The 10 Best 90’s Dub Mixes, according to Theo Kottis
1. Stephen Fasano and Vito Deluca make up AEROPLANE , an excellent disco band you probably already really like. They met in Brussels in 2001 in a club, and bonded at the record store where Vito was working. Stephen, already then a fairly big Italo fiend, was buying records. Though they didn’t like each other straight away, they shortly decided to start DJing.
2. Their first single, Caramellas/Aeroplane came out in August 2007 on incredible label Eskimo. Since then they have released two others, Pacific Air Race, above, and Whispers, with amazing singer KATHY DIAMOND, who also appeared on a remix of LOW MOTION DISCO ’s Love Love Love.
3. They have done many excellent remixes for people including Sebastien Tellier and Friendly Fires. Often these remixes are closer to re-recordings of the song (Au Revoir Simone featured on the Friendly Fires mix). This policy has lead to some of their mixes being rejected, most famously with Grace Jones’s William’s Blood, which later became one of the biggest remixes of the year.
4. Perhaps because Vito is a classically trained pianist, their music has an incredible emotional, melodramatic aspect. Listen to the classic track Pacific Air Race, above, for proof. However, this mix of disembodied melancholy and euphoria is very close to classic disco (not italo or “cosmic”) as well. And, like all music on Eskimo, it is elegant disco music for folk with nice haircuts, well-fitted trousers and Mitteleuopean train journeys. Their music is influenced equally by Belgian dance like ALLEZ ALLEZ, R&S records, New Beat, and their shared Italian heritage. There’s an operatic edge to them, probably taken from their love of Italian singers like LUCIO BATTISTI or ADRIANO CELENTANO.
5. They are working on the album now, but they occasionally emerge from their Toulouse, London and Paris studios to make people go absolutely berserk at parties. They are playing Field Day on the 1st of August (and the official Bugged Out! afterparty at Cable ). You should totally come down!
6. This is the conversation we had over email with Vito.
2008 seemed to go very well for you. How is 2009 looking?
Lets say that 2008 was our take off, 2009 is going well for us, busy with our debut album, more secret things coming up, playing all over the world etc…so all very exciting!
Would/do you ever party with a live band?
Sure, why not : ).When you see for example Sly & The Family Stone playing, how can you stand still?
You’re famous for a very emotional, epic sound. How would you characterise your sound?
That’s just about how we compose, we just don’t know how to write differently. Everything we do starts with kind of melancholic chords that usually become the chorus of the song. And when we are happy with these chords, we start making all the rest around it. If these chords are good, they can go on and on and on…
Do you feel emotional when you play?
Sure! Life is about emotions! But not only good ones unfortunately.
You seem more influenced by classic disco than many others on the scene. Would you agree?
Honestly, not necessary, we’re influenced by all kind of music, both let’s say that we like the organic feel, the groove & vocal power of classic disco, and the kind of melodramatic “a bit too much” feeling. Sometimes disco is in the middle of good & bad taste – that’s also what we like.
What’s happening with the new album?
We are hard working on it…
What can we expect from it?
You can expect Aeroplane! But with let’s say more freedom, because there is no dancefloor to fill. We go deeper into our influences.
Can you tell me more about your writing process – where do you start coming up with a song?
It always starts with writing on a piano. You know when you have a good melody, it doesn’t matter anymore what the arrangement will be, how it will sound or whatever, that melody will always stay as good… So once we have it, let’s say that the biggest part of the work is done, even if after that we can spend a month into production.
Can you tell me something about your training and musical background?
Stephen is a DJ since 15 years, he played everywhere in Belgium, Vito learned music for 10 years, he learned piano and guitar and had couple of bands before getting into electronic music.
I heard you were a classically trained pianist, could you tell me more about this? How does that impact or inform Aeroplane?
I learned piano in a music school. That helps me a lot when we come to create harmonies, writing arrangement, or things like that. And also to communicate with other musicians. Music is a language. Well the thing is that I’m never happy with a two chords song, like lots of dance music is made these days, and that I actually love! I’m not saying is bad, I’m just saying it’s not enough for me when I write. I always need something surprising or tricky, musically speaking, going on at some point, just for my own pleasure you know…
You’ve mentioned in the past that your Italian heritage has impacted your musical outlook. Could you expand on this? Are there any attributes of Italian pop that come out in Aeroplane?
Well I grow up listening to Italian music. My grandfathers both moved from Italy to Belgium in the 50s. And so, for example, my mother use to listen to all these Italian singers and then when the 80s came, these singers started to be produced by italo-disco producers so all the electronic Italian pop from the 80’s is quite amazing. But I should also mention others artist like Lucio Battisti or Adriano Celentano. Lucio Battisti is one of the biggest influences for me in terms of songwriting.
Speaking of heritage, how do you think you fit into Belgian music heritage?
Think we stand out a bit on our own at the moment on what we do, but when you look a bit closer, our tempo is quite the same as the Belgium New Beat!
You’re incredibly famous for your remixes, but often, they’re rejected – as was the case with MGMT and Grace Jones. How does it feel when a mix is turned down?
Well the feeling is like “You don’t know what you’re loosing…”! It can sound a bit pretentious but when you do music, of course you love the music you are doing, no? And you always think it’s the best thing in the world, because in a way you do music for yourself… For example for the MGMT remix, we worked so hard on the arrangement, I really love it, and we were really disappointed when they said no… but they rejected all remixes except the Justice one, which is really close to the original, so in a way they rejected our remix because, just like us, they really love the song they wrote (:-)) and they don’t want anybody to touch it! And we actually changed everything on it so, I understand them!
Do you feel vindicated when people love a song as much as they loved your version of William’s Blood?
Our William’s Blood remix is a weird thing… But to make a long story short, all the love we had from the whole internet and from the blogs on this one was enough for us, we were already happy with that, even if the remix was rejected but in the end… Ms Grace Jones had another listen and decided to release it… So – perfect.
How do you think your remixes differ from your own productions?
It’s simple, when you do a remix, the limit is the original song. When you write a song, you start from zero, and zero in music is silence. So you better know where you are going.
You’ve used Au Revoir Simone and Kathy Diamond on remixes. If you could have anyone, who would you like to sing on your records?
You’ll see with the album, we have all the vocalists we want… Except Marc Ollis from Talk Talk… Please Marc, call us!
Eskimo is one of our favourite labels at Dummy. What is it like working with them?
Stephen knew Dirk for a while, and we did Caramellas, he played it to Dirk and liked it! The Aeroplane project started from scratch with him. Dirk just left Eskimo to focus on Aeroplane now. Working with Eskimo is quite easy. You send a song, Dirk likes it, and the 3 months after it’s released!
What did you start talking about?
I met Stephen in a club and a shouted on him because he didn’t come to my shop yet…
Did you like each other straight away?
No, we still don’t like each other.
As DJs and record shop owners, you both come from incredibly music-saturated backgrounds. How has this impacted your sound?
DJ and record shop owners it’s the same… When you have a shop you have to sell loads of shit you don’t like, and I was trying to keep my ears as far as possible from those records…
Your songs are quite intelligent, knowing even. Does having a huge record collection help this?
Well I said it earlier, music is a language. So as you create a new word mixing two words that already exist, it’s the same for music. Mixing together two things you’ve heard in two different songs will create something new, so in this way, listening to a lot of music helps. The more music you listen, it’s like the more words you know, and so you can explain yourself better.
What is your favourite fizzy drink?
I’m a Coca Cola addict, for Stephen it’s beer. And I think we can both agree on Champagne.
Who is the best dancer?
Are you serious?
If you have the slightest interest in modern disco, and if you’ve got this far, you probably do, you will go nuts about our interview with Lindstrom.