MATHIAS MODICA Q&A
-Hi Mathias, we’re really happy to have you here for the Apparel Q/A. How’s it going?
Hi! Very well thanks. We’re very busy and a lot of things are happening at the labels so, as always, we’re working hard to get the best possible exposure for our artists.
-Your stage name ’tastes’ Italian, more precisely of Sicily. Tell us what’s your relationship with Italy.
I should say a pretty ‘tight one’ being my mom from Sicily; I got Italian passport and most of my family is in Mazara Del Vallo (province of Trapani). I only moved to Germany when I was six (before we lived in Italy and France) but anyway, Italy and Italian culture are surely a big part of my life and that helps me to have a more open approach to music and arts in gen-eral. Germans and Italians share a common ‘productive’ mentality and Germans are surely perfectionists but Italians are, all in all, much more about sharing ideas which definitely helps a lot when it comes to thinking about new ways of making art and, in my case, music. So, in regards of what I said at the beginning, yes, the Italian side of my personality is strong and present and I guess it also reflects in my work and in my labels!
-Now let’s talk about music rewinding the tape back to your childhood. How did this passion come about? What made you understand that you wanted to work with music?
It’s a family thing. My father is a Contemporary Classical music composer. Back in the days he studied with Goffredo Petrassi and Olivier Messiaen in Rome and used to live in Villa Massimo (North-East Rome) where there’s a really important academy of Music composition; a sort of German detail in Italy where every year six incredibly talented musicians get chosen to study there, and luckily enough my dad was one of them. Once there he met my mom and the rest is history hahah. So being music a primary good in my family I guess it came natural to me to get more and more engaged with it, also because my dad kinda forced my mom to go to concerts twice or three times a week when she was pregnant to get her belly (hence me) used to the vibrations of music!
-Observing your growth as an artist and a label manager we reckon that versatility is one of your best qualities. It pushes you to find a diverse approach to the music you make and the artists you produce. What do you look for when you listen to new music and how do you recognise a talent?
Well first of all thanks for the compliment! To me, recognising a talent is a mixture of rationality and intuition (here’s my German and Italian sides complementing each other). Surely my German part helps me to put everything into context and to see the big picture and the Italian one allows me and my instinct to recognise that ‘spark’, which is almost impossible to put into words. Anyway, my view is always consistent with the view of my colleagues at the label. I love to pick artists when they’re young and to create a path with em and for me the personality is a really important side of an artist’s profile. So firstly we look for interesting characters instead of just bright talents, that’s why the ideal artist for me is somebody whom I can go out for dinner with, someone who can have an interesting view on things, who’s curious. Then of course we want them to have a personal musical style and to be able to bring that contemporary touch to what they do instead of copying trends. Another important aspect to mention is how crucial is for an artist, nowadays, to find its public and to communicate his/her message; we don’t believe in egotistic and selfcentred producers who think that the world is waiting for their music. That’s the wrong approach. We want to help them to develop their own world and to make their vision concrete enough to reach the people as the other way round is not possible. Today this type of communication (or music marketing, in the best positive meaning of the term) is really important.
-Germany is of the greatest exporters of Techno and then -in the past 10 years- of some really good House music but more recently we are seeing a substantial rise of the Jazz scene. Does this transformation of the scene -in your opinion- mirrors the transformation of Germany itself, which is nowadays becoming an extremely complex and multicultural country?
Yes and I really like it. Recent politics have been increasingly inclusive, many immigrants came to live in Germany and that’s changing the fabric of the community, which is great. Plus, recently the right-wing have lost some ground (and I hope it’ll happen the same in Italy) so all this have led, as you said, to a cultural change. In regards to Jazz I see too that the youngsters are getting more and more interested in the scene and in general in this genre. Like every trend, the massified Techno wave have become standardised and people got -let’s say- bored of it, wanting to move to something different and in the past twenty years Electronic music (inc. Hip-Hop which is not so much ‘sample based’ anymore) have decisively turned into mainstream music. So in my opinion the reason why Jazz is rising again is because it embodies the new, the change. Jazz, being made by people, in a group, with real instruments that require a certain dose of technique to be played, has also a much more human feel and needs a certain amount of ‘culture’ to be approached;
whereas Techno, for instance, doesn’t necessarily imply this. You don’t need any culture to download some sample from the web and put together a Techno track and I’m not being judgemental, it’s a fact! Jazz is also about togetherness, being in a band -as I said- so it’s also of more difficult access; we can compare Techno to Punk for its immediacy and directness but at some point Punk became boring too. In the UK this shift have already took place in the past five years and so it’s happening now in Germany, which to me is honestly remarkable.