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Thursday 07th, November 2002
Mauro Picotto

[i]NB:This interview was one on one, conducted completely in Italian. Mauro therefore is quoted through paraphrases, as suitably translated into English. Enjoy![/i] Sunday night, 9pm. Sounds like a Faithless album but it’s much, much different. Instead of sitting down and perhaps having a drink with Italian tech-legend Mauro Picotto, I was stuck in one hell of a traffic jam on Manhattan’s West Side Highway, thanks to a certain baseball game and two stalled cars. My interview time was scheduled for 7pm. But thankfully, after many stop-and-go maneuvers in my car and banging my head desperately against the steering wheel, I finally shuffled my way into the hipper-than-thou TriBeCa Grand Hotel to meet Mauro as well as a few fans and his welcoming entourage. He was looking quite exhausted, as I would have imagined after a drilling set at Arc the previous night.

The first and only time Mauro had visited the Gotham City, it was for his performance at the now-defunct legendary club Twilo. Surprisingly, he found the atmosphere at Arc to be the same as it was in Twilo. With that said, I took the opportunity for some comparison abroad; namely, with the US scene vs. the UK scene. To clarify his view on various music scenes, I bring up a pertinent quote I found on Mauro’s homepage. Responding to a question for his own website interview that asks which he prefers, the US or the UK, Mauro answered “Definitely the US. The UK is in severe danger of disappearing up its own ass.” He chuckles as I mention the quote but says in return, “To me, Americans are more open musically. They don’t see music as divided into different genres as they do in Europe. There, if the like trance, they only play trance; if they like techno, they only play techno. That’s why people never understand or know exactly what I play; I just look to play and create what’s best, whatever genre it is.

I ask Mauro to pick his poison: guest slots, residencies or festivals? “Guest slots. I think maybe that’s because I’ve done so many festivals in the past two years,” he giggles, begging the question. So what about Godskitchen Global Gathering, Gatecrasher Summer Sound System and the like? According to Mauro, they’re the ultimate promotion vehicle for DJs to play the top hits, disabling creativity of a truly original set as a result of time restraints. Needless to say, he prefers clubs and six-hour sets, two key ingredients for the making of Mauro madness. We touch upon his Gatecrasher 6-hour residency, albeit with the unfortunate weekly parties now gone monthly. What will happen now? “Well, I’ve been doing 6 hour sets there for the past two years. I still have one left, so we’ll see,” he trails off ambiguously. With the advent of super clubs like Cream and Gatecrasher shutting down and downsizing, Mauro comments: “There’s never been a problem for me when I play in these clubs but I think these things have been happening because they aren’t looking to grow and bring in diverse music. Therefore, when you have the same music every week it’s normal for people to get tired of the same thing. I think they [club promoters/owners] have to diversify both the music and ambience to make it more unique.

Perhaps I’ll do one [6-hour set] here in New York next time” he adds, reverting to our previous topic. With raised eyebrows, I ask him if he’s looking for a residency in New York as if he hinted towards a massive secret about to be revealed. Stretching out the syllable that easily could have been a yes or a no, I let go of my breath as he declines the idea of a residency in NYC. But nevertheless, he hopes to return soon.

Back to Cali…erm, Italy rather. Mauro chats a bit about the Italian scene as a whole. With few techno clubs over the past decade to attract crowds to his kind of music, he’s seen-- and heard-- enough about his homeland’s dance scene to make a firm claim that Italians’ universal taste in commercial dance music will never change. “There are a few clubs that play good techno, but the rest are all commercial…but the really cheesy commercial stuff.” (“Molto cheese,” to quote Mauro exactly in Italian context.) Still, he serves his nation faithfully, playing gigs near his hometown in Turin and occasionally near Venice.

I’ve always loved the music,” Mauro says with nostalgic eyes. But he didn’t always want to be the dude behind the decks. “I really wanted to be a singer,” he admits, “But when I realized I didn’t have the voice for it, I became a DJ instead.” So in 1985, he embarked on his DJ career. Just like that (or like this?). Meeting his fellow countrymen, now good friends and colleagues Joy Kitikonti, Mario Piu`, and Ricky Effe wasn’t very hard either, he added, considering the shoebox size clubscene in Italy.

Like most DJs nowadays, Mauro uses both vinyls and CDs. In fact, he’s known to use CDs more than most. So in his opinion, will vinyl ever die? “It’s possible,” he says gravely. But, I persist: isn’t there something more-- something, perhaps, intrinsic and more ‘hands-on’ to vinyl usage nowadays? “Well, now with the new Pioneers, you can do anything to a CD that you’re able to do to vinyl. There will even be new Pioneers where you can ‘scratch’ CDs, just as you can do to vinyls,” he rebukes and sinks into his plush chair. Fair enough, I reply.

The Off-Topic section: After all this hype of iguanas, lizards and komodos, doesn’t he at least have one as a pet? Nope. It was just a play on names that outgrew itself since he was a kid into his adulthood.

‘So what’s up next?’ is my next and final question. “Well, ‘The Others’ was a club collection” says Mauro, “So be prepared for a new artist album with all original work coming out next year.” We wrap up the interview as I give him CDs to sign and he recalls that he still wants to sightsee the city. It’s now almost 10:30pm. Excited to tour the city before he goes back to his own tour the next day, he rises and exclaims, “It’s time for Times Square!

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