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Go BackDavide Squillace - the last of the romantics.

Posted: 4/12/07 12:04

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Blue Davide on RedBorn and raised in Napoli, educated – musically – in London, and now at home in Barcelona, Davide Squillace is many things: an electrifying DJ, a very talented producer, a sharp-eared label boss and a rapidly ascending star. This year, as a new resident, he's taken DC10 by a storm, dropped ear-tweaking treats like the Almond Eyes EP, and generated more buzz than a hive of hungry hornets. He has every right to a bit of a swagger but, as it happens, he is also a walking rebuttal of the notion that DJs (and Italians in particular) are all ego-frenzied macho men. Despite more than 10 years in the music business he is unaffected, affable and effortlessly charming when, finally, after three weeks of phone tag we manage to speak.

This easy going, self-effacing attitude may be why he remains a bit of a mystery behind his music. But, unlike some hitherto-faceless DJs, once you delve beyond the usual production chit chat he's smart, engaging, and has plenty to say about – among other things – the Catalan police, why his girlfriend doesn't like his music, and why he wants to see more people kissing at DC10. 

So, how did you get into DJing?
When I was about 15 I was going clubbing with some friends and would go up to the DJ booth to see what they were doing…. Then a crew of us started throwing parties. We were the first people to bring Richie Hawtin to Napoli, which was amazing. The American new wave totally destroyed our mind – in a good way. So I started to play records and found there was nothing more enjoyable. 

You moved to London when you were just 18 – were you set on a DJ career at that point?
Not really. I just wanted to go someplace. London was the big thing for Neapolitans, music-wise, art-wise, I decided to go and study English. Then I bought my first drum machine and a computer, and started making music. That's where I released my first record on Primate
What do I remember most about London? Big lights, big clubs, meeting people from many different countries. Things were happening so fast. You had to go out and be in the middle of it. I lived all over the city, from Colliers Wood, to Dalston, to Hackney, to Old Street, to Willsden Junction… in three years I moved eight times!

"The problem with DC10 is once you play there all the other parties seem a little bit weak." You've lived in Barcelona for three years now – what were you doing in the intervening years?
I went back to Napoli, first, where I started the Sketch label and was playing in local clubs. Then I decided I couldn't stay anymore. I love Napoli but it's one way of thinking, all Italians. I went to Barcelona for Sonar and saw the explosion of producers, DJs… the whole scene and thought, wow! The city was totally crazy. I felt at home. 

Barca has turned into a bit of an expat DJ colony, hasn't it?
Yeah. It's not expensive, the weather is nice, the food is nice, the city is very friendly. You really feel comfortable. Aren't there a lot of pickpockets? Yeah, but I'm from Napoli. [laughs] I'm tougher than they are. The problem is the police. The Catalan police are assholes – you see them beating up people for no reason. I'm more scared of them! 

Sounds familiar…
They're being real assholes about the parties [in Barcelona]. But they aren't going to shut down places because, at the end of the day, they make so much money off it. It's like in Ibiza, more or less.  

Speaking of Ibiza – how's your summer been out here?
I only ever played there once before this summer, so it's new for me.
The problem with DC10 is once you play there all the other parties seem a little bit weak. It bewitches you. It's crazy. There is so much energy. If you go to other clubs – even if the night is good – you feel something is missing. There are other places with that atmosphere, but not many. It's great inside, it's great outside.

What's been the best party so far?
When I played on the terrace before Luciano. It was amazing. The people were so warm. I was stressed because it was my first time on the terrace, but it was fantastic. Inside I can play anything. Outside with the light, the colours, the people, you want to be more soulful, more romantic. I want people to hug and kiss each other! [laughs]  

Davide SquillaceAre you busy in the studio this summer as well?
Well, I have eight remixes to do before I can get back to making my own stuff. Friends ask you to make remixes and it's not nice to say "no". Who? Ali Dubfire, Valentino Kanzyani, Alfa Romero… I remember when I was starting out, asking people to remix my stuff, and feeling terrible when they said "no," but now I understand. 

What's your studio like?
I have my studio and office in my apartment. It's beautiful. I just wake up and go there. The downside is I never leave the house except to get on a plane.
I love interior design, and I'm slowly decorating my flat. I'm a Wallpaper* [magazine] addict. What's my style? Well, my family used to have a very baroque place, with heavy old furniture so it's a mixture of baroque, minimal and some pop stuff, like a Smeg refrigerator…  

And you still find time to run your record labels?
I make the decisions, but I have a guy who helps me out. It's a lot of work because we're receiving so many demos. I decided to release what I like on Minisketch – not stick to one style, just base it on the quality of the release. Minisketch five [Nordbanhof by Paul Ritch) is very dancefloor, while number six [Ludovic Vendi's Magic Morning] is a terrace record – very romantic. My other label, Titbit is a bit more crazy, not necessarily club stuff. We've decided to do a sub-label called 500 and it's going to be deeper, more romantic. 

There's a very cute little girl in your MySpace slideshow – is she your daughter?
Ha ha. No, it's my niece. I live with my girlfriend of two years, but no babies yet.

Does your girlfriend critique your tracks for you?
She probably doesn't even know my tracks! I played them to her once or twice, but I could see she didn't enjoy it.  

Oh dear…
She enjoys it in the clubs, but I don't think dance music works in the house. It's about sharing. When you're in the studio you have to close your eyes and imagine yourself in the club with other people.  

What do you have planned for winter months?
Once I've finished these remixes I'm going to get back to my label and start saying no to other labels! I want to get on with my own things. I'm a very simple guy – I just need family, love and work.

Davide on MySpace Visit Minisketch Visit Titbit Music




Words by Cila Warncke