Italian selector Davide Squillace has made a name for himself with years upon years of fire in the studio and the booth, earning his stripes with releases on a wide range of labels including Conform, Desolate, Sketch Music Architecture and Hideout. Also head of his own This And That imprint, Squillace has been crafting house and techno hits for the best part of two decades, refining his craft behind the decks of some of the best clubs in the world.
Soon set to take to Egg in London for a label showcase, Davide Squillace spoke to us about festival season, the rich Naples scene and a few of the exciting projects that he’s got in his sights.
Hi Davide, you’ve had plenty on this summer, but all good things must come to an end. Looking back on the festival season, what have been your highlights?
It’s been another great summer and so many festivals - how to remember the highlights! And as much as I love playing festivals I am more of a club guy as I love having the people close to me, so I can feel their energy and feel their reactions and I enjoy these moments most where we’re both conjoined in this special relationship that lasts during a party.
Having said that the Medusa Festival in Valencia, Spain, was huge for me and you couldn’t see the end of the crowd but it was great for DJs as we were up close to the people, and they were an amazing and receptive crowd. Everyone was so into it and most DJs (me included) managed to play a really intense set to a rapturous response.
The other amazing festival experience was playing 626 with Jackmaster, who I first met a couple of years ago, and we had a lot of fun together.
Naples has a pretty rich electronic music scene, having given rise to plenty of high-profile DJs including Marco Carola, Joseph Capriati, Deborah De Luca and more. What makes the city such fertile ground for DJs and dance music producers?
Naples has always been one of the best cities for house and techno music and since I was 14 it has played host to some of the biggest DJs in the world. It’s the city that attracts this energy though as we’re real party people. It’s also a city that’s always enjoyed a rich variety of guests from different musical genres even drum n’ bass and jungle, and one night you can see Masters At Work, then the next night Jeff Mills or Grooverider and that’s great for any music lover to be exposed to the top notch in their field and enjoy some incredible nights along the way.
For me I always get stressed playing my home town as I really want to play my best possible set to get everyone fired up and also make my mum proud of me! I thrive on the adrenalin and recall when I was 15 and started going out clubbing realising now that was the beginning of something. I used to love this small club Velvet which held about 300 or so people and opened when all the other clubs were closing. It had the best and the worst of people coming together, every texture in society which would make it so interesting and so unpredictable and once you got inside, you were just one of the crowd, and could just be yourself. Everyone was accepted and that’s the great spirit that house music ignited.
Every city it has its ups and downs and that’s not always because of the club scene but because of other factors, but Naples will always thrive on musical energy as its people love to go out and enjoy new talents.
You’re bringing your This And That London showcase to Egg London on Saturday 16th September alongside Re.You and Basti Grub and can you tell us a little bit about the two artists that you’re bringing with you?
Re:You is an amazing producer and we just hooked up not that long ago. One is deep and the other more glitchy and more into the details but they both produce and create such amazing music. We’ve bumped into each other across the global club scene and got on and enjoyed each other’s music so it just felt right.
The bio of This And That states that it exists to “provide a platform for like minded artists to develop a host of creative projects”; how far beyond music do these projects extend?
At This and That we have developed an organic approach to music and other forms of art. We firmly believe things are constantly changing and as a creative lab we intercept and blend different layers of creativity to produce unique projects in the fields of visual arts, interactive electronica and new forms of collaborative music. Soon this process will be more structured and will have a new centre of operations in BCN Diputacio HQ. The label, the creative lab and our associates will create a different standard which is what we’re focusing on.
The majority of This And That releases have been digital only, with only a select few pressed to record. Do you think that pressing records is somewhat redundant in an increasingly internet-based music industry?
We all have to face the facts on budgets and unfortunately it doesn’t make sense to press everything on vinyl, as obviously it’s way more costly. However we’re happy to press if we can sell enough records to break even and we’ve released records from Carl Cox, Re:You, Guti, Basti Grub and myself that have all sold well. We try to press well known names but also something that’s unknown but that sounds really good and that we would like to give a bigger platform to as when we press vinyl we also up the promotion, and these days vinyl is very special to a certain set of people and DJs as it’s something tangible.
I’ve always been a vinyl fan from when I first started out collecting Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva’s Plus 8 releases, Josh Wink’s Ovum label, Mute Records, Ninja Tunes and another favourite, Perlon.
How well do you know Egg London and the club’s team?
I’ve been working with Egg London for quite some time now and one of the team, Miky Stello is our label manager so we’re very close. It’s a really cool set up with its different floors and always great quality sound and lighting, and it’s definitely one of the places that you really want to play as it’s got a great crowd that really go for it. I’m really looking forward to the event and will be digging up some special tracks for the night.
You’re part of the acclaimed Circo Loco team, who you first debuted for in 2007. How important has the Ibiza institution been to your development?
It’s been crucial to my development because Circo Loco gives you the opportunity to shine at what you do in front of lots of people from hugely receptive clubbers to some of the world’s leading promoters. It’s a great stage and I love playing there but also it’s a great place to hang out, hear other DJs and music, and be yourself. Some of my favourite sets include those from my close friends Matthias Tanzmann and Martin Buttrich and that’s where we started our ‘Better Lost Than Stupid’ party idea from playing some amazing back to back sets together there. We’re now working in the studio writing our debut album for Skint/BMG and also working on our Live shows which we hope to have ready for next year which can be very complicated as we’re all so busy…ha ha.
You’re also playing at the inaugural event BPM Portugal in mid-September with a huge lineup of International headliners; how excited are you?
It’s going to be really interesting as BPM have got a world-class name and have put together a great cast of DJs and guests and it’s at a great time of year to close the season. I think it will be great but as in new things it may take a year or so to completely establish itself.
A collaboration with Martin Buttrich and Matthias Tanzmann titled Better Lost Than Stupid caught our attention when you played at Circus in February. How has the project developed since we spoke to you back then?
As I said earlier we’re in the studio when we can working on our album and also working out how to do Live shows and what that will incorporate. I will play maybe a little piano/keys and there will be some modular synths, sequencers, fx, filters, and we’re still working it out but it will be a real musical journey. It’s all loose and anything can happen which is refreshing for everyone involved.
You’ve been releasing music for nearly two decades now. How has your style changed in that time?
When I first started I grew up in the techno scene so I started off making techno but I didn’t think it was that amazing. So I went a bit softer and as you do over the years you modify, re-connect and change and become more experimental and then often find yourself going back to your original inspiration. My sound is techno and house and I go where my influences take me.
My favourite productions?? Well I wouldn’t say that I’m more attached to them but the releases on our own label and Desolat are played the most as they work best in the clubs.
Finally, let’s finish with a track from your hometown. What’s a track that best captures the Neapolitan party spirit?
Bizarrely enough I’m going to say Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy’ anthem as people played it so much and it was the beginning of my journey.
Davide Squillace brings his This And That party to Egg London on Saturday September 16th, and will be joined by Re:You and Basti Grub. Before that, though, he'll be playing at the first BPM Portugal at the end of this week.
Photo courtesy of Davide Squillace