For this next instalment of Digging Deeper we had the privilege of speaking to Stefano Ritteri, one of the co-founders of a very exciting new label - Spaziale Recordings. The releases the label have put out so far have flown off the shelves here at Mr Bongo HQ, and we're already salivating at the prospect of what they are bringing to the table in 2020.
Hi Stefano, tell us about your musical background?
Hello! I have been a music nerd all my life, djing and collecting records from the 90s and producing under different aliases since 2000; wow 20 years ago now!
I left sunny Rome for London to learn about the music business and start working as a producer more seriously, and since then I have been involved in many projects and labels. I feel very lucky because I get to travel a lot to Dj and to visit record stores to find obscure samples.
What made you want to start your own label?
Together with my friend and producer Musta, I started a label a couple of years ago called Viaggio Recordings; which is dedicated to pure club-friendly music and so far has been a very fun adventure. Last year through a mutual friend I met Marco Salvatori in Rome for a coffee. I knew of him because of his involvement with the label Best Italy, which he ran for a few years until 2019 and has been releasing amazing re-issues. We instantly clicked, talking endlessly about synths, obscure samples and Italian food of course. After this first meeting we agreed that we should work together and start a label dedicated in part to re-issues, but more importantly to find amazing new acts to produce and to help bring them out there, and from that day everything went super fast. We have the first 26 releases ready to go already for 2020!!
Where does the label name come from?
Me smoking some good herbals and thinking “hmmmm..whats a good name for cosmic, mad music——“ Spaziale”, which in Italian literally means “In Space” , but also “Very cool!"
What is the musical direction for the label?
We are very determined not to have one specific direction. If you look at our catalogue you’ll see anything from Proto-house, to Afrobeat, to Arabic music and Disco, plus some very cool original bands. Quality and rarity are our main targets in choosing the records we put out.
Are your releases things that have been on your radar for some time, or are you selecting them as you get access to catalogues?
We have access to some incredible catalogues, and Marco is really amazing at finding gems in these messy documents and excel files. I have picked a few titles from my radar, especially records I know I want to re-edit, but Marco literally calls me every day with some new title that we can do that I didn’t notice - and they are great!
Acquiring the rights to reissue can be quite the challenge, how are you finding things so far?
I think the challenge is mostly that there are lots of bootleggers out there, and sometimes we find ourselves in some sort of battle with people that want to bootleg some of our titles, or they attack us saying that we shouldn’t do this or that release. It can be a pain in the ass, but the fact that we actually have rights and paperwork for every single release makes it also fun to scare away certain dodgy figures. Also we are very happy to be working with our distributor Prime Direct, as they are very helpful with contracts and checking that everything is fine, plus they always make good coffee during our meetings
The A. Mislayene reissue is proving very popular with Mr Bongo customers. What can you tell us about the artist or this release in particular (preferably both)? Is there anything else in their discography you would like to reissue or we should be looking out for?
Oh I’m happy that Bongoers ( could this be their nickname?) are playing it! I’m a big fan of Kabyle music and I have loved this record for many years, so imagine how happy I was when Marco said: “Yep, it’s in our catalogue, we can do it."
I’m not sure if we are gonna reissue other titles from Mislayene as we have many more artists to release, but I’m so proud that our second release (and the first with an edit of mine) is proving so successful. We are getting many nice messages from all around the world about the record, and this gives us lots of energy.
Blair ‘Nightlife’ has been a holy grail for disco heads for some time now, did you have any direct dealings with Barney Blair Perry himself?
Oh man... Blair… All I can say is that Marco dropped the name in an email he sent me about possible releases, and I was SO stoked. It has been a long time in the making, but this amazing record is coming out again!!!
Will all the releases on the label include a Spaziale version?
Not all of them, we are doing too many for me to re-edit them all (although I would love to).
How do you approach these reworks / remixes? Many of the originals have attained legendary status, does this influence your thinking?
Well, sampling has been a big part of my productions since day one. You know, the kid in the 90s with an MPC and a portable turntable going out “digging” - you get the picture. Now I get to work with these amazing samples, without the risk of being sued, and it’s really like paradise. I tend to add lots of things to my edits, not just a kick here and there. I hope people can hear my bizarre drum synths and tape echoes all over the place; that’s why we call these “Versione Spaziale”, as we see it more than just an edit. Plus in most Versions I add a cheeky vocoder saying “Spaziale”, including on Ait’s release, did you spot it?
What forthcoming releases can we expect from Spaziale Recordings?
So Many goodies! Liaison Dangereuses, Exodus, Skatt Bros, Peter Tosh... and I’m particularly looking forward to put out Spaziale 006, which is a collaboration between me and Pino Presti - a legend of italo disco. When we got in touch with him (he’s alive and kicking in the French Riviera and we heard that he still likes to play piano in bars and have a few cocktails ), he told us he had some tapes of unreleased material from the 80s. He sent them to me and I locked myself in studio adding extra instrument parts and redoing the arrangements. Now these songs are coming out for the first time as a collaboration between us. It felt so good to work on “forgotten” tapes, and I think people will really like the result. Pino is an amazing singer and songwriter.
Many thanks to Stefano for taking the time to answer our questions.
You can buy the latest Spaziale Recordings release from us here.