Bottin's disco for the devil
Bottin's disco album is one of a kind, a spooky version of Italo disco you know but never heard before.

Bottin is the surname of the Venetian artist Guglielmo Bottin. He is doing a spooky kind of Italo disco. He is very good at creating timeless moments in the disco universe. What ever you call it, Balearic, Italo, space or pop, his style is as unique as it gets and his Bear Funk debut "Horror Disco" is one of the best-for me the best-disco albums of this year. He is living in Venice, keeping his work silent and deep. Like a vampire sleeping at daytime. At night he flies around Europe to spread his poisonous music and hang around with fresh blooded.

His track "Disco For The Devil" is one of the best ever disco tracks. Already a classic. With Douglas Meakin's vocals and words, Bottin keeps up the Simonetti vibe and builds upon his unique style. We are very pleased and excited because Bottin will be playing in İstanbul very soon. I bet you have not listened this kind of disco before. As the name says; this is "Horror Disco"!

"Italians Do It Better". I bet you agree with this!
If you refer to the original meaning of the phrase-that is that Italians are better in bed-I may agree, however I would extend it to all Mediterrean and African cultures. If you mean the record label, I also agree; they have a totally do-it-yourself approach that has proved itself to be very effective in today's discographic chaos. If instead you mean that Italians are better disco producers, well then I do not necessarily agree. There is a lot of crap music hailing from Italy. However there are a few excellent producers like Rodion, Mammarella, Discodromo and Simone Fedi.

You are living in Venice and you have told me that there is no scene at all or a single club playing electronic music. How come?
There is almost no scene here because of the very nature of the city itself. It's a small village (60000 residents vs 25 million tourists every year!), built on water and inhabited mostly by old people. There's not enough people to have any real scene. They buildings are all ancient and cannot really be made soundproof, so basically if you throw even a small party you can be sure that the neighbours will call the police. But actually in Venice there are several very good musicians. I think the Venetian people are rather musical ones (compared to other places in North Italy). It's just hard to play gigs here, except during major events like the Biennale or the film festival, which however tend to feature talent from abroad, almost never from the city. I'm not bothered at all by the lack of an electronic scene, actually I think it's good not to have any influences and follow the ideas in one's own head. It's only a bit sad that there are not good club night to go to.

Are you happy to be living there? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
I am very happy living here. I chose to (I grew up in Padova, a much bigger town about 30 min away). The obvious advantage is that there are no cars and that you can walk everywhere. Walking also involves meeting people in the street all the time, it's the exact opposite of living in a big city where people avoid to make eye-contact even if they ride the subway together every single day. It's good that it is also a very international environment, there are many art-related events etc. What is bad is that I think 25 million tourists are way more than this place can sustain. They literally clog the streets and generate huge amounts of trash that we residents have to deal with and pay for its disposal. Heavy tourism also makes live more expensive for the residents. There are too many souvenir shops and too few supermarkets, too many (half empty) hotels and too few apartments that are affordable to rent. Henry James wrote that among of all the cities, Venice is the easiest to visit without actually going there: Venetian imagery and stereotypes are everywhere. Most visitors are day-trippers that only go see St Mark's Square, they don't really experience Venice, they don't spend the night here. They go back with the same superficial imagery and stereotypes they arrived with.

When was the first song you heard on vinyl, do you remember?
It must have been a rather funky-cosmic Italian children song, called "Woobinda". I remember my parents gave me an old plastic turntable and a few 7" records, including "Woobinda".

How your love for electronic music started?
It started in the early 90s, I was part of the so-called "demo scene" on the Commodore Amiga computer. That was exactly when I started making my own music with a very popular software called Soundtracker, it had 4 tracks each playing 8-bit samples.

What do you think about the ongoing trend for nudisco and disco revival?
I think they are two possibly separate phenomena. Disco revival (chart-breaking classics, commercial disco hits from the 70s and 80s) has always been there and will always be.
What is relatively new is the re-discovery of old underground tracks, music that failed back in the day and is now being acclaimed and danced to. I often think that listening to the music of the past with the "ears" of today is almost a method for reinventing that music (this is made very obvious by the re-edits releases).
Then there are also the contemporary disco, nudisco productions. Some of them are very good, some not so good, as with anything. It could be a momentary trend or perhaps, since its sound is deeply rooted into 30 year of dance music culture, it may be the a guideline for the music of the future. After all disco (especially the so-called space disco) as always been a futuristic genre and that future still has to come.

What about Italo? It seems to be very popular again...
Also with Italo it's the same as with proper disco: some if it it's pure revival of old classics, some is contemporary italo-inspired productions. Most original italo is rather bad, commercial pop-dance music that serious club djs even refused to play back then. Some other are re-discovered gems, very deep sounding and appropriate for the dance floors of today - especially if the cheesy vocals are edited out!

Your album is a spooky disco and why you came up with a theme like this and name in the end?
I came up with it at the beginning, not that the end. I made one track "Horror Disco", the title track using this old Farfisa Italian sythesizer that I had previously neglected because I though it was only a toy. That inspired the whole idea and I developed all the other songs around that concept; thriller-ish, movie-inspired music that could also been danced. Basically I tried to blend the two genres (horror soundtracks and underground disco) I love the most.

Do you have a favorite track in te LP with a special story maybe?
I like them all for one reason or another. But but I'll give my preference to the title track since it was the one that ignited the whole album concept. Although the one with the most interesting story is probably "Disco For The Devil". I had the honor to work on it with Douglas Meakin. Douglas is originally from Liverpool, he moved to Italy in the 60s (he was touring with his band and he met his wife here). Later on he ended up writing and singing very many of those TV themes, mostly Italian versions of Japanese cartoons. He's very famous in Italy for that. Then by accident I found out he had also singing in Claudio Simonetti's disco projects, Easy Going, Crazy Gang etc. He was left uncredited most of the time but I knew his voice from the TV songs! So I told him I was very much into the stuff he did with Simonetti and proposed to make a disco track together. I sent him a demo, he wrote the lyrics himself and came to Venice to record it.

How long did it take to finish the album and how do Bottin does come up with a track?
I think it took about 2 years. I don't work much out of inspiration, except when I discover some strange sample or synth sound that I want to use. More often I sit and decide to make a track. Not always I end up finishing it, I am very prolific, possibly too prolific: my hard drive is full of incomplete tracks that I hope to develop one day. Right now I enjoy remixing other people's work. Having deadlines to meet helps me be disciplined instead of fiddling with the same track forever, as I do with with my own material.

How did you get in touch with Bear Funk?
I met Stevie Kotey when he was booked to DJ at Venice Carnival a few years ago. We played together and became friends. I gave him a few demos and he almost immediately wanted to release them as an EP on Bear Funk. Then the EP became as full album.

What are you doing these days?
Remixes, collaborations, travelling the world and trying to work on some new tunes of my own. I'm also doing some secret projects.

Do you have forthcoming releases?
Yes, a new 12" of "Disco For The Devil" coming out soon (with remixes by Faze Action, In Flagranti, Telonious and more), then there is "Hot Ring", a track I produced with Stevie Kotey that will also be out soon on Bear Funk. Also I've done a dozen remixes that will be released between the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010.

Have you ever been to İstanbul before? What do you know about the city and the scene? What are your expectations?
I was in İstanbul on holiday for about a week and now i'm advertising it to my friends all the time. I think Italians should really visit there. Personally I totally fell in love with the city, not only with the amazing historical sites of Sultanahmet, but also with the newer İstanbul, Beyoğlu and Kadıköy (where I spent a small fortune in buying old Turkish records). To be honest, I don't know much about the music scene there, but I do see you have a great calendar and I'm looking forward to coming and playing the music I love.

Interview: Christopher Çolak
16 October 2009


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