Just a few years ago Joseph Capriati was just another kid on a Naples dancefloor. After discovering that his hometown had a secret techno underbelly, he threw himself into DJing, and later music production, hoping to emulate the careers of some of Naples' homegrown techno heroes.
In the mid-1990's it was DJs like Marco Carola and Gaetano Parisio who put Naples, and Italy, on the techno map. They were the producers, promoters, and DJs who helped forge a Neapolitan sound, and build an influential movement which they exported like pizza to the rest of the world.
Now it is Joseph Capriati who is the toast of Naples' techno scene. With a steady stream of cutting-edge releases on some of techno's most respected labels, including Rino Cerrone's Rilis, Chris Liebing's CLR, Markantonio's Analytictrail, Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva's Plus 8, and Adam Beyer's Drumcode, Capriati's music has spread far and wide. There are few producers who can boast such a pedigreed discography for such a young age (he is still only 23).
Capriati's debut album 'Save My Soul', which was released in June 2010 on Analytictrail, also showed that his writing abilities lay well beyond techno with blissful downtempo, wacky electronica, melodic breaks, and even drum & bass making an appearance on the longplayer.
With Joseph Capriati's 'The Gallery' EP dropping yesterday (it is his first Drumcode EP of 2011), we sat down with the lively Joseph Capriati to find out more about his sound, Neapolitan techno, and his relationship with Adam Beyer's label.
You've achieved a lot for a 23-year-old.
Thanks, I'm glad you think that.
What are your main aims as an artist?
To be part of one of the best techno labels in the world, Drumcode, to have released music on some of the other leading techno labels, and to play at amazing festivals and clubs around the world alongside some of my favourite DJs.
The first important goal is that I do what I like to do, with music that I love.
Which labels in particular do you hope to work with?
Well, CLR to name one, and AnalyticTrail. Of course, Drumcode always comes first though.
Why do you love Drumcode so much?
Because ever since I discovered Drumcode in 2003 I have seen that it follows a proper way of music, and it has created its own techno genre. I call it "Drumcode techno". When you hear a Drumcode track you can recognise that it was released on Drumcode - it has happened to me before!
Also more importantly, Adam [Beyer] runs Drumcode without compromises and without caring about trends, or what music is selling the most at that particular moment in time. Drumcode is exactly like me. It's what I really think of myself.
What do you mean?
I don't ever compromise. I only work on what I like.
So you would never change your sound a little bit for a big festival gig if they offered you a lot of money?
You have an underground spirit then. Is this the Neapolitan spirit of techno?
Yes totally. This is the real Napoli techno spirit. My techno may not sound as underground today as it used to be, but I am still so underground. I work hard in the studio without caring about the fashions of the club world.
What's Naples' techno scene like?
Napoli is the capital city of techno in Italy, I think. Since the early 90's artists like Marco Carola, Rino Cerrone and Gaetano Parisio have explored the Neapolitan techno sound and exported it around the world.
If you think that about 70% of the most respected Italian techno artists came from Napoli, you can imagine what the situation is like here.
I am very lucky to be part of it now, and to have had a music schooling like this. I have to say thanks to the big influences that I got here in my city - going to dance in the past at the amazing parties that we have here at places like the Old River Park where all the best techno artists play.
We have a big connection with cities like Stockolm as well, with artists like Adam Beyer, Cari Lekebusch and Joel Mull who have created over the years something similar us.
Why do you think Stockholm and Naples have this connection?
I think that Napoli's and Stockholm's spirits are pretty much the same. There is and there was in the past a lot of collaborations between Stockholm artists and Neapolitan artists, especially with Drumcode.
In the past Marco Carola and Gaetano Parisio were the first producers from Napoli to collaborate with Drumcode and Adam Beyer. Now I am lucky to continue what they did before, and honestly I'm very satisfied with it as Drumcode is the right label for me, and they produce the kind of parties I like to play at.
Do you have a DJ residency in Naples?
The only residency I had was from 2001 to 2006 at a club called Sub Way, which later changed to Disco Seven. There I made my first steps as DJ, playing birthday parties, thousands of warm up sets, and hearing and playing for the first time with international DJs.
How often do you play in Naples?
I play in Naples just two times a year now. In winter at Golden Gate club and in the summer at Old River. I recently played back to back with Adam for seven hours at Golden Gate.
Why don't you play more in Naples?
I prefer to play less just to create some anticipation with the people that support me here. And I want to build up the suspense for myself as well. When I play in Naples it is always something special. The crowd is one of the best on the planet and I see much love in the air at every party I make here.
They are also big fans of Neapolitan artists, and they support them around the world. Everytime I play at big festivals or important clubs outside of Italy, there are always Neapolitans attending it. That's something very special about the Neapolitan clubbers.
How would you describe the Neapolitan techno sound?
The soul of our city is the funkiness! I think we have created over the years, a special mix of old Detroit and German techno, which we've fused together with our Latin and "Partenopean" classic sounds. We have it in our souls, so what we did came very naturally I think.
When you say funkiness - what do you mean exactly?
The funk can be heard and felt in the grooves and basses that we use in our tracks. There is a funky influence in what we do. In musical terms, you'd call it swing.
When you write techno, do you always try to include swing?
I use less of it now than before but I always use it. I don't have swing in all of the sounds that I use, but I always have a minimum amount of it in my tracks. I think swing is the special ingredient that makes a techno track not sound too boring.
Does your new Drumcode track 'The Gallery' have much swing in it? It's quite dark and menacing.
For sure the track is dark, but it doesn't have to sound funky to be funky. Funky is really about the effect that it has on you when you dance to it. I'm a pretty dark producer in general!
Most of the tracks that I make now are dark and big room, but I also like to make sounds that are something more like tech house, or even electronica sometimes.
On my debut album 'Save My Soul', which came out last year, I tried to realise some different tracks with unusual sounds, that included all of the musical influences that I got since 1998 when I started to play records.
'Save My Soul' was certainly different. It had drum & bass, breaks, downtempo and electronica.
Yes I wanted to do something different to my EPs. I think when you do an album, it has to be suitable for the album format.
Of course, big club EPs is what you're known for. What were your thoughts behind 'The Gallery' track on your new Drumcode EP?
'The Gallery' is for sure an expression of what I have inside of me now. Also the title matches the mood of the track perfectly. It is a dark, big room cut with some mental and intense pads that take you on a big trip like you're in a long gallery without lights, and the only lights you can see is the exit sign right at the end of the room. When the track finishes you finally escape!
Is this the sound that you're captivated by at the moment?
This is a pure expression of where I am musically. It's different to the past, and of course, my sound will change in the future. I always try to modify my sound based on what I have inside of me at that moment. Right now I can say that when you hear 'The Gallery' you can hear my mood.
What about 'Psycology'? That is quite different to 'The Gallery'.
'Psycology' is the second track from the EP. it is not so different from 'The Gallery' in terms of genre, but I think there are less mental moods in it, and it is less hard as well. I think it's a good combination to have on the EP with the other track.
What are your future plans with Drumcode?
After 'The Gallery' I will release a collaborative EP with Cari Lekebusch. We made it in my studio over two days when he played at the Old River last April.
Then I will make a track for the 15 years of Drumcode anniversary compilation which will come out this year. And we will have a special Drumcode tour in seven countries and possibly more after the summer. I plan to do another EP after the summer as well, and in 2012 I will release my second album, this time on Drumcode - I will start to write it next September. I've also done a remix of one of Adam Beyer's hit tracks and maybe he will release it. Right now though, I can't say anything more about it!
(Words: Terry Church)