This Sunday at Le Bain, Été d’Amour presents the godfather of Afro Style, Mr Beppe Loda. Born in the clubs of Northern Italy from the late 70’s through the mid 80’s, the Afro genre describes various forms of electronic synthesizer-heavy and African-influenced dance music and an experimental way of DJing. Afro has been a key influence to the Nu-Disco scene, and it is a great honor to welcome its genitor. Let’s take off for Disco Space with Beppe Loda’s Standard Q&A!
Typhoon, a movie studio turned into a club in the small town of Gambara (Italy) where Loda was resident in the 80’s.
The Standard: You have once described your DJ style as ‘Afro’ which has become a generic and very influential trend until today. You describe it as “a sort of container for the potpourri of different music other DJs and I played —into which you could throw anything outside the mainstream. I would mix a minimal track à la Philip Glass into a Zaka Percussion track, or a Steve Reich track into an African chant”. Do you consider you are still an Afro DJ today?
Beppe Loda: Afro style was only a part of my DJ set. I liked to experiment with my DJ sets, painting them with many different colors, trying to get new colors by mixing up totally different ones. In that case I combined African rhythms with minimal and contemporary music. That was interesting, creating disturbances into the linear part of DJ set. After many years DJing, today I consider to myself like a free and alternative DJ, and Afro style is only a part of my experience.
You said ‘being a DJ is a way to express one’s personality’. What does your DJing show us about you?
(Laughing) I think you won’t see it, you are gonna feel it!
When you started DJing in Italia in the 70’s and the 80’s, did you follow what was happening with the New York club scene, the Loft and the Paradise Garage, DJs like David Mancuso or Larry Levan?
Internet did not exist at that time, and so it was virtually impossible to know what was happening in New York, except through some music magazines or some underground TV programs that talked about the nightlife of New York or London or Paris. I felt this influence, like any other DJs, by buying American records imported into Italy. You could know exactly what happened in other cities only if you were traveling! In the late 70’s, early 80’s I completely changed my way of understanding music and DJ sets, starting to play New Wave, Industrial, German, Electronics, mixed with remnants of Space Disco music of the 70’s. It gave a decisive turn by opening a new way of understanding and DJing. I heard about Mancuso and Levan only a few years ago, and only because I am connected to Internet! With much respect to these great DJs and the nightlife scene in New York, I don’t know what they would play in their DJ sets. Still it’s hard to believe that they were influenced by German electronic music and the early experiments of industrial music or Swiss new wave like me!
The Yardbirds’ scene of Blow Up (1966) - “Afro Style could be a movie by Antonioni” says Beppe.
What was the first dance music record you fell in love with?
There are so many! It is like when you eat a bowl of mixed salad, many different ingredients and you like them all equally. In my case there is no ‘first’ there are many in the same period of the early seventies. For example: Jimmy Castor, Rare Earth, The Temptation, James Brown and so on.
The most recent dance music record that impressed you?
Karl Bartos (of Kraftwerk -Ed.) solo record!
What is the most futuristic dance music track?
Egotrya’s Volcano, a track of Italian synth prog! I produeced it with Boscolo.
Could you describe the Afro music style using a metaphor?
The heartbeat for the ‘Afro’ music. A room with many doors is ‘Afro Style’.
if Afro was a movie?
Afro Style could be a movie by Fellini or Antonioni, or a painting by Andy Warhol or Kandinsky.
Where is today’s Afro center of attraction?
Memory Counter One’s Basic (Beppe Loda Remix), an Original production from 1984 with Francesco Boscolo.
You said when the first mixer appears in the mid 70’s, you were not so much into it, because there was no longer room for the DJ to perform with a microphone. It is true that DJs have lost the use of a microphone in the dance music culture. Do you use it sometimes? Would you do it Le Bain?
The first mixer appeared in 1975 and that new way of DJing came from USA. I started to use it around 1977. in the beginning I think I was the worst DJ in the world (laughing), but this is one of the most important thing about DJing: trying to express yourself. Using a microphone to DJ is a very nice way to work, keeping directly connection with the crowd. Without the talking, there is the same possibility by only playing music, but it is much more difficult! The people don’t understand why, but they like it and they connect! I don’t use a microphone anymore. I would do it at Le Bain if my English was better! Or I could speak Italian, but I’m afraid I won’t get the same connection!