Headman, aka Robi Insinna, has become a big name in electronic music since he entered the scene over a decade ago. During that span, he began to lose touch with creating new-wave influenced club music (his latest work reviewed here), so he moved over to the production side of things. By directing videos and running his record label, Relish, Headman has realized a new artistic angle that keeps him going, but he never gets too comfortable. We bagged an interview with Headman to find out more about his relationship with music and the future of Relish.
Most artists have a story about why they got in to music. Why do you do what you do?
Robi Insinna: Good question. Since I can remember I was obsessed with music. So I guess it was a natural progression to do what I do. Art, fashion and music were things I was always very interested in.
Over the course of your career, which musicians have influenced you the most?
I would say Brian Eno, Klein M.B.O, New Order, Talking Heads, A Certain Ratio but also loads of styles in general like: Post-Punk, New-Wave, Italo-Disco and Indy Music from the 80s and 90s, Chicago House, Detroit Techno and so on…
How much of an inspiration has Swiss culture and music been on what you do?
Swiss artist such as YELLO, Grauzone, early New-wave. Swiss visual art was inspiring for me.
How are you feeling about your music right now? Are you ever going to be 100% happy with the music that you’re making?
I don’t think I’m ever gonna be 100% happy about anything I do, if it’s art, video or music. But I try to be as precise as possible when expressing my ideas.
You’ve been a producer and DJ for a while now, have there been any particular highlights in your career as Headman?
There where loads of nice moments. The first time you receive your finished copy of a 12”, that was a nice feeling. I guess for me the highlights where the collaborations I managed to do over the years, with people that inspired me like Dieter Meier from Yello. I’m just working on a Stephan Eicher reworks release on Relish. Collaborating with A Certain Ratio was very nice for me. To remix The Units High Pressure Days and Roxy Music’s Virginial Plain was also something special.
Are there any producers and DJs out there right now who you feel are pushing dance music forward?
I love what Justin Strauss is doing, with a nice background history and knowledge, but still sounding modern and relevant. Also people like Richard Fearless or Manfredas. I think they are pushing dance music forward.
You have your own record label called Relish. Tell us about the journey of Relish and how it got to where it is now. Was Relish easy to get off the ground?
Relish was started in 2001, same time as the first Headman and Manhead [another of Robbi’s projects] releases. Running a label is never easy, especially these days. In the beginning, it was a bit easier. Then it got a bit more difficult with vinyl sales and all. But it looks like that’s picking up again.
What have been your highlights working on Relish? Have any moments stood out as being particularly good?
Putting something out and see if it gets picked up is nice. Or discovering new talent, when the music is released they are doing well and people share my opinion.
What is the vision for Relish, where do you want the label go in the future?
I wanted to be like the labels that inspired me from the late 70s and early 80s like 99, Y, Fetish, Sire etc. try and bring out music that is relevant, musically and visually and have an artistic integrity.
How do you feel about club culture at the moment? Is it evolving in the right direction?
There’s loads of great music around at the moment. Not so sure if that also means all clubs play nice music. Hopefully it means that there’s taste out there and clubs play good music and take risks.
Let’s finish off with something a bit different. If you were only allowed to have access to three songs for the rest of your life, what songs would you choose?
That’s a hard one! Right now these 3 come to my mind:
Talking Heads: This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)
Kissin The Pink: Big Man Restless
Morrissey: Everyday is Like Sunday
For more coverage of Headman and Relish, click here.