Introducing… DJ Benetti 6th November, 2014

DJ Benetti is one of the unsung Italo pioneers. In recent times, he has played at the legendary Cocadisco in London a record 6 times, in addition to countless nights all over Europe, USA, Far East and even Australia, delivering magical musical odysseys that have enchanted both first-timers and hardcore Italo and hi-nrg cognoscenti.

His first gig was at a Mafia-controlled pizza restaurant in Vigevano (Northern Italy) in 1980, a restaurant famed for its special aphrodisiac “spaghetti a la slinguata”. He’s also big in China, especially in cities like Shanghai and Hang Zhou —where he lived for 18 months as paid guest of the Communist town council.

As the title of this mix suggests, he does have another obsession aside from the enormous collection of rare Italo disco CDs and vinyl, that fill three huge rooms and a basement in his house. More than 50% of his income is spent on his beloved D&G clothes and accessories.

Get to know the enigma DJ Benetti before he graces The Art School on Friday for ItaloBLACK.

You’re on a date, out to impress, but the person you’re with admits to ‘not really knowing what italo-disco is’, what record do you play to bring them into the fold?
I have a special record for every special person, on the last date it was a rare edit of Boys Boys Boys by Sabrina, BOOM!

Italo vocals are often wonderfully ‘bad’ in conventional pop terms, but are there any that you find actually unbearable?
This style of ‘naif’ singing was a big influence on a lot of minimal wave and Euro dance pop for the last 3 decades, for me the only unbearable vocals in Italo Disco are those sung without that uniquely innocent Rimini passion.

How do you feel about such wonderfully cheap sounding records now becoming expensive collectors items? Do you care?
The pressings were sometimes very small and made uniquely for DJs and to sound great in a club environment so the originals were never intended to be collectable. Most of my collection was acquired during the 80s and 90s so I didn’t have to pay so much.

What Italo lyric would deem most vital to your personal philosophy?
‘Give Me The Night’

In Luther Blissett’s novel Q, the protagonists go from anarcho-revolutionaries taking over an entire German town, to Venetian swindlers operating a brothel, do you think this is valid a metaphor for the political and artistic journeys we all take?
I went from being an anarcho-swindler to becoming a Venetian revolutionary, I’ve never operated a brothel but I DJ’d in a sex club.

Have you ever been to Marcellas in Edinburgh, the little Italian bakery / pizza place? It’s really good. He plays these incredible Italian versions of old pop songs. Why do you think we take such pleasure in hearing Italians sing in English?
For me, Italians have an historically exquisite sense of musical harmony. I don’t know Marcella’s (yet) but I do recommend Taste Of Italy!

From it’s early days of Easy Going and Little Macho Music, what became known as ‘Italo-Disco’ straddled that thin line between prowling machismo and gay sexuality pretty brilliantly, yet a lot of contemporary italo influenced music seems far more arch and self-conciously cool. Do you think, as DJ Sprinkles argues, club music has steadily forgotten / sidelined its own Queer roots? Why?
Yes, I agree with that and for me it’s a shame. It happened probably because a wider straight culture managed to co-opt it and other subcultures so effectively.

You’re on a date, its going terribly, and the person you’re is trying to seem hip by professing a love of to ‘you know, like… italo-disco’, what record do you play to scare them away for ever?
That happened once (accidentally) when I played ‘Tarzan Boy’ by Baltimora, even though it’s an awesome song.