Jackie is a DJ/producer from Bologna, Italy with a sound that’s firmly rooted towards the deeper, classier side of house music. His debut EP for the Berlin-based label Dreamers Recordings is a fine indication of his talents, with three refined cuts displaying the work of a producer with a knack for crafting seriously special pieces of music. With said EP about to drop any day now, we caught up with the main man himself, as he talked us through his musical upbringing, his future plans and much more besides…
Interview by Stephen Flynn
We noticed you grew up in Bologna – what was that like for house and techno music?
Yes, I come from Bologna and live here too. Bologna is an inspirational place and where many generations are influenced by avant-garde artists. It’s not a big city, but you can feel its European influence, especially due to the university.
Over the last 30 years, techno has really developed here. Naturally, Detroit has been a big influence on the crowds and DJs. In Bologna, there was a “Street Rave Parade”, a tour of the city driven by music. But there was also the Livello 57 and Link; places where the rave spirit of techno music was really supported.
Disco, funk and house have a long tradition in Bologna and the Riviera, places connected by music and clubs. Italy’s first selectors and DJs are all from here, people like Daniele Baldelli, Mozart, Marco Trani, Flavio Vecchi and Ricky Montanari; pioneers that really changed the vision of the DJ and the role of the nightlife in Italy. I’m lucky to say that today I often talk about music with some of these guys.The 320 kb’s crew are working on some new projects with Flavio, Ricky and also with Enrico Mantini, another great DJ and producer from Italy.
I’m always been surrounded and inspired by good music: Bologna is super cool like that.
What’s the scene like in the city now? Are there many Bologna-based DJs and producers we should be looking out for?
It’s no longer the golden age, but a lot of crews are still working on underground culture, meaning there are plenty of parties and festivals supporting house and techno music, and always with an independent and unique feeling. There are lots of guys building independent labels and collaborating together, guys like Kb music, Red Rooster, Pista Rec. Smile and stay High from the Homequest crew, Dancin Like Quagmire, Sorry for This, Bassa Clan, Pushmaster Disc and Ex.Society, all of whom are born and based in Bologna. There are many things on the way.
So you met Tommy Vicari Jr a while ago we believe – how did that meeting come about and what was the biggest lesson you took away from meeting him?
As mentioned, I’m part of the 320kbmusic with Dj Cream and Nudge (Dumbo Beat and Dj Pista), and the first artist that we decided to press music from was Tommy. That was the beginning of a good relationship and after the third release we decided to meet Tommy personally and invited him to Bologna for a period.
During that time he shared music with us, and we had the chance to see how he worked. That was pretty inspirational for me and the guys and we released a track that we created together during that journey under the alias “Hills Connection”. The most important lesson that he gave me was that there’s no limit to creativity when you’re doing music.
When did you first begin experimenting with electronic sounds? Who were your influences in those early days?
My relationship with electronic music started as a clubber at the likes of the Echoes parties. I understood then how important the music was in terms of creating moods. House is a feeling etc.! After some time I learned to DJ and promoters some parties too. I then bought a drum machine, the Korg Electribe sx, the beginning of a great journey into sound. I have quite a lot of different influences from that period because it was a transition period; I’m talking about 2005-2006, where a lot of new styles came out. All of a sudden the scene wasn’t just represented by house or techno, but also progressive, minimal, electro etc. All these sounds sort of “contaminated” the market and created new kind of productions with futuristic vision born, also, because of the digital revolution.
So how would you best describe your own sound? Does it change all the time?
I woukld describe my sound as a deep house sound, with some classic influences from hip-hop, funky and house. I usually experiment with new kinds of sounds – synths or drums – during my jam sessions, but all the tracks need to have something recognisable to them, something that is very important for me.
So how do you approach a studio session? Do you generally know what sort of music you’re going to make every day or does it usually all come about by jamming?
Nowadays I feel very comfortable during the studio session. I have my mental schedule, but the creative process is not the same every time. There are some projects that started with samples of a pad or of beat and others where I like to play some chords with synths and then create patterns with drum machines. In both of cases I use the computer to mix and process everything. I usually make music everyday but what I do depends on what I’m feeling and who’s with me that day. I have different music projects open right now: one with Monogram, a guy from the Dancin Like Quagmire team, where we work together under the alias, “The Hush”. Over the last few years we’ve released tracks on Armadillo, a bandcamp by Tommy Vicari jnr, and we will also release a track on a V.A. for Claque Musique in May. I also like to make hip-hop sounds, so every day is honestly different in the studio.
Do you generally make your music on hardware or digitally? Does it matter so much any more do you think?
Basically, all the patterns of my tracks come from analog machines, but to mix and separate everything I usually use the computer, so the sounds became more digital. The most important thing for me is the result. Tracks need to give something and it doesn’t matter if they are made only using hardware.
The press release for your latest release mentioned the likes of Larry Heard. Is he a big influence?
I think he influenced the entire house music world with his style and personality. Larry Heard is a legend.
Aside from electronic music, what else do you listen to for inspiration?
Well I come from a family where music has always been important. My father was a great collector, and he shares with me lots of records that he bought during the 70s and 80s, with lots of funk, soul, disco and Italo disco music.
I do find lots of inspiration listening to (and sampling!) that collection.
How have your influences changed since you’ve got older? Have they become more mature?
Yes, of course. I think that if you’re doing music, your own sound and your own tastes grow up and change at the same time. Something that I loved in the past could not be for my ears today, and vice versa. I think that to be musically mature means you have to understand different kinds of music and genres, and feel the best moments to share them.
If we had 24 hours to party in Bologna, what would you recommend?
If you had 24 hours in Bologna, first you gotta do some record digging at l’Archivio – dj Rou and Enrico Bonvicini (both from the Homequest crew) who are working everyday, with passion, to find quality records for all the music lovers. Then I recommend you check out the Ex Forno mambo, a special place with special drinks and nice music – and sometimes also with guest DJs. Finally, the WHP party: good DJs, a cool soundsystem and smiling people spreading good vibes.
What’s next up for Jackie?
At the moment there is a new upcoming EP on Dreamers Recordings called “Underwater”, and I’d like to take the opportunity here to say thanks to the label team, especially Alessia for her confidence and passion. I’m also working with other guys from the Homequest crew and the Bassa Clan duo (Dino Angioletti and Fabrizio Maurizi) for the Bolorepresent project. Something with them will come out very soon.
Jackie’s Underwater EP is out soon on Dreamers Recordings