Super Daronne’s friends write for us about their universe, their connections, their inspirations, and everything else. For the first time, we discover their buddies from Nu Guinea, and it’s a blast!
The members of Nu Guinea explore the disco-boogie heritage of Naples, their home town: the duo formed by Massimo Di Lena and Lucio Aquilina actually grew up on the Amalfi Coast. Nu Guinea has immersed itself in a meticulous research of what made the Neapolitan scene vibrate in the 70’s and 80’s, under the main influence of American disco, jazz-funk and African rhythms.
We find them this Saturday with the frantically crazy collective Super Daronne at the IBOAT
Hello Massimo & Lucio, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. To begin, can you present yourselves, your musical universe, your meeting and your musical course ?
Lucio : My mother sang and played the guitar and she was particularly interested in Brazilian music and jazz, while my father played the piano and listened mainly to classical music. They are not professional musicians but music was always present in my parents’ home.
My father also had a passion for synthesizers. He bought a Yamaha SY77 around the 90’s, which is a great instrument and I remember playing it a lot as a kid! I then took private piano lessons at the age of 13, but I quickly became reluctant to read music and learn music theory, so my teacher developed a learning method based more on harmony and ear training, which I still use today.
Massimo: For my part, I developed my musical tastes by myself. During my youth I was quite “rebellious” and I categorically refused any music that my parents suggested to me!
Nevertheless, I often turned to Pino Daniele’s music (for those who don’t know, I suggest you to listen to the albums released from the end of the 70’s to the beginning of the 80’s).
On the other hand, I was fascinated by the VHS of my uncle’s plays, in which my father sometimes acted. They were mostly traditional Neapolitan theater performances. Even if it didn’t influence me directly, it certainly fed my interest in art in general.
Massimo & Lucio: Our journey as a duo has followed several musical genres. In fact, when we first met in 2007, we were both in our techno period and this style was starting to be known by the general public in Naples. We were both fascinated by this universe.
This also led us to establish a lasting friendship and to build a continuous musical collaboration between us.
We experimented with several different projects before launching Nu Guinea which basically brings together all our experiences in one name. This project is not just a musical genre, but rather a multi-faceted music that is inspired by niches that existed in the past in which cultural encounters gave birth to a hybrid music, which was not obvious to define in a single musical genre.
How is the music scene in Naples? What has changed between before and now? We could notice that there are many young talents like The Mystic Jungle, Modula, Pellegrino etc. Can you tell us more?
L & M: Naples has always been a breeding ground for excellent musicians, both in jazz and electronic music. In the last 4 years, since we moved to Berlin, we have noticed that things are changing in a very positive way.
All the guys you mentioned are part of our circle of friends, we feel musically very close to them, even if each one has a different way of approaching music.
Modula for example is an absolute fanatic of synthesizers, he can reproduce a monkey’s cry with his machines! The music of Dario (Mystic Jungle) is more thoughtful and visionary.
And what about you, why did you choose to change city and move to Berlin?
The fact that we moved to Berlin was not so much because of the local music scene, but rather because we wanted to discover the multi-cultural aspects of this city, meet new people and have new experiences.
The Nu Guinea project was born just before we made this decision. We probably needed a change in our life, to start on a new basis.
After the release of your first album in tribute to Tony Allen, around afrobeat, you decided to compose a second one by getting closer to your hometown. How did the composition of “Nuova Napoli” go? What were your influences and your feelings when you released it?
A few years ago, we really started to miss our hometown. The only way to exorcise this feeling was probably to start producing music where we could feel a connection with our traditions. Singing in Neapolitan dialect was the first step.
After that, we gathered a lot of music that represents the city of Naples in the 70’s, from prog-rock, to the funk scene of the Neapolitan center, to Toni Esposito or Osanna and to the music of Pino Daniele. But also a lot of underground music like Donatella Viggiano, Donn’Anna or Oro (who are the stars of our compilation “Napoli Segreta” released on our label).
We gathered all these influences, then next to that we added other influences from all over the world such as Caribbean Islands, Nigeria, Middle East countries and much more. Then after these steps we started to compose our album Nuova Napoli
The creative process involved a lot of back and forth between Naples and Berlin, as well as countless hours trying to build the product so that it made sense in the end. It was a mixture of euphoria but also moments when we were ready to let go of the project because we couldn’t get the songs to sound the way we wanted. It could easily be considered one of the most difficult projects we’ve worked on in our career. We were really surprised to see so many people buying and supporting this album, we still admit that it’s very touching and we are really grateful for that.
Coming back to your album “The Tony Allen Experiments”, what was your experience with Tony Allen? How did you meet ? And what was your workflow through this project?
It was great to meet Mr. Allen. He’s a living legend after all! It all happened by chance, we were working regularly with Wayne Snow at the time making sounds for his solo project. And his manager, Eric, was also the manager of Tony Allen. One time he came to our “NG Studios” to talk about Wayne’s future projects, we got to talking about music so we were lucky enough to be able to show him some stuff from our Nu Guinea project (which didn’t exist at the time). He was super excited and offered to work on some pre-recorded drum tracks that Tony Allen had given him, and create something new with them.
After the release of the album “The Tony Allen Experiments” we had the chance to do a session in the Red Bull Music studios in Berlin with Mr. Allen himself for a future project (more information to come). It was fascinating to watch him play the drums, he is very quiet and makes very small movements… but on the other hand he is always on time!
During our breaks between recordings, we asked him thousands of questions about music in Nigeria in the 70s.
Are there any projects you are working on that you would like to tell us about?
Besides the DJ performances, we have a lot of dates coming up with the full band which includes 8 musicians on stage! We have already toured quite a bit in Italy and we will soon start performing abroad. The first date is in Paris on March 18th at the New Morning and it is already sold out.
Besides that, we are working on new music, including a new collaboration with Tony Allen, but we prefer to wait a bit more before announcing anything 🙂
Interview by Jérôme Rigaux and Quentin Daney.