Once Upon A Time In Napoli

Posted on May 15, 2018

Words: Iain Thomson

Davide Squillace shares more than a title resemblance to his countryman, movie director Sergio Leone, with his debut release Once Upon A Time In Napoli; he also shares an ability to tell a story through his craft, in Squillace’s case, it’s a tale that has been two decades in the making, drawing inspiration from growing up in the Southern Italian city and his subsequent world travel keeping up with the demand for his very special talent.

While Once Upon A Time In Napoli was not a twenty-year studio product for Davide Squillace – he produced most of the tracks within the last year – there’s no doubt that his early years and his decision to live outside of Napoil and the journey from one to the other, has had an impact. A self-confessed perfectionist, Squillace is one of the most prolific producers on the scene, if he’s not dropping new music of his own he is hard at work on remixes. With another summer in Ibiza to look forward to, including renewing his love affair with Circoloco in Dc10, and more new music on the way, we caught up with Davide to talk albums, studi, influences and Ibiza…

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You’re soon to release your album ‘Once Upon a Time in Napoli’, tell us a bit about the inspiration behind its title?
Obviously being from Napoli and being away from Napoli, I kind of wanted to make a statement of where I’m from, the place that brought me up and made me who I am for at least the first half of my life. Inspiration wise, it’s more about being so far from the people I’ve met, places I’ve been, the music I heard, the type of new gear I bought, the type of sound I could achieve, the textures and rhythms and so on. And I asked a drummer from Napoli to work with me on a track and a singer from LA that I’m a big fan of. Yeah that’s pretty much it.

On this album you take us on a journey through your 20 years in music. Where did you start on what many would agree is a mammoth task?
I didn’t really set a time on when I would start making the album. It’s more that in the last year or so I collected tracks. Then going back and listening to them, they all made sense together. Each of them would tell a story of my 20 years in music and 20 years in my life. What I’ve been through, what happened to me and obviously it reflected on the music itself.

20 years seems a great amount of time for an LP to highlight and celebrate your growth as an artist. What emotions did you experience in putting it together?
Again as I said, it wasn’t a lifetime work kind of thing. I didn’t start 20 years ago but obviously when you make an album it goes to the first time you laid a finger on a drum machine or synthesiser or whatever. So you bring all that knowledge with you. As I said it’s been more of a work that reflects all the past years but in a way also of where I’m going and a little bit of the future for me.

Knowing that this project represented a special milestone. What pressures if any did you feel when compiling the album?
Damn, it’s like giving birth. I think the fact that I didn’t sit and say I’m going to do an album, it didn’t really give me pressure. The pressure always comes from the critics. You don’t have pressure when you do music for yourself. So not going through that classic process was pretty genuine in a way. Obviously, when I realised I had an album that I could release, then it was a little bit more complicated since I had never done an album. I always had done so many singles, I never really felt I had to do an album. I didn’t really have that pressure as an artist. So I actually asked some friends who did albums how does this work? Do I have to give logical sequence to the tracks? So I asked around how people do it and made it in my way.

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Looking back at your career today to date, what advice would today’s Davide give a 2004 Davide starting out in the industry?
Never release any record you’re not 100% sure of just for the sake of releasing, just for the sake of having something out. In a way you can regret it because you want your portfolio to be immaculate. I don’t think that’s a human thing, we make things out of mistakes and out of learning. The learning curve is made out of mistakes, if you want to call it a mistake. I would describe it more as a miscalculation.

You worked with Alex Nazar and Paki Palmieri on the new project. What was it about their talents that led to you working with them for your new release?
Paki Palmieri is actually a guy from Napoli that I never met before, I heard about him. I know he’s been living in Africa learning different drum techniques and actually drums itself. I heard some stuff, this guy is sick. It’s like in sync, it never goes out of the time you decided it to go. So, I was like, I have an idea for this. I wanted to play a hand drum. I got in touch and we made a track. I sent him the bass, I explained how I wanted it to be done and he did an amazing job. Alex, we already worked together. He’s a good friend of mine from Mexico living in Los Angeles. He just has an angelic voice but it’s like a fucked up voice. Apart from being an amazing musician, I mostly use his voice and I totally love what he came up with.

You’ve been a resident DJ at DC10’s Circoloco for a decade now, how do you go about keeping your sets fresh for your audience?
Well a big part of being a DJ is that you have to scavenge records, unreleased stuff, promos and so on. So sometimes it can be depressing because you don’t find what you’re looking for but at the same time that makes you want to go to the studio and make more music on your own. So you have more stuff you want to play. How do I keep it fresh? l always look for new material and old material.

As well as your residency, you’ll also be playing several dates at ANTS. What differences do you experience when playing there?
Two totally different types of clubs. Different types of crowds. I’m able to share different parts of the music I like with audience. Obviously, you have a wider range of things you like but then you want to share with certain crowds this part of you and another crowd this part of you. So it’s very challenging.

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No doubt, you’ve seen DC10 go through a lot of changes over the years. What have been some of your memorable moments?
The change in colours. The amazing thing about them they always change something in structure and something in the sound. They have new talents coming but the amazing thing is the family is always the same.

The same thing goes for the changes you’ve witnessed in the Island’s party scene. In what ways do you feel it’s changed for the better and in what way do you miss elements of the past?
More freedom in the private parties because that’s what was making it a bit special. There’s a lot of random people, which you can have fun to share and get to know. But at a certain point you want to party in your own surrounding with people you choose and that you feel comfortable with. It’s such a dynamic island, clubs are changing, and new faces are coming in. I think a little bit of the problem is that a few spots, which I’m not going to say, opened up. Bringing this extreme cheap wealth to the island that kind of the market a little bit.

What is the craziest outfit you’ve seen someone wear at Circoloco?
I think the craziest thing I’ve seen is that this guy had a fake leg. At a certain point, he leaned on his friend, held his shoulder, removed his leg and started dancing with it!

When you’re not busy DJ’ing, what is a typical summer Ibiza day look like for you?
I guess I go to the beach with the kids and be bossed around by my family.

Where’s one of your favourite places to eat?
I think it’s Es Xarcu! A seafood restaurant surrounded by cliffs.

We hear that more new releases are expected from you in 2018. What else can we look forward to from Davide this year?
The next one is a collaboration with Booch. We are good friends and in summer we connected and decided to have some time in the studio together. It went really well so we’re going to release that. After that we’re going to have an EP that the original was from Re.You. I’m doing a remix, Matthias is doing a remix. This will be slightly different from what I usually do, it’s a little bit darker.