Shield, a massive welcome to DMCWORLD and a huge congratulations on chalking up Rebirth’s tenth anniversary. Had you any idea when you started this musical journey you would have got this far… What was your first job in the music industry? was the long term always the plan?
I launched Rebirth Records 10 years ago in 2006, but it was in 1998 when I got closer to the electronic music world thanks to the extraordinary Fabio Bacci. I learnt some important industry aspects and started to work in a recording studio producing remixes for the historical American label Easy Street. In 2001 I started working as a promoter and A&R at Oxyd and Time Records here in Brescia, I was scouting and looking for new artists, creating contacts and strategies. What was originally a passion finally turned into a proper job! It was a period full of satisfactions and I gained a good credibility in the industry. The label was on everyone’s lips thanks to its distinctive style, the records were played everywhere from the underground to the commercial success over in the UK reaching the Top 5 of the single sales chart. The success however was moving me away from what I was originally looking for – and inside of me was emerging the need to create something totally mine, to follow my inspirations without any compromise. It was 2006 when I decided to create Rebirth and it was a shining moment for me…and yes…the long term was the plan since the start.
Tell us about that first release, it was a tune that had been in your bag for years…
Before starting Rebirth I had already an idea of the potential first release. I had been thinking about a song that was in my record box for a while, ‘Finest Dream’ by And If, a fantastic instrumental cut with an emotional and totally original strings theme. It was like a soundtrack for me. So I decided to contact the original label and send my proposal. My idea was to re-release the song as Rebirth’s first release, with a new a remix from Silicone Soul and a vocal version from one of the House Music icons: Alison Limerick. And that’s what I did, and the result was a winner.
What was the philosophy of the label, has it changed over this decade of dance?
The philosophy behind Rebirth finds its roots from the past, building a link between the soul of a song and the warmth of a melody, combining them with a contemporary sound. I am always looking for something timeless, something that I can imagine to still listening to in 20 or 40 years time. Much time has passed from that first release and much has changed, what remains intact though is the passion, the spirit of research, the desire to feel excited hearing a piece of music: these have always been the strongest motivations to keep going on.
Let’s rewind a step further for a moment. What is your earliest musical memory growing up, have you come from a musical family? Can you remember the first time you encountered house music?
I do not come from a musical family although my grandfather played the violin! Since middle school I demonstrated a predisposition for music, taking piano lessons for a few years, I started listening to the radio especially the mainstream dance music programmes and one day I discovered an alternative genre called ‘underground music’…slowly I started to listen to David Morales, Frankie Knuckles, Masters At Work – artists who have excited me and brought me into this huge passion.
Who were some of the important figures that gave you a helping hand in the early days?
I have often felt all alone in this adventure, but I have to thank Ricky Romanini and Luca Moretti, partners in the label for the first 3 years who have helped me to asset the company and gave me the right instruments to work. I have also met some great people who been close to me in this incredible journey all these years. Roberto ‘Robytek’ Remondina, producer and sound engineer, he has followed me in this adventure since the beginning. Together we faced difficult times and we have produced music that we are very proud of. Cristiano Massera, a great musician and composer and my partner in NUfrequency since 2001. His sudden death in 2014 has left a sense of emptiness in me. He taught me to look out for the colours and the taste in music, things that make it unique and able to give real emotions. Corrado Bucci, DJ and producer, his ability to create completely original melodies is sensational, combined with his predisposition to listen and the desire to learn with great humility. Francesca Robbio, a smart and tenacious person, with great determination and desire to do. Luca Sanchezlife, artwork and web designer, he has been doing an excellent work for the image of our label. Nico De Ceglia and Claudio De Tullio who have made music their essence of life and always supported the label. Recently Matteo Dincao is helping me to listen to all the demos and Cristian Addabbo is taking care of our Podcast series on Soundcloud.
Did you ever think of Rebirth as a risk?
When you create something on your own there is always a risk, but inside I felt I was doing the right thing. And this feeling overcame the fear.
Rebirth has released music from some legendary artists such as Joey Negro, Michel Cleis, Blond:ish, Agoria and Butch plus some wonderful collaborations with the likes of Tracey Thorn and Shara Nelson. What tracks have given you the most pleasure?
A few tracks surely fixed important moments in the story or Rebirth and are present in the compilation: ‘Finest Dream’ by And If, NUfrequency ‘Go That Deep’ (Feat. Shara Nelson) and ‘Fallen Hero’ (Feat. Ben Onono), Tevo Howard ‘Without Me’ (Feat. Tracey Thorn), Freaks ‘Right Now’ and ‘Conscious’, Chromatic Filters ‘Slow Emotions’, Bocca Grande ‘Procedere’ and Butch & C.Vogt ‘The Infamous’. And also ‘Marvinello’ by Michel Cleis & Klement Bonelli last year, not featured in the compilation, but it has given me a great satisfaction. It was the result of the work of more than a year and of the perseverance in believing in what I do.
What are the biggest changes running a label in 2016 compared to 2006?
Today is definitely easier and less risky to start a label compared to 10 or 15 years ago when you needed big investment. A lot has changed to run it: from the production to the sales side, from the promotion strategies to the use of different music medias. Although we have to get with the times, what is much more difficult is to create a long path, your own identity and make it grow over the time. The market is full of examples. Many producers and labels seem to touch the sky,achieving a great fame in a few months, but then vanishing into air really quite quickly…
Do you think house music is in a healthy state at the moment?
I feel there is a stalemate in house music today. We miss real songs and valid songwriters and everything sounds quite boring. What we listen to is just a good use of samples from the past, but too often nothing that really stands out. I hear more research in the pop or indie dance music actually. In such a saturated market there is also a lot of quality music, some great producers and musicians. But the current system helps those to emerge only who have a big fanzine or who belongs to a certain circle of management. I feel the award on the merits is further and further away, but this is another matter completely.
And also – how is the Italian music scene doing these days, it has been a real rollercoaster over time?
Italy was the center of music in the 90’s, the scene was booming and a lot of original and interesting productions came out . For a long time now though we haven’t had an Italian style. In the commercial scene people are having success, but it is miles away from our musical vision. Actually a few talented producers and quality labels are growing in Italy, but it is quite difficult to join forces. There is a great interest and rediscovery of the cosmic sound, names like Daniele Baldelli, Beppe Loda and Alexander Robotnick are back in big demand.
The 10th Anniversary is being celebrated with a monumental compilation double album mixed and selected by the legend Larry Heard aka Mr Fingers. Talk us through his mixes…
I wanted to create something timeless. ‘Rebirth 10’ is a very special compilation, spread over 2 CDs, selected and mixed by the legendary Larry HeardAkaMr. Fingers. It includes some of the key releases of the label in this first 10 years plus a few unreleased tracks. We have taken several months to work on this project, I could have done the mix but I felt Larry was the right person. He remixed three songs for the label and he is among the producers who have written the history of a musical genre and one of the names who most have influenced our music. His mix embodies the soul and the different facets of the label. Not to forget the images has been designed for the occasion by Emil Schult from Kraftwerk. I’m really pleased they both agreed to work on this project’.
A tip for the summer anthem 2016…
’Pentimento’ by Yotam Avni, remixed by Joe Claussell and out now on Rebirth. It is already one of the biggest underground tracks in Ibiza.
Who are some of the new/unknown talents you have been especially proud to bring to the big audience over the years?
We released music of talents like T-Polar, Chromatic Filters, Corrado Bucci, Bocca Grande, Menik, Jesse Futerman, Daze Deten, Easy To Remember and next will be ILO, Tears Of Change, CRS + BRG. I feel these guys have something to tell to the electronic music scene.
You have a blank cheque and can sign any artist to Rebirth. Who?
Equally – Moodymann or Moderat.
What other labels over the years have you given high fives to?
There are many small labels offering good music, and a lot of great young producers. Although is hard to hear a continuity, good things are usually followed by average productions. I currently like the productions of Sotofett, Leon Vynehall and Dj Koze, and labels such as Blip Discs and Running Back. And I have heard really interesting music from artists like Jordan Rakei and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.
And finally, what can you tell us about the future of Rebirth, the next 10 years…?
We are releasing this month on our 100th release, an EP produced by me and Robytek in collaboration with two music pioneers of the early 80’s such as Antena and Liquid Liquid’s Sal P & Dennis Young. In October we will also release a double vinyl that includes brand new remixes of some of our favourite classics of the label, by names like Ron Trent, Red Axes, Borrowed Identity, Palms Trax, Fouk and Ewan Jansen.
Rebirth in 1o years? I see it true to his musical philosophy. We will continue to do what we like, channeling the energies and investments for the producers who are part of our family and that have proven to really care about this label. We will try to reach a wider audience and all the people who potentially can appreciate us.
‘Rebirth 10’ compiled and mixed by Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers is going to be released on 25th July 2016 on Rebirth Records