Behind the Scene - Italy: 10 years rockin' to the Orbeat groove.

Words by: I-Voice
Posted: 13/10/08 12:40

Magazine, events promotion, booking agency and now record label, Orbeat is a brand synonomous with the very best in electronic music in Italy.

We spoke with main man Luca Piccolo, who gave us an insight into the workings of this avant-garde enterprise.

"I was involved in parties since 1996, I was working as a graphic designer for one of the most important events promoter in Naples - 'Loose club'. Around 1997 I met Marco Carola and slowly I started to coordinate bookings in Italy for him. 

I was the founder of Orbeat Magazine in 1999, together with a friend and our resident DJ at that time Roberto Biccari, it was a milestone for electronic music in Italy. As soon as Orbeat Magazine was founded I started to promote parties under the brand 'Orbeat events' and founded a small agency coordinating bookings in Italy for Sven Vath, who was really the first international DJ who trusted in Orbeat Bookings." 

By the time the magazine stopped in 2002, the events and bookings had become the main focus of Orbeat anyway. A day in the life of Luca in 2008 and that is still very much how things are - bookings and events;

"I'll work in the office from 10am until 1 and then work on bookings again all afternoon. In the evening after 9, I'll have meetings for Orbeat events in Naples." 
     

"At the moment it [the Italian scene] is very crazy. When I started there were just a few promoters in Italy interested into electronic techno music..."

Measuring the success of Orbeat is simple, take one look at the artist roster they have exclusive booking responsibility for in Italy. The whole Cocoon and M-nus gang is represented from Sven to Richie to Ricardo to Magda; I could go on but you get the idea. Luca is fairly relaxed about this relationship "I used to work a lot for Cocoon in the beginning, then also when Katrin [Schlotfeldt] and Richie Hawtin founded Clonk bookings; I continued to working with both... it was a natural process." Natural process possibly, but you can guarantee there has been an abundance of creative thought and late nights in the hard work that makes Orbeat what it is today. Oh and throw in a good measure of charm too, "you just have to be a gentleman" says Luca with a smile on his face. 

Yet after nearly 10 years, in today's Italian market, the challenge of achieving their "goal of quality and professionalism" remains increasingly complex. "At the moment it [the Italian scene] is very crazy. When I started there were just a few promoters in Italy interested into electronic techno music. Napoli was one of the most important cities for techno music in the 90's. But since this sound became 'popular' every commercial house music promoter tried to jump onto it and in the past 2 years many of them have lost a lot of money. Unfortunately the government are not supporting the club scene; owners have to fight every week with stupid laws around alcohol or limits for the closing time." 

The issue of increased commercialisation of an underground movement and sound is particularly significant for Luca; "In Naples, you have fashion victims feeling like stars dancing to techno tracks. There is a big chaos in the city and the people feel confused but this will end really soon, hopefully this year or next, and the underground scene will be back strong alive in the city, thanks to clubs like Velvet."

"the government are not supporting the club scene; owners have to fight every week with stupid laws around alcohol or limits for the closing time." 

And where are the hotspots then?
"Well at the moment, in my personal opinion, Bologna is one of the most important cities in Italy for electronic music, where Kindergarden club is representing it. There is big research of new talents there; the clubs are really underground and the people really cool." 

Currently busy as ever, the Italian scene owes a big debt to Luca and the Orbeat family  " I'm currently working with Giancarlino the big boss of Goa club in Rome at the forthcoming edition of Amore Festival 2009. 90% of the promoters we work with are basically long time friends, so we study together how to develop the scene."

2009, the anniversary of the magazine and the brand's formation, is going to be a special year for Orbeat, an acknowledgment of 10 years at the top of the Italian game.

"We'll have a special tour of 10 gigs across Italy. We'll celebrate the 10th anniversary with a graphic design book, which will see the cooperation of 10 international graphic designer friends of Orbeat around the world. There will also be 10 releases on Orbeat records from 10 of our artists and a 10 tracks CD too."

However, don't be fooled for one second that this 10 year celebration is some marketing gimmick, not a chance, merely a well deserved celebration and the start of the next piece of the Orbeat jigsaw, the record label. Naturally Luca is a regular at Cocoon events in Ibiza, smiling he explains;

"I just get crazy at the terrace of Amnesia on Monday night, then the after party with Sven, then again another after party with Sven. For relaxing though, I just love Cala Jondal" So, clearly there are perks to the job then...

****
www.orbeat.com  - www.myspace.com/orbeatevents


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