William Blake’s Songs of Experience, and their diametrically opposed counterparts Songs of Innocence, evoke all the deep and lovely sentiment necessary to understand the precocious DJ Vincenzo, who, at 26, has already torn the roof off of the deep house scene in Hamburg. And, with his newest compilation, Strip Joint Grooves II, your living room is clearly next.

So let’s just start with the fact that both of your albums [Strip Joint Grooves I and II] are fantastic. I also think your original stuff essentially stands out as the best tunes on both of the albums. Describe to me what your process is when you sit down to do your own stuff. And what feeling do you want to get from someone else’s music that makes you say, ‘yeah, I’d put this on a compilation I’m putting together.’

When I do my own music, it’s not that I have so many [ideas]. When I do music, I start with something. I don’t really have a vision or anything. I start and I see what I can do. I see what mood I’m in, and it just goes on [from there]. It’s not like, I see somebody and they make me feel a certain way and that made me make this track. [Any day] I just get up, I go to the studio, I sit down and I start making music.

And when you’re picking other people’s stuff?

[With] the last two Strip Joint Groove compilations…I have so much work to do that I didn’t really get to put them together until the last minute. The records I pick are actually the records I really like. The label [that put these out] doesn’t have the biggest budget for licensing. So I was concentrating on getting stuff from Germany and France and other places in Europe. I always look to people I know that I know make good music or that have good labels or something.

Why is it that, like, you’re from Hamburg…I live in New York and there’s this perception that, when you live in New York, it’s the hippest place in the world. But why is this dope music coming out of Hamburg [instead]?

I’m not sure. I lived in New York for a year and I was doing some music with some friends, one of whom worked with the Basement Boys. And I always knew that one day I’d go to New York and check out what the magic was. And I learned a lot during the studio sessions I had in New York. I had a great time. And when I came back to Hamburg I [used what I learned] to do what I do now. Actually, Hamburg is not the sunniest place on earth. We have loads of clouds and rain. So I always wanted to do music that reminded me of a sunny place with nice weather.

Where do you feel deep house’s place is in the larger house music scene. When I go out [in New York City], more often than not I just hear that thump, thump, thump—which, I believe, is partly because people in New York can’t dance. [laughter] But I always feel there’s more of a commitment from a listener to listen to a deep-house album, which tends to be more melodic and more musically challenging, than there is to listen to progressive. But of course, here, progressive is what sells.

It’s the same in Germany. We have little scenes with loads of labels, actually, who do deep house. It doesn’t really sell a lot. But if you want to have a deep house party in Hamburg, or in Berlin, and you do some promotion around it, it’ll be successful. And people are dancing and [having a good time]. And they dance all night and no one comes up and asks you to play something harder. [laughter] I think you have that in New York also. But it’s different. It’s more like small places.

I’m a big fan of that scene. And if you want to hear it normally you’re in a smaller, more intimate place where you can go up and shake hands with the DJ and tell him how great he is. But a lot of big places here…they don’t play it, and it’s kind of sad. If there was a big place, like you said, that would promote a deep-house night, it would probably blow up. And from a consumer side, it’s frustrating, because that’s what a lot of listeners want to hear.

Here, we have a bunch of clubs that have some deep-house nights—and it’s not like their deep-house parties are famous parties or anything—but it works out actually. Some people come and sometimes it’s a good party…sometimes it’s not. And we have some smaller clubs. Like the resident club I’ve been spinning at for almost four years now. There, it really works out on weekends as well. And it’s not like [people are] just there for deep house, but they can go for it. They can go with it when it plays the whole night. And sometimes people ask you to play harder, but that’s only once or twice or night. Hamburg is more like a housey city. And Berlin is more techno and more ’80s style.

Thanks for that segue. There are so many good labels based in Germany. Compost, JCR, and the rest, they’re all doing this amazing electronic music. Can you describe the music scene in Germany? It sounds like it’s almost culty by city.

It is actually. Stuttgart—you know where Mercedes is based—they have loads of hip-hop culture there. Munich is more like people listening to really progressive shit, and they have a good techno scene as well. Berlin is really like techno and ’80s. And Hamburg…we have one or two techno clubs, but we don’t have any famous techno clubs here.

So you’re 26 years old now?

Yeah.

That’s pretty impressive.

I started early. My father is a bass player and he plays on cruise ships—he plays all the old shit, like old Latin classics and that stuff. [He was a great influence] so I [wound up releasing] my first 12-inch when I was 18.

Where you pleased with the reception the first Strip Joint Grooves compilation received.

I was actually surprised that it was received so well, since it wasn’t something that I had to put all of my effort into. And it really worked out. It sold a lot in Germany and in Europe. And I started getting e-mails from people and stuff who liked it. [laughter] So I was very surprised.

I think your original stuff is really, really well done. When you mentioned that your dad plays Latin jazz and that stuff—I think you can feel that in your music.

Yeah. When I was a kid, like eight or nine years old, I was writing some lyrics about [how successful I’d be when I got] older. And when I read them now it’s so funny because it’s total bullshit cheesy stuff. [laughter] But I always had music in my mind. When I was 13 I did my first session with a friend and I bought my first stuff and everything. And I just developed from there.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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