Podcast 50 was recorded by Italian DJ/producer and What Ever Not label boss Dan Mela, who recently released the Chicago tribute ‘Drive Me Crazy’ with Lady Blacktronika. Mela’s mixtape features contributions from Theo Parrish, Linkwood, Alden Tyrell and Carlos Nilmmns.
What have you been up to lately?
“Summer is always a very busy and hard time, because of the weather of course, but also due to the amount of gigs. I care a lot about the music search, love to find old records on the shelves and discover lost tracks. That’s why I often find myself posing classic questions like “nice record, is it new?” and ‘”when did this come out?”
What are you currently working on?
“I’ll have a new track out soon on Maltese label Batti Batti Records, run by Owen Jay. It’s something totally different from ‘Drive Me Crazy’. It’s actually very relaxing, recalling that soulful atmosphere I have proposed in the past on Streetvibes Recordings, my first record label. In the coming months I will also go back to the studio to work on something new.”
Can you tell us a bit about the set-up you used for this podcast?
I used 12″ records and my little set-up: two Technics SL1210’s and a Pioneer DJM-300 mixer. For some tracks of which I had no vinyl I used Serato Scratch Live. It’s the only solution I accept, because it allows you to avoid shortcuts such as sync and keeps the original spirit of DJ-ing. DJ-ing to me should be as natural as possible, including variations in dynamics and also errors, so the DJ still has a soul.
With this podcast you’re obviously going for a raw, authentic house sound. It that where your focus lies at the moment?
“I’ve always listened to all sorts of music. That makes me very eclectic and unpredictable, I would say. It’s difficult to express my mood in one hour so I mixed different flavours. It’s a selection of disco, Chicago and Detroit house and ‘black’ music, always with an eye towards Africa, the real mother of us all.”
Your musical career so far has been rooted in soul, jazz and rare groove, apart from the obvious house flavors…
“I discovered funk thanks to porn movies, From there I went over to disco music, and then to house music. Jazz music came like a train. It opened my head, It suggested infinite solutions and ideas and gave me wonderful experiences with great artists in prestigious venues such as the Blue Note in Milan. The theatre always attracted me. Everything has a charm, even silence. I’m currently looking for the right people to enrich more revisited songs by Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock. I’m planning to release more edits on vinyl in the style of my last job as Breathing on Enzino Records. For the uninitiated: it’s an Italian funk song by Loredana Berte and Mario Lavezzi called ‘In Alto Mare ‘.”
Apart from DJing and producing you also run the What Ever Not imprint. Can you tell us a bit about the philosophy behind the label?
“Me and Dodi, who runs the label with me, decided not to tie ourselves to temporary trends but to follow our musical soul. It is an unpredictable record label. One day you happen to hear a house release or even techno: what we choose to release is dictated by our taste and feeling. We will probably not be immediately recognized in a box or as a precise concept, but we’ll surely create curiosity for DJs who will see our records hanging on the shelves of their trusted stores.”
How and when did you get involved in house music?
“A good friend of mine introduced me to a very special man. This guy was a genius who built audio equipment and lighting effects on his own and transformed normal houses in real discos every weekend. At the time my vinyl bags were filled with Def Jam, Sugar Hill Gang and later Coldcut and De La Soul. in 1989 I began to open my mind to house music which I think remains the most important musical phenomenon since rock ‘n’ roll.”
Where do you see yourself in music and life in five years from now?
“I’m single after about 25 years of relationships and I must say I ‘m taking a breather. I’m trying to live the best way I can with what life and nature has to offer. I do not know what will happen in my life in 5 years but I can definitely tell you what I desire from it. I would love to continue to make, produce and spread music. I’ve never looked for pop success and I will remain faithful to what I am; a person who loves the small things and clubs where people are very close to you, where you can hear and touch and where it’s not even a problem if sometimes the needle of a turntable is missing.”
Jahiliyya Fields – Pleasure Sentence (L.I.E.S.)
Theo Parrish – Thug Irony (Sound Signature)
Francis Inferno Orchestra – Watching the Stars (Voyeurhythm)
Alden Tyrell – Acid 3 (Delft)
Carlos Nilmmns – When in Glasgow (Paris Metro)
Linkwood – Objekt (Firecracker)
Teulè – Drink On Me (Profile)
Luca Lozano & Mr Ho – Dripbox (Crème Organization)
Chaos In The CBD – Stationary Condition (Amadeus)
Em Vee – Sting (Lumberjacks In Hell) R