So I have been sat on this interview for an amazingly long amount of time, too long in fact! (And I thank the guys at Giallo Disco for their patience!). Part of the reason for this is the subject of horror disco and how I would write about it. I find it impossible to write about something if I do not feel confident I know what it is about, and the truth is I know nothing about disco! Well at least nothing in terms of how it relates to the horror genre. You see the thing is music has always been such an essential part of horror. It conveys the atmosphere and the feel of the film. Without music horror would not be so effective; take, for example, The Exorcist without Mike Oldfield’s inspired Tubular Bells, or imagine the impact of Halloween without John Carpenter’s chilling score. While it is there, and always has been to some extent, it seems to exist without very much recognition. When it comes to definitive writing that charts the rise of the use of music in horror, I found it difficult to uncover anything comprehensive enough to use as a basis for further research. And, therefore, I was set to task with my own minimal frame of reference and consequently have waded around in unchartered territories (for me) for most of this project. Thankfully the guys at Giallo have made it slightly easier for me, holding my poor death metal tinged hand through most of the way, listening to my (probably) inane questions and leading me to these brilliant videos they put together on the subject.
If we look back on the horror genre, somewhere in the 70’s and 80’s something magical happened. Of course horror has always had its associated scores, but things started to get interesting during the 70’s with the rise of a new form of music, disco. There is something about the tribalistic rhythms, the feeling of decadence and the otherworldly vibe that could be produced by electronica that made it such a perfect fit for horror films. With directors like Dario Argento introducing the prog electro synth soundscapes of Goblin, and Lucio Fulci getting Fabio Frizzi on board to score Zombi 2, horror had found the perfect partner; a musical accompaniment which could fit the nightmarish visions on screen, and give it an extra edge. Stateside John Carpenter was crafting out his own form of sound, taking the lead from the Italian masters, which in turn gave his films their own unique style and context
When I organised this interview with the guys from Giallo Disco, it made me aware of how ignorant I am on the subject. What is horror disco? Has it always been here? (at least in within the limits of my time with the genre from the late 70’s onwards- it would appear so). Apparently out of my depth I needed to know more, and so with the help of Giallo Disco founders and artists Antoni Maiovvi and Gianni Vercetti aka Vercetti Technicolor I took a crash course in this amazing genre that is still, to some extent, floating around on the fringes. This is not simply music confined film soundtrack, but a whole genre inspired by a love for the genre, including for many of the contemporary artists soundtracks for films that do not exist. Bringing with it strange, fantastical soundscapes that drum up visions of murder, death and mayhem without the aid of lurid content on screen. Artists inspired by the likes of Carpenter, Frizzi, and Simonetti are creating a new breed of music. Music that cries out the dark soul of horror amongst the hypnotic beats and brooding atmosphere; this is a new class of horror, and while it does not have a face, it certainly has a voice that is crying out to be heard.
One of the reasons this subgenre is now coming to the attention of horror loving music fans is because of the work of these two dedicated guys, Antoni and Gianni, who in 2012 set up Giallo Disco, an entire label dedicated to putting horror disco out there. While other labels dabbled, and there were artists working in the field, (again on the fringes), Horror Disco needed a dedicated home. Here in Giallo Disco it looks like it has finally found its place.
Giallo Disco started up in 2012 off the back of an extremely successful Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds to press a 12 inch disc, Black Gloves EP. The campaign raised in excess of its initial $1,120 goal since then it is going from strength to strength, with 5 releases now under their belts it seems like the sky is the limit for these two horror loving music obsessives. Consequent releases have included Antoni Maoivvi’s Stockholm Synthdrone (Sep 2012), Vercetti Technicolor’s Bay of Blood EP (Aug 2013), Alessandro Parisi’s La Porta Ermetica (Dec 2013) and the new release Unit Black Flight (vinyl ready to ship May 12th, 2014).
And so it was, feeling awkwardly out of my depth, that I got together with Giallo Disco founders for a chat. I thank them for their time, patience, and opening my eyes to this exciting genre of music:
GSC: I suppose I better ask you guys how you got set up? And what were you doing before?
Antoni: So should I take this first one Gianni?
So Gianni and I met in Athens when we were playing at the same party. I remember it was quite good. We’d had some trouble with labels the following year and just thought we should do it. There was no one else dedicated to that particular sound (of course Bunker, Creme Org and others had some output of Horror Disco, but no one who did JUST that).
GSC: Were you dedicated to making that sort of music prior to the label? Or did the label start and then the music?
Antoni: The music was first, we’d been mining this Late 70s / Early 80s Horror Synth thing for a while. 2006 / 2007 for both of us I’m pretty sure, Gianni correct me if I’m wrong.
GSC: Am I right in thinking you were in a Goblin tribute band Antoni?
Antoni: at one time yeah, Il Goblini, in Bristol.
GSC: So I take it you are a massive fan?
Antoni: Yes of course!
GSC: And horror?
Antoni: Yes, that’s how we bonded.
GSC: Ahh the love of horror!
Antoni: And disco.
GSC: Always a good one for bonding! And now you get to combine the two, I take it Italian is your genre then?
Antoni: I just like the trash, and the music. Movie wise I like the existential themes: Reality falling apart, Cronenberg / Tsukamoto esque.
GSC: Gianni how about your horror influences, experiences, I was reading your initial Indiegogo campaign you apparently live in a bunker of VHS bootlegs??
Gianni: Yeah mostly movies, giallo, zombie all the killer genres plus their amazing soundtracks of course.
GSC: Do either of you have any particular favourites? Like something that made you think hey I want to make music like that?
Gianni: I like all the giallo classics and generally the killer genre but my sound was mostly influenced by the zombie/vampire/cannibal movies of the same era. Cheese gems like Burial Ground, the movie with the oddest electronic score ever in my opinion, just hit my spot. Films like Fulci’s Zombi 2 /3 , Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust, Joe D’Amato’s Anthropophagus, Romero’s “always something” of the Dead” movies and many more.
Antoni: Tenebrae, Contamination, Suspiria, Buio Omega were big ones for me, my favourite isn’t very disco though. It’s the Lizard In A Woman’s Skin OST.
Gianni: The score of Contamination is clearly made by you, but you just keep it a secret…
GSC: So you guys came up with the term horror disco?
Antoni: well, it already existed!
Gianni: I don’t think so… it was there…
Antoni: Friday 13th Part III OST.
GSC: See shows what I know J
Antoni: and there is this Italian producer (Bottin) who had an album called Horror Disco, now it’s not totally horror disco, but the elements are there.
Antoni: Horror Disco is a funny name though, right? I mean to me and Gianni and a lot of people the combination of horror movies and disco makes total sense, horror has been stuck in this Metal world since the mid 80s.
Gianni: well, back then everything had to be dance floor friendly.
GSC: So how would you define horror disco? How do you perceive in terms of how you work as artists, and is it a genre that has strict rules?
Gianni: being killed to a disco tune is fun.
Antoni: a lot of people forget all the amazing disco or spacey synthy stuff I’m not sure there are many rules. I think it’s about atmosphere right?
Gianni: yes atmo.
GSC: So that’s what you try and convey more of an atmosphere?
Gianni: I see it when I’m making music, even my dance floor oriented tracks like house etc are more atmospheric, so it’s clear that those influences are strong.
Antoni: there is also something at work, when people are interacting with music on a purely fantasy basis. Or that becomes its purpose. Sometimes music can just be cathartic, sometimes hypnotic, at least what I’m trying to do is appeal to that fantastical, imaginative side.
I mean, these aren’t DJ tools.
Gianni: It’s also the fact that an album can sound like it’s made for a movie….which doesn’t exist. Like Francesco Clemente’s Suoni Dalle Ombre Oltre.
GSC: Ah I get you! So you guys met and you were both working in music and you established there was no other label dedicated to this genre, how did you go about making that label a reality?
Gianni: Yes, we were already making music.
Anton: well, the idea was if we can get 60 people to pre-order a 12″ we can get it pressed. Which we did pretty quickly, that’s how it started. Yeah I already had a few albums under my belt. Gianni says I’m famous, but I don’t believe it.
Gianni: No, just more famous than me hahaha.
Gianni: It’s ok, fits you better, you are the showman of the gang. I’m lurking in the shadows, you can tell from the white noise atmo in almost all my tracks.
GSC: So how did you get from pressing a 12 inch to an entire label?
Gianni: The first one went well, plus great feedback and gathered enough money to press the 2nd one.
Antoni: Well if we can sell one, then we have enough to press another. It was always the goal to have a functioning label, we just didn’t know at the very start if it would work out. It’s great we did.
Gianni: Yeah, it was risky.
GSC: But now you are more established as a label do you feel you have more security? And to add to that do you work with other artists now or is it still just you guys?
Antoni: There is no security in the music industry. We just released our first outside artist Alessandro Parisi, The next 6 releases will be artists other than ourselves, and there are quite a few of us operating now.
Gianni: It’s a main platform for us but we also do others too.
Antoni: I think the audience was always there, but they had no idea it existed.
Gianni: It was there but we started a “trend” also, imagine that we also saw labels transforming into “horror” platforms just to catch up. But Giallo is Giallo.
Antoni: Which is cool, the more the merrier, no one is getting rich off this – but if anything it has to make us more discerning.
Gianni: Yeah, flattering at least.
Antoni: There were always labels dipping in and out. Slow Motion in Italy who only release Italian artists have Fransisco who’s NERO mini album is one of my all-time favourite horror disco releases.
GSC: There has been a massive resurgence well maybe not the right word, but take guys like Fabio Frizzi for example his music seems to only now be getting the recognition it deserves, or people are coming out and sharing that love via the Internet, do you think that has helped you guys promote what you do? (not Fabio personally ) just more people are aware or sharing
Antoni: Well there is a new generation of people just discovering the music and films and a lot of this stuff was unavailable for quite some time.
Gianni: That’s the recent trend of everything horror.
Antoni: There was also a problem of really shitty bootlegs. When I got my first Goblin vinyl, the guys in the shop assumed they were bootlegs and marked them down quite considerably.
GSC: So talking of this stuff being available now Death Waltz are putting some cool stuff out, you guys put something out with them didn’t you?
Antoni: They put out the OST to this short movie I did.
Gianni: Anton released Yellow on them, they mainly do movie scores.
Antoni: But, Spencer is an amazing man, super helpful. He’s part of the extended family now.
GSC: Yeah they are putting out some great releases. Was the OST limited edition?
Antoni: 1000 copies which went immediately, I’ve never sold so many records! Shocking to say the least.
GSC: Are you planning on working on anymore soundtracks? How about as a label?
Antoni: Currently, I’m working on two feature films.
Gianni: At the moment I’m scoring a Chilean horror movie, so it might come out on Giallo.
Antoni: No idea when it will all be finished, they are ongoing projects. I want to do a video game. I want someone to make a Giallo version of LA Noire and we do the music.
Gianni: F yeah We have a great lead to Ubisoft.
GSC: It would have to come out on the Commodore 64 though, limited edition cassette of course
Gianni: Yeah, like Legowelt…he makes his own commodore games.
GSC: A commodore giallo based game with an electronic score, it would be a big seller!
Antoni: Legowelt was another person mining this vein for a while.
Gianni: yeah around 2002-2006.
Antoni: he’s huge now, rightly so.
Gianni: Squadra Blanco is a masterpiece.
Anton: Yeah and all the Franz Falckenhaus stuff.
Gianni: And everything he did on Strange Life, his label. (Dutch producer, he provided the remix on our first release).
We get to talking about other famous names and Anton talks about his recent experiences at film festivals…
Antoni: I met Argento though, yeah I was a little starstruck! But I got my photo and told him how much his films meant to me. So it was good. I mean, when you’re 17 and watching Suspiria for the first time in your bedroom, you never actually think you’ll get to meet the man who made it. It’s a little unreal, you can hardly believe that he exists.
GSC: I suppose that brings me to one of my other questions I was going to ask, if you guys could have worked with any director past or present, who would it be?
Antoni: Friedkin, but you know, since I met Ryan Haysom (who directed Yellow and all the music videos last year) I really felt I met my other half in that world, we’ll do great work together.
GSC: Friedkin is an interesting choice? Are you are going to continue working with Ryan?
Antoni: oh yes! I think the thing that separates mine and Gianni’s music is my stuff would probably be better suited for use in Cruising. I saw James Franco is / has done this documentary about the missing 40 minutes and I was a little upset I wasn’t asked. I would have been PERFECT for that.
GSC: When you come together how does the creative process work for you both? Do you have concept for a release and work from that?
Antoni: Well we both work separately; Gianni and I have only met once in real life. I write every day. my process is pretty 9-5 in terms of HOW I write.
GSC: Really? you have only met once??
Gianni: I make sketches almost everyday as well.
Antoni: Yeah only once, we should remedy that.
Antoni: But we were moving a lot last year, life was chaotic. I went from Berlin to the UK to Spain where I’ve been for a few months. Gianni moved to Vienna.
Gianni: Left the always sunny Greece for the cold north.
GSC: So how do you guys work together? Does one of you start on an idea, and the other take off from that? Or you work separately?
Antoni: On music we work separately.
Gianni: We haven’t done a collaboration yet, but it’s something that’s coming soon. It’s minds alike, I couldn’t run the label with anyone else.
Antoni: On a release we get the tracks, listen to them for a while, make the decisions, then start on finding a suitable remixer, and plus there are so many roadbumps along the way, I’m not sure how anyone does it by themselves.
GSC: It must be hard with so much distance though?
Gianni: Bless the internet!
Antoni: When our living conditions were more chaotic it was.
Gianni: It’s manageable now.
Antoni: Yeah, our vinyl broker is in Madrid so I handle that.
Gianni: Our biggest nightmare at the moment is postal services.
Antoni: Gianni unfortunately has to post them.
Gianni: Nothing major yet in terms of quantity but some recs here and there are getting lost/broken all the time. I hope this time all goes well.
GSC: I was going to ask about your latest release actually, I want to put something about that, and of course anything you have planned in the near future.
Antoni: GD004 is Alessandro Parisi a native Italian and super-talented young (younger than me anyway) composer. He mixes this Carpenter meets Goblin style with occult themes. It is very good.
Gianni: GD005 is UNIT BLACK FLIGHT.
Antoni: Yes, it’s the legendary Unit Black Flight.
Gianni: A guy from Indianapolis with some releases on Bunker and Strange life, pure Carpenter stuff.
Antoni: This is some of his old stuff: He’s a hero of ours.
Unit Black Flight- Tracks from the Trailer EP is out on Giallo Disco Records on May 12th, click here for details.
The Digital Version includes bonus remixes from Giallo Disco Corporals Vercetti Technicolor and Antoni Maiovvi.
This is Horror Disco at its finest. Limited copies.
(GD005) Unit Black Flight — Tracks From The Trailer EP
A1 — Shadow Scope
A2 — One Hour Before Dawn
B1 — Shortwave Radio Antenna Down
B2 — Into The Zone
B3 — Into The Zone (Heinrich Dressel Mix)
Shadow Scope (Vercetti Technicolor Remix)
Shortwave Radio Antenna Down (Antoni Maiovvi Remix)
Written by Bryan Lane
Mastered By Alek Stark at Fundamental Audio, Madrid
Art by Eric Adrian Lee
CHECK THE OFFICIAL GIALLO DISCO RECORDS PAGE HERE.
OFFICIAL FACEBOOK HERE.
VERCETTI TECHNICOLOR ARTIST PAGE HERE.
ANTONI MAIOVVI ARTIST PAGE HERE.