds can also drive me wild.

Your latest project (with Alden Tyrell), The Hasbeens, is a huge sensation in the underground already... how did the collaboration come about? Why do you think the dynamic between you two works so well?

- We've been hanging and making tracks since forever but never finished anything most of the time; it was intro's or we would do DJ tracks with a lot of DJ Overdose and Alden Tyrell triggering (like the 'Obsession' scratch remix he did with DJ Technician), put it on cassette and I'd go scratch on it at home. Hasbeens was something where we were having a joke about both being a bit down and talking a lot of crap about nothing being good, cool or worth it or whatever.

He said he mostly tried to make uplifting songs and I was always going for the lowest bass, let's try something different together. The concept was going to be negativity all the way, we have an album title which is "Out The Window" which explains I think everything. But first there's the new single on Frustrated Funk - 'I Fall To Pieces'.

What's next for DJ Overdose from here? Do you have any records or projects in the pipeline?

- A new 5-track DJ Overdose record is coming out right after summer on Strange Life Records. I have a lot of unfinished 80's tracks and The Hasbeens need to go to work and will but are not at it yet, Get It Boyz only play records for each other or hang and have a laugh when we meet, Novamen is on pause due to me moving to Rotterdam and giving it a break but I think there will be new stuff someday.

What's your favourite record that you've made (and why)?

- I like all of them but I don't think all of them are good, and I can like them for different reasons. 'Lies' is a good song, 'The Beat' has everything that I think is cool; lots of bass, tuned cowbells, scratching and pitch-shifted vocoder rapping, 'Make The World Go Away' has the right amount of melancholy.

As a DJ can you tell us about any particularly strange or interesting gigs that you've done? And of course any personal favourites?

- I'm not a crowd-pleasing DJ. I want to stuff what I think is good down your throat, so sometimes it works real well like for instance when I play Miami Bass at some places people got kicked in the head and went nuts shaking the building together with the bass... other times people would think what the hell kind of crap is this guy playing.

DEMF was great - we (Novamen) were really fucked up after driving the whole night to get there in time and the crowd really dug our stuff. Breakdancers were flying through the air, there were people with Viewlexx banners - it was a lot of fun.

Playing live in Amsterdam with I-f and Alden Tyrell I think as Parallax Corporation was cool too, I-f and me were drunk as hell - we were singing 'Lift Off' while another song was playing and then we got into 'Superman' with a lot of cussing and me scratching 'motherfucker'... it had such a good punk feel to me, this is us - take it or leave it, we are enjoying ourselves.

A strange story would be when I got arrested in the club, we had borrowed my father's car to go to the club, Technician dropped me off to go park and got checked by the cops because of a broken headlight, when they checked the trunk there was some boxes of gun-shells in there (my father used to hunt). He was taken to the station and they went and got me from the club handcuffed and all. My father picked up the car the next day.

What are your views on the current state of the Dutch scene? Who would you recommend that we might not have heard yet?

- I really don't know... people talk of scenes, what I see is some people who make records.

What were your early influences and what are you influenced by now?

- My early influences were a lot since my mother is a music freak - she would play classical, blues, reggae, rock and when I got into hip hop she would borrow my Mantronix and Sweet Tee records. First records I bought were Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Pink Floyd and Prince, when I heard hip hop that was all I bought.

Outside of Dutch circles who are your favourite producers these days?

- Lately I've been even more out of it, since I don't like the hip hop, last stuff that was really good to me was Havoc (Mobb Deep), RZA (Wu-Tang)... Only albums I still buy is Ghostface Killah, the rest of the records I buy is old.

How would you describe the sound of DJ Overdose for those who don't yet know?

- Well it can be anything. I might do a country record next (again) but I think what people would call it is electro.

Please tell us 10 records that have rocked Overdose's world.

1. Schoolly D - 'PSK (What Does It Mean?)'
2. The 2-Live Crew - '...Is What We Are '
3. Too Short - 'Born To Mack'
4. King T - 'Act A Fool'
5. Cybotron - 'Clear'
6. Method Man - 'Tical'
7. Demon Boyz - 'Recognition'
8. BDP - 'By All Means Neccessary'
9. Just Ice - 'Back-To The Old School'
10. Sweet Inspirations - 'Sweet Inspirations'


Novamen on myspace

Mr Pauli on myspace

DJ Overdose on myspace

Hasbeens on myspace

Matzo & Pauli on myspace

Get It Boyz on myspace

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Interview: Victor Life of Fockewulf 190

One of Magic Waves' most-played tracks has surely got to be the awesome 'Gitano' by Fockewulf 190. The team behind this mystical masterpiece of early European synthesiser-dance was Dario Dell'Aere and Victor Life, who were also responsible for such other highly sought-after classics as 'Body Heat', 'No Sex', 'Eagles In The Night' and 'Tumidanda'. We had the pleasure of interviewing Victor Life...

The story of Fockewulf 190 started when you and Dario (Dell'Aere) met outside a cinema in Milan in 1979. Can you tell us about how the band evolved from there and what those early years were like?

- Full of enthusiasm, we had the power of seducing everyone who got in touch with us, especially the dandy guys from the Taxy Club, the historic New Romantic club in Milan where we used to play live. Everything seemed possible for Fockewulf 190... immediately a crew of fans made us like their little stars.

One of them even took us to the studio to record our first single, 'No Sex'.
Ours is the classic story of a band born from below, we came from the road. The power of that period was in this peculiarity... bands were formed around an ideological concept, not like today where everything is planned in the higher places of record companies or by some "masters". It's ridiculous to eliminate the spontaneous expression of a natural talent... it's like God taking away freedom of choice from men. Without mistakes you can't have evolution!

What was your background before meeting Dario and starting Fockewulf 190? What kind of music did you used to listen to growing up in the 1970s?

- One day in 1972 my teenage sister brought home 'Hunky Dory' by David Bowie... I fell madly in love with "Life On Mars". The strange thing was that the original owner of that record was Dario's brother...destiny!

I was growing up well since I was 8, thanks to my older brothers who were glam-rock and progressive fanatics. I was really fascinated by Keith Emerson at the time. Already at 14 years old I was collecting every kind of rock vinyl, but very soon electronics prevailed and I came to the conclusion that there were only five artists who really changed the history of pop music... Syd Barrett, David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Roxy Music and the Ultravox of John Foxx.

What was Milan like as a place to live in the early 1980s?

- Milan was elegant and sophisticated, maybe a little violent... there were a lot of right and left sided gangs. In 1980 the Post-Punk movement prevailed and all the New Wave styles made those year unique. I am still nostalgic about that period, age has nothing to do with it... I know I'm not alone in suffering from this, there's an entire generation waiting for a new future !

By 1982 you had changed the band's name to Ice Eyes and had a local hit with your track 'No Sex'. Why did you use this name at this point and what are your memories of this era?

- Ice Eyes was a transitory name, we weren't Diamond Dogs anymore, but not yet Fockewulf 190 either. Names are symbols with a numeric value which sound magical.

I was 18 and I was seeing around us an extraordinary attention, but I also had difficulties understanding all the levels of what we were expressing. "No Sex" influenced all the Italo Disco movement and in the end this was not good for us, because we were trapped in a flow that wasn't part of our DNA.

After this you changed the name to Fockewulf 190. Why this particular name, and why the change again?

- Because you evolve, you define yourself after finding a space to move inside. Fockewulf 190 was like saying... here's something different from the crappy Italian songs, these guys are the real thing!

By 1984 it seems as if there had become a greater mystical element in your music, in tracks like 'Gitano' and 'Body Heat', and of course you enjoyed greater commercial success in other countries during this time too. Can you tell us about the message you were trying to convey in your music, and also how the band were treated by the Italian music industry at this point?

- 1984 wasn't crucial only for us, but also for an entire generation brought up in 1977 between the energy of Punk and the electronics of Kraftwerk, the glorious dreams of the The Thin White Duke and the New Romanticism of synth-pop. The last wave before the end, like in the best apocalyptic prophecies, for us could be only linked to the electronic and futuristic mysticism, philosophically esoteric, imperial in its theatrical shape and plasma'd by oriental sounds.
The idea was to re-unite the different styles into one centre of gravity, something so strong in spirit, soul and body, to not leave space for anyone else, recreating something mythological like the Ziggy Stardust era.

Not even the great Bowie himself, who wrote the best mythology of the sci-fi rock, managed to have such an extreme vision... the last link, the final chapter of the Diamond Dogs legend.
That was our idea and in the scene they were talking a lot about us, but nobody had the guts to seriously invest in our band, not even the ones who considered us the new Rockets. In the end being Italian, as I said before, was a curse that made us live in a cage, not even made of gold... more or less a silver one!

The strange symbols on the sleeve of 'Gitano' have always intrigued me - can you explain their meaning to us?

- That should be a question for Dario, since it was his creation, I think the fruit of an astral vision he had, synthesised by the sentence written on the back of the record and that said, more or less: "Move aside and pick up a silver rose, if it alters touching your video, the impossible reality will materialise". In short words, as I was saying before... the chance of creating something new in the artistic scene.

I think that was the point... we made someone angry in Italy or maybe it wasn't our time... I sincerely thought for a while that what was linked to that symbol was a lot of crap.... there were ignorant people saying that it was linked to drugs and things like that. The future is always running, probably the symbols refer to that in an esoteric way, a second grade gift to consume in another time.

What other artists did you like at the time? Were there any other bands you were close to in the Italian scene?

- Italians? No, apart from the avant-garde records made by the Krisma of Maurizio and Cristina Arcieri, only Giorgio Moroder had an international importance.

There were some soundtracks made by the Goblin of Simonetti and some nice tracks made by artists like Garbo, Battiato, Matia Bazar that had a sort of a middle-european shade, but in the end it was easy pop music, elegant and sophisticated, but far from our musical flow of electronic experimentations. With time I appreciated the Kirlian Camera of Angelo Bergamini, a real talent, and some historic bands from Florence and Bologna like Neon, Pankow, Diaframma, Gaz Nevada and others... but my eyes were focused on more oniric artists.

The lyrics to 'Body Heat' seem to be quite political in nature. What inspired them?

- I can't remember exactly, I think it was a sort of provocation; our lyrics aren't stories, but emotional flashes, with an hermetic and precise language.

By the way, both 'Body Heat' and 'Gitano' were accused of esoteric fascism... Just to be clear I have to say that I don't get well with political language... it doesn't fit my way of living. I ignore all those TV shows where the politicians shout their sided egotistical ideas about class and racial belonging... I don't believe in a materialistic conception of life, there's a lot more than we can see.

But if I have to say my opinion, I think that the period of the Roman Empire that went from Trajan to Marcus Aurelius was a great example of an illuminated government that probably will never come again.

The lyrics to 'Gitano' have always fascinated me too, they are far more esoteric than the lyrics for 'Body Heat' or 'No Sex'. Can you explain their meaning to us please?

- The message was symbolic; step aside from the masses to become a splendid cosmic individuality, raising our own vibratory level to permit the invasion of the blue lights, bi-dimensional alien entities destined to universal evolution. A revolution that had the objective to rediscover the ancient lost values, folded in the symbolism of the ancient civilisations, covering them with romantic futurism.

There was always quite a reaction to Fockewulf 190's striking live shows in Milan. Why do you think you caused such a controversy? Did you intend to?

- Here in Italy everyone who tries creating something new always passes for presumptuous.
They always try to damage him and they make bad accusations, and give stupid labels. With the name we had, accusing us of being nazi-fascist was just too obvious an accusation! ahahaha... we laughed at them and so our fans loved us even more for that. The truth is that our shows were a success, but there was a sort of fanaticism on us and that created a mix of admiration and hate.

Fockewulf 190 have a strong image, from the mystical symbols and the face-paint, to even the postures Dario adopts in pictures and on stage. What influenced and inspired you in this area?

- No need to deny it, I'm proud of that! Our school was the one of David Bowie, the greatest talent of the century.

But also Christian Le Bartz, the Rockets' singer... he was amazing, he hypnotised the audience like a space 'dux' ("leader" in Latin); Peter Murphy of the Bauhaus, a night creature, a genuine talent, mutable like the moon, absolutely pure. To finish, the singer of the Undead, the band of the movie "Phantom of the Paradise", simply divine with his detached and assolutistic acting.
For us the theatrical mime aspect completes the music, the image is a magic reflex of an interior spirituality, able to project onto the audience a deeper dimension of the artist.

Plans were underway for the Fockewulf 190 album which would have included the classic 'Oh Oh Oh' - what went wrong, and what caused you to leave the band at this point?

- I was disgusted by the productions, I was depressed, nobody really understood after 25 years the facts are giving me reason... the audience of the world is slowly re-discovering the originality of the band.

Dario released 'Eagles In The Night' in 1985 under his own name. Finally it seems to be getting some recognition and respect for being the masterpiece it is - did you have any involvement in this track and what are your feelings about it?

- For the friendship that linked me to Dario, despite our deep disaccord, I worked with him for what I could in the mixing of the tracks, but nothing more. Honestly to me the sound of "Eagles in the night" seems a little "old", but the melody remains charming and immortal like all the things that Dario made.

Also, Dario produced 'Tumidanda' for Frank Tavaglione, now a highly sought after collector's item. What was the story behind this and who was Frank Tavaglione?

- Tavaglione was a friend from the Taxy Club; he wanted an easy and simple song to do some shows with in the discos... Dario had a lot of fun producing 'Tumidanda'. It's a nice track, but it has nothing to do with Fockewulf 190's productions.

Do you have any regrets for how things turned out for Fockewulf 190 in the mid 80s?

- Yes, I suffered a lot for that road interrupted in the middle that was taking us far away... the new album 'Electrum Lux' finally defines the Fockewulf 190 question once and for all.
I can't stand it when dreams remain in a closet, especially when they are gold ones.

You and Dario briefly reformed the band in 1988. Can you tell us what happened?

- Fockewulf 190 never really split up... they were just hibernating in the silence of time... when we made the cover of the Heaven 17 song it was just for having a little more fun, but we knew that the war was lost, ahahahahah, in fact we didn't come out as Fockewulf 190, but as Demode Boulevard. It was like a trip...nothing serious!

What did you and Dario do in the 1990s? Did you still play together?

- Always! And we made some great songs like 'In My Soul', 'Orient Express', 'Magic World', 'New World'... but we didn't bother making records, it wasn't the time.

Most of the 90's was dedicated to esoteric research, especially kabbalistic, and between a discovery and another, some sweet life in Romagna! Rimini station! I can never forget such emotions, but there were also bad times, a lot of suffering, love delusions and friends lost along the way that I miss so much.

You have told me before that your music is based on visions that you and Dario have had... can you tell us more about your artistic process, and what these visions are?

- The visions of an artist are really close to spiritual ones, they are something so deep and peculiar that you can't describe them in words. That's the reason why you decide to became a musician or a priest and not a factory worker or an enterpriser...

I don't know If I'm clear, as I said in another interview we can tell the truth only telling novels... this way everyone will say that you're a genius and not crazy... but if you think about it there's no difference, only a lot of hypocrisy from the ones judging.

Almost every sacred or historical book, from the Bible to the Odyssey, are written in a mythological way, but they manage to describe reality anyway... but they would never have been accepted by the masses if those truths weren't romanced in the right way. Being able to see and hear the hidden things is the mission of the ones who want to become real gold donkeys...

I hear you are writing a book at the moment - can you tell us something about that?

- This work is the fruit of my electronic experimentation applied to sonic frequencies related to the science of numbers of the Sacred Kabbalah. That experience brought me to writing this esoteric novel 'The Golden Last Metamorphosis' , where the main character named "Victor" meets a bi-dimensional entity called "Life" in a recording studio, who after telling his initiation story using the magic of sounds, he leaves in heritage to him the power of electrum..... but I don't know yet when it's going to be finished, maybe the last act still have to be written in real life!
I can just say that it's not a classic autobiographical story.

Recently you and Dario have reformed Fockewulf 190 with some new members. Can you tell us about the new line-up and how you came back to make the new album 'Electrum Lux'? Why now after all these years?

- I will answer you with the beginning of the book I'm writing:

"The reason of the nostalgia for that pulsing life, of marvellous things that were never dead, leaves a space to a new and thin anticipation, to a definitive metamorphosis"

The idea to make the old Fockewulf 190 fly again was born exclusively from that inspiration of mine.

When will the new album be released and can we expect to see Fockewulf 190 on tour?

- the new record should be out by the end of this year, then we will evolve the new sound of the band exclusively live with the new singer Dèa Lux and the new guitarist Alexander Voyx. Markus Moonlite will keep on working in the background as lyrics writer.

Have you or Dario got any other projects you are working on?

- No, at the moment the 'Electrum Lux' project is the only one I'm working on. For the future I would love to work with Maurizio Piazza for an ambient record with him... he's a musician that I really value and I'm working with him on some remixes that are going to be included on the record as bonus tracks.

What are your other obsessions and passions in life?

- Music is my only obsession... it has everything inside it; passion, love, sex, mysticism... but right now I'm happy with my lady Elektra. Having a woman that take care of you is something very rare, believe me!

Please tell us your best and worst memories of concerts you have played.

- Bad memories... only one. a damned live show where the equipment caught fire, it was a real hell!!

Best memories... a lot! But probably the most symbolic one remains the concert at the Club 99 in Gradara, on the 24th of April, 1984.

Fockewulf 190 are often included in the current 'Italo' revival, although that term does not seem to describe the band properly. How would you describe Fockewulf 190?

- I let others define us... I can't define the craziest air-plane in the world... I only know that we can do everything...electro-rock or disco-ambient, and even Afro Jazz, but probably we will always be connected to the futuristic mysticism.

Please tell us Victor Life's five most essential records to own.

- John Foxx 'Metamatic'

- David Bowie 'Diamond Dogs'

- Pink Floyd 'The Dark Side Of The Moon'

- Kraftwerk 'Trans Europa Express'

...and let's see, for number 5 I can't decide between Roxy Music 'Avalon', Japan 'Gentleman Take Polaroids' or Talk Talk 'It's My Life'... but in the end I will say 'Electrum Lux' ahahahaha, so you can have a really cool cult record.


Fockewulf 190 on myspace

Victor Life on myspace

Fockewulf 190 on youtube

Disco Canada

It's a little known fact that between the late 1970s and the mid 1980s Canada was a hot-bed of electronic musical activity to rival anywhere else in the world. Much of what is now considered Italo Disco was actually produced on the other side of the Atlantic, and would actually in the vocabulary of the time be better described as New Wave, New Romantic, Electro-Soul or Hi-NRG. The Canadian sound is quite distinctive from its European relatives - the tracks are usually fast, futuristic and smoothly produced, relying on the Patrick Cowley and Azul Y Negro models of synthesiser disco rather than Moroder, Simonetti and Cerrone's more classically European sound.

The main centre for the Canadian scene was overwhelmingly Montreal, although Toronto did play an important role too. In the early days it was firmly connected to the US disco scene, and this connection remained strong through to the mid 1980s in the resurgence of US disco through Chicago House. After the original disco boom in the US died and before the rise of House, Canadian disco found a partner in the Italo Disco scene, which partly explains the confusion between the two genres today. The cultural associations however run much deeper than this, right back to Canada's French roots. The heavy influence of old European culture in Canada meant that it served as a vital bridge stylistically between American and European disco sounds, and while this connection allowed Italo Disco to reach the early Chicago House DJs, it also served as a route for the sounds of Acid House to connect back to Italy and provide the producers over there with their musical direction for the latter half of the 1980s (Black Box's 'Ride On Time' or FPI Project's 'Rich In Paradise' are two good examples). And of course Canada's ex-colonial status gave it a deep cultural and musical link to Britain, which throughout this whole period was producing cutting-edge synthesiser-based pop, epitomised by its New Romantic movement. In a sense, Canada was a key link between different electronic music centres around the world, and the music it produced reflected this variety of influences - we discuss a few of the major players below...

Two Hats Productions

Releasing their output mainly through Butterfly Records in the early days, and Ramshorn later on, Toronto's Ian Guenther and Willi Morrison (aka Two Hats Productions) were responsible for a huge quantity of releases right from the start of the disco era. Apart from their main project, THP Orchestra, they also produced The Immortals 'Ultimate Warlord', which was enormously influential to the nascent Italo scene upon its release in 1978, and Skatt Bros 'Walk The Night' the following year, a legendary dark-side-of-disco classic that set the tone for much of the post-punk disco sounds to come. Where the Canadian connection to the European sound is what shines through on these tracks, it's on others such as The Duncan Sisters 'Boys Will Be Boys' where we can detect hints of the future truly Canadian style most prominently - emotionally charged female vocals and bpm's as fast as session players could manage before the advent of drum machines. Guenther and Morrison rarely seem to get a mention anywhere but amongst the most die-hard collectors these days, and rarely get recognised in their own right for any of the classic records they worked on. We recommend:

1. THP Orchestra - Two Hot For Love (Suite)
2. Immortals - Ultimate Warlord
3. Skatt Bros - Walk The Night
4. Duncan Sisters - Boys Will Be Boys
5. THP Orchestra - Who Do You Love?


Lime were husband-and-wife production team Denis and Denyse LePage from Montreal, and were probably the most long-running of all Canada's disco producers, having first appeared as producer and vocalist respectively on Le Pouls' self-titled 1976 album and only stopping Lime by 1988. Throughout the late 1970s they played on a variety of classic disco records, including the Bombers LP and Kat Mandu's 'The Break', and were studio veterans by the time they launched Lime in 1981 on Matra Records.

I think the best description I've ever read of Lime is "cheesy but charming". This sums it up perfectly - while at first something about Denis's rough rock vocals and the bizarrely sugar-sweet and insanely helium-esque voice of Denyse will deter some in the fear that either Bryan Adams or The Smurfs is lurking just around the corner, the disaster never quite comes and Lime have a way of getting inside your head until you find yourself completely addicted to their peculiarly citrus-flavoured hi-nrg synth-pop. Lime are definitely the kind of thing you will either love or hate, but this is where they get some respect from me. They represent the hit-and-miss pioneering spirit of the old days of synth-pop to the maximum, never fearing the times they fall flat on their faces as there are undoubtedly others where they hit heights others can only marvel at ('You're My Magician' or 'Rendez-vous On The Dark Side Of The Moon' spring to mind). TR-808s and TB-303s blaze throughout their work, providing an obvious proto-Chicago edge to their sound, which was certainly picked up on in the US - 'On The Grid' in particular was an enormously important record for the evolution of Disco into House, being played constantly at clubs like The Warehouse and in DJ-mixes on stations like WBMX. Sadly after the mid 1980s Denis and Denyse lost interest in Lime and the releases suffer a noticeable drop in quality towards the end of the decade. Overall, we recommend:

1. You're My Magician
2. Babe, We're Gonna Love Tonight
3. Rendez-vous On The Dark Side Of The Moon
4. Angel Eyes
5. On The Grid
6. Do Your Time On The Planet
7. Come And Get Your Love
8. Give Me Your Body
9. Are You Being Untrue Tonight?
10. Your Love

Gino Soccio

Montreal's Gino Soccio first emerged in 1978 with his single 'Les Visiteurs', and quickly followed it up with two of his most significant works, 'Dance To Dance' and 'Dancer', both instant disco classics. This provided the backbone for his first LP 'Outline' and his greatest commercial success ('Dancer' hit #48 in the billboard Top 100 in 1979). While his name will forever be associated with the legendarily lush production of the instrumental break in 'Dancer', Soccio was adept at many different styles, crossing disco with rock on his Witch Queen project (who had a top 10 dance hit with their cover of T-Rex's 'Bang A Gong') and delving into electronic disco-experimentalism on his Kebekelektrik project with tracks like 'War Dance' and and the Brian Bennett-like 'Mirage'.

As the early 1980s unfolded Soccio remained at the core of the Canadian disco movement, often associated with both Denis LePage and Pierre Perpall, but really hit a second peak with his 1983 synthesiser hit 'Remember'. Today considered one of the most essential Italo-type records ever made, it's no surprise that the key to its success lay in the discotheques of Europe. Having an Italian name no doubt helped encourage the confusion that this actually was Italo. It has to be said it's certainly as close as the Canadian sound ever got to being Italian. Gino Soccio can also be found as a session musician and producer on many other releases apart from his own and was intensely prolific for the time he was working in music. We recommend:

1. Gino Soccio - Dance To Dance
2. Kebekelektrik - War Dance
3. Gino Soccio - Dancer
4. Gino Soccio - Remember
5. Karen Silver - Set Me Free

Pierre Perpall

Also hailing from Montreal, Pierre Perpall has been described as Canada's answer to James Brown, with his vigorous dance routines, immaculate afro and tighter-than-tight productions. First appearing on the music scene in the late 1960s, Perpall had evolved by the late 1970s into being an electro-cabaret artist with a variety of different guises ranging from simply Perpall to his main alter-ego Purple Flash to the cult one-off Pluton & The Humanoids. Within a career that spans twenty 7" singles, eleven 12" singles and several albums, Perpall pursued a variety of styles over the years (and still performs today) but what he is most often remembered for is his electro-disco period from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, particularly his releases on VS Records. These could have languished in obscurity forever were it not for later revivalists such as I-f (who featured the extremely rare 'World Invaders' as the opening track on his cult mix 'Mixed Up In The Hague Vol 1') and the American label Environ (who have recently reissued both 'World Invaders' and 'We Can Make It'). This worthy promotion has helped Perpall get the recognition he deserves for the ethereal, charming and innovative pieces of synth-disco he made all those years ago. We recommend:

1. Pierre Perpall - Roller Dancer
2. Purple Flash - Creme Souflee (Instrumental)
3. Pluton & The Humanoids - World Invaders
4. Purple Flash - We Can Make It (Instrumental)
5. Reggie Simms - Over And Over

Rational Youth

Formed in Montreal in 1981 by Tracy Howe (ex-Men Without Hats, of 'Safety Dance' fame) and Bill Vorn, Rational Youth were a New Wave band inspired to go all-electronic by Kraftwerk's 'Computer World' LP. Originally named Rational Youth Orchestra as a joke on Canada's National Youth Orchestra, they were persuaded by their label to drop the 'orchestra' part and were greeted with much interest after the release of their first single 'Coboloid Race'. With the addition of keyboardist Kevin Komoda in 1982, they set about recording what is still their undisputed masterpiece, their debut album 'Cold War Night Life'. It is that rarest of things for a 'dance' album - a well-rounded work that makes sense as an album first and foremost, and as a collection of great songs second.

Playing lyrically with cosmic philosophy and cold-war political-chic in equal measure, Rational Youth also had something of a sneering rebellious punk attitude that defied the authority and social tendencies of the day, and which set them poles apart from almost every other potentially similar contemporary act. Unfortunately in the past the public have been too quick to dismiss 'Cold War Night Life' as mere Kraftwerk impersonation, something which anyone who listened to the album more than once would find tragic. Rational Youth do sound almost like an angry Kraftwerk, but to make that mistake is to not see their real genius - the application of Kraftwerk's innovation. In an age where few even understood that electronic sound was even capable of being called music, Rational Youth had embraced the revolution Kraftwerk presented and got very good at exploring where it could be taken to next. In reality we should see 'Cold War Night Life' as the true successor to 'Computer World' - arguably one of the only ones available until the Detroit Techno scene of the late 1980s sprang into life.

Tracks like 'Dancing On The Berlin Wall' turned out to be not just sonically brilliant but also prophetic (and of course at the height of the cold war intensely political in nature for a dancefloor hit), while others like the instrumental 'La Meilleur Des Mondes' explore the cutting edges of synthesiser music as they were in 1982 and sound again in 2008. And the album opener 'Close To Nature' is as tour-de-force as electronic music has ever got. In order to put Rational Youth's music into context it's worth bearing in mind what Tracy Howe pointed out in a 1997 interview:

"We had some difficulty getting the engineers to understand what we were trying to do. Some of them couldn't grasp the fact that we were using this drum machine thing because we actually wanted to! And most of them had never had any experience with sequencers or anything computerized. But, they would stay awake all night with us until the sun came up, anyway."

After the album Bill Vorn left to resume communications studies at the University of Quebec, and to conduct research and development within the discipline of interactive robotics. With the chemistry altered, Rational Youth never re-attained the artistic heights of their first album, although with the amount of hit singles it generated in Canada it will at least remain their most well-known work. Howe recruited new members and made a respectable EP simply titled 'Rational Youth' but thereafter things went downhill, Howe eventually calling it a day in the late 1980s. One final and unexpected Rational Youth album did emerge in 1997 though, and it was indeed a fine and sadly overlooked return to form, particularly evident on the sci-fi themed 'Back From Madrapour', a track Telex would have been proud to have made in their glory days. We've devoted a lot of bandwidth to Rational Youth over the years here at Magic Waves, and we can heartily recommend:

1. Saturdays In Silesia (extended version)
2. Close To Nature
3. Power Zone
4. Dancing On The Berlin Wall
5. Coboloid Race
6. In Your Eyes (1983 version)
7. La Meilleur Des Mondes
8. Back From Madrapour
9. Cite Phosphore
10. Hot Streets


Tapps appeared a few years after the other artists we've discussed so far, and represent the very pinnacle of the Canadian Hi-NRG sound of the mid 1980s. Formed by three high-school friends Tony DaCosta, Allan Coelho and Paul Silva who pluralised their initials to make the group's name, they came from the Portuguese neighbourhoods of Toronto and were inspired by the synthesiser pop sounds of Patrick Cowley, Bobby Orlando and Azul Y Negro to reach for their musical dreams. Despite the early departure of Silva due to a serious medical condition, DaCosta and Coelho pressed on and recorded their first 12" 'My Forbidden Lover' with the help of Irish-Canadian session singer Barbara Doust. The track was almost instantly one of Canada's biggest ever dance hits, exporting all over the world and leaving the cautious initial pressing of 500 copies in the dust.

Enjoying global success and yet still rarely playing concerts on Canadian soil, Tapps next released the legendary 'Burning With Fire' and 'Runaway' in quick succession, before turning to using CMI Fairlight synthesisers for their next two records, 'Hurricane' and 'Don't Pretend You Know' which featured a harder more sample-based sound, although still sounding like classic Tapps through and through. By the late 1980s however, Tapps decided to call it a day and the original members moved on to other projects. Leaving an incredible musical legacy behind them, their story is typically Canadian - huge success everywhere but at home. Tapps' tracks were a mainstay on mixes by the Hotmix 5 on Chicago's Radio WBMX, and caused a sensation in Europe where they clearly had a huge influence on post-1984 Italo productions, anticipating the euro hi-nrg we can still hear in the charts today. When all was said and done Coelho remembered it like this:

"I remember how great it felt to have our first record and how we struggled. It was never easy. Canada wouldn't play a record like this on the radio, so we actually were a lot more popular outside of Canada than we were at home. You'd be amazed how many people ask about when we will do a new record. I am happy that we've touched someone with our music. It's really all we originally set out to do. I guess it worked"

We recommend:

1. My Forbidden Lover
2. Burning With Fire
3. Runaway
4. Don't Pretend you Know
5. Hurricane


No feature on Canadian dance music could be complete without mentioning Trans-X. Comtemporaries on the Montreal scene with Rational Youth, Trans-X were best known for their 1984 international million-selling hit 'Living On Video' and were the brain-child of French-Canadian producer Pascal Languiraud. Apparently the most-covered dance music track ever, 'Living On Video' is undoubtedly one of the greatest electro-disco singles ever recorded. An album that failed to live up to the high standards set by the single came out but unfortunately this was as far as Trans-X got. Encouraged by the recent resurgence in interest in the group, Languiraud has formed a new version of the band and is touring and producing once again.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Magic Waves youtube playlist

Here's a playlist of some of our favourite music videos from youtube: