Enzo Elia‘s tracks ‘Black Birthday’ and ‘Turks Do It Better’ are about to drop on Engrave Ltd. Shortly before the release Torture the Artist spoke to the Berlin based DJ and producer not only about the meaning behind those two track titles, but also about Enzo’s ‘Germanglish’, his not so ‘rastafari’ past and the chances to start a revolution with music. Aside from this intense talk with Enzo you can listen to his track ‘Birthday Girl’ exclusively on our channel.
Torture the Artist: One of your tracks on the upcoming ‘Partition EP’ is called ‘Black Birthday’. What is the story behind the name of your track?
Enzo Elia: A couple of month ago I was invited to my friend‘s birthday party and I spent a couple of hours on the balcony, until the sunset. As soon as I was back home I decided to start to work on a new project and its name was ‘Black Birthday‘, just to connect that mystic moment to my friend‘s birthday. Well, I am not that good at remembering birthdays. Anyway Happy Birthday Canan!
Torture the Artist: The second track from the EP is called ‘Turks Do It Better’, but we all know that ‘Italians Do It Better’ since Alesha Dixon sang a song about it. (Alesha Dixon ‘Italians Do It Better’). Is the track title an ironic approach to the saying?
Enzo Elia: The title is partly ironic. I was reflecting on the Turkish sociopolitical condition and on the events of the last months. For some aspects I found similiarities with what happened in Italy years ago. I am referring to having power-hungry government representatives, who are unable to ‘do better‘.
I love and live music at the same time at 360 degrees and I am not looking for an identifying sound and trying to carry it forward.
Torture the Artist: How would others describe your music?
Enzo Elia: The production of my tracks is a consequence of what I like to play during my DJ sets. Music is part of my life – actually it is my life. I love and live music at the same time at 360 degrees and I am not looking for an identifying sound and trying to carry it forward. I fully understand that for many people my ‘eclectic‘ attitude may seem arrogant and dissonant, but for me it is a vital lymph that inspires (tastes) my immagination. A mixed and seasoned salad could be difficult to digest, but I like it this way. I only hope that it will leave something on the teeth of who is listeing to it as long as possible.
Sometimes I cannot understand the sense of what I say.
Torture the Artist: Some of your track titles or remixes are made up of German words in combination with English ones. What other German cultural features – aside from the language – have you adapted to since moving to Berlin?
Enzo Elia: My ‘Germanglish‘ is part of my daily life! Trust me, sometimes I cannot understand the sense of what I say. Berlin is a ‘happy island‘ where it’s not difficult to find its own balance. I haven’t change my life style and so far I haven’t been very involved in any aspects of German culture. I live almost as if I was in Italy, with less Italians around me. The most important thing I have learned from the German culture is not to give too much importance to appearances.
Torture the Artist: What’s the most harmonious place in Berlin, and why?
Enzo Elia: The most harmonious place is where I live: Rixdorf. It is my Berlin microcosm; It’s like a small village, very quiet, where different cultures and architecture of other times live together. It is a very singular dimension, a melting pot of people and historical periods. However, today there is a big hype around this area where you can even take lessons of ‘Hypsteria‘ <laughs>…But I like it this way!
My curly hair is very difficult to comb.
Torture the Artist: Since one of your EPs from 2010 is named ‘Rasta For Six Years’, what made you become a ‘rasta(fari)’ in the first place, and how much of an influence has this way of perceiving life had on you in 2017?
Enzo Elia: I have never been a ‘rasta(fari)‘ myself. I had dreadlocks from age of 19 to 25, but I decided to do it because my curly hair is very difficult to comb. At the same time I can’t deny that the Rastafari creed is one of the most fascinating religion. I have always admired Hailé Selassié, a character at the limit of the legend but with a big charisma and personality. In the late 90s I was in contact with some Rastafari devotees, very interesting and smart people, totally immersed in faith and pervaded by devotion. I admire peoples capacity to devote themselves to what they believe, as it is probably the right way to stay in peace with themselves.
Torture the Artist: Name an artist that had an impact on both your personal and musical development?
Enzo Elia: Certainly Franco Battiato. For me, he represents the experimentation, the obstacle, the poetry, the maturity. In one phrase: he is the artist.
It is easy to find many connections between what I do, what I am and what I wear.
Torture the Artist: What is a stylistical musical trademark of yours that can be found in the way you dress, talk, act or behave?
Enzo Elia: As I express the most intimate part of myself with music, I think it is easy to find many connections between what I do, what I am and what I wear, but I don’t think it‘s a totalizing factor. Just to give you an idea, I make different kinds of music with the same spontaneity I wear vintage sneakers under a classic jacket. I am a curious person, I would like to understand what’s going on at Berlin Atonal and maybe next week I will go to the concert of Tim Bendzko. This ‘ordered chaos‘ is part of my life, I don’t think about it, I just feel happy I can live it this way.
I don’t want to say that putting an idiology into music is equivalent to fighting face-to-face with the police during a demonstration. But undoubtedly a melody, a lyric as well as a Banksy stencil can be the vehicle of a message that is more or less legible.
Torture the Artist: Some of your tracks can be interpreted or seen as a reference to political topics, (e.g. ‘Yes We Can’), social evils in a broader sense or to raise awareness for diseases, (e.g. ‘Dementia’). How much are you involved in the aforementioned fields and is music an outlet for you to raise your opinion on certain issues?
Enzo Elia: Probably that’s not the right time where you can do a revolution with songs, but on the other hand I believe that many ‘artistic‘ productions/manifestations have an expressive potential to be codified.
However, I don’t want to say that putting an idiology into music is equivalent to fighting face-to-face with the police during a demonstration. But undoubtedly a melody, a lyric as well as a Banksy stencil can be the vehicle of a message that is more or less legible.
It’s impossible that what is going on outside doesn’t influence our life! It influences mine as well, I try to get it, put it into music and throw it out in a blur, but it is like if it were not there because that’s not the right place. Unfortunately, I only have the stature and some records of Bob Dylan.
Torture the Artist: If you were to describe yourself with song-lyrics, what verse would represent you best and from which song is it from?
Enzo Elia: It’s not easy to answer this question, I could find 41 different verses, but in this moment this is the verse that represents me the most:
From Bauhaus’ ‘Kick In The Eye’ (1981)
And he spoke of pastures green
I was never told why
Each journey lasts an age
And my throat feels dry
It must be the lesson
Hidden deep inside
It must be the lesson
So roll the tide
So I began the crossing
My throat burned dry.
In these verses you can find my thirst for knowledge, the desire to give myself a challenge and the awareness of past mistakes.
Torture the Artist: How ‘scary’ was ‘September’ and what makes you overcome your fears?
Enzo Elia: That September was very scary, I was doing very important steps forward for my future. Later I also got worse. I can beat my fears talking and listening to advice given to me by friends and family.