The Berlin-based Italian DJ duo share a blood-curdling mix of Italo disco and horror synths ahead of their set in New York this weekend.
Photos by Camille Blake.
The sun is rising over the river Spree, and in the garden of Berlin club Greissmeuhle, two Italian DJs command an eclectic crowd with old Italo-disco cuts and wandering, dystopian synth music. People mingle and dance among a dilapidated scene of junkyard cars, scraps of metal, and lawn chairs, as the energy builds, ever so slowly, with teases of a kick drum carefully brought into the mix. These ravers aren't hungry for a pounding 4/4 beat or waves of bass—they're here for the DJ duo called Discodromo to take them on a journey through time.
The DJs tend to throw down sets on the slower side, generally between 105 and 120 BPM—what might seem like a sludgy crawl compared to the high-energy techno and electro pounding through many club sound systems in the city. While they hold back the tempo, Discodromo's selections jump back and forth through decades of dance music, twisting old school Italo-disco and synth music seamlessly with unreleased tracks and edits from their friends, all held together by a steady groove and an unmatched eclecticism.
The duo of Giacomo Garavelloni and Giovanni Turco are dance music heroes in the German clubbing epicenter, and have been for years. Since 2009, they've been behind one of the city's finest gay parties, Cocktail d'Amore. The monthly event has also evolved into a record label releasing modern disco and deep house from the likes of Heatsick and Lord of the Isles, along with Discodromo's own remixes, edits, and productions.
While immensely popular since it's inception, Cocktail didn't always have a home. Speaking with THUMP over email, Discodromo compared the party's history to that of "a fugitive"—"Running from the cops, running from gentrification. Going for years from one illegal venue to the next, until it was either shut down or destroyed to make space for new office buildings." This stealthy identity makes it the kind of party that must be sought out and found. For a Berghain-seeking techno-tourist, Cocktail d'Amore probably isn't even on the radar.
Discodromo will touch down in New York this Halloween weekend for a special edition of beloved gay party, Wrecked, at Analog BKNY. As part of a short US tour, they'll also play in Washington DC on October 28, and in LA on the 30th. Ahead of this weekend's party, Discodromo made us a spooky Halloween mix full of creepy synths and churning howls, and spoke to us about how Cocktail evolved into one of the favorite underground parties in Berlin. Check it all out below.
THUMP: First off, what was the thought process behind this Halloween mix?
Discodromo: Our first thought was the spookier, the better. So beware: lots of creepy synths in action. You could sum it up as "horror: past, present and future." We included a few classic productions from absolute legends like Goblin, Fabio Frizzi and John Carpenter, plus some released and unreleased tracks from our own Cocktail d'Amore Music and more stuff we found or got from friends.
For those of us who haven't had the chance to see you play out, can you explain what Discodromo is all about?
Discodromo is very much about eclecticism. Expect to hear (almost) all kinds of stuff, or better yet just come with a free mind.
You're founders of Cocktail d'Amore party, one of the best gay parties in Berlin. Can you tell us about the history of this party and its current place in the city's nightlife scene?
We started Cocktail in 2009. It came from a very personal need to try and fill a music gap existing in Berlin at the time. The idea is still the same: bringing to the city unheard DJs and producers, along with some more known names. The party's history could be considered somewhat similar to that of a fugitive though: running from the cops, running from gentrification. Going for years from one illegal venue to the next, until it was either shut down or destroyed to make space for new office buildings. For the last couple of years though we've been doing our party at the same location called Griessmühle. It's an incredible space with a great sound system and an eerily post-apocalyptic look à la Mad Max (thanks to a bunch of destroyed cars and an old truck people use as an improvised lounge) with lots of corners to hide and get lost.
This summer you played on the main floor of Berghain billed as "Technodromo." Can you describe some of the selections you made for that night and how you tried to maintain the Discodromo vibe in that context?
You always bump into heavy stuff you love but think you're never going to play it out cause it dons't really fit in your set. In those cases, it's still you, you're just speaking a different musical language. Set-wise it was a mix of many different things, from old-school techno to new stuff with a touch of electro, EBM, and industrial, which is the same approach we have for Discodromo.
In terms of production, you have been doing mostly remixes and edits for the past several years, most of which is for your own DJ sets. Who are some of your favorite "disco editors," and what is it you try to bring to these forgotten tracks to make them ready for the club?
No one can beat DJ Harvey and Greg Wilson when it comes to that. As for our edits, most of those songs were not meant to be played in a DJ set, to become part of a stream of music, so what we do is to do some tricks to make them more DJ friendly, like extending the beginning and the end for example, to create more space for the mix, or we'll rearrange some parts in the middle. But we usually don't do anything that changes the songs dramatically.
You're coming to play New York for Halloween weekend. What was the best Halloween costume you ever wore?
See? That's the funny thing. Halloween was never a tradition in Italy and became really popular only in the last years. So yeah, it's probably hard to believe it, but, we both have never worn [a costume]!
Francisco - Introduzione (Slow Motion, 2013) Vs Simonetti / Pignatelli / Moranti - Tenebre Maniac (Spfx Bonus Track 1) (Cinevox, 1982)
Discodromo feat Steev Lemercier - Point De Depart (Unreleased)
Pentagram Home Video - Opening Ttitles (Death Waltz Originals, 2016)
Brassica - Ballo Dei Morti (Cyber Dance Records, 2009)
Biosphere - Biosphere (Origo Sound, 1991) Vs Die Orangen - Diggeedd Space Version 3 (Unreleased)
Mascaras - Jukai (Cocktail d'Amore Music, 2014)
Kris Baha - Autora (Cocktail d'Amore Music, 2017)
Naduve - No Good News (Cocktail d'Amore Music, 2016)
Fabio Frizzi - Zombi 2 / Main Theme (Death Waltz Recording, originally composed in 1979)
Bon Voyage - Presque L'Amazonie (Cocktail d'Amore Music, 2014)
Simonetti / Pignatelli / Moranti - Tenebre (Remix) (Cinevox, 1982)
John Carpenter - The End (Remix) (ZYX Records, 1983)
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