In the late nineties and early noughties, I did a lot of sample-based music with a genius little Windows music program called Making Waves. I had no experience in sampling and basically knew nothing about writing music, but I was very much inspired by DJ Shadow, Four Tet, Max Tundra and all the Ninja Tune– and MoWax– stuff I had listened to in the nineties. Many of my compositions from those times were completely original pieces made with found sounds that I had sampled into my computer. In the time before laptops I carried my tabletop machine to the kitchen to sample the motor of our fridge or I took my portable minidisc-recorder with me and recorded all the different voices I heard during a walk in the nature. Recently I discovered a c-cassette filled with these original compositions. At first I didn’t recognize them as my own pieces of music, but then in one song there were some vocals and I recognized my own vocoded voice. I was amazed. Or more like completely blown away. I had done a cassette full of music that sounded – if not great then at least – interesting and inspiring.
More about those compositions later, but now for something else that was long forgotten. As my crate-digging-abilities weren’t yet on the same level as Josh Davis’, I sampled whatever I could get my hands on. I only had one guideline – sample only original stuff, not something that somebody else has already sampled. I went through piles of cassettes bought cheap from a second hand shop and cheap vinyl obscurities looking for that perfect drumbeat or bassline. I found a lot of religious speeches, self recorded childhood theatre on cassettes and some great drumloops, but one particular disco compilation had a – back then still unknown – early eighties italian song from Pino D’angio’ called Ma Quale Idea. This song was perfect for sampling. It had an infectious, very catching bassline a deadpan vocal performance about marmelade and those lovely lasery disco-toms. I was sure I had a hit on my hands when I was working on my track, but then MTV started to play a new dance song “Don’t Call Me Baby” from an australian group called Madison Avenue. They had sampled Ma Quale Idea before me and made it into a MTV-friendly dancepop track. I gave up.
Years later I came across a seven inch single in a swedish record shop. The cover was funny with a tough looking guy with curly hair smoking a cigarette in black and white and looking ominously and kind of pissed off at you. I had to buy it just for old times sakes. For a while I thought of the song as a personal curiosity not worth of public airing, but maybe 2 years back I decided to take it with me for a spin in the dj booth. Needless to say the song was an instant hit. Now looking at the video for the first time in my life I get the sense that smoking cigarettes was an integral part of mr. D’Angio’s image and perhaps also the secret ingredient behind his growly “I don’t give a fuck” -singing voice.
Tomi / Turku Synth
P.S. Here’s the Madison Avenue version, mine would’ve been a lot better. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4-PcMSxrUA