Born and raised in the Neapolitan town of Campani, Luigi Madonna was exposed to dance music from an early age. In the early stages, Nortamerican house DJs like Louis Vega, Frankie Knuckles, and David Morales were particularly influential to him, who played his first DJ gig as a youngster in 1996. He continued to learn the trade, going to see these older artists play whenever he could and soon playing alongside them himself.
Once you have seen Luigi in action, it is no surprise that he has become such a popular DJ. The style has made him a favorite at many of the best clubs and festivals and had him invited to guest on high profile radio shows such as Dave Clarke’s White Noise, Adam Beyer’s Drumcode show, and Marco Bailey’s Elektronic Force. But it is perhaps in the hidden depths of his hard drive that lies the real evidence of this truly versatile artist. Experimental music that may never be released acts as a breeding ground for the ideas found in his uniquely fluid techno. Listen to dub, electro, and IDM influences present in his track ‘Gladiator’, for example. It’s a testament to a profoundly talented artist who deftly balances a club-friendly sound with the spirit of innovation in everything he does.
We caught up with Luigi Madonna to talk about his current musical projects.
Electronic Groove: Hi Luigi, thanks for joining us. It’s great to chat with you following the release of your recent ‘Mad World’ EP on Drumcode. To kick things off can you tell us a little about the project and how it came about?
Luigi Madonna: Hello everyone! After the success of ‘Midfield’, Roberto (Capuano) and I decided to reunite in the studio again, so in January 2020 before the whole world went into lockdown, we locked ourselves in my studio in Amsterdam for a few weeks. I never said a thing about it on socials or to friends. He had planned to stay for only a week in Amsterdam, but in that period we all got sick, I got an ear infection, he with a bad cold…. in short, it seemed that this record should not have been made, but instead, we battled through the circumstances and put it together.
EG: Roberto and yourself are long-time friends and collaborators, what is it about your relationship that enables you to work so cohesively together in the studio?
Luigi Madonna: Roberto and I have a relationship of brotherhood which I believe is also reflected in the studio. We have lived together for several years here in Amsterdam where our friendship has strengthened. We have years of studying and working together behind us. First of all, there is a lot of respect for the ideas that each of us brings to the table, a fusion of our characteristics. Often it is me who works on the drums, beats, etc. and him on the melodies, but also in some cases, we start from an idea that’s born either from me or from him and we work together. In short, we try to blend our music ideas 100%.
EG: In the past, you’ve worked with Drumcode different times, what’s special about the relationship there?
Luigi Madonna: Drumcode is a label that has given me so much in my career, our relationship began in 2011 with my first release on the ‘Neapolitan Connection’ V.A. and from there it has been a succession of releases year after year. I don’t know what’s special honestly, but surely there is a musical connection between Naples and Stockholm that has been going on since the 90s and I have a great respect for Adam (Beyer), his team, and the work they do.
EG: Let’s dive into your tech gear as you’ve recently moved into a new studio. Can you tell us your favorite pieces of equipment and anything that played a big role in the upcoming release?
Luigi Madonna: Yes, I finally have my own studio at home which I love so much. It is always evolving, I like to try and open new musical frontiers at the moment. At the current time, my studio consists of techno System by Erica Synth, Moog Mother-32, DFAM and Subharmonicon, Behringer Neutron which are my favorite actually, and we used some of them, like ‘techno System on the recent EP. We also used plug-ins on ‘Mad World’ like Diva, Repro-1 from uhe.
“Roberto and I have a relationship of brotherhood which I believe is also reflected in the studio”
EG: How has this past year been for you and your career? Has your focus shifted without being able to play shows?
Luigi Madonna: I have done a maximum of 3/4 gigs in 2020 before the lockdown, I must say that I found the time to deepen many things in the studio and put them into practice.
My life in recent years had become like a postal package in a way, to be “sent here and there” and I had very little time for myself, on the one hand, I can say that something positive in this dark period is coming out but I must also say that I miss the warmth of people when I’m on tour and I really miss performing shows.
EG: How do you see the industry evolving with the presence of Covid-19?
Luigi Madonna: I only see a lot of confusion at the moment, the only thing I hope is that everything ends as soon as possible. At the moment the best thing is to concentrate in the studio and give value to what has been a bit overshadowed in recent years: Music. The evolution must be precisely this; a return to making music and being fully immersed in it, instead of thinking about being cool and visible on social media or doing things just to get notoriety and attention. I’ve been steered away from that. At the moment everything is at a standstill and let’s not forget the crisis that this sector is facing, we will have to start from scratch again.
EG: You’re considered one of the most established artists on the techno circuit but your early years were in house music – would you say you’re still influenced by the genre?
Luigi Madonna: Yes, I started DJing as a young kid, I was less than 12 years old. In those times in Naples, I mastered house music which has greatly influenced me and our generation. Today it can be said that this influence has remained with me but in small facets and pieces.
EG: Can you share with us a real highlight moment for you in your career?
Luigi Madonna: I think my first time at the Awakenings festival in 2014 was the beginning of many important things that slotted into place later in my career. I was really very excited, I knew that that train would only pass the station once and that this was the moment to give my best, and here we are with still a long way to go but with a lot of satisfaction.
You know, this year too would have been a fantastic year for me for the achievements such as playing at Time Warp for the first time and so on… This time will come too!
“At the moment the best thing is to concentrate in the studio and give value to what has been a bit overshadowed
in recent years: Music”
EG: What are the next steps for you? Do you plan to release more frequently?
Luigi Madonna: Yes as I mentioned earlier, I’m dedicating a lot of time to study for this very reason… Let’s try to birth something positive from this period. We will see some good releases coming up as I am working very hard in the studio. In this period, I am going through a new phase of inspiration that is leading me to do faster and darker things.
EG: Thanks so much for chatting with us, any final words for the readers?
Luigi Madonna: First of all, thanks to everyone, I’m sure that after this period we will come back stronger than before, a new musical era is about to begin!
Luigi Madonna & Roberto Capuano’s ‘Mad World’ is out now via Drumcode. Stream and buy here.