Danny Passarella Talks
Oliver Ho: I first discovered Danny though his band, Passarella Death Squad. Their debut album is an amazing mix of slow industrial beats, widescreen synths and emotive vocals. It's a total classic! Danny also runs a clothing label of the same name, and has a really good vision of what he wants artistically.
He has put out some really interesting stuff such as the Videodrome record, which was a soundtrack he did for an exhibition of artworks based on Penthouse porn stars. We’ re both really interested in working in different mediums, so we decided to create MULTI. Its a project that initially started with music produced by us, and then got expanded into video-art, performance art and clothing. Its interesting to redefine what an “artwork” can be, it can exist in different spaces and offer different experiences but all be part of a central concept.
You're known for your band Passarella Death Squad, but you also run a clothing label under the same name, what came first? And how did they co-exist? Were you trained in fashion and design?
I didn’t plan this as such, over time it’s evolved into what it is, but at the very beginning, around 2003 it was an just an idea to make some music using a drum machine I own, then I had an idea for a t-shirt which I thought would look good and one thing led to another. In saying this though, since I was about 15 I’ve been making t-shirts or making music, so I guess this idea just worked out.
I wasn’t trained in fashion, it’s all been self taught and learnt as I’ve gone on, which I really like doing, finding out how things are made, where to make them and so on. Part of the not knowing at the beginning somehow ends up making something more individual and unique.
What has the latest work that the band has been doing?
Over the last 2 years we’ve released 3 EP’s, ‘Giant’, ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Just like Sleep’ and now the 2nd album, titled ‘Empire’ is nearly finished, once that’s done we’ll start working on the live set and hopefully some dates will be arranged around the release of the album.The first album came out in 2010 so there’s been a bit of a gap.
You also do solo projects that exist on multiple platforms, your fantasy scenes exhibition was an art series, music and article of clothing. What was the process for this exhibition? This was the first time you had done something like this?
The Fantasy Scenes exhibition in London last year was my first ever exhibition, a kind of ‘suck it and see’ type experience for me, I didn’t exhibit via a recognised gallery or with an agency, so I found a venue myself, hung the artworks and hoped people would turn up, and thankfully they did. It’s the first time I’ve been able to encompass the 3 mediums of art, music and fashion at the same as well, which worked really well for me.
The Fantasy Scene artworks themselves took around 2 and half years to make, each of the vintage arcade machines used had to be located from around the world and then photographed, which was a challenge in itself.
What are your influences in terms of visuals and music?
I love Warhol, William Klein, Jean-Paul Goode, documentary film director Chris Marker, David Lynch, NASA, classic 70’s / 80’s Sci-fi films anything with a sense of the future and the unknown. Musically speaking, it’s pretty much electronic music that are key influences in my life, from the beginnings of being into electro via breakdance, then through to the rave scene and then to where we are now, Mica Levi’s ‘Under the Skin’ is a key recent stand out release, but there are tons of artists I listen to, I publish a monthly playlist just to try and keep a note on what I’m listening to at work.
After fantasy scenes came the penthouse series, what was the reason for working with this material?
They approached me to create a collab with them, their idea was that we did some t-shirts together using imagery from their archive, they’d done something similar with Dolce and Gabbana and I think they were keen to do the same thing again, I suggested that we created a body of work and for it to be a 3 medium project, art, music and then the t-shirts. The artworks which I titled ‘Videodrome’, was created from re-photographing their archive, the selected photos purposely don’t show any nudity,
I wanted people to look closer at the models, to concentrate on the human being in the picture, to try and provoke a range of emotions beyond just lust. Myself and Perc created a soundtrack to accompany the artworks when they are exhibited, the music has a droning, mechanical warmth to it
to try and draw people closer to the work.
Where have you shown this exhibition and how has the reactions been from both the general public and penthouse itself?
The opening exhibition for Videodrome was in Newcastle in April, then London followed the week after, then it moved to Copenhagen and next up it’s in Brussels then Tokyo. I believe that Amsterdam and Paris may follow next. Being that there are quite a few exhibitions, I think the reaction has been really good; people seem to really like the work. Penthouse themselves have been really good to work with, in that they just let me do what I want, which is very unusual.
More recently we have been working together on a project called Multi. I think this type of approach is really interesting as it makes the art into a concept that various objects and experiences spring off from. A lot of art is an objectified physical thing Is creating a live experience important to you?
I really like the multi discipline approach to music, it enriches your experience of the work,I guess it is a lot like how the Warhol Factory in that they treated art, music and film equally.
Are there limits to how an artwork can be realised and manifested?
I don’t think so, creatively constantly evolves and with that so does the way it communicates.
How do you see the different environments of fashion, art and music working together?
I’ve always seen them working together as one, I cannot think of a music style or genre that didn’t have a fashion style that went with it, even if your style was to be anti-fashion, that in itself your style, the art always came through the music record sleeves or promotional material. It all rotates around each other. I’m quite surprised as to how differently and separately they are perceived.
What plans do you have in the future, in music, clothes and art?
For the music under my own name, the first week of August see’s the 12” release of the Videodrome soundtrack, by myself and Perc, it’s released on blue colored vinyl. Later on this year we have our ‘Multi’ release to come out then after that and I’m hopeful they’ll be a few more of my own releases as well, namely a release called ‘Hyperreal’ which has been made to accompany an artwork and clothing series to be launched very early 2016. For Passarella Death Squad, we have the 2nd album is bring out, and there might be a vinyl re-release of a collab track we made in 2011 which a has proven to be quite popular.
For the artworks, I have a few more ‘Videodrome’ exhibitions, then I believe they’ll be a few more ‘Fantasy Scene’ exhibitions,
one is confirmed for London in November and there’s talk of something Paris as well. Then there’s the next artwork series coming up called ‘Hyperreal’ as well.
Clothing wise, there’s quite a bit going on, for AW15 the ‘Videodrome’ and ‘Fantasy Scene’ t-shirts are now available from various places around the world, I believe that there are a few in store type things happening that echo the exhibitions I’ve been holding, but in a shop environment.