Joseph Capriati: “Representing Napoli and representing Italy. That’s my spirit”
Joseph Capriati is one of Italy’s biggest techno exports. After a storming season at Marco Carola’s Music On event in Ibiza this summer, he has just released his debut album, ‘Self Portrait’, which is the product of a year’s worth of experiences and subsequent compositions.
I made it Album Of The Month on my techno page in Mixmag last month, thanks to its excellent variety of musical styles and emotional depth. With such a great year behind him, Joseph made the perfect candidate for an interview…
Your album is out now, you must be excited at the prospect of finally releasing it?
Yes, it’s a very special moment for me. I’m very excited about it right now. I’ve been working on it for almost a year – I didn’t want to make something that sounds very similar all the way through. If you do something in one month then your inspirations and your ideas are almost the same, even the choice of sound doing something over the course of a year gives far more scope in terms of inspiration, moods, experiences and you can produce a broader range of sounds over that period of time. Also I didn’t have time to do that much work in a short space of time anyway. Being on the road a lot means studio time is limited and it was much better to stretch out this project over a year. I’m much happier with how it worked out.
I presume you were a DJ before getting in to production? How did you get into making your own music?
I got into it around 2006, I met someone in my city Caserta (close to Naples) – we had a mutual friend and he had a studio. I didn’t know anything about production, I went to that studio and fell in love with it straight away, although he didn’t teach me anything – I was just there trying to observe what he was doing. Then I picked up a computer, a small PC and two small hi-fi speakers because I didn’t have the money to buy expensive equipment!
How did you learn the basic elements of production?
I taught myself, I didn’t study anything and nobody helped me because I’m not the kind of guy who asks people to help him. I prefer to teach myself which took a lot more time of course because when you study or you have someone to teach you it’s much easier. I started using Reason which was a lot more simple and, after that, I progressed to Ableton. I also learned Cubase, but Reason was the first one and I did everything by myself.
I would love some day to study Sound Design because I don’t anything about frequencies, so I would love to understand more about this kind of thing because I do everything by ear. Maybe one day, you know…
Sure, it’s important but not the most important thing in the world because you’re already making music and it’s working. Studying would take you up another level though…
Yeah, a lot of people think they should study first and then, after paying a lot of money, that they’re ready to start producing right away. But I think it’s very wrong because you have to understand what you want to do first and you have to follow your ear… paying tonnes of money to a school doesn’t help you to do this, and it doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be a successful producer.
There’s a good variety of styles on the album, what would you pinpoint as your main source of inspiration, musically-speaking?
I studied the underground electronic music of acts like Boards Of Canada, I love this kind of electronica. That was my first inspiration, I was listening to a lot of their tracks in the years before I made the album and I think a lot of dancefloor underground sounds are inspired by this kind of music. I wanted to produce something along those lines, and my idea is to one day do a complete electronic album. I didn’t want to do something that was only techno-based because, for me, an album is a moment in time where you can express all the influences you’ve taken in over time, over a year, for me, for instance. And you can also push your limits with such a project.
Of course, all the tracks have some meaning to you, but are there are that have a special significance?
The title track ‘Self Portrait’ is an emotional production, as are all the other tracks because music has to come from the heart – but this one in particular was one where I really tried to experiment with my skills. ‘Fratello’ is another one that is significant, it’s very melodic and every sound is created by me, I didn’t use any libraries for that, which is something that makes it much more exciting to listen to. When I listen to it myself I get goosebumps, it’s like listening to my emotions on the dancefloor and the people can connect with them so it means a lot to me. I’m realy into the melodic stuff on my album, because melodies remain in the soul, that’s why I prefer them.
Can you tell me about your experiences at Music On this season because I heard they had some of the craziest crowds when you appeared there?
It was incredible because Marco started Music On last year, I had a few people in my room you know. It was almost full, which was a bit of a surprise for us because we didn’t really expect it [to be so busy in the first season]. This year we decided to have me as a headliner in the main room, I had eight gigs, and it was completely the best summer of my life actually because I got so much satisfaction from performing there.
When you see a crowd that you’ve been working with around the world supporting you in Ibiza because they maybe listened to you elsewhere, at home in whichever country they come from, but they wanted to come all the way to that island to see you, that means so much to me.
First of all, most importantly, the followers were mainly Italians and Spanish, they were the primary crowd but then, step by step, I started having English, German, American… all kinds of people, which is the best. There I play techno, in my own style and following the magic power of Ibiza because you have to feel the magic of the island. I reduce the BPMs a little and play pure techno, that’s the magical thing about that situation because people think you have to follow the style of Marco, or Luciano or Loco Dice but that’s the biggest mistake because they are the kings there and you have to do your own thing. In doing this you carve out your own identity and that’s what I did.
I wanted to ask you about your region in Italy, as a few techno stars come from there. What do you think is so special about that part of Italy?
Napoli is the capital of techno in Italy, the most important techno artists in Italy come from there; Marco Carola, Marc Antonio, Davide Squillace, Gaetano Parisio – everyone is from Napoli, a lot of people don’t know this. They were there from the early Nineties making techno, and people only discovered them a few years ago that’s the funny thing. Right now though Napoli is finally getting the recognition it deserves around the world, it’s TechNapoli now. Our style of techno is influenced by funky bass and happy grooves, that’s why we call it ‘Funk TechNapoli’ because it’s our kind of techno.
I’m very proud to be from Napoli because there’s a real, proper scene and it’s getting close to what they have in Detroit and Berlin. We just need a few more years to show people what we’re all about but we’re getting there – it has to be respected as one of the capitals of techno. There is not a lot going on in the commercial end of things, everyone has their own studio and nobody helps us to make tracks. There is a strong spirit in Napoli and we’re like a big crew, we share things and this makes me very proud to be from there.
And, beyond the album, what’s happening next year?
I’m working on a remix for Carl Cox at the moment. I’m very happy to be working on something for one of my biggest inspirations. Then I have a tour with Adam Beyer, we’re going back-to-back for a few special gigs around Europe next Easter – I’m doing a whole month in America in March, which I’m really looking forward to.
Finally, what does it mean to you to be representing Caserta and Italy on the world stage?
This is the most important thing to me, it fills me with an immense sense of pride. Usually people find it hard to make a living in their own country, but I’m happy to say that Italians, and Neopolitans, make up a large percentage of my fanbase – when I go to play in my country and my gigs are sold out, there are people waving Italian flags in the crowd and screaming my name, it’s unbelievable for me. When I go out to play I always represent my city, this is the basic foundation of my career; representing Napoli and representing Italy. That’s my spirit.
Joseph Capriati’s album, Self Portrait, is out now
For more info on Joseph, visit his Facebook page here
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