Massimiliano Pagliara: The Ransom Note Mix


Massimiliano Pagliara is a longstanding figurehead amidst Berlin electronic music culture. He has worked tirelessly across many years to establish himself as one of the most innovative figures in house and techno having been a resident at Panorama Bar for a significant period of time. As a producer he has released music on the likes of Live at Robert Johnson, Meakusma, Ostgut Ton, Cocktail d'Amore and more. 

He has also recently launched his own record label in the form of Funnuvojere Records, an imprint which has risen in prominence and looks set to blossom and grow across the coming years with a hell of a lot of releases lurking just around the corner. 

We invited him to talk about it and deliver a mix which he does so in fine form.

Listen and read below:

Please introduce yourself… Who are you, where are you and what are you?

My name is Massimiliano, but mostly everyone calls me Massi. Born and raised in Corsano, a small village in the Deep South of Italy, Puglia, and based in Berlin for the last 18 years. I was a dancer and choreographer when I first moved to this city, but the intense night life eventually transformed me into what I am now: a full time DJ, producer and (as of one year) record label owner. My love and passion for music have always been there but I never thought this would become the center of my life and my biggest obsession.

What does your music sound like? Can you draw what you think it sounds like for us (an image from the old internet is acceptable)?

My music is warm, colourful and visionary. Sometimes more on the slow-dark-atmospheric side and at other times brighter-psychedelic-rave style. It’s hard to frame it into one category/label, as I do like to space through different genres. This may lead people to some confusion, and often I tend to be associated with the Italo-disco niche, mostly because my first productions sound very much alike. However, I like to keep doors open and challenge myself. This is also why I did several collaborations with different artists over the years, so as to explore new musical realms and learn new techniques. The same thing applies when I am DJing, and so you can sometimes see me performing as “techno-massi”, sometimes as “LoveSexDreams” (my newest DJ alias, for the more leftflied/ambient/slow sets) and most of the times just under my full name, which is a mixture of everything I guess.

Where was the mix recorded?

At my studio-apartment in Berlin. What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix? Any setting works, as long as it sounds good for you. I would of course recommend listening to it through nice speakers, and not from your laptop ones, for instance. It’s mostly a club-dj-mix, so you want to make sure you are in the right mood for that.

What should we be wearing?

Light colourful garments. I am thinking pink, yellow, white, blue and green. What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format? I love doing it at my place actually. The sound is warm and sparkling clear and I am obviously very familiar with the set-up.

Which track in the mix is your current favourite?

Hard to pick, but If I really have to, I would probably choose “Bangalore” by Gonno & Nick Höppner. I’ve been a big fan of these two guys for a while, and both of them together is really a lovely combination. I’ve been playing this tune a lot lately! It has such a great build-up! And all the sound textures as well as all the rhythmical elements are very delicious 🙂

What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?

My second Beats In Space, which is very much in true LoveSexDreams style.

If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why?

Larry Levan. Because of his eclectic selections and obsession for sound. He was experimenting with different speakers and amplifiers. The Richard Long sound system at the legendary Paradise Garage featured custom-designed “Levan Horn” bass speakers. He was also using three turntables, to improve the sound and give it a better mix.

What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?

My dear flatmate Anna from that time (2003-2004, which is when I started out mixing records), let me borrow her turntables, a StageLine and Gemini ones I think. They definitely weren’t Technics. I then bought a very cheap two channel Gemini mixer off Elevator. It was good practice though and I often went to friends places as well, to use theirs. Eventually I upgraded to the 1210- mk2 and a Pioneer djm 300 mixer and it felt amazing 🙂 I was mixing everyday and recording straight onto cassettes. My ex-boyfriend Peter should still have a few of those cassettes…I would be so scared to listen back! My current set-up comprehends a Taula 4 rotary mixer (I changed a few mixers over the years, such as an Ecler Nuo 4 and a Rane MP2016) two Technics 1210 mk2, two Pioneer CDJs (2000 + 1000mk2), a Denon PMA-800NE amplifier, two Pioneer HPM 40 and two B&W DM601 loudspeakers. What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on? I actually think both. In fact, most of the time, when I am preparing for a DJ set, I try to make sure I know what these tracks are going to be, or at least have a few options for these very crucial moments.

What were the first and last records you bought?

I was about 16 years old, living with my parents in Corsano, going to high school, and with my mates from that time, we were mostly listening to hip-hop and reggae while smoking countless spliffs. The very first records that I bought on vinyl (we also used to buy lots of cassettes back in 1994-95), were Beastie Boys – Root Down, Bushwackass – Rough, Rugg’d & Raw, Top Cat – Wine Up Your Body, Arrested Development – Zingalamaduni. I bought these from a store in Rome, Messaggerie Musicali. The very last ones include: John Shima – The Lonely Machine, Brent Snyder – Cumulus, Boards Of Canada – Skam, Naive Melodies – Deep Nalström, Trans 4M – Sublunar Oracles, Nils Frahm – Encores 3,from Tam Tam Records in Aachen and Patrick Cowley – Mechanical Fantasy Box from HHV in Berlin

If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like?

A pumpkin risotto and a side of rainbow chard, which by the way are also two of my favourite dishes and I’m also really good at making them.

If it was an animal what would it be?

A white and brown blue eyed cat. I love cats to death!

One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?

I think there might be a few in my Disco section. Old disco records, where drums and instruments are performed live, are not as tight as the more modern machine-computer based ones, thus not very easy to mix.

Upcoming in the world of…

On a music production level, I have a new EP coming out late January 2020 on Permanent Vacation (one of the tracks is featured in this mix) as well as a couple of tracks for different compilations and a few remixes. Label wise, there is a new release by Derek Neal that has just come out (The opening track of this mix, is Sky City, by Derek Neal). My label Funnuvojere records, it’s almost one year old now and this is the 4th release. So far it’s been a lovely adventure and I am happy to have the chance to release some beautiful pieces by very talented artists. It was about three years ago when Derek Neal got in touch with me, via Facebook, introducing himself as a big fan of my music and asking whether I had some time to listen to some tracks he had been working on. He was seeking feedback and I happily said “yes”. Happily because, I really liked what he sent and I felt there was lots of potential. We didn’t really stay in touch, until over a year ago, when I wrote him again on Facebook, and enquired about those tracks and whether they were still available. They luckily were still unsigned and he even had a few more which he then sent me as well. Long story short, this is Derek’s very first vinyl release and I couldn’t be any happier to have the chance to put it out and share it with you. Hope you enjoy! Anything else we need to discuss? I have started working on a new album and I do have a few more exciting releases planned for 2020 on Funnuvojere Records. So, stay tuned and see you around on some dance-floors!

More details on Massi's new label HERE and catch him on Facebook HERE.