Italian producer and DJ Black Legend is the creator of the UK’s singles chart No.1, ‘You See The Trouble With Me’. He’s been awarded multi gold and platinum discs since he started his career in the late 80s, building an impressive discography and signing productions and remixes to top labels. Some of his popular releases include ‘Mr DJ’ (Defected) and ‘Open Your Eyes’ as Love Legend with Alex Gaudino (Positiva), to name a few. As his new collaboration with Powerdress and Ridney, ‘Over You’, drops on Fool’s Paradise, DMCWorld finally caught up with Black Legend.
Hey Ciro! Thanks very much for taking the time to sit down with us here at DMC World. How’s 2023 been for you so far?
Thank you guys for the invite, it’s always a big pleasure. 2023 finally felt like truly going back to the normal life after the pandemic, having clubs and events running on a full schedule and so my gigs schedule finally was as well. I mean, even if 2022 was the year of the real recovery, I’ve had the feeling people still suffered a bit of fear and needed a little longer to feel safe and go out and party as usual.
Please can you introduce yourself to our DMCWorld readers.
My real name is Ciro, a southern Italian guy, a bit overweight, bold but funny and of good company, hehe! Seriously speaking, my real name is Ciro indeed, I was born in Naples and now living in Rome. My age? Old enough to say I was already DJing in big clubs in 1988, and guess what, I was helping with the DMC championship events in Italy through Disco Inn records shop in Modena and Claudio Coccoluto’s crew. I was one of those mad geek kind of kids, in love with electronics DIY, music and raving, then I grew up, but it didn’t change much.
How is the Italian dance music scene at the moment, who is hot?
I would say the dance music and club scene in Italy is split into two halves, a very commercial sounding one and an underground one. And somewhere in the middle is quality house music, which is often relegated to smaller events where music is intended as a background for drinks and food. That said, I have serious problems telling who’s hot in Italy at the moment, certainly we have some great dance-music producers here, but for some reasons, when it gets to DJing, in respect of our traditional xenophilia, only what comes from abroad is hot. The era of the Italian top DJs is now gone for good. I personally find myself working mostly abroad and not bothering much with Italy anymore.
What is the best piece of new music you have heard recently?
‘Compute’, the new record from Camelphat and Ali Love. While it’s not exactly an example of my go to DJ kind of sound, it got me on an emotional level, I mean, apart the quality of the production and sound engineering, it took me back to where everything started for me. It brought back so many memories of the first cassettes friends used to bring back from Ibiza and the first rave I went to.
How would you describe your signature sound?
I always feel a bit uncomfortable when asked about this, not because of the question itself rather because I never really felt like categorizing what I like playing. If I really have to give an answer this can be chunky, “funky groove house, occasionally with good vocals and magical atmospheres, sometimes with hard beats, others with lots of percussion, rarely with no beat at all”, having to recap, I play what I like and I feel fits the moment and the mood.
What’s been your most successful release so far?
Well this one is easy, “You See The Trouble With Me” which went #1 in the UK official singles chart in June 2000. It’s actually the song that generated the Black Legend moniker, it was indeed chosen as a tribute to Barry White, the original artist of the song I covered in mine.
Black Legend - You See The Trouble With Me [Official Video]
Congratulations on your new collaboration with Powerdress and Ridney on ‘Over You’ on Fool’s Paradise. How did the collaboration come about and are you pleased with how it sounds?
Thank you! It happened about a year ago in Bognor (UK), me and Ridney where there to play at the We Love Ibiza weekender party, in the afternoon we meet in his hotel room together with the Mambo Ibiza crew for a chat and to exchange feedbacks on music ideas and upcoming releases, a kind of improvised A&R meeting. Ridney liked a lot an instrumental demo I’ve had on my laptop so I offered him to collaborate. It took a few months to get to action, until IMS in Ibiza last April actually, there Ridney introduced me to Penny (aka Powerdress) and we finally made arrangements for writing a topline. How does it sound?… Amazing!
Black Legend, PowerDress, Ridney - Over You [House]
The release also features a remix from Richard Earnshaw, what did he bring to the table?
Our original version, as you can hear on the release, stands a bit more on the club side, Richard gave that touch of class that the record needed, I’m absolutely in love with what he did, he definitely helped to step up the game.
Black Legend, PowerDress, Ridney - Over You (Richard Earnshaw Revision) [House]
Who or what inspires your music?
It can be anything really, sometimes even a mistake or a causality working on a piece of music that had nothing to do with what I was doing came up after. Other times it can be a chord or a sound in an old song on the radio while driving. But honestly, I rarely sit down in front of the computer with an empty session, I always try getting there with at least a silly idea to work on let the creative flow do the rest. One thing for sure doesn’t inspire me, is a bad mood.
What has been your favourite DJ gig so far this year and where are you most looking forward to playing?
My favorite gig ever, even if possibly not the best, was my first time in the main room at Pacha in Ibiza. I’ve said possibly not the best as I was terrorized to finally be there, with my records bag and my headphones, a step away from the most famous DJ booth of the world at that time, so tense that after 8 gin tonics my hands were still shaking. As a young DJ I’ve had two dreams, one was to get to play at Pacha, Ibiza one day and the other was to play in Tokyo which then happened several times. New goals now? Looking forward to play in Australia and South America when possible.
ADE is this week, why is it so important and which aspects do you most look forward to?
Well, call me old school, but chats, videocalls and emails can’t beat meeting real people in real life, ADE is there for that. Somebody once said to me “I come to ADE to stick pictures onto emails”, it’s amazing like in a couple days you can meet as much people as you’ve been emailing with in a year. To me it’s not about a meetings schedule or gigs show offs, its’ all about connecting and reconnecting, coming up with crazy ideas that may then become real projects, learning from other’s experiences, being useful to other. Again, too much to fit into an email thread or a Whatsapp chat.
You’ve been making music for a long time, how has the industry changed since you first started out and what now needs to change for the better?
Oh, serious talking here. It changed a lot! In my humble opinion the problem now is the time, time used to make hits that made memories that lasted for a lifetime. A good record to become a classic needs time, the necessary exposure time that will let it become part of people’s life. No wonder why we don’t have many records we can call a classic from 2006 on. One more aspect of the digital revolution was the end of the manufacturing costs, this looked like a big advantage in the beginning, but it eventually opened the door to whoever couldn’t get a record deal (for obvious reasons) and decided to go independent or even started his own label, all without the minimum quality filter. What have to change for the good then? Quality vs quantity, we need to reverse the trend, we strongly need an A&R kind of work at the distribution level. I’m sure now I will have some new haters for saying this.
We come to raid your record collection, which embarrassing record do you chuck out the window before we arrive?
Surely, I will run grabbing my 7” collection to hide some embarrassing Italian pop hits I bought when I was about 14 years old. For the rest, even if I recon there is some pretty cheesy stuff in my collection, I’m still proud of having been playing it out back in the day, I can firmly say that it helped growing my DJ skills and I’m not only talking about the technical aspect of it.
What record makes you say ‘damn, I wish I made that’?
It happens each and every time I play a record and I see people going bonkers, it’s not about being envious, the feeling is more about the recognition of a good job. But if I really have to name a few from the last 20 years, I’d say Dennis Ferrer ‘Hey Hey’, Kings of Tomorrow ‘Finally’ and last but not least ‘Cola’ by Camelphat.
Dennis Ferrer - Hey Hey (Official Music Video)
Finally, what new productions are you working on that you can tell us about?
Undisclosable info here hahaha! I have a lot of stuff I’ve actually produced during the pandemic and decided to save it for better days. The instrumental version of “Over You”, which is now about to be released was one of them. I’m sure once back from ADE I will have some big news to tell, for now I can only tell you about my new release after ‘Over You’ is a collaboration with Todd Terry called ‘Move Every Muscle’ coming out on InHouse Records on October 27th.
Black Legend, Powerdress & Ridney ‘Over You’ (Incl. Richard Earnshaw Revision) is out now on Fool’s Paradise.