Tony Lionni interview

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Tony Lionni seemed to appear out of thin air sometime last year. First there was an auspicious debut on Mule Electronic, then another soon after on Versatile. For me though, it was “The Chase” off the Deep Joy EP on WaveTec: shimmering slabs of synth stretched out over funky titter-tottering bass notes and a stream of digital bird calls. From there on, it was one successful release after another culminating in the year ending release, The Chronicles Noir, on Detroit label, Aesthetic Audio. And don’t forget about the massive techno stormer that was “Shaka” on Len Faki’s Figure imprint. So is Lionni just a johnny-come-lately new on the scene? Hardly. The following interview sheds much light on what brought him to where he is today and what is guiding Lionni to tomorrow.
 
Q: This past year you kept busy with releases coming out steadily on a diverse cross-section of labels. What did it take to get you where you’re at today? And how long you had been working on music before getting your first release out there?
A: Man, whatever your art form you gotta study. I’ve studied black music in all its forms for 30 years and experimenting with electronic instruments for 17 years.

Q: You seem to have a good understanding of what works for the dancefloor but with an ability to go deep as well. Your tracks that touch on characteristics of both techno and house without having to fit neatly into either category. Do you think you’ll continue with the sound you’re getting known for or do you think you’ll be exploring other styles too soon?
A: As an individual person’s character evolves, so does an artist’s work along with it. I always like to keep reinventing myself.

Q: Melody or Rhythm? If you had to pick between these 2 as main components in a track which are you going to go for every time and why?
A: Rhythm, that’s what moves you. Vibrations, rhythmic patterns can express much more for me than rhythm…its something unexplicable…

Q: Your release on Aesthetic Audio got props from Delano Smith recently and you’ve received a lot of positive reviews over the last year, but I also saw an almost negative review recently on your latest Mule release. How do you deal with criticism both good and bad?
A: I know the truth and that’s all that matters. Critics are failed artists.

Q: Which track you’ve released are you most proud of and why?
A: I can’t pick one but could pick two. My remix of “Birds” for Kuniyuki Takahashi who is a big idol of mine and now a very good friend, and possibly my release on Aesthetic Audio, “Free Your Mind” for my own personal reasons.

Q: It seems like you’re always keeping busy with posting new demos and releases on Myspace. Do you find that it’s a good sounding board for new work?
A: Exactly. It’s an experimentation sound board and nothing else. I write music for the necessity of it and the love of it and like to share my music as time is precious.

Q: One of your recent demos is called “Footpatrol” after a past Manchester dance crew. Can you tell me a little bit about them and your involvement with them? How does the sound of the track represent them or is it simply a tribute? Did you do any breakin’ back then? And if so what name did you go by and what was your signature move?
A: Footpatrol were real big stars on the Manchester club scene during the mid to late 80´s. They were a Jazzfusion dance outfit from the Mosside area of Manchester and were the best dressed and best movers. They danced to house music and were (some of the) people first dancing to house music.They would often battle other Jazzdance crews from other parts of the country at The Hacienda nightclub Manchester where the objective was to take control of the dancefloor. Not enough is spoken about them and (they) were a very important part of the club and the manchester scene before all the hype of Scallychester. The track is simply a tribute to them as they were idols of mine and if I entered a club and they where dancing i was happy. I wasn´t a breaker but more of a popper and had many different guises.

Q: So Footpatrol were influential to the scene and I’ve read that they even influenced A Guy Called Gerald to write a track with them. But I can’t locate any videos of them.
A: There aren’t any videos of them but they were similar to IDJ London. And yes, Gerald wrote “Voodoo Ray” for Footpatrol to dance to and that was amazing to see them and other fusion dancers battling to that track.

Q: You probably missed the Hacienda in its heyday, so what experiences musical or otherwise influenced you the most growing up?
A: Wrong. The best days in Manchester’s club history where before the acid house explosion at the Hacienda and in the U.K. I later went on to work for the establishment. I went to the Hacienda when I was 17 in 1988. But there where better more influential predominantly black populated clubs in Manchester Like The Gallery, Legends, 52nd street and many more where all the best dance music came from and was later played by the white DJs at The Hacienda.
Hip hop has been the most influential (on me) musically, as well as the records I used to hear being played at home while mum did the cleaning on a Sunday afternoon and dad played his records which were Soul, Jazzfunk and Disco records like Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, James Brown…always the latest disco funk and boogie records…

Q: You’re living in Berlin now. Why did you move? What do you most miss about Manchester, Liverpool or the north of England?
A. I moved to be part of a large community of musicians and to be able to meet up easily with the different people from other parts of the globe when they pass by…I miss the edginess of Manchester and it’s attitude and nothing else.

Q: You recently played live in Barcelona. How did it go and what kind of gear or set up do you take to play live? How many times have you played live?
A: Sala Becool in Barcelona has an excellent booking policy, it’s small and intimate without feeling lost…really enjoyed it and had an appreciative crowd. I use a macbook and a Behringer keyboard. I’ve played twice in the last year once at Club Yellow Japan for Mulemusiq’s 4th anniversary and on the aforementioned occasion.

Q: You were a DJ before you became a producer, and from what I’ve read you played quite a diverse selection of music. Do you still pull from that diversity in either your DJ sets or productions?
A: Now I play one type of set or the other as the term eclectic has become an overused word and genre. Back in the day the Black music clubs played a mixture of all types of music and I wasn’t interested in any other form of music.

Q: What are some of the artists, tunes or labels that you’re really feeling lately?
A: I release a record on a label if I am feeling what their other artists are recording. The artists and labels I am working with are those that I admire and respect for one reason or another…Aesthetic Audio detroit owned by Keith Worthy, Patrice Scott’s Sistrum records, Brendon Moeller (the) A&R man at Wave, Jamie Jimpster at Freerange records and of course everything by Kuniyuki Takahasi for Mule Musiq.

Q: What else are you working on and what can we expect to hear from you over the rest of ’09?
A: I am working on a remix for Alton Miller who for me is an incredible vocalist and it will be an honour as his new track is real, real dope. I want to record an album also finally this year. I’ve got further releases on the previous mentioned labels without forgetting the guys at Ostgut and my dear dear friend Len Faki-cant wait to release my 2nd EP for his wicked label Len Series.

Q: Lastly, what’s with the name? Is it real or a pisstake?
A: Refuse to answer.

Check out Tony Lionni’s “Footpatrol” demo over on his Myspace page while it lasts.

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About Kuri

I am a dj and music journalist trying to spread the word on quality past and future techno/house/electronic music.
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5 Responses to Tony Lionni interview

  1. struggle says:

    Great interview Kuri! Been so excited about this guys releases. Played “5th Cycle” at our last party and jaws hit the floor.

  2. Pingback: Guest mix for Energy Flash | Pop Your Funk

  3. Simon says:

    Tony’s music has single-handedly kept me from taking a machete to most clubs and music producers in NY, the fringes in Brooklyn included. Things only perk up when outside people get booked here. I consider Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco “outside” as well as Sao Paulo, Cologne and Skopje obviously.

  4. Just recently discovered Tony Lionni thanks to one of the artists on my label, and I’m really liking both his mixes and his productions. Quite a bit of stuff to listen to on his soundcloud account too:

    Also just discovered your blog, and very much enjoying reading your posts. I dug reading the Movement Festival post and the interviews. You’ve turned me on to at least 3 new artists! 🙂

    • Kuri says:

      Yeah, Tony was real hot for a minute but has since died down a bit. Probably a good thing for him to develop himself as an artist. But he’s also been keeping busy too with new demos being worked on pretty consistently.

      Glad you like the blog, thanks for checking it out and commenting. Cheers!

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