Filippo Mulazzani and Paolo Davide Bianchi are Babylon Crooks, an Italian house and techno-loving duo. Friends since their early teens, the boys are natives are Rimini, a city on Italy’s eastern coast and a place renowned for its nightlife of the 80s and 90s. The scene might have faded there in recent times, but the result of its heady time is still very much apparent through the work of Babylon Crooks. Although their latest EP for Bade is actually their first release on Bade imprint, it’s safe to say that it’s a more-than-steady debut outing. Here, we catch up with them to find out what’s going on in their world…
We share the same love for house and techno but we have quite different backgrounds so every time it is like two separate worlds joining together. We can combine our different influences and get double ideas... What’s going on in the world of Babylon Crooks right now? You guys been keeping busy?
Most of our time is dedicated to music. We don’t take breaks from producing and now we’re trying to get some credit for what we do, we’re also trying to get gigs regularly at the moment.
And what’s the idea behind your name?
We were just talking a bunch of BS after a long night clubbing and you know, sometimes words just come out off your brain in an unexpected way…and that way was our way.
And how did you guys first hook up? Whose idea was it?
We’ve always been in touch because we respected each other’s backgrounds and musical tastes so when we had the chance to spend some time together in Bologna we tried to collaborate. It took some time but then we got into a good creative flow and once we realized our stuff was interesting we decided to go further and started looking for labels.
So were you friends before you both discovered electronic music?
We both grew up in Rimini, we knew each other when we were 11/12 years old. We used to skateboard together, and then we met again through mutual friends during high school.
How does working as a duo work to your advantage? Are there any downsides to it?
Nowadays it’s quite easy to start and finish a track by yourself, but we think there are some important advantages to working as duo. We share the same love for house and techno but we have quite different backgrounds so every time it is like two separate worlds joining together. We can combine our different influences and get double ideas. We are able to work together but also sometimes one of us starts a track by himself and the other one will finish it.
So, can you let us know a bit about the Italian scene? What’s it like? How involved are you in it all etc.?
The Italian scene is quite pulsating, and in our opinion it’s improving year after year. Now there are many talented djs and new parties all over Italy but in the past few years it has quite hard to find good ones due to a lack of promoters and fresh ideas. We’ve found that big name DJs can sometimes be booked too often. Meanwhile up-and-coming djs DJs having few chances to play, that’s why at first we decided to focus on producing instead of trying to gigs. Fortunately things are changing.
There are some law restrictions that are not really helpful for clubs’ set times. During the week in wintertime there are no events, things change during summertime but there are some issues like the lack of after parties...Are you still based there? How do you find it compares to other European countries for house and techno?
Yes. Compared to other countries Italy is doing good, but things can always improve. There are some law restrictions that are not really helpful for clubs’ set times. During the week in wintertime there are no events, things change during summertime but there are some issues like the lack of after parties and, in our opinion, there should be more variety from Tech House. Tech House is really big in Italy compared to pure techno or house, but crowds are starting to enjoy more variety on the dance floor.
Do you still get to go record shopping? Or are you strictly digital guys these days?
Yeah sure! We like buying vinyls. We’ve been DJing with laptop for a while but now we are most likely to play vinyls. Traktor is cool, you are able to mix stuff you wouldn’t be able to mix normally but it’s quite disturbing and depersonalizing when you do it for long periods. Playing with vinyls is just different, it sounds different. And we love it.
So do you DJ back-to-back too? How would you describe one another’s DJ styles?
We like playing alone as well as together. Paolo is more about clean transitions and moody tracks while Filippo is into more old school and warehouse stuff, but we influence each other in a good way so when we are playing together our styles match. But in the end we enjoy good music, so we don't really care what kind of genres we play.
We simply do what we feel like doing without being stuck to one genre. Our major inspiration comes from past artists, we are not affected by what other DJs play or by any trend...And same question for your music – what do you think sets it apart from everything else out there?
We simply do what we feel like doing without being stuck to one genre. Our major inspiration comes from past artists, we are not affected by what other DJs play or by any trend.
So you’ve just also released your first record for Bade – how did that come about?
We’ve been keeping an eye on Bade Records since they started because we’re producing a more melodic kind of music. So when we felt we were ready to send them some materials, it happened.
And why did you feel it was a good place for your music?
Because it’s an emerging label, they’ve been releasing quality music and guys are really into what they are doing! Instead of aiming for a more established one we decided to collaborate with them because they gave us a good chance to show our skills and trust in our potential. Also because it is these kinds of connections that help bring new fresh, new music onto the scene.
And what’s the idea behind the EP? It’s quite techno focused right?
Yes, we wanted to something raw but at the same time with melodic elements. We’ve been working on different genre tracks for a while and we realized producing techno was something we were comfortable with and we were enjoying it.
So who or what influenced this EP especially? Is there a story behind how it got signed, the equipment you used etc.?
We got influenced by what surrounds us, in particular spending lots of time in Bologna rather than Rimini, our hometown. Rimini is a beach city, less serious and with a colorful atmosphere. Bologna has a vintage and dusty atmosphere, and you can really smell the underground there. Even if we don’t have any expensive analog gear, we tried to have a different approach, live-recording the synths in both tracks and adding also a live-recorded hi-hats groove pattern.
And did both tracks come together quite easily then? Or were you working on them for a long time?
Basically they started as jam sessions; we like to jam, since we have musical backgrounds it came quite naturally. In the past we were used to making complex arrangements, this time we opted for a different solution like playing with the arpeggiators, and modifying synths parameters on the go, so it didn’t take much time.
Do you feel like more accomplished producer since you put it together?
We feel we have found a good balance working together because it’s helpful to interact with someone on the same page during the creative process.
And what else should we be looking out from you guys in the near future?
We have a lot of finished tracks on our hard drives, some of them need a proper mix or other tracks just need that final touch. We are working hard in order to get new releases and new gigs. But we can’t say more yet, we enjoy surprises…
Babylon Crooks - Perpetuum EP out on Bade Records 11/05/2015