We talk to Tropical Animals ahead of their debut release on their own label.. Fashion students, artists, glamour galore gather every Thursday night at Club 21 in Florence their night. The line up has included Axel Boman, Ross From Friends, Avalon Emerson to name just a few of the impressive acts that grace the Tropical Animals decks. Their most recent mix with Italo super-god Daniele Baldelli from a roof top in Florence went out on Mixmag last week.
Tropical Animals ‘Rave In The Cave Volume 1’ is released 29th November. We caught up with label head Ricardo Garcia Baez..
For anyone that doesn’t know you how would you describe who Tropical Animals is?
This project was born from the idea of creating a real movement, a faithful crew (a team, hence the name Tropical Animals) that identifies itself on a musical level Thursday after Thursday. A family in fact that welcomes without prejudice anyone that wants to have a good time, expressing their freedom in whatever shape or form.
No labels, no categories, genres or distinctions, only Music and Love.
Can you tell me where you’re from?
I was born in a small mountain town in southern Italy, from Venezuelan mum and dad. When I was 11 years old my father moved to Florence, a city that adopted me and where I still live
You come from a pretty amazing city. What is it about it you love?
Florence is a small city. Even though it is among the most important cities in Italy, it is still a big town where everyone knows each other, so it’s pretty common to meet somebody you know every time you walk through the center! While you walk in its streets full of history you can still feel the magnificence of past times and the Renaissance art that surrounds it .. it is an incredible emotion every time.
You been running a party for a decade I hear. Can you tell us about that party?
Every Thursday from 2010 we organize our party.
We invite artists from all over the world but at the same time we give space to local artists and especially to our resident djs.
We always try to bring new artists into the scene in our city and try to think of the Florentine public by always listening to something different and fresh compared to the bookings they do in the other clubs in the city.
What makes the Club 21 so special?
Club21 was the first club in Florence, the first dance license in Florence. So let’s say this is worth a lot already! It was opened in the late 60s. In the 90s (when it was called ANDROMEDA) one of the resident DJs was Lory D! The most characteristic thing is that it is located in the historical center of Florence, near Piazza della Signoria ..
So outside you are immersed in the Renaissance architecture , but down below the ground opens up a world of electronic music. This contrast is something really special.
What makes your party so special?
Artists and people. The music choices and the stylistic choices of our clubbers are perfectly balanced. There is an understanding that goes beyond words and this turns into positive vibrations and a unique environment. One of the questions that our door selector MAFALDA asks is when new people arrive is: who plays tonight? Music comes first. Always. One of the things I love most is that sense of community that has been created over the years and that leads us to attend the club on Thursday. 60% of the people who come every week know each other and find out who’s playing and from here they create friendships interactions, loves, interests, connections, etc.
I personally know most of my clients. I saw people sharing their first kiss at Tropical Animals, then getting engaged, having children, getting married. People crying, laughing, evolving, changing sexual tastes … in other words, in clubbing I saw the meaning of life.
The images from your parties look like a realy ‘fashion/ art’ crowd which is amazing! Tell what attracts that sort of crowd to your parties?
definitely the aesthetics. I worked for many years in the fashion world, before moving on to my passion, music, and I brought with me a wealth of aesthetic and stylistic knowledge that flows on the choices of the artists, on the artworks and on the musical choices I make for the label. In addition, our customers love the music we make because of research compared to the other events that the city offers .. and fashion or art students are attracted by our proposal.
Would you say that as a DJ you are really creative? How does that manifest in the parties and the music?
I could say yes! I can’t understand how a dj can play for 2/3 hours only techno, only disco music, only house … it’s extremely boring.
I believe that putting records serves to tell a story and the path of every real djs is not only confined to a genre. So mixing and experimenting with the consent of the public makes you a good DJ.
When a guest comes to the Tropical Animals for the first time, he always asks me what kind of music we usually put at our parties. And I always answer: look at the dancefloor and play what you like. And for a DJ feeling free, it’s something incredible! For example, Denis Sulta has always played Disco when he comes to us, just as Fango plays house music. Tropical animals djs sound differently than usual.
I founded the label in 2018 and I also took this thinking into releases. Not just a precise genre, but many types. It’s probably something that goes against the rules of the market .. but the important thing is to let something out that I like to be able to sell it so well to others.
What made you start the party?
The desire to create an alternative scene in Florence. In 2010 there were not too many realities that made a genre like ours. We started from the electro and we wanted to bring to Florence the best of international music. And from there we started by offering music every Thursday. A difficult day in the week when nobody believed it. And we started … and after 10 years we’re still here.
Tell us about the first party?
ahhh hard to remember, 10 years have passed!
I only remember the first evening, where I was the dj, the lightman, the one that did the flyer for the event, and ultimately a pr. Basically, a one show man! The only thing I remember very well from that evening is the writing on the wall that I had in front of the console. “I AM THE CENTER OF MY UNIVERSE”. A phrase that I carry and will always carry with me in my heart.
Tell us about your roster? You’ve had some pretty big name. How do you get them? Why do they want to play for you?
Over the years, the thing that has distinguished the party is that it has brought artists to Florence who have never performed in Italy or in Europe. Dj Boring, Bambounou, Avalon Emerson, Jayda G, Dan Shake, Hnny, Folamour and many others have made the first Italian performance at tropical animals. Denis Sulta, Fango, Gesaffelstein, etc. for example have made the first important date of their careers with us. Research, Research, Research. I study artists, I listen to tons of music, I see how they move and I understand if they could be good for our party. The artists tell us yes, because they understand the kind of clubbing we do. We have a club for up to 250 px, a great sound system and lots of nice people ready to dance and listen. All the artists always come back very willingly, because we make them feel at home from their arrival until departure and as a DJ I know what it means to find a family atmosphere in another city. It is really beautiful.
Who were your first big musical style influences?
My father, my mother, Michael Jackson and MTV.
My father was a jazz musician and had a beautiful collection of soul, blues, jazz vinyls .. my mother taught gym aerobics and besides salsa, merengue, cumbia that was always at high volume at home and tied to her origins .. She also listened to the beautiful American house and the pop songs of the moment. Madonna, George Michael, etc. I was influenced by all this music that was always played at home.
What artists do you admire now?
There are many.
I had the opportunity to host one of the masters of the clubbing world ,Nicky Siano. It is still nice to see in his eyes the love in music and the feeling that there is … which I no longer see in the new pop djs with a 4/5 year career behind them.
I highly value Vladimir Ivkovic as a unique DJ in the world music scene and a beautiful person.
Whitesquare is one of my dearest friends and seeing him grow up like that fills me with joy.
There are so many I can call out, It’s really easier to say who I don’t particularry like :)
Can you tell us about some staple tracks in your sets and at your parties?
Vanilla Minus was the first closing song of the first party I did. And sometimes I still play it, because I think it’s a song that will never die.
Josh caffe is one of the artists that I am following more closely during this period. reminds me of that 90s house influenced by sensuality and the mystery that is so missing in the last period. I love to put it in the middle of the dj set because it breaks the dancefloor with that powerful initial synth and after the phrase “fuck me all night long” all the people go crazy
I played with red axes 4 years ago in Naples,from day there is no longer a set where I don’t put one of their tracks. it was what was missing in the scene, creativity, search for sound and metric capacity and composition of the tracks outside the box.
Marco (dj octopus) sent me this track one day after a gig at Tropical Animals and I completely freaked out. Those 80’s synths and that hypnotic and foggy taste conquered me from the first note
Michael the co-A&R of my label and dj resident sent me this track by the cyclist and I fell in love with it. A strong inner pathos.
Your recently had a video up on Mixmag with Daniele Baldelli on a roof top in Florence. Looked incredible! Tell us how that came about?
After ten years of efforts and sacrifices, someone finally noticed us! Maybe for our bookings, for the label that is growing, for the line of clothing we have created, for our collective .. I don’t know precisely but mixmag was very interested in the appeal that tropical Animals is taking and they proposed this event which we gladly welcomed. Daniele is a dear friend, he made a beautiful release with tropical and personally we have a fraternal relationship. He agreed to play even if he doesn’t particularly like to be recorded, but he did it for our project and I’m very grateful. I’m happy to have played too and I’m happy with the feedback coming from all over the world.
Can you tell us about the music scene in Florence – what’s the vibe?
The music scene in Florence is alive. There are many underground and more commercial realities.
I personally support the ones who dare and risk musically.
Those who call the pop names of the moment to rip tickets without research and passion, I really don’t. For me this is not clubbing, but it’s still important that these realities exist to give choice to the public.
Tell us what we should do if we go to Florence?
eat, visit all the art that surrounds us and fill the city and relax in the beautiful gardens on the riverside.
Where should we eat?
Vini e Vecchi sapori.
it is one of the best restaurants of Tuscan cuisine in the city. It’s like entering your grandmother’s house and eating the dishes that she prepared for you with so much love.
Are you a big collector of records?
honestly no. I have many because I started with those at home in my bedroom,
I believe in music. It could be vinyl, mp3, cd, wherever … I don’t care much. I believe that this nerdism of vinyl at all costs, can make even the most important sense of what we do lost … the musical quality and sound. if a track that I like is only on vinyl I buy vinyl, if I like the artwork on the cover I buy vinyl. From the cover you understand so many things :)
Where do you/ should we go to buy records?
DANEX, CONTEMPO and MOVE ON: the last one for the position too.. it’s in front of our beautiful cathedral.
Where should we go for a coffee?
Caffè lietta is a new place in town, it’s really close my house and for me the coffee it’s really amazing!
What’s your favourite place for dinner.
Le tre panche.
(the three benches!) it is a very small restaurant with 3 benches and three tables, where you eat like a king and during the period of the truffle they have the best white truffle in the world!
If you could give advice to someone starting a party/ club night right now, what would it be?
Put passion in it, risk and never give up.
If you believe in one thing … bring it forward even in front of the adversity.
Always remember the human relationship, no social media will ever be as convincing as your face and your words.
What’s coming up next for Tropical Animals?
Lots of things.
Party: Thursday we host MINIMAL VIOLENCE LIVE for the first time in Florence, a duo of Canadian girls who make a splendid live hardtechno. The following week we host VOLVOX from Discwoman. And many other artists in the coming months.
Label: next weekend RAVE IN THE CAVE will be released, the compilation I created with all my resident DJs and friends. I am very proud of this release and I’m sure it will be a success. The next ep will be mine (after the last 2 years ago on MUSIC FOR FREAKS) and I’m really happy to get it out.
Interview provided by Shine PR