DJ/ producer Giangi Cappai is a self-declared citizen of the world. He first topped the Italian and European charts in 1997 with the alias ‘Alma Matris’. The track ‘Musica Electrica/Rumore Chimico’ was re-released by New Yorker Star 69 and confirmed Giangi’s status as one of the world’s deep techy tribal heavyweights.
The follow-up single ‘Rapido’ climbed dance charts worldwide in just one week and still remains a tribal anthem. This iconic record led to the creation of one of Amsterdam’s leading events, Rapido, for which Giangi has been a long-time resident and purveyor of its sexy music policy.
He remixed pop icons like Madonna, and dance music legends like Martha Wash, Afrika Bambaataa, Ralphi Rosario, Barbara Tucker, Gaznevada, and many others… His beats are presented on Warner, Kult, Deeperfect, Deepalma, Milk & Sugar, Mantra Vibes, Iberican Records, (just to name a few), and his own labels Ogu and Motibus Records.
Giangi Cappai’s studio creations and DJ sessions are infused with his afro groovy, deep techy-house beats, with influences of 80’s electronic musicians like Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream… and.. last but not least he is still a follower of Italian futurism, Zang Tumb Tumb.
We caught up with Giangi Cappai to talk about his new release ‘When I Fell N Love’ via Blessed Cross Records.
Electronic Groove: Hi, Giangi, thank you for joining us today. What a year, right? How have you handled lockdown? Where are you based right now?
Giangi Cappai: Hi, great to speak with you guys! Yes, what a year, so weird. I spent my lockdown in my small hometown in Italy in Sardinia, next to my Dad, taking care of him and working in my home studio. I’m still in my country so far, I have been able to travel a bit during the Summer, but now I’m home again, I turned my house into my headquarter, waiting for the end of this drama.
EG: How did your story with music begin? What was your first experience behind the decks like?
Giangi Cappai: Well, I started my journey in music as a church organ player, I was so young! After a couple of years, I enrolled in a piano class, and I got from my parents two turntables and a mixer as a prize for my choice. I started spinning in small clubs in my hometown, for my friends, as almost every DJ in that days, but I forthwith moved to Bologna and Milan, starting my producer career, becoming a sound engineer too, and hittin’ European and worldwide clubs at the same time with my production releases flow.
EG: You are known as something of a tech-tribal heavyweight, with a lot of road under your soles. What was the success of ‘Rapido’ like back then? Did you envision what would come after?
Giangi Cappai: ‘Rapido’ has been my first global hit, it’s a love song in spoken Spanish, and I was very happy about the result when the song was finished, and in the air, there was a feeling that blending sweet lyrics and tribal techy energy would create interest, but it exceeded my expectations, I guess I did a good job, as the song inspired a party too, in Amsterdam, still running, so.. I’m happy, love pays back!
EG: Since we’re already strolling down memory lane…What are the main differences you see in the scene compared to when you started out?
Giangi Cappai: Maybe the answer sounds predictable, but I think we are walking in a completely different scene since then, digital market and social media are playing a big role in the clubbing industry, and it’s a common thought that this approach can penalize talents and old school heads, and reward smart but mediocre artists, but I don’t think so, time goes on, hard work, passion, and skill will make you swim in any sea.
“I’m working in the studio with a more musician approach, without thinking about a crowd, but more of a concept of music that can heal, so less pressure and more soul”
EG: You have just released a re-imagining of ‘When I Fell N Love’ via your own Blessed Cross Records. How did that idea come about? What drew you to take on UBQ Project’s 1993 classic?
Giangi Cappai: I did many remixes in my life, but I never thought to make a cover of an existing song, it was not planned, especially of such a dance music milestone. One day, during a break in the middle of a studio session, my good friend and singer Nia Martin, started to sing that song, heard a couple of days before in one of my sets… giving a kind of special soul feeling to the original lyrics mantra… and I was like “Wow, maybe it’s time”, and here we are!
EG: Have your creative dynamics changed with the pandemic? Where do you get your inspiration from during these hard times?
Giangi Cappai: Yes, I admit that I have been affected a lot by the pandemic, and sometimes I still find it hard to believe it’s happening. As all my gigs canceled, no travels, long time at home completely changed my point of view about life and music. I’m working in the studio with a more musician approach, without thinking about a crowd, but more of a concept of music that can heal, so less pressure and more soul.
EG: About Blessed Cross Records, how did that come about? How would you define the sound of the label?
Giangi Cappai: Blessed Cross Records comes from an idea of my business and music partner (in crime) Federico aka Foby. He pointed out that we would need an eclectic label and release music without too many schemes, modern and refined, and I said “you’re right”, let’s do it!
EG: What’s is like running a label with someone else? Do you guys have clear tasks for each one? Do you feel it’s easier to share responsibilities with someone else?
Giangi Cappai: In this case it’s easy, I gave to Foby carte blanche in label management, he was my student in one of my music production courses, and now he is a really good producer and a great A&R, so I give my technical support when needed, but I totally trust him as I know his musical path.
“I did many remixes in my life, but I never thought
to make a cover of an existing song”
EG: What is the best advice you wish someone had given you back when you first started out? I what ways do you think that would have helped you out?
Giangi Cappai: Always be yourself, do not give up what you feel is good, keep pushing with studies and do not be influenced by everybody, especially crazy A&Rs, trust what comes from your soul.
EG: What can we expect from Giangi Cappai going forward?
Giangi Cappai: Some new singles are on the way, a couple of remixes, and due to the pandemic is in stand by a tour project including live musicians, myself included. I’m taking these weird days to take out the dust from my “piano player skills”!
EG: Thank you so much for your time, Giangi! It’s been a true pleasure. We hope you have a great end of the year!
Giangi Cappai: Thank you for the lovely and nice chat, have a peaceful holiday, and keep up your great work!
Giangi Cappai’s ‘When I Fell N Love’ is now available Blessed Cross Records. Stream and buy here.