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Francesco Del Garda, who made a name for himself as a young DJ on the Italian Riviera during its late 90’s heyday, delivers this latest MEOKO podcast. We spoke to Francesco about what it was like being a young DJ trying to cut his teeth in a very competitive scene at its musical prime, his early influences, his evolving tastes and current projects including a residency here in London at Undersound this year…

Hi Francesco! How are you? What have you been up to recently?

I’m very good thanks! The last couple of months have been pretty busy, I had some really nice gigs like the one at Zu:bar where I’ve been a resident DJ since last Autumn. In my opinion Zu:bar is one of the most relevant clubs in central Italy for our kind of music, with very solid line ups week in week out. I also had the great pleasure to play in Paris for the Udopiya guys at the beginning of January, I couldn’t have thought of a better way to start the year, that alongside my recent gig at Undersound in London where I will be appearing regularly in the coming year.

When you were 18 you moved to the Riviera Romagnola in order to pursue your chosen direction as a DJ and establish yourself on the scene. Tell us a little about this experience in your early days starting out, the challenges and difficulties you had to face and overcome, what the vibe was like then, the music, the clubs, what other DJ’s were also there starting out at the same time as you?

I moved to the Riviera straight after completing my military service- at the time Rimini and Riccione were the pinnacle of Italian Clubbing and in order to have any chance of realizing my dream which was to play in the most important clubs of the time like Cocorico’ and Echoes, amongst others, I had to be there. After a few years of many sacrifices I got my own residency at Echoes Club in Riccione- that wasn’t easy as I had many challenges to overcome not least of all being so young and new compared to other DJ’s on the scene, but nevertheless with passion and tenacity I managed to achieve my first objective.  When I was starting out at the time, I remember being the youngest DJ there- the other Italian DJ’s around were already well established, the vibe however was very different to what it is now- revelers were going to clubs to dance their socks off and to listen to good house and techno being played by the resident DJ’s of their favorite club, not really to see this or that guest…

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Is the Riviera Romagnola still just as important and relevant to the Italian underground scene as it was when you moved there? How does it compete with more prominent clubbing destinations such as Ibiza and new destinations like Croatia?

I think the Riviera is still important to some extent, although it’s safe to say that everything now is business focused, the scene has become an industry in its own right and most clubs are under pressure to generate big revenues every weekend in order to keep their various stakeholders happy. It has nothing to do with the underground scene anymore and the subculture around it. The clubs in that area have decided to focus on mainstream names that sell tickets regardless of the music they play- so, you could say there isn’t really a scene anymore for the music I’m passionate about. Ibiza is Ibiza and there will be always something magic about it, a special energy that still exists regardless of business exploitation. Croatia is a very interesting and beautiful place and there is a lot going on in some areas, like Pag Island for instance. I played there last summer for a Colours Showcase at Sonus Festival and I enjoyed some very special moments those days!

Is there any DJ who had a particularly strong influence on you musically or professionally speaking?

Without a doubt my first and biggest influence was Francesco Farfa. I had the pleasure of hearing and seeing him in action many times when I was younger; he was truly inspiring to me during my teenage years. His turntabilism technique and peculiar taste in music was one of the main reasons I moved to the Riviera as soon as I was old enough.

Describe your sound. How has it changed over the years?

I don’t think it would be right to define my sound within a precise genre… I have many influences, Funk, Hip Hop, Breakbeat, House… My friends say I have a recognizable style but I don’t actually realize it, the important thing for me is to play music that makes me feel something and that is generally positive. I’m not so into dark and heavy sounds, let’s say that after years of digging I kind of found the sounds that I love and I stick with it- whilst still being open to new influences of course.


What was the first vinyl you ever purchased to mix? What was your most recent purchase?

Honestly I really can’t recall the first record I bought, it was such a long time ago! But I do remember the adrenaline and happiness I felt the first few times I went to my local record shop and the guy working there was giving me records to listen, like he was giving me a gift… I remember pretty well the moment when I bought Nimbus Quartet  – “Fo’ On da Flo’”, which I still occasionally play, then the various Studio 1 and Concept 1 records… Recently I bought a double EP from Lazare Hoche & Malin Genie – “I don’t sync So Vol. II”- an excellent record in my opinion!

What do you like to listen to at home when you want to relax?

When I’m home and I need to relax I listen to Public Enemy, Digable Planets, Bob Marley, Chopin… but after a while I do need to get back to digging records again!

What makes a good party in your opinion? What elements are required to come together to achieve the perfect vibe?

I think for a good party it’s essential to have a promoter who is first of all passionate about music and isn’t in it just for the a business or to develop a brand, one who pays attention to detail and who s professional- all of which is not so easy to find nowadays! I would say though the most important aspect of a good party is a clued-up crowd of music lovers who are curious to hear new sounds and open to embracing an experience. And last but absolutely not least- a perfect sound system!


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Francesco Del Garda Exclusive MEOKO Mix

You are involved in quite a few projects including ‘ColoursMusic’ and ‘NoRules’ whilst you also collaborate frequently with your friend Allessandro Gaia on productions… tell us a about these various projects.

I got involved in the “Colours Music” project thanks to my dear friend Ian F. Colours is a record label and also an itinerant party based in Slovenia, to which we’ve had the pleasure of inviting many important artists, and there will be many more to come J.

NoRules is my own project; it’s a way of promoting many upcoming talented artists through mixes that express their music from any perspective. My collaboration with Alessandro was a great experience, however we decided to stop it at some point as we each embarked on different musical paths, but I am collaborating with other artists and soon there will be some surprises on the production side, although my main focus will always be to research and find new inspiring music to include in my sets.

Describe the podcast you have prepared for us. In what context would it be best appreciated?

I have simply tried to squeeze most of my influences into this one-hour mix, and it’s a reflection of what I would play on a dance floor. I truly hope that the Meoko audience will appreciate it! Thanks a lot for the chance of recording it and for this interview guys! I hope to see you soon in London on the dance floor at the next Undersound party!

By Barry Daly– follow me on Twitter @bazmatazz