Our next installment in the Mixed By series is extra special as it comes from pioneer of the Italo House scene DON CARLOS aka Carlo Troja. Born in the North Italian town of Varese, the world- renowned producer/DJ began to harness his rhythmic craft in the late 70s, undeniably forming the foundations from which luxurious Italian house music was built. Troja’s hard work has sculpted much of our favourite soulful electronic music, jazzy deep house grooves and afro-flavoured funky records. His influence echos throughout modern day house productions from Palms Trax, Hunee to Young Marco and Joey Negro.
Released in 1991 on Calypso Records, ‘Alone’, was the first track from Troja, our first introduction to the style of DON CARLOS’, in came the cleanest sine lead synths, twinkling catchy keys and addictive yet subtle basslines. With its instantaneous joy inducing power, it was clear to listeners that these soulful melodies were being delivered to us by an individual who would become intrinsic to creating another part of the house music tapestry.With the ‘Meditteraneo’ compilation released on IRMA Recordings in 2004, releases on Eric Morillo’s Subliminal Soul and now the release of ‘Alina’ on Zagreb-based record label, Imogen, run by local DJ talents Ilija Rudman and Antonio Žuža, this artist clearly knows how to find the best platforms from which to distribute his music, working with labels who are an organic fit and with whom he finds a genuine connection and it is for these reasons that we will be enjoying his music for years to come.We had the pleasure of interviewing the man himself. We hope you enjoy.
Congratulations on your latest EP Alina is truly amazing, what a great release. You’ve seamlessly blended your original DON CARLOS style with some more contemporary sounding elements. How would you say your creative process has evolved since your first release? Do you make a conscious effort to keep up modern artists and music?
Thanks for the compliments on my new Alina track, I’m really glad you liked it and surprised you. my path has always been evolving since my first release, Alone, I came from the disco music, from the Funk & soul, the Philly sound, which still belong to me today, they still make me rejoice today. but musically I wanted to make a project that had within it all the elements of these musical styles, of course with due respect to that music, and then after Alone came the Mediterraneo track and other tracks and remixes to the present day. I had already used this evolution of sounds in an album entitled “the cool deep” released around 2008, but it was not understood, perhaps too far as sound for those times, and today it has been reprinted with a double vinyl, Alina is the completion of many years of work both as a producer and as a DJ, it was a two-year long research to be able to complete this track, which was born in another way and other sounds, but we wanted to rejoin the 90s, and the my origins.
Producing music that is now a stamp on the house music timeline, its no doubt that you are a legend, there is no escaping that fact. But say you did escape, what would you be doing if you weren’t producing and djing?
The work of dj and producer, has filled and still fills my life. I stopped a few times for a short period, because it’s difficult to find inspiration to make a new project, or because the sound that was current at that time didn’t clash with my style, and those times that, to bring home a piece of bread , I tried to get out of my musical genre, from my sound the results were bad, I have to be myself, even in my faults, and I tell you I have several, but I have an advantage I always do my own thing, and when the results come the happiness is always double.
So you were born in Varese. What can you tell us about this town? How did the surroundings affect your craft?
Varese is a small town with 6 lakes a mountain of 1300 meters with an ancient history, on the lake of varese there is a prehistoric pile-dwelling, so it is like a small town. I started from here, I went to Milan, which is about 1 hour from Varese, to buy the music that came from the US and UK from importers of the time. Then over the weekend I proposed it on Disco and Radio. at the time many friends told me that Varese was close to me, but my answer was “I remain in my country are some, if I go to a big city, I won’t be any more”. this for ‘I still remember it after 40 years and more, it means that it was a lesson of life, you have to believe in what you do, and do not fear anyone, one is worth one, nobody is better than you, this is only a opinion of others but not yours.
You’re able to connect many different music lovers on a dance floor just about anywhere in the world its beautiful. The ‘Mediterraneo’ compilations transports me to a time long before I was even born, when I listen to this track I’m visualising 80s Ibiza. It’s really important when an artist can do that to their listeners. Could you name a couple of tracks that move you, tell us the story and memory connected with the music.
It was a bit the beginning of this interview, it was an evolution a desire for change, to do something different from Alone, if I had to quote you a couple of songs that move me every time I listen to them, surely one is “Carl Bean i was born this way “and” You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine by Lou Rawls “. But other tears I could do for other artists and songs, after 40 years of career you can realize what has surrounded my life.
Following on from that, what would you like your listeners to feel and take away with them when they listen to your music?
I’d like them to let themselves go, this is what I do as soon as I start preparing my dj set for my DJ nights, I let my mind wander the dance floor, I imagine what could be the reaction on the track of people to some sounds, or situations, rhythms, melodies, etc. I still have something to daydream, I would like people who listen to my music to do it too
What advice would you give to 25 year old Carlos Troja?
I would tell him to do what he feels inside, to be independent, not to make the career his parents choose. I’m a chemist because my father imposed it on me. well I didn’t work one day as a chemist, I made the artist all my life, my father used to tell me that I would become a starving person, well today that he is 94 years old he tells me “nice life for you who travel the world for work “I answer him, daddy, thank goodness I didn’t listen to you, today I am a happy man, who is not afraid of death because I did “almost” always what I wanted in life
Interview by Olivia Shaw
Photos: Kenny Rodriguez
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