In the nineties, I spent (to my parents’ dismay) more time at Italian discos than going to school. Unfortunate for my grades, but great for my soul. Whether I was at Forte Dei Marmi’s Capannina, Firenze’s Jackie O, or Rome’s Gilda, I would dance from opening till close, and then head out to a bar and have a cornetto. Of course, now, I’d be lucky if I can even make till midnight.
But I do remember those days. No matter who was there, what VIPs were in attendance or the beauty of the dancers, what mattered most was the music. The DJ was the master of ceremonies, the center of the show, while his or her musical talents would set the vibe and had the power to make the club rock or empty out. It was all about the DJ and the music.
Here in the states, DeeJays have over the years become as big of an attraction and in demand as the musicians and pop stars they play. Names such as Deadmaus and DJ Tiesto are ranking in millions and are making hit records while turning tables and scratching vinyl. In Italy, one DJ who has built his career on a mixture of passion, discipline and dedication is DJ Massimino X-One.
Born on the largest island of the Mediterranean, Sicilia, Massimo is constantly on the go. Working until the wee hours of the night when most of us are deep in slumber, he is out there spinning tunes, creating dance beats while keeping the dance floor alive and hopping. Although he has done extensive work as a show host, has narrated documentaries and been a voice over for television and commercials, it is his love for music and getting people to get up and dance that has remains closest to his heart.
For over twenty years, Massimo has perfected his skills, mixed music and has an extensive knowledge of both Italian and international music. He truly knows how to work the crowd, and does so all behind a turn table while wearing his signature bandana around his head and a pair of headphones.
Massimo has often described himself as “un equilibrio sopra la follia” (the calm above the madness). And it is true. I have known him for a few years and no matter what time of the night or whether he has been up twenty hours straight, he responds cheerfully and with a bright smile.
As the music scene enters into 2016, and has gone from disco to punk to techno, what remains constant is Massimo’s love for his work. He truly enjoys getting people to dance and have them escape for just a few hours their myriad of problems. He is an artist first and foremost while day in and day out, he has shared that passion with thousands of music lovers, dancers, and people who were like me, in love with la vita notturna. Recently, I spoke with Massimo about how music has helped him overcome his shyness, his secret to success, and how this generation (generation MTV, Millennials) has much more in common with Baby Boomers and Generation X than one may think.
Gaya Lynn: Welcome to L’Italo-americano. Tell me about yourself.
Massimino X-One: I am Italian, my origins come from the beautiful Sicilia. Even if I am traveling for work, when I can, I go back to Sicilia: the sun, the beach, everything there helps me to recharge so I can then work again but with more energy. I am very tied to my origins, my family is Sicilian. I am the only one who took on this passion, a passion that has never changed the essence of who I am.... I have always remained the same.
GL: Have you always had a special connection to music?
DJ M: Yes, from the time I was little. My family once gave me a little stereo radio. I listened to the music all the time, and began to dream, using a tape recorder to record my voice, and that of my friends’. I conducted my first recordings in a piazza, along the streets, together with my friends. From there on, my first gig was in a garage with four friends, and then from that moment on, I began this voyage. I always knew that this was my passion and from then forward, I never stopped.
GL: Tell me about your journey...When did you begin and how did this all come about?
DJ M: When I was little, I was very shy. Music for me was therapeutic and it was a way for me to overcome my shyness...personally for me music helped me, saved me and cured me. I started in the 1990s. When I was younger, I pursued poetry and theater. Working in a theater was one of my first artistic experiences; I was part of a comic theater at school. They always gave me the most challenging parts. I learned scripts and poetry, which have remained the lifeblood and essence of my artistic soul.
The poetry was a fundamental element of my passion. Then one day, I worked at a tourist spot as a deejay. Something clicked. From then on, for many years, I worked at different tourist attractions as an entertainer...This gave me a lot of experience and the opportunity to form relationships and contacts with people all over the world. It helped me understand many things, such as being exposed to different cultures, thoughts, and races...
After I gained experience working in tv and radio....I became the creator, executor, and director of a hit parade show on a weekend entertainment program which was transmitted live on the radio...these helped me to understand how to overcome all kinds of challenges. In the end, I found myself wanting to go outside and get back in touch with people. I wanted to transmit new emotions, and thus, I began to tour clubs, live events where I began to get in touch with my natural inclinations... that communicative link between music and voice were manifested best through my proximity with the public.
Well, the reason why I became a DJ, I still don’t have an answer as to what motivated me. Everyday, I ask myself why- maybe one day I will know..we will find out.
GL: Now, let’s talk about Italian music. Who are some of your favorite artists?
DJ M: I always listened to music and other artists, both in Italy and abroad. But I I am convinced that that the growth in the music industry has little to do with the expression of art from other artists, I think that the culture of music is independent of one other; talent and passion is not tied to the culture of music; an artist for me has to be an unique and original entity.
If I had one artist that I have always liked it would be Vasco Rossi.
GL: In the 1990s, what was really in vogue were girl dancers (le ragazze sul cubo), hip hop and Brazilian music. How are clubs in Italy today?
DJ M: Well, discos have changed over time. Before, you could dance “in pista”, you could speak to another person. Now, not as much. Over the years, everything has changed, from the way we communicate to the structure to the lighting to the atmosphere; of course, the discos have needed to keep up with these changes. It is now like being on set of a film. Although I myself prefer something more classical and traditional, we are looking ahead to the future. But the years of the seventies, eighties and nineties have left a huge mark, and we still carry elements of their music still today.
GL: What kind of music is the most in demand today?
DJ M: Every nation, every place, every city has its own music-- every place in the world has its own style... For example, if you go to one area, the most popular would be dance music, then if you go to another place, it would be house, another tecno, hip hop or Latin. There are millions of different sounds, music is like the universe with endless stars and galaxies, every place has its unique sound and style, but at the end of the day, the public choses. Everything changes and this is what makes music so wonderful.
GL: How have the younger generations changed over the years.
DJ M: Many people think that the younger generation has changed, but it really hasn’t. The young of years ago, and the young of today despite liking different types of music, always have the same spirit. That which has changed has been the way we see and hear the things. Perhaps what is around us has changed... I think that music is without a color, it is ageless; in fact, we are all the same in front of music.
GL: Tell us...What has been your secret for being a successful DJ?
DJ M: Success that is easily made and maintained for long periods of time, is an illusion because every day, you need to start at the beginning. You have to always demonstrate something new...You are aways in constant contact with the public that watches and listens to you. The audience is near you and you are always near them. Who knows, maybe this is truly the secret...to maintain “Viva” that level of intensity, one needs just to be himself.
GL: Tell me about your day.
DJ M: Many think that it is an easy walk in the park but behind this passion are many sacrifices. One loses hours of sleep, you often need to sleep during the day, change your eating habits. You travel in the heat, the rain, you always get hit with the unexpected...the road is long, you need lots of energy, it truly is not a normal life. There is no time to do the simple things: taking a walk has become a luxury. You cannot have a normal romantic relationship because your girlfriend eventually leaves you because you want to rest when she wants to go out, or because you cannot take her to the movies on a Sunday.
My life is in constant chaos, in continual movement. But despite all this, I know very well that all this is part of my passion. I accept my choice knowing very well the sacrifices and the risks. All this is a part of my work, a walk, a journey that will never end.
GL: Wonderful. It has been a pleasure. Anything else you would want to share.
DJ M: A huge thanks to the staff and all the people who surround me. Thanks to the music, thanks to the public that I meet day after day, along my musical journey...all this has been accomplished with energy, passion, faith and positive thinking
Alle migliaia di persone che amano la musica e la vita, dedico a voi queste emozioni!
For more on Massimino, go to www.youtube.com/djmassiminoxone
Visit Gaya at www.Gayalynn.com