Marco Passarani: “I'm quite sure we are very close to another revolution where djing and performing live is just one thing”
I have heard numerous inspiring stories about Red Bull Music Academy from both its students and lecturers; However, no one knows more about the project than its insiders! The Italian Marco Passarani has been the academy team member for a decade now. Add his lengthy DJ career, work in labels and many great releases and he becomes a dream interviewee.
Many questions, however, were left for the Red Bull Music Academy session in Vilnius this Friday. Sander Mölder, its former student, will also take part but we’ll talk about everything including the next RBMA adventure in Tokyo when we meet in the Planetarium. Calling Rome now!
Do you remember your initial thoughts about Red Bull Music Academy when you were first asked to participate?
Well, to be honest I was extremely sceptical when Torsten Schmidt and Wulf Gaebele approached me. The idea sounded very interesting, but it was almost too interesting to be true. And also, coming from a very underground environment I was very sceptical about the involvement of such a big brand like Red Bull. But let me say that these thoughts didn't last for too long. I was involved in the second term, but being the Academy held in Rome, my city, I had the chance to witness the opening day... And I was blown away.
I immediately looked for Torsten to apologize about the initial scepticism. From that day on RBMA became one of the most amazing things that happened in my life.
After being with the academy for quite some time, how would you say it has changed – or evolved – since you joined?
I've been lucky enough to witness an incredible transition. When I was there in 2004, the thing was still a lot DJ-oriented. Even though Rome was the first year (I think) when the production side of things became more and more relevant.
Now RBMA reflects this new world where boundaries between djing and producing are less and less evident. This clearly brought way more musicians to apply for the Academy, making this 2 weeks (actually 4) a utopian productivity amusement park like nothing else in this world.
One thing didn't change at all, the passion behind it.
What are your roles in the RBMA team?
I'm one of the so-called technical tutors. A link between the participants and the studios. We are there to help, share, and have fun with all of those who want to get their hands dirty on the gears. And I'm also specialized in pushing the crew to the late hours of the night.
Creativity is very much about discovering and being inspired; Do you think it is something that can be actually learned? Can one learn how to make music from books or lectures?
It all depends on the value you give to the word learning. I strongly believe that you always learn in life. Surely you learn from books, but you also learn from life ... From stories told, from hands on experiences etc. Whatever system makes you learn and discover something is good. What you need is passion and dedication ... all the rest can only improve your talents.
What is more important in the long term – talent or work?
I think you need both of them. A talent without work could lead to a missed chance, while a lot of work without talent could lead to not a useful effort. What you really need is a good sense of self-criticism so that you can understand your limits and work around that, improving them or to help you keeping your feet on the ground.
How is it different to be a DJ today and when you first started, which was more than 20 years ago, right?
Yes, I started more than 20 years ago; I was very young when I started mixing. Some sort of romanticism is kind of gone, back then we felt like explorers! Everything was super new and there was no access to any kind of information. Especially in regards of production when we started plugging in the Commodore Amiga outputs to the mixer. This was my specific case.
I have always loved the techno concept of evolution in music performances and production, so I didn't have much problems switching platform when the digital revolution happened. But right now, after playing live for almost 3 years, I kind of feel limited by the digital formats in djing. Also the romantic vinyl djing which is back big time since few years would feel like a limitation to me. I'm quite sure we are very close to another revolution where djing and performing live is just one thing. And then all the formats can play a key role at the same time and make the performance very romantic again. I'm so glad I did get into playing live 3 years ago, as this is giving me a lot of ideas for the future.
As everything goes in cycles, does it mean you have seen much of the things that are happening today and may seem fresh for the younger generation? Does the knowledge and experience give you more power?
It's true in a way, but not completely. Clearly there are cycles, but what we have to understand is the perception of things. It's a bit difficult to write this down, but I'm trying to say that every cycle has a complete new flavour, which has to be understood in order to establish a communication with the younger generation. Trying to be open to the new languages helps your mind to be fresh and open as well. In a few words, getting stuck in the past could help during the repetition of one of those cycles, but where would this lead? The challenge is to translate your knowledge into a contemporary message, adapting it and evolving it naturally according to the new times.
I know my answer is a bit confusing, but we can definitely explore this at the info session with those who will be there.
What is the most beautiful for you personally in the Roman and Italian electronic music scene (I’ve read you call the Italian music shit…)?
Well I don't really call the Italian music shit, but I do say that we have been famous for a long time for really cheesy production in dance music, which didn't make my life easy. Italian music has amazing producers in every field, but most of them didn't get the right attention and celebration they would have deserved.
Talking about Roman scene, I think what could have been improved (sorry I gave up fighting for it) is the club side of it. There's a lack of culture about the quality of the sound and other relevant details that doesn't really help the movement to take a step further.
What is the situation now in your label family? As far as I understand some restructuring is going on? Has Pigna stopped?
I stopped the labels a few years ago. I was either too tired of fighting, or I wasn't simply ready to a necessary transition to make my labels worth being still out there. Self-criticism, maybe even too much, but that's how things have gone.
And then at the end of 2009 I started this project with one of my partners which finally brought me again into full time music production, which, at the end of the day, was one of the main purposes of my label... Initially. The name of the project is... Sorry, the identity is still not revealed officially! Ahahaha.
After hiatus in your own album discography, can we expect a new long play from Marco Passarani? Or just singles in the near future?
I will definitely go back into the Passarani world at some point, but right now the other project is taking all my time. And talking about album, we're just in the process of finalizing the new album for it. The second one.
Do you think musicians still need labels?
Absolutely yes. I do believe in the work of those guys who create a link between producers and real world. But on the other hand, there are so many chances to move on your own which make me sound like a super old school guy when I talk about labels. Again, there's no truth. Both systems could payback.
How popular is your music in Italy, outside of Rome? Are you a prophet in your own country?
Not that popular, but it's popular among the electronic communities. A prophet in my country? Don’t know really. What I know is that, crazily enough, I have had so much more experiences outside my country than in my hometown!
How have you influenced the Roman nightlife?
I think that if I have, I've contributed more on the production side of things. Never been influential in my city when we talk about partying. My crew and me have done amazing things, but we always suffered a sort of lack of support. We never wanted to loose our studio time, so we never concentrated enough on the party organization. Clearly we have done 1 million things, but I never looked back that deeply to judge what we have done. I'm proud of every single thing, but I almost forgot them cause I had to move on and find new momentum. In 20 years we have definitively done too many things to remember! Ahah.
What has been your longest DJ set so far? Your rider says 2-5 hours… Is it usually towards the shorter or the longer period?
Hmm, not longer than 6 hours. The rider was a reaction to crazy full line-ups with shorter and shorter set, where the guy who plays harder somehow "wins". Music needs time to be appreciated, so the set should be long enough to help you take the people where you want to lead them.
Name three tracks that will definitely shake up any party in any part of the world.
Mark E – R&B Drunkie
Pitchben – Standup (Tiger & Woods Remix)
Armando – 151
D.D. 2004 - 2016
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