Photo: Press (Freddy K)
Between a constant stream of italo disco reissues and recent compilations dedicated to the Italian dream house sound, it almost felt as if the history of Italian techno was not receiving enough attention. However, as long as Freddy K is still playing his near-mythical DJ sets which can sometimes last up to twelve hours or more, that history will remain alive and kicking. A central force in Rome’s burgeoning scene in the early and mid 1990s, Freddy K relocated to Berlin ten years ago and founded his label Key Vinyl shortly thereafter. Having reissued his legendary track “Devo Andare” track in 2017, he is currently dedicating more attention to Key Vinyl, as indicated by his contribution to our Groove podcast – a densely packed hour of hard-hitting techno that features some forthcoming tracks from his imprint.
You made a name for yourself in Rome in 1993 at only 21 years old with your radio show Virus which soon grew into a booking agency and a record shop. Which role did the radio play in these early days of Italian techno?
Well, at that time there was no internet, and record shops and radios were fundamental for discovering specific kinds of music. I grew up listening to acid house and techno on the radio, so the first, spontaneous step has been setting up a show in a local radio station in Rome. Also, that feeling of loneliness at the mic while lots of people are out there, listening from their car or at home… I’ve always loved that.
You have founded Key Vinyl in 2011 and have become more active in 2018, releasing four records, among them the label’s first 2LP by PVS. What is the philosophy behind Key Vinyl?
Key Vinyl represents my taste. It’s been originally set up to spread music from new artists, but lately is focusing more on releasing music that just fits in my DJ sets, the sound that feels right to me, from artists I already play often.
In 2017, you re-issued your 1997 single “Devo Andare”. What can you tell us about the history of this track?
(laughs) A crazy period in my life both as DJ and radio speaker! My movement called Virus was getting more popular among a younger generation, so I felt very comfortable in putting out stuff a bit more personal and crazy. I’ve always liked punk music and that track represented the punk side of myself, with that attitude youngsters often have, like saying “devo andare” (“I have to go”)…
As a producer, you rarely make appearances, having released your last record in 2012 in collaboration with Ken Karter. Are you not interested in producing anymore?
Well, my latest release was the “Devo Andare” XXX 2017 version. I think that if you feel more into DJing and you don’t feel ready to release tracks which don’t fully represent your taste and level as a DJ… then don’t do it. At this moment, I’m more into spreading my taste through my label, releasing tracks from other artists. But I am working on it… just saying.
Your extended DJ sets at ://about: blank’s now-defunct Homopatik or Berghain or somewhat infamous. How do you prepare for those vinyl-only marathon sets?
I love playing so much that I can’t get tired. If the connection with the dance floor is there, you receive so much energy and adrenaline that you just don’t feel to stop – it’s my first reason for being a DJ. I prepare my three, four, five, even six record bags depending on how much time I have to play, arranging the vinyl by styles and moods I could play in specific moments. After that, I just go with the flow… it’s a nice journey to share with the dance floor.
DJ mixes for podcasts like your contribution to our Groove podcast usually follow a very different dynamic. How do you approach online mixes in comparison to your club sets and what your idea behind this one in particular?
I don’t like to share or publish sets recorded during club nights. They are really deep moments, connected with a specific combination of things you could get only if you’re there, going deeper into your soul and body. Online mixes are better made for home consumption – but you can dance, too, of course. (laughs) I always try to create the journey even if in a limited time lapse, I like the challenge. For this mix, I prepared a one-hour set including part of the music that I play nowadays… nothing more – a true picture. Everything recorded in the most simple and real way: two turntables, one mixer, recorded live and direct, no edits.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans as a label owner?
This weekend is a very intense one, on Friday I’m going to play all night long at Paris’s Concrete with DVS1 and on Sunday at Berghain where I will play the closing set, love it. Then I will be in so many different clubs around Europe mostly and of course also some festivals, among them you can find: Soenda, Dekmantel, Chamonix Unlimited, Forte Festival, 7001… just to mention a few.
Stream: Freddy K – Groove Podcast 196
01. Frankie Bones – We Call it Akkapella Mix (in reverse)
02. Jeroen Search – Monism (FIGURE LP03)
03. Invite – Micro (Invite’s Choice Records 002RP)
04. Benales – Themis (Hiatus Recordings 001)
05. Matrixxman – O00O00O (Dynamic Reflection 10YRDREF005)
06. Ultrastation – 888 Sandra Mosh Remix (Mary Go Wild Black 008)
07. Eric Fetcher – Banks (KSR002)
08. Nihad Tule – Cycle (Sloboda SLBD0000000)
09. Zadig – Dr. Fastofle (Invite’s Choice Records 002RP)
10. Dimi Angélis – Lotus (ANGLS 007)
11. Planetary Assault Systems – The Grinder (MACHINESAMPLER003)
12. Ausgang – stx 7 (KEY LP02)
13. Ausgang – Caged (KEY LP02)
14. Keikari – Teoria (Binary Cells 005)
15. Setaoc Mass – Never Escape (SK_Eleven 007PT1)
16. Alfredo Mazzilli – Thx 1138 (Supercinema Records 001)
17. Rhyw – Happening Rn (Avian 035)
18. Tensal – Certain I (Tensal 009)
19. Discoboxer – Autoerotic Asphyxiation (KEY Leather, Steel & Fist 3)