Complex and candid as his music, Fango carries a certain quirk deriving from sheer brilliance in musical craft, actual booksmart and a cheeky attitude. Apart from a sublime touch in producing extraordinary dance music and playing in his own band, the Italian DJ/Producer has lended impeccable reinterpretations to originals from some of the underground scene’s key players, from Marcel Dettmann to Âme, Tale of Us to Mano Le Tough, Maceo Plex to DJ Hell. He embraces anonymity (if you haven’t noticed, his RA artist profile consists of no biographical info but only the symbols ‘ 8===D’) but is confident and daring enough to DJ, donning only his charm, a hat and underpants (well perhaps that bio applies to this as well). Torture the Artist had the rare chance of speaking with the mysterious artist earlier this year, from his home in Mirano, before a particular global crisis had hit. Nicola Zianetti has his reservations letting listeners in, passed beyond his music, but during that ordinary day in his life, maybe a few beers into the evening, he did not dodge some of our rather personal questions, and even talked plenty about the past, present, and a bit about the future.
Music is naked, it talks to the crowd at the same level with no masks.
Torture the Artist: Ciao, Nicola. Tell us about your day. In which city will we find you right now? How much time did you spend on work and how do you plan to unwind at day’s end?
Fango: Ciao guys, I live in Mirano, a town close to Venice in the middle of nowhere, I wake up in the morning and I see the fog. I work on new projects all day in my studio with no schedules and twice a week, I rehearse with the Fango live band. The only thing I do every day for sure is taking a walk with my son in the morning. In the evening I relax and have a few beers or I keep working in my studio.
Torture the Artist: The holidays have just about ended, were you able to take some time off work?
Fango: 2020 began with a fresh start: I went to the mountains, to a place I’ve been visiting since I was a child. It’s a small mountain town located between Veneto and Trentino regions. My father has a house there that once used to be a stable.
Torture the Artist: There’s not much scoop about you floating around the web, you’ve done pretty well building up your “Fango” moniker without revealing much about your own personal identity, we had to dig deep for your real name. First, what is the story behind “Fango”? How much does your artistic persona resemble you? Do you intend to keep this level of anonymity the way it is or have you been peer pressured into letting the public in a little bit?
Fango: Fango, mud in English, is the nickname I was given at the university. I have a degree in Environmental Science, a branch of Chemistry, and the worst thing to analyze was the chemical mud from the industrial port of Venice: Marghera. Some of those muds are really dirty and smelly, so my mates started calling me Fango because of my punk attitude. So that’s it, an old nickname that suits me well. I wanted to be anonymous because I want listeners to focus on my music and nothing else, and it is going to stay that way.
Boredom pushed me to create something, to slowly build my alternative world.
Torture the Artist: The complexity of your productions indicate a deep-rooted background in music. How did you get started in music? At what age did you discover your gift and when did you decide to commit yourself to music full-time?
Fango: I started to play around with music at a very early age. My brother, who is 10 years older than me, had a big collection of tapes and CDs, and my father was happy with us playing and listening to music in the house. It was a hard time, my mother died when I was five and my father was working all day. That “boredom” pushed me to create something, to slowly build my alternative world. Since then, I did all kinds of things related to music: parties, productions, I learned how to play the drums. I always had the desire to make music and to be surrounded by people. Doing it full time was a bet with myself and a necessity.
Torture the Artist: If you didn’t end up as a DJ/Producer, do you imagine yourself doing anything else? Did you ever have an alternate master plan or a back up plan?
Fango: When I was almost 30 (I’m 35 now), I started to feel the weight of responsibilities, so I had to get organized. That’s when Fango was born and I gave up my job at the university. I’d probably keep that as a backup plan.
Torture the Artist: Your music has a certain nuance, sophistication and depth that do not just develop overnight or artificially. What were among your greatest inspirations and who are your musical influences?
Fango: An important part of my job is to check all the daily releases on Juno records. Juno is the main platform for vinyl music, maybe the biggest in the world. Every day I listen to all Reggae, Dance, Rock’n’Roll and Techno releases in order to get out of the mainstream music that’s fed to us by the media, the radio, in the clubs, all that stuff that the critics love. By doing this for a few hours a day I discovered a lot of artists I love for every kind of music that I wouldn’t know about because they don’t get to the newspapers, on the radio, blogs, top hits and playlists. By doing this I listen to a lot of bad music too, but I’m ok with it because it means that there’s no selection at all so I’m the one who decides what I like or not.
Torture the Artist: Your first release came out on Degustibus almost seven years ago, and it’s been, as it claims’ your ‘Home’ since then. How did your relationship with the Peruvian label start in the first place?
Fango: Degustibus is not a Peruvian label, it is a project by Cristiano Spiller, a very famous DJ from Venice. To me he is a good friend and mentor, and all that Peruvian thing was a joke to mess things up a little.
The tracks are named after the meteors fallen on earth because that is the way I see them: like meteors falling on the dance floor.
Torture the Artist: Tuono, your first album was released via Degustibus in 2015. Did you intend to complete an entire album from the very start or did it just flow along? Would you consider another album in the near future? How far off in style and sound would it be, if you so decide?
Fango: It was Spiller’s idea to make a full album by putting together all my singles and a few previously unreleased material. This is no concept album. The idea for Gea, on the other hand, was to make a musical journey. This concept is inspired by ancient Greek mythology, theories of the universal genesis and cosmogony. The tracks are dedicated to the gods of time, of the sea, to the whole humanity and life. There is also the element of duality between clubbing and listening. What you hear in a club doesn’t work when listened to at home, so I wanted to take care of this issue. Eventually, I leaned more on the listening side. The theme of night is developed in my EPs and in the Urano series: in Greek mythology Urano, god of the sky is married to Gea, mother earth. In those releases, the tracks are named after the meteors fallen on earth because that is the way I see them: like meteors falling on the dance floor. In the future there will be more full length albums, I’m thinking of something to be played from a console and an album with the Fango live band so it is listened to in a very personal way. There are also new people growing inside me.
Torture the Artist: All your tracks have distinct muses and span various realms, where do you draw inspiration from for your projects? Do you have a particular method in imagining an idea for a track into its fruition?
Fango: I listen to my head when it floats free in the silence of the countryside. I start from an element that moves me from different aspects. I look for something dirty, an unstable element that wakes me, difficult to tame, with a complex sound. I don’t like things when they are too easy and clean, that’s why I like to fight to turn my ideas into music.
Torture the Artist: What do you do with ideas or works in progress that never quite make it into a release? Have you ever taken a long break from making a specific track, and eventually returned to it at a later time?
Fango: Yes, I did. I have a folder with all things I can’t get over with. It took me years to finish some of them.
I spend a lot of time on all my tracks because I focus a lot on details.
Torture the Artist: Can you name a track of yours you can relate to the most at the moment? Which has been the easiest track for you to finish and which did you almost give up on but completed anyway?
Fango: Now, I’m into Era (Gea, 2018). The easiest was Vampiro (Tei-Vampiro, 2014). Wek was the hardest. It took me more than six months to complete it. Overall, I spend a lot of time on all my tracks because I focus a lot on details.
Torture the Artist: You’ve earned the honor, and rightly so, of remixing some of the most effective tracks from the scene’s heavyweights, veteran DJs, prominent producers and influential label owners such as Âme, DJ Hell, Maceo Plex, Red Axes just to name a few. How did these projects come about? How do you feel about providing your own interpretation to these tracks? Do you ever still feel intimidated?
Fango: Not really. I tried to be myself and express my vision of their work. My first important job was commissioned by Kompakt, a remix for All That Matters by Kolsch, then Matteo Milleri from Tale of Us asked me to remix Cosmin TRG for the label 50 Weapons. After that I remixed some stuff for Red Axes, Rebolledo and many more. My rule is that if I don’t feel good about a remix, if I don’t have fun, I prefer not to do it.
Torture the Artist: Clearly your DJ skills have not been looked passed either, you’ve played in many venues far and wide, from big clubs to intimate settings. Can you share some of your favorite experiences? Any favorite venue or a party that touched you as much as you moved your listeners?
Fango: Mamba Negra in Brasil was one of my favourites. I didn’t expect that reaction from the crowd, it was an illegal hard techno rave, my set was eclectic and every track I played worked well. To me it was like a new beginning. Playing in front of people is always a big responsibility; in a small club you feel really close to them, you feel their vibrations, their sweat, and I really feel to be part of the crowd. Playing in big venues is different; people are so far it is hard to see their reaction.
When a producer plays a live set with his laptop he looks like he’s checking emails at work on his desk.
Torture the Artist: We’ve began to see more and more light on your Live project, and it is very impressive. How many instruments do you play exactly? Where do you plan to take Fango Dischi this year?
Fango: When a producer plays a live set with his laptop he looks like he’s checking emails at work on his desk, and I’m tired of seeing that. Part of my goal is to bring back the disco vibe, the groove, but in a modern way, let’s say in a Fango way. I play the drums and I’m surrounded by very good musicians; we play live on my tracks, without variations. I don’t want Fangodischi to be linked to a specific kind of music, I don’t want it to be techno, house or minimal, this project is aimed to change styles and directions in order to focus on the real meaning of the track. Fangodischi will be pointed to a dance direction but not really, I’m looking for something uncomfortable, something new, like Fango, I want to make music that doesn’t have a home.
Torture the Artist: Looking back at the year that just passed, what were some of your accomplishments which hold most meaning to you on a personal level?
Fango: I became a dad, and I started my own label, taking care of the concept and the graphic side too. I planned some releases. I also played the first show with the fango live band which I thought was almost impossible, but I kept getting emails from people telling me it was great.
Torture the Artist: With the year and decade having just started, what do you feel most excited about? What do you plan to focus more on in 2020?
Fango: This is a good time (Editor’s note: the interview was done before Covid-19 became as bad as it has in Italy.) I have many ideas and I’d like to develop different projects, I want to widen up my way of seeing things.
Torture the Artist: When did you decide to play in your underwear and hat and what is the idea behind it?
Fango: Because music is naked, it talks to the crowd at the same level with no masks. To me this is the real power of clubbing. And also because I’m a very good looking man.
Interview by Marie J Floro