A chat with Futop Musica's Lorenzo Fortino...
Lorenzo Fortino is a DJ, producer, and the owner of the Futop Musica and Connessioni labels. Crucially, he's also the man behind South Florence's first vinyl shop, Isoma. With an unwavering dedication to his craft, his artistic essence draws profound influence from techno, house, ambient, and experimental genres.
In his productions, there are no boundaries; his ultimate aim is to transcend time and ensure that the listener's appetite for innovation remains insatiable. In addition to his label affiliations, Lorenzo has showcased his musical prowess on esteemed platforms such as Wo-land, Biodiversità Records, Modern Obscure Music, Miniera, Sublunar, Altrimenti Records, and Lysergic Induction Forge.
We caught up with Lorenzo recently to learn more about his story...
Lorenzo, can you tell us about your journey into the electronic music scene in Florence? How did it all begin for you?
I started listening to techno music very early at the age of 13 through some set recordings but I wasn’t aware who those producers I was listening to were. I’ve started to go out and I continued this discovery of what was being played and I liked it, but if I have to tell you the precise moment in which my journey as a DJ began is when in 2005 I bought “Mathew Jonson - Marionette'' and ‘Richie Hawtin - The Tunnel/ Twin Cities’ in a historic record shop in the centre of Florence called Disco Mastelloni. A point of reference for DJs from all over Florence and Tuscany in that period. In that place I felt really at ease, in my world. There, I understood what I wanted to do in life as shortly after I began to want to understand how to produce my tracks, then came the first DJ gigs in Florence (I’ve been holding regular residency at Viper Club, Puro after Club and Lattexplus) and from there, here am now.
Florence has a rich cultural history. How has the city's artistic heritage influenced your music and DJing style?
Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and this certainly influenced me in wanting to give my contribution with electronic music. It is not easy to be appreciated in Florence, with its important historical and artistic value I think people expect a lot, but I like this and it encourages me to do more and more, improving myself every day without ever being satisfied. The music I create tries to represent the sound of the suburbs of Southern Florence where I was born and live, I feel I have to only represent reality and what surrounds me.
Years later I realised that even in my DJ sets I have developed a unique and different style from the others precisely because living on the edge of the city I manage to remain isolated on my journey. I take input from all the music I listen to but then I mix it all up my way.
Tell us a bit about your labels, Futop Musica and Connessioni. Could you share the inspiration behind these labels and what they represent in the music industry?
My label Futop Musica was born in 2016 to release my own music without compromise and give a total vision of my creative process while remaining independent and deciding every single detail of each release.
So far, things I have been releasing are between Techno and Ambient but I have no genre limits and I want to explore every aspect I love of electronic music. The idea behind Connessioni was born at the end of 2022 a few months after producing the first record with Brody. I understood that I needed to create a platform to release collaborations with producers in the scene that I respected to create something different from solo productions but that always reflected my personality, here too without genre boundaries. I have always admired producers who are very independent in the music industry and in my own way I took that path and I would do it again like this a hundred times.
What can you tell us about your most recent or upcoming releases? Any exciting projects or collaborations on the horizon?
Coming soon is the new EP ‘Da Qui Al Mare’ (link premiere) with Brody which will be released in February 2024, while in the summer I’d like to release the sixth record on my label Futop Musica with the design curated by a friend and great artist Giandomenico Carpentieri. I have finalised my new album between ambient and experimental music, I still don't know which label it will be released on but there are some interested in the project. With Brody we have prepared more music this summer so new things will definitely come out. In the meantime I'm finishing preparing an EP for another label and taking it easy. I’m planning some collaborations with producers that I respect a lot but that I can't reveal yet and next summer I'll play at one of the most important festivals in Europe for avant-garde music which I cannot wait.
Playing alongside renowned DJs like Dr. Rubenstein must have been a memorable experience. Can you share some highlights and insights from those performances?
The last event I played for Lattexplus at Manifattura Tabacchi here in Florence was beautiful and fun. The people understood well what I had in mind during the set and a good connection emerged with the audience and I'm happy with this. I was sad to stop playing after two hours as I had the right energy to play for some more time.
Boiler Room is known for its unique and intimate DJ sessions. What was your experience like playing a Boiler Room set, and how did it impact your career?
In 2019 I played at this Boiler Room night here in Florence and it was a great experience...there was a lot of anticipation for this event being the first time in our city - it was definitely nice to share this with great friends like Samuele Pagliai, Dukwa and Herva - with Rufus hosting the evening - at the time I had only made two records so not much changed but I had excellent feedback from the people who were there and from those who subsequently heard the set recording online.
Could you describe the ethos and concept behind your record store, Isoma? How does it contribute to the music culture in Florence?
With Isoma I didn't want to create a simple shop but a community for music lovers which had never existed in our part of Florence (South) - now after more than six years from the opening I can tell you that this is going exactly as I wanted. People understood my way of seeing music which should not be limited to selling records, but also to an exchange on the human side. Here you can find many DJs from the city, and from all parts of Italy and people from abroad who when they pass by Florence they choose my shop for the atmosphere. It’s different, you should come in person to understand. It’s almost like listening to records in a living room at home, everything here is based on empathy and the true passion for what I do, some of my usual clients are: Franco Falsini, Francesco Farfa, Paquita Gordon, Kuniyuki Takahashi, Jane Fitz, Dj Rolando, Brian Harden, Joe Claussell, and many others.
Your track "“Lollini Al Miramare” received a lot of attention. Could you tell us about the creative process and inspiration behind this particular track?
That track was made with a friend and producer I deeply respect named Brody. It was a time when I wanted to get back into the studio because after having completed other solo records I needed new things - I called him telling that I would go to his place for a few days at the seaside in Pineto (Abruzzo) I was very convinced of returning at home with a record ready, it was crazy to think about it now because we didn't know much about each other's tastes but since we were very happy on the human side everything came out spontaneously in just four days. We started making various jams talking about our idea of how the record should sound and naturally on the second day that track came out, recorded very quickly with a Korg synth and a Roland drum machine, a few essential sounds that blended well together - we immediately understood that there was potential but we didn't expect such a powerful response. It’s a track that brought together dancefloors all over the world, and it was produced in a couple of hours. The things that work are often those that come up spontaneously.
How would you define your signature sound as a DJ and producer, and how has it evolved over the years?
As a DJ I have a style that touches all the shades of electronic music mainly techno and house surrounded by more atmospheric and experimental records but never stopping the flow of the set. For this reason I am able to adapt to every situation, taking the energy that comes from the dance floor and giving back my vision to those who want to listen to something different. It took years to mix various genres together and understand how to do it in the most fluid way possible but my way of learning will never stop and this is what motivates me every day to learn more. As for producing music, I started when I was 18 but only many years later I’ve released my first records. I wanted to release music with a personal approach, over the years I have learned a lot to the point where I now have a lot of confidence when I am in the studio. I have created a very essential style, a few sounds that must fit together perfectly. For me it is a necessity to produce music. I need to mark a moment by recording a track that contains the emotions/energies within or around me in a specific moment of my life which can be positive or negative. By doing this as an outlet I always manage to put my mark on everything, both alone and with other producers because I will never copy anyone and therefore my sounds will be always personal.
Electronic music is ever-evolving. How do you stay current and innovative in your music production and DJ sets?
Music will always evolve and contaminate and this is the true beauty of always being able to hear something new. Having never studied music, it is very simple for me to do what I do because I learn from my experience and translate it into sound - as my person and my way of seeing things evolve, my music and my approach to DJing will evolve while maintaining the foundations that I set in my head years ago. In producing music, I will use every instrument that will allow me to do something new and that I haven't done without thinking about it - I have always been interested in the final result of the sound - not whether I got there in an analogue or digital way.
For me, the DJ set is like production, I couldn't live without it and every day I thank all the producers in the world who continue to give us inputs and beautiful music to play. I mainly play with records because that's the way I started and I still enjoy the most, but I don't disdain playing digital tracks, of other releases that aren't on vinyl and any promos that they send me.
Are there any specific artists or genres that have had a significant influence on your musical journey?
The genres that most have an impact in my life are techno and ambient... my whole journey as a DJ and producer was based on those. Fundamental to my growth in the way they’re approaching music were Mike Banks, Richie Hawtin, Mathew Jonson, Mika Vainio, Alva Noto, Zip, Terrence Dixon, Donato Dozzy, Nuel, Claudio Fabrianesi - every DJ or producer has a different taste from another and that's the beauty of it - but everyone who is around me with a pure attitude has influenced and still influences my path today.
Florence is known for its vibrant art and music scene. Can you share some local talents or venues that you feel deserve more recognition?
In the Florence scene the people with whom I have been most in tune for many years now, having shared a lot of experiences with them are Samuele Pagliai, among the best DJs in Italy and owner of the Angis Music label, Dukwa producer now established worldwide who needs no introduction, Sciahri one of the best DJs/producers in the Techno/Experimental field in the world and Herva our nerdy genius of electronic music.
Another fundamental person for many of us was Rufus (Quindi Records) who with his advice, his passion and his total knowledge in the musical field is one of the key figures here. The scene is increasingly alive in recent years thanks to all the record shops also focused on DJ music (in addition to my Isoma I want to mention Contempo Records, Sleeve Records and Logout Records) which are allowing new generations to be passionate about electronic music. For what concerns the events Lattexplus, Tenax, Tropical Animals, Autentica, are currently the promoters who in my opinion always have an eye on the Italian and foreign DJs who are making their way on the club scene, but other younger communities/projects are also making interesting moves as well.
As an Italian DJ, how have you seen the global electronic music scene change over the years, and what role has Italy played in this evolution?
The scene has changed considerably since I started, in many ways for the worse. In my opinion there is a need for more meritocracy, unfortunately too many focus on the social aspect, but the numbers you have don't work for you. You play with taste and the skills you have developed over time, the productions that will remain over time are the most personal ones, I cannot understand why so many have the need to adapt to what is happening at the moment, distorting their personality.
I have never had to make compromises, I love music because it is one of the few things in the world that makes you free - why should I put myself inside a cage... to please who?! - this is not the reason why I started and I try to pass this onto people younger than me and give good advice; passion must always be the main reason that moves everything... starting from there good things will surely happen, this is my thought. In Italy fortunately I see many people who do this thing with purity and determination but we are often more appreciated abroad where they first understand the real value we deserve while here it doesn't happen... because if you think about it many of the best DJs and producers in the world at the moment (and also in the past) they are Italian but not always so recognised at home.
What advice would you give to aspiring DJs and producers looking to make their mark in the music industry?
The only advice I can give to younger kids who want to approach our world is to have the curiosity to listen to many different styles of electronic music (in this case), at least they will have a clearer idea of what excites them and reflects them most, therefore on what focus and what their sound is, some will need more time, others less but it is normal there is no precise time to understand. Surely the sooner that moment comes when you understand who you are and the sooner you will focus day and night on what you want to do in this area. From how to play to how to produce; listen to everyone but never trust to anyone (or at least a few people) and always follow your own path even at the cost of being alone on your journey most of the time.
Looking into the future, what are your long-term goals and aspirations as a DJ, producer, and record store owner in Florence and beyond?
I started playing and producing to push my ideas further, I'm not used to play a role, I'm here to stay in the scene for a long time; I have to experiment with many things both with my DJ sets and with music production - those who know me well know that I am obsessed with music, when one of my records comes out I am already thinking about the next step, I always try to challenge myself to make music deeper and more emotional. I can try and do easier things for an external listener or I can create sound visions while always remaining true to myself; I want to deserve one day to be among the Italian DJs and producers with a strong personality. One of my dreams is to make soundtracks for films by Italian directors that I respect.
The shop is a fundamental part of me also. Here I have broadened my vision more and more, I want to spread more good music and help the most hidden producers and DJs to emerge as I was partly helped by the DJs/producers around the world who supported my music from the beginning, giving me the confirmation that I had to put my soul into it for making it work.
Translation: Elisa Miglionico
Buy/listen to Lorenzo Fortino & Brody’s Da Qui Al Mare here.
Listen to our premiere of Giacio below.