“Music is what’s most important to me…” 909originals catches up with Mauro Picotto

When 909originals recently put together our article looking back at Dublin’s Temple Theatre, there was one DJ that we had to seek out – Mauro Picotto, whose enigmatic blend of techno and trance was the signature sound of that iconic venue. We also have fond memories of him playing six hours of hard techno to a befuddled Gatecrasher audience (who perhaps were expecting a more ‘hands in the air’ sort of night) back in 2002.

These days, while Picotto’s schedule isn’t as busy as it was a few years ago, he still knows how to rock a crowd – as evidenced by his stellar set at Féile an Phobail in Belfast last month – and his also been busy on the production front; his latest release, alongside Mools, is Ladidah, which landed on 24 September.

As well as chatting to Mauro about his memories of the Temple Theatre (which you can find here), we were keen to find out what else he was working on.

Hi Mauro, thanks for talking to us. How has the past year and a half been for you? Obviously you haven’t been able to tour, but was it a productive period for you?

I still enjoy making music, the passion I have for it is not something I can hide easily. But because the clubs were closed, and I didn’t have the opportunity to go into clubs to test my music, I was producing tracks that were more commercial or radio-oriented.

But now, clubs and festivals are reopening, and I’m sure that when I start to play again at these parties, I will get excited to make music that is more club-oriented. I don’t do it for the money, just for the pleasure. The money side of it doesn’t bother me, I did my time, at the right time.

I still love to DJ, because it’s had such an impact on my life, but my priority now is definitely my family, giving my kids the opportunity to do what they want in their lives.

You started your career in the 90s, what are the biggest differences between now and then?

DJing these days is more about popularity, and who is ‘showing off’ more. 20 years ago, people were really going out for the party and to discover new music. Now, it’s more about your brand name.

I believe that after this pandemic, maybe then the music will be again number one. It’s something that has disappeared a little from the scene.

So there will be fewer personalities and more focus on the music?

Yeah. Marketing has made a huge difference in the past five or six years. It’s all about the brand now.

At the same time, there are some positive things, for example there are more female DJs now, and they are really given the opportunity to show their talent.

At the beginning, there were people who would think that female DJs were only there for their looks. That’s bullshit. There are some great female DJs now, and they deserve their success.

Absolutely. I’ve asked a lot of people what they think is going to change about clubbing after the pandemic, and a lot of them are saying what you are saying, that hopefully it’s less about marketing and Instagram followers. Back to the roots.

I have a lot of experience in this industry and I was the first to say, about ten years ago, that I decided enough was enough. It was less about the music, and more about who had the best ‘friends’. That’s not my world. The music is what’s most important to me.

But I think things might be different after the pandemic. I played at a Cream event in Redcar, on the beach, on a Sunday, and it was beautiful, everybody was having fun and had a very open mind when it came to the music.

Of course, they always want to hear the classics, and I’m happy to play them my special mix of Komodo, Iguana and Lizard, but after that I can play what I want.

That made me realise that people are still open minded, if you want to create a good journey for them.

What projects are you working on at the moment Mauro?

I recently released a NFT of a remix of my track Tearful. I played it once at Creamfields, and it was an exclusive track that was then sold as an NFT, so somebody owns it completely now.

On 24 September, I released Ladidah, which I also had the chance to test in front of a crowd, and everybody loved it.

I always work with different concepts. When I couldn’t test my music in the club, I stepped away from club music. Now that I can test tracks again, I can see how the crowd reacts, if something works or doesn’t work, and then change a track completely.

I’m motivated again to produce music, because as you can see if you look at the charts, a lot of tracks are too simple. Someone might take an existing track, put a new drum, a new bassline and release it. When someone makes a new track that was already a hit 20 years ago, they’ve done nothing special – they’ve just refreshed something that has always been good.

With that in mind, what’s the story with Fergie borrowing the main hook for your track Verdi for his track Alpha Centauri?

Yeah, I know. He called me about it, because he copied the melody. He told me.

OK, I was wondering that, because it’s very like Verdi. Like you were saying, people are going back to the old tracks again…

He called to explain to me that the track has always been special to him, and that I had influenced his life so much. It was a very nice message. But the end of the day, the melody is exactly the same. Personally, I don’t care, because for me when something gets copied, it’s a tribute; a sign that you did something good.

Fergie’s version is a great club track, don’t get me wrong. Actually, I like to mix it together with my version of Verdi, to show the difference. So I can show that my drop still kills his drop, ha ha, especially on the Megamind mix. That has a special mix of ingredients that is impossible to copy.

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