Artist To Artist: Marvin & Guy
Here is one which we have been trying to make happen for quite some time – the infamous Italian duo are difficult people to pin down, that's for sure. Marvin & Guy have been busy for many years rocking dancefloors and producing intriguing club focussed music for the likes of Life & Death, Hivern Discs, Permanent Vacation, Disco Halal, Correspondant and more. Somehow they have managed to do this whilst maintaining a relentless tour schedule and various other antics along the way… Are they superheroes? Who knows?
Anyway, we invited them to interview one another in an insightful feature on everything from Michael Jackson to dark days.
ALESSANDRO TO MARCELLO
What is the main reason you started to dig italo disco? And why do you have such a connection to the genre?
My love for italo disco started around 2000. I was listening to a podcast from Metro Area and I immediately fell in love with three tracks from the mix: “Charlie – Spacer Woman”, “Electra – Feels Good” and “Advance – Take Me To The Top”. Then I started digging for records and formed the blog Italo Deviance in 2008. Now italo disco is a large part of my music taste and inspiration.
Do you think that it’s better to have good music or good food in life and why?
50/50. As you know, my parents used to have a restaurant – opened by my Grandmother in the 50s – and I literally grew up in a kitchen. So I can’t imagine a life without good food and good wine.
What was your first thought when you woke up on the morning before you became a touring DJ and what is it now that you have become one?
At the beginning my first thought was about the music and my performance. Now it’s if the driver will be on time the day after for the pick up to the airport.
What is the darkest moment of your life so far? If you ever had one.
Yes I had one, the night when my father died. October 19th 2010.
What did you really expect when we first started the Apartment Parties in Parma?
To be honest, my expectations were to have the police inside the DJ booth at the second party but it never happened in four years. Apartment was one of the best experiences of my life.
What’s the instrument you would really like to have forever, your favourite?
The Roland Jupiter 8.
Let’s be nostalgic for a bit: what are the big differences in this job if you look at the early 90's and if you look at it now? What was better before and what’s better now?
There are many differences. Back in the day, you had to spend money to buy records and train every day at home. I think, for at least one year before your first gig in a club. You could not play fake sets with vinyl or become a DJ in a week.
The international/pro DJs used to get big because of the music they made, because there was no social media and you could only rate an artist on their productions or mixtapes. On the other hand, new technology has made my DJ life easier in terms of health, because with USB's I don't have to carry two big bags of records and my back feels better.
Did you ever think of quitting music and following your parent’s career in the food business (become a chef or a sommelier…)?
Yes I thought about it many times when things weren’t going so well in my career because I really love the food & wine world. Nowadays I'm happy the way things are but I can't cross out opening something in the future.
You know (and I know too of course) that people always ask us for the deeper meaning of the name Marvin & Guy. What do you really think about it: do you like the name and why?
If I remember well, we had to send the pre-masters of our first release and we hadn’t chosen a name yet. We dug into my soul/funk records and the first record that came out was the album “What’s Going On” from Marvin Gaye. Loving his music and knowing his very sad story we decided to make a sort of tribute. And yes, I definitely love our name.
We have an 11 year age gap, so we come from two different ages and generations. Is there something you would trade with my generation and vice versa?
First, I would be 11 years younger. I don't think there are many differences. Maybe you are more technologically minded…But it's not true because I'm more technologic than you (lol).
What I would change from your millennial generation with my Generation X is that, starting from around 96 everything was a revival of the 70s, 80s and 90s (music, fashion etc.) I think we were lucky to live real revolutions and real new things without benchmarks from the past.
MARCELLO TO ALESSANDRO
Had you heard of me before our collaboration at the Apartment party? If yes, what idea did you have about me and my musical background?
Of course yes. I knew you as a DJ, even if I was pretty young, we lived in such a small town and not a lot of DJs were into Disco/Boogie. I didn’t know you personally before Apartment so finding out about your background when we met was a surprise.
I know that you never met your father and you grew up with your mother. Can you tell me how that was?
Honestly it was really normal and fine to me. We were living together with my grandma and my uncle so a lot of people were taking care of me when I was a child, even without a father. Then the actual male figure of my childhood – which was my uncle – died from a heroin overdose when I was 13 years old.
That was way more shocking to me but also something that really helped me to grow up in a healthy way and think positively and I think it still helps me even if it’s not a happy memory. I will always be grateful to him, I really considered him like my father.
Michael Jackson or Prince? No explications, just MJ or P.
You used to run "illegal parties" in Parma during the early 2000 with friends (I went to a few of them). Can you tell me more about the music you used to play and what kind of atmosphere you wanted to create … DJ Talker?
The atmosphere was related to the situation you know: illegal parties, big warehouses or villas, boats, no controls, no timings. A very special thing was that we really felt and wanted to push it to the next level, party after party, step by step, every time it was like a challenge with ourselves, and it worked. We were a group of around 10 people working physically at the venue to set up everything from the sound system, to the decorations (once we literally built two mountains in front of the dj booth, that was really something), to the bar…. We wanted to take care of everything to make sure that people felt good.
The music was also really important but it rarely happened that we booked guest DJs. Three or four of us would play at every party, we had a rock DJ (actual rock), a house one which was mostly playing french touch at the time, then me and another guy who were mostly into Disco and Boogie. People started to understand the music, and we all know how difficult that can be in a small town like Parma. They started knowing the lyrics to Loose Joints’ “Is It All Over My Face” or Black Ivory’s “Mainline”. It was literally something that allowed me to be how I am right now, maintaining that humbleness that people from small countries and small situations can have. But I’m not Dj Talker anymore 🙂 (I’ve really had enough of that alias).
I know that you have a lovely and stable relationship with Giulia. Can you tell me what you really can't stand about her and what you love?
It’s my first stable and long relationship and I love it. I think she’s one of the most important parts of my life, it gives me focus and a lot of energy to get on with this insane and busy life. It’s really difficult to find a girl who’s not jealous if you are a travelling DJ and she has never been. This is something that makes me strong and allows me to keep her trust. Aside from that there is mainly one thing that drives me crazy: I am pathologically precise and straight with everything, even at home of course, and she’s a total mess and chaotic most of the time 🙂 So, being the way I am, I turn into a sort of Cinderella at home. That’s something that’s not really helpful when i’m in Parma haha.
In Marvin & Guy you are the "melody guy", very dreamy and spacey. Where does your inspiration come from and which is your favourite synth to play those kind of pads?
I think I have a dark and very emo side and there’s no inspiration for that. That’s something that comes naturally from how I feel most of the time in the studio. I like to close my eyes and feel the wave of my thoughts in that particular moment. As you can see it is really emo, maybe too much. Most of the time I start a track based on the pad or the lead instead of the beat or the bassline, which is a bit unusual. If you think about it, all the pads or leads in a track are, most of the time, the most emotional part of it. There are few synths that I really feel when I play pads but probably the main one for me would be the Prophet 5. There is also a digital plugin inspired by Boards Of Canada called Pastoral Tones and it has some of the most emotional sounds I’ve ever heard.
What’s your favourite place to eat in Parma and your favourite Parmesan dish?
My favourite and recommended place in Parma is definitely Gatta Matta. I used to work there 11 years ago and since then it has become my number one choice to eat in the city. It’s a pleasure to discover how they experiment with all the dishes they prepare. There is such a natural and deep research that goes into the ingredients, since they started almost 20 years ago. They also do a couple of typical – but next level – local dishes. If i have to pick a classic, old school parmesan dish, it’s Cappelletti in brodo.
We’ve been touring a lot over the last 4 years. What is the part you hate the most and what do you love when you leave your house for a gig?
What I hate is that I need to catch trains and buses to get to the airport. That means waking up super early. But you know, that’s also something that has become natural at this point, I decided to keep my ass in Parma which has a lot of positive sides in terms of relaxing and it’s comfortable for your brain to switch off once you’re home but on the other hand there’s no airport. The closest one is Bologna, it’s kinda close but you still have to take a train and then a bus or taxi to go to the airport but they dont have so many flights, so most of the time I have a 2 hour train ride to go to Malpensa in Milan, which is the biggest airport in the north of Italy. What I really love though, when I leave my place is that I know i’m going to meet new special people, discover new places and I’m going to make those people happy with just the touch of music (not every time of course, we are not THAT perfect) and that’s really the fuel that you need to get better gig after gig.
Pair these synths and drum machines:
– Elka Synthex, Casio CS 80, Jupiter 8
– Emu Sp1200 – Cr 78 – Linndrumm
The CR 78 with the Elka Synthex, The Emu Sp1200 with the Casio CS 80 and the Linndrumm with the Jupiter 8.
If tomorrow you won 10 billion euros, what is the FIRST THING you would do with the money and how would your life change?
I would give some to my mum and I would buy her a proper house for sure. And i’m quite sure that my life wouldn’t change that much. I would continue what I am doing right now but with more awareness that if something happens with this job I would be able to pay the rent anyway (just trying to be serious here… of course I would go crazy and spend it all on clothes, plants and synths in 2 days).
Follow Marvin & Guy on Facebook HERE.