Moplen, mo’ dancing

Exclusive summer mix by the most sought-after remixer in the biz right now!


Moplen is the disco edit producer du jour – a young Italian whose deft and sophisticated touch is embraced by DJs including Gilles Peterson, Louie Vega, Danny Krivit and Glenn Underground to name only a few. Enjoy his selection especially put together for you lot:

We also got Moplen on the phone to discuss his immaculate taste and clubbing in that most under-rated of European cities, Milan.

BOP: Who were the local DJs who first inspired you as a teenager?
Moplen: “It was 1995. I was a kid, and I didn’t used to go to the clubs yet. I approached club music thanks to a radio show broadcasted every Friday night on Radio Deejay; the show was called ‘0 – 2’ because it was on air since midnight to 2am. The DJs were Joe T Vannelli and Ralf, no words, just music. House music. 
I remember staying up till the end of the show, even though there was school on Saturday morning, and recording it on tape. I used to keep listening to that tape all week long, and go to the local records shop with it asking the guys for some specific tracks featured in the show. In the shop I also found this monthly Italian magazine called Discoid where Italian and international top DJs reviewed their favourite tracks of the moment; I started reading it greedily and it became my bible each month.”

What was the scene like in Milan during that period?
“I used to, and still, live in Bergamo, a small town close to Milan. I knew there were clubs where that music were played – Desideria Freeway for example – but I was too young to attend the nightlife. So I was aware of this club world by radio shows and magazines. A few years later I started going to the clubs, and it was great to finally see ‘live’ the DJs I used to read about in magazines. I clearly remember when I first saw one of those DJs, I love the records he reviewed and my taste was influenced a lot by him; his name is Luca Colombo. He played this gig in a now defunct club called Rebecca, I think. He played so many tunes: I still remember him spinning Kerri Chandler’s Rain and Ashley Beedle rmx of MJ Cole’s Sincere.” 


Did Milan have a disco scene in the 1970s? Who were the DJs and clubs? Did they influence the 80s and 90s house scene in Italy?
“Milan and Bergamo, sure, had it. But I knew about that only years later, talking with older friends who used to live it. In Bergamo an important act that influenced the 90s house scene in Italy was born, it was FPI Project, that along with Black Box, paved the way for the Italo House scene which was quite relevant also abroad. One of the FPI members was the owner of the records shop I used to attend every week.”

How’s the current disco and house scene in Milan? Most people only know of Italy's love of techno and minimal – black vests and ketamine…
“There are a few places where disco and house are played nowadays. But, according to my experience, it’s still considered an alternative genre. Tech, EDM or raggaeton, and I won’t say anything about that, are still the most played genres here. It’s quite hard to play disco and house; since 2013, with my partner in crime Jopparelli, we have been playing disco-centered sets under the name of Tropicalismi, which is also a monthly party in our hometown. The positive thing is that the youngsters that attend these parties are more open-minded than to the older clubbers, so there’s hope!”

How do you choose your projects? You’re very clever at picking ‘the right tunes’ to work on.
“Well, I’m glad you consider them as the right tunes. I try to choose the tracks that had an impact on me and that, in my opinion, can ‘live again’ to a modern audience’s ears. We are talking about monster classics that still have a lot to say as they are; I just want to add a modern twist. The nice thing about it is to be able to make them sound modern but keeping the original vibe.”

Whats been your fave 'remix' so far, and why?
“Probably it’s Los Conquistadores Chocolates by Johnny Hammond, still unreleased. It’s one of my fave tracks ever, but quite difficult to play because it’s mainly a jazz track with a terrific four-four beat. It’s been sampled a lot of times, the first time I heard it was in Arthur Baker’s You’re Mine and it took me ages to understand where the groove came from.”

How did you hook up with Louie Vega and Gilles Peterson?
“With Louie Vega, thanks to a friend of him, Arnett, who sent him some of my stuff. Then I contacted him directly on Facebook and started to chat; you can’t imagine how I felt when I found out he was playing my remix of Clouds.
For Gilles Peterson, Ashley Beedle who I virtually met and sent stuff on Soundcloud long time ago) passed me his contact, and gladly he played some of my remixes in his BBC shows.”

What other remixers have influenced you, past and present ?
“Too many to mention. But the ones who came first to my mind are… from the past, Shep Pettibone, his Salsoul mixes are masterpieces, just think about Let No Man Put Asunder or Such a Feeling. Francois Kevorkian for his Prelude instrumental and dubs, John Luongo… Walter Gibbons for his raw takes.
My present remixers heroes are Dimitri From Paris, Joey Negro, and Kon. House heroes from the 90s which were remixers as well are Masters at Work, Mood II Swing, JohNick, Frankie Knuckles, Tommy Musto… and Farley & Heller, of course.” 

If you could get the multi track of any record, what would it be and why?
“That’s a good question. Probably I would go for Bunny Mack Supafrico, along with Let Me Love You. It’s my favourite song of his. I often play it in its original version during my sets: it perfectly fits into a crossover set of disco and house, it always creates a magical vibe with its discolypso sound. If only I could put my hands on it…”

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Issue FourSteve Beale