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Joseph Capriati: King of Techno

Spotlight’s Lydia Laws catches up with Joseph Capriati about Music On, spirituality and how his new album ‘Self Portrait’ is set to revolutionise the techno typecast.

We already have a lot to thank Italy for: Spaghetti, supporting the siesta and coming up with ‘the Neapolitan ice cream' (seriously, why choose one flavour when you can have three?) But it seems that Italy just isn't ready to stop giving.

Although Joseph Capriati has been part of the Napoli techno scene for years, his stint as Main Room resident at Marco Carola's Music On at Amnesia in 2012 put him right on our radar. Continuous touring, mammoth sets and his adoration and appreciation for his fans resulted in him becoming the driving force behind Music On's Main Room a second year running.

This season has seen him truly rise through the ranks of ‘techno royalty'; a far cry from the keen hopeful mixing tracks in his bedroom years ago, he is now a highly regarded name in the Napoli scene. His new album, Self Portrait, which is due for release on the 25th of this month, shows his penchant for a heavy techno beat, an underlying funk and a constant nod to melody. Let's face it; his sound has been as much a necessity to the 2013 Ibiza season as that extra scoop of pistachio in mid August.

Many people would normally typecast you as a pure techno DJ, but when we look back at your history there's so much more to your sound isn't there?

"Well I'm an eclectic DJ. I play everything from an after party, a sunset set, a festival, a big or small club... I'm heavily influenced by Danny Tenaglia for example, and I love playing big marathons and 12 hour sets. I'm not just closed into the Drumcode sound. If you listen to my new album for instance there's a lot of electronic stuff going on."

You were resident at Marco Carola's Music On this season in Ibiza. What's your relationship like with Ibiza? Do you find the island inspiring or distracting?

"To be honest, before I played techno I didn't want to play in Ibiza because all I saw was the cheesy stuff. It wasn't my sound and I wasn't going to change my sound to fit in with the scene there. Then last year Carola called me up and was like “I have an experiment for you. I want you to play the Main Room at Music On, and I want you to do your own thing.” It was a big risk. The room last year was always empty with everyone else and with me it was still only about half full... But this year? Full, every time! Marco was right. He said to me 'don't follow what I'm doing- tech house fans are going to be on the Terrace not in your room. What I did was my own music, but adapted it for the Ibiza crowd. Less BPM, step by step, like putting music in the mouth of a baby! People have to dance to what you play."

You played more dates at Music On aside from anyone but Marco himself which is huge! With it being your second year as a resident, do you think you perhaps felt the party more and took more risks?

"Definitely. Last year I think sometimes I played too hard and deep for Ibiza which is such a happy place. I didn't get as long to play either. This year, I played a minimum of 4 hours each time to a full room. The DJ booth was lower this year too, meaning I was able to be closer to the crowd. Now I feel like its home. When I arrive at Amnesia and take control of the decks, it's like bam! I start my trip. It's amazing! I feel so free-spirited; I don't need anything more, just the island's spirit and the people."

You've recently said that the Terrace in Amnesia is very fashion over passion and dubbed the ‘cool place to be.' What do you think about techno becoming so fashionable in general? Have you noticed the crowd change a lot?

"I know most people are there for the music and I don't want to judge, because everyone is free to do what they want, let's take backstage and VIP... if you were to go to them and ask who's playing, they don't actually know. It's happened to me before! They go for the party, the fashion and for Marco Carola, but a lot of them don't actually know anything about him. I don't care, they can do what they want, but for me, if you go to listen to techno you should know the DJ! Essentially, techno isn't commercial. Techno is techno. You have to know who you're listening to. I find the Main Room is darker and more spiritual and people are actually coming for the music."

Speaking of spiritual, let's talk about Es Vedra. It's the third most magnetic place in the world; did you get a chance to go and did you feel the energy there?

"Of course! I'm a very energy-fuelled person and I definitely felt the energy there. I feel energy from people and places and where I am at each moment."

Personally I like to go there to relax and recharge. Ibiza, amazing as it is, can be tiring! Is there somewhere you like to go to on the island to recharge your energy or unwind?

"Well this summer I didn't really get much time, because I would play, then there's an after party, then I sleep, then I go back on the road... Summer is very busy! Next year my mission is to find my favourite place in Ibiza, and go explore the island."

You played DC10 for the first time this summer as well. Had you partied there before, did you know what to expect when you played there?

"I've been a big fan of DC10 for many years. I always wanted to play there but I never expected it to happen. I've never tried to get in that circle, so for me when they called me up I couldn't believe it! Then when I spoke with Andrea Pelino he said “I called you for your music. You've never been here sucking up to me, and I respect it.” This is how it should be, booking a DJ for the music, not because he's around to get something. That's how you recognise a good promoter; they're the ones who care about your music, not your personality. Anyway, the crowd there is often largely Italian, and I have a huge following back in Italy so when I was playing the atmosphere was incredible. It was like having the same level of support I get at home! It also helped me a lot to become known in Ibiza as people were talking about it all over the island. It's all thanks to the Italians! They give me free love, but in that moment they also helped me on the job, so I'm very grateful for that."

My favourite Joseph Capriati moment was at Music On closing. The whole of the Main Room did a sit down, and then some fans at the front passed you an Italian flag reading ‘Joseph Capriati: King of Techno' flag. You've got such a huge and passionate fan base. Any more stories you can tell me where your fans have really reached out to you?

"In Italy, people do crazy things! In Napoli, the last thing I saw was people had put my face on a balcony, like Jesus Christ, or tattoos of my face on their back, or of my signature on their finger. It's extreme!"

Wow, it must be quite full on then! Is that one of the reasons you moved to Barcelona, for a bit more anonymity?

"Actually, the main reason I moved is because Napoli is awful for transport and getting about the city. I need to be somewhere where I can get about fast and get to the airport on time! [Laughs] Napoli is the city of delays unfortunately! But it will always be my home. My heart is there and I love everyone there. I'm always grateful to Napoli and Neapolitans, and their hearts too."

Your parents came to see you when you played your twelve hour marathon at Metropolis in Napoli. You've also just done a mammoth set to launch the world tour for your new album Self Portrait. Do they often get much of a chance to come see you play?

"Yeah my family love coming to see what I do. They're my biggest fans! It was hard initially because they didn't really get what I was doing, me neither! But step by step they realised I was serious about it, and now they're relaxed and support what I do. They came to Amnesia for my birthday on the 25th July. My father was taking photos of me from the VIP!"

They brought you a cake out didn't they! I was there celebrating my birthday too, mines on the 26th.

"Ah really! Well next year we'll celebrate together!"

Definitely! Next year at Music On I'll be expecting the cake to have my name on it too! Anyway moving on...My last question for you is just about how you think Music On will develop. One of the reasons Ibiza is so special is because it doesn't last. Now that Music On has residencies in New York and Miami do you think it could stand to lose some of the magic it holds as a night?

"I think such has been the success of Music On in the last two seasons that it will always be associated with Ibiza. The impact the party has had on the island is really something, and as part of Ibiza it only stands to get bigger. However, Marco is a global DJ, so I think it only natural for him to want to export the Music On concept all over the world. From what I have seen so far, I think he's succeeded in taking the party to New York and Miami without taking any of the magic away from Ibiza. The next period will be a big step for Marco and Music On and I am very positive about what's to come."


Joseph Capriati's album 'Self Portrait' is out on 25th November, on Drumcode.

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