ItaloJohnson mix Nightclubber 198
ItaloJohnson’s avoidance of social media, insistence on only performing as a trio, and infrequent record releases are all deliberate choices. For this German trio, success isn't measured by income or fame, but by their own personal satisfaction and enjoyment of their craft.
The group never prepare their sets, preferring to read the crowd and let each record breathe. It's a reflection of their overall approach, which is focused on the enjoyment of the music rather than hype and information overload. ItaloJohnson's secrecy isn't a hipster affectation, but rather a deliberate stripping-away of anything that's unnecessary.
For these guys, success is about having their own rhythm and being responsible to themselves. ItaloJohnson's approach has gained them a dedicated following, and they continue to prove themselves, one tune at a time. We are therefore really hyped and excited that they’d be delivering a mix for us. You can listen to that one here. As you might expect, it’s a brilliant journey that pulls few punches while also serving up a brilliant snapshot of the trio’s penchant for brilliant house and techno. We caught up with them beforehand to hear what’s happening in their world…
I’ve read that you’ve called your music ‘not complicated’, but I guess if the music wasn’t complicated and was easy to produce, everyone would be on your leveL. So I wanted to ask what you mean by this?
Not complicated doesn’t mean poorly or under-produced. It more describes our love for space in music to let things breathe and gives room to move. We produce music to make people dance.
You’ve always been adamant that you’ll do everything as a trio. As the years have progressed, has this become more difficult? And how have you adapted to this?
It has always been difficult but working as a trio keeps things interesting and has taught us to adapt and improvise along the way.
Was it a case of prioritising artistic integrity over financial success? Was this ever difficult or do you all agree from the outset that this needed to be the way of working?
The main priority of ItaloJohnson has never been financial success. When we started working together the idea was to let the music do the talking. Of course at some point, especially when you have gained a certain attention, you should start thinking about your position and your relationship to your environment. However, over the years, for us it has always been most important to stay connected to who we are, what we do, and the people that we’re connected to.
Would you say ItaloJohnson is quite a non-conformist trio then?
You could say that we’ve always been more a part of the scene than of the “industry”.
As you’re a trio, are you quite democratic about big decisions? What sort of issues do you guys usually deal with? And are these more logistic or music-based?
We’re quite democratic about everything. It’s that classic, delicate system of a triangle - so sometimes one of us, or even two, have to be convinced of what seems to be a great angle.
You guys went on a crazy productive production period when you started out. Talk to me a bit about the production sessions back then, and why do you think they were so productive and fruitful…
This question could imply that our fruitful times are over! ;P Our way of producing music hasn’t changed that much over the years It's just a natural process that happens when it happens. However, even back then there was certainly no excessive output. It’s ever been about quality over quantity and working in our own rhythm.
ITJ06 is probably my favourite track of yours, but honestly hard to one! Do you guys have a favourite, and why?
Thanks for your kind words and glad you dig our stuff! Our favourites constantly change. If we had to pick one it would probably be ITJ14. But also here promoting our new record, it’s the ITJ16, no question ;)
From where I’m sitting, it seems like you guys have always been unconcerned by hype and fads, but did you feel a pressure to keep releasing huge records at this rate?
We are in the comfortable position that we can actually do what we want. Some people would also say we’re actively trying to avoid success. Nevertheless, being appreciated or just seen for what you do generally is a good thing. But generally it's more about staying connected without losing yourself in the expectations of others.
Did you know after these sessions that the records were almost sure to be “underground” hits?
We mostly tend to produce the toolish B-Sides first. But sometimes you have the feeling one track is going to hit a lot of people, which is always exciting as well.
Who influenced those early records especially? Have these influences changed at all the longer you’ve been in the game?
There have been lots of different influences of our pasts and presents that consciously or subconsciously led us to the sound that we’ve been doing. We all have our personal history and shared interests that eventually melt together when we are making music. One major and consistent inspiration for us is US house music though.
As someone who regularly forgets track names, what was your thinking not to name them? Do you ever get confused?!
As it’s been just about music, there just was no need for track names. Often we name sketches on their way of becoming a track. But in the end it will be A, B 1 and 2. In the end it feels way easier to remember that than a whole bunch of names. Nothing against track names in general that's just how we do it.
Thinking back to when you first starting releasing in 2010, the likes of Instagram definitely wasn’t the beast it is today. Yet despite now showing your faces, you’ve managed to stay relatively anonymous. How have you done this?
It’s a thin line avoiding certain outlets or deeper insight and actually trying not to exist. There is a good reason to give people something from you and keep a connection – as long as you feel comfortable with it. And the way we have been handling this is just the way that we feel comfortable with. In the end this is an uncomplicated formula.
Was staying anonymous a conscious thing? What was the idea behind it?
Our output has always been related to our music or music in general. Music is what counts for us in the first place.
Three people DJing back-to-back with one another was probably more of a novelty a few years ago than it is now. Can you tell us a bit about how it works when you play out?
There has never been the question not to goB2B2B. This is how it works. Same as when making music, this is what we feel like. A spontaneous thing! Three minds can lead to some unexpected synergy that’s just better than the sum of its parts.
You’ve also done a mix for us which we’re incredibly delighted to be hosting. Can you tell us a bit about the vibes you were going for with this one?
Fist of all thank you for having us. The mix is an analogy of the new release, ITJ16. Like the story of the record, the mix starts with House, develops into prime-time sound and eventually ends with a more after-hour mood.
What’s next for ItaloJohnson that you’re really excited about?
We’re already super excited for our next party at Panorama Bar in July w/ Nicholas Lutz, Vlada and Ciel. Those nights are always really special for us.
Listen to ITJ16 on Bandcamp here