Photo Credit: Jon Bronxl
Germano Centorbi is the Artistic Director and Booker of Ortigia Sound System Festival and Maniace – Ortigia. In 2015 he founded Kadmonia, an agency created for the creation and development of sustainable cultural projects through collaboration with brands and institutions. He was the manager of Niagara (Monotreme Records) and L I M (The Storm). He has collaborated with well-known personalities of the Italian music scene such as Elita Milano, Linecheck Festival, Club To Club Festival, Radar Concerti, Jazz Re:Found, Flowers Festival, Todays Festival and many more.
We caught up with Germano Centorbi to talk about Ortigia Sound System Festival. Grab your tickets here.
Electronic Groove: Hello Germano, thanks for your time. Where did the idea to start OSS come from?
Germano Centorbi: Thanks for the invite. We have been wondering for a long time: how is it possible that no one has ever thought of organizing a musical event in a place as enchanting and magic as Ortigia? This was a common feeling of mine and the festival founders. We founded Ortigia Sound System as some kind of “revenge” towards a land, Sicily, that has always struggled to express itself and to emerge in both, cultural and empresarial. Think about it – before Ortigia, in Sicily nobody knew a music or culture event with such a young, trendy target like ours. Through OSS we wanted to bring out the local professionalism and show the true value of this land – and how much it has to offer – in unconventional and lesser-known forms. Everyone knows about the gastronomy, architecture and nature of Sicily, but what about its music? And its culture? This was our starting point.
EG: I know it may be difficult to choose, but can you list some of your own personal highlights at OSS since the first edition?
Germano Centorbi: Yes indeed, difficult question! Anyway, my personal highlights surely are:
1) The performance of Alfio Antico that took place in 2016, during the 3rd edition of OSS. Alfio Antico (“the ancient Alfio” in English ) is a Sicilian singer and percussionist of traditional popular music. Nobody knew him outside Sicily. Still, during his outstanding live performance, I remember that Red Axes duo were fascinated, staring at him speechless. It was with great surprise that later I found out they used a song of Alfio Antico during one of their DJ sets in a party in Barcelona during the Off Sónar week. It has been an amazing feeling. Our goal of exporting Sicilian music had been achieved! This made us think how it is important for Italy to focus on its own identity and resourcesin order to generate interest abroad. We have so much to offer for the international public.
2) My second highlight is the boat concert of Erlend Oye at the very first edition of OSS. We’ve had almost everything ready for him to start his performance but the weather was against us. It was a very windy day, the boat was constantly moving and eventually we’ve had to put together another stage in like half an hour! This has been an incredibly crazy and surreal situation. Hopefully, everything went well in the end and Erlend did an amazing concert.
3) Another highlight that I very well remember was the performance of Omar Suleyman during the last edition of OSS. His energy was incredible, everyone was dancing – with no exceptions – and it has been so funny and engaging! It was really contagious.
4) The last highlight definitely is the set of Avalon Emerson during the afterparty of OSS 2017. Her music was full of energy and the location was incredible. She was playing in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, nestled in one of the most beautiful natural and rural scenery of the Siracusa area, with unique landscapes and views surrounded by Sicilian nature.
“For each edition we create a festival manifesto, which is deeply connected with the contemporary world”
EG: Where do you see OSS in the next 10 years?
Germano Centorbi: Honestly, I don’t think if I am able to answer this question. The real answer is: I don’t know! Every edition of OSS is special and so different from the previous ones. For each edition we create a festival manifesto, which is deeply connected with the contemporary world and consequently defines the contents of the event. I can only say that our fil rouge, year after year, is to always send positive messages and to be respectful with the environment and nature. I often refer to OSS as some kind of “wellness event”. For example, this year’s concept is called ‘Sentimiento Nuevo’ (named after the same-titled song by Sicilian musician Franco Battiato) and wants to bring attention on the relationship between human and technology, aka the mankind’s feelings coexisting with the unstoppable technological progress. It’s important to point out we believe humans must have a conscious feeling of controlling the technology (and not the other way). Still, to go back to your question, we don’t know which one will be the manifesto of the next year edition and we cannot even predict it. I think is impossible to do so! The world changes so fast.
EG: Over the years OSS has become known for its wide-ranging line-ups, how do you guys stay one step ahead with your programming?
Germano: The line-up is very connected with the festival’s manifesto. Every year, I try to search for artists who can express the values of Sicily through their music and live performances. Also, our own personal taste plays its part. I tend to book artists who – even if are not well-known perhaps – are able to express positive feelings through their art, regardless of the current trends.
Grab your tickets for Ortigia Sound System Festival here.