This week marks the beginning of Amsterdam Dance Event, where tens of thousands of fans and hundreds of the world’s best electronic music artists will descend upon the city for 5 days of all things dance music. (See our list of ADE can’t miss parties here.) Two of those artists will be Marvin & Guy, the Italian double threat who have ascended to festival-headlining success across the globe in 2017. It has been a jam-packed year of touring, producing, and co-creating their own vinyl-only label with Life and Death boss DJ Tennis. Despite their busy schedule, they wouldn’t have it any other way. Read our interview below as we caught up with them to discuss tour life, home life, studio life, and a little bit in-between.
Alessandro and Marcello – we are big fans at Bizarre Culture. Thank you for taking time to answer some burning questions. Looking forward to seeing you at Life and Death ADE!
Thanks for being so kind and for asking some interesting questions! (We hope, haha.)
Your next release Life of Marvin Vol 2. is available to pre-order exclusively through Amsterdam-based record shop Bordello A Parigi. What are the chances fans are treated to an exclusive in-store set while you’re here for ADE?
We were asked to do an in-store set together with DJ Tennis as Life of Marvin, but unfortunately, we can’t do it because of the very tight schedule we have, and it’s a big shame for us because we really wanted to spread the word by doing that kind of in-store.
Marvin & Guy tracks like Dance Ability, Targa (Long Drive), and your remix of Simple Symmetry’s Best Ice Cream in Guwahati have these epic, layered, triumphant-like build-ups and releases that evoke the entrance music and preamble to a U2 concert in an arena full of 100,000 people. Jennifer Cardini and DJ Tennis have been opening their sets with The Train of Fantastic, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that it really sets the tone and energy for the rest of the night. When crafting these type of tracks, do you have a certain moment, feeling, or setting in mind?
We really don’t care too much about “how long a track needs to be,” we just like to build a story and you can’t build it in a 5-minute track, of course. It needs time to grow and grow until the very middle part which we like to sound epic, like nothing else.
While your disco and pre-progressive-Italo-techno roots cannot be ignored as a musical foundation, post-2014 Marvin & Guy records seem to have coalesced into a very particular, original sound within the realm of dance music. Heavy on synths with cosmic, distorted guitars, hand claps, a strategically used cowbell here and there – akin to a genre cultivated by contemporary producers Red Axes, Rebolledo, Khidja, and Moscoman. Now that you’re 6 years into producing with great success, how has the support of big labels and access to resources influenced your sound?
As you know we started playing Disco back in 2011 then producing Disco Edits until the end of 2012. We don’t hide that our inspiration came from producers like Pachanga Boys, Barnt, etc., so our first official release was “Dance Abilities” on Young Adults, then after 4 months, “Egoista” on Hivern Discs. The last one pushed up our profile without any doubt so we got the attention from big labels like Life and Death, Correspondant, and Kompakt. Now the artists you mentioned above are colleagues that support our music, and it’s very important because they let the people know our music – playing our tracks in the best clubs and festivals around the globe.
What kind of party does Life and Death throw that stands apart from others?
Life and Death crew has a very specific – and unique – way to build an event (we don’t like too much using the word “party”, it sounds a bit belittling). They really take care of every single detail, and the most important thing right after the line-up, which is always massive (during last year they booked the most interesting and not so commercial acts in the electronic music business), is the venue. It needs to be SPECIAL. The main example is the event during Sonar Off this year at Villa Habana outside Barcelona. C’mon, that was the best one this year so far! And it is something that we’ve grown up with since back in the days when we were promoters as well organizing parties in our area in Italy, the main thing was the venue. (Not the line up because we didn’t have money).
I am starting a collection of 80s new wave and italo-disco records. What are the must-haves?
Well, we are not very into New Wave, but the Italo Disco yes. We like the early 80s Italo, the proto-house, proto-techno one. We can tell you 3 records that a collector must have and also we play quite often in our sets:
Charlie – Spacer Woman
Klein & MBO – Dirty Talk (We think it’s the first House record ever.)
Mr Flagio – Take a Chance.
Festival season is coming to an end. It has been a long year for you with production, the launch of Life of Marvin, and global DJ tours. On your social media, you really seem to relish the time spent at home. What do you do to unwind?
For M&G this was the best year in general so far, that’s a sure thing yes, and we cannot be glad enough about it. But you know we both come from a very small city in the north of Italy (even though Marcello now lives in Barcelona). The habits in Parma have been very basic since ever. We grew up with food, friends, hills, countryside and very simple nights. And apparently, we’re keeping those habits also now because it’s the most relaxing thing you can have in order to dissociate your intense life as a touring DJ. That’s also why we are always cool doing very “normal” things during the week and posting personal relaxing moments on the social media :)
Amsterdam has been very friendly to Marvin & Guy, and promoters and parties have really embraced you. What has this city meant to you and what role do you see it playing in the future?
We always talk about Amsterdam and we can easily say that there’s no other city like that in Europe right now. The best crowd, like Berlin 10 years ago, but less dark, and the most friendly promoters. We are close friends with some promotors like Naut from Audio Obscura, for example (which has the same ironic of an Italian and we love it) among the others. You know it’s the only city where you can run 3 or 4 electronic festivals in the same day and all of them are full of like 10.000 or more people: now really, how magical is this thing? It’s literally impossible to find anywhere else. It’s without a doubt the best city in Europe right now for the scene.
What was your first gig like, and where was it? How does it compare to your current performances?
We played in different spots around the world starting from 2012 but what we define our “GIG ZERO” was at Nuits Sonores Festival in 2014. Until that day we used to mix Disco, House, Italo Disco, the Nuits Sonores one was the first time we played a 100% our mixed style set and not very far from our sound of the moment, at all. Of course, we grew up, we discovered and developed more directions and styles to add to our DJ gigs. We just play what we really like, basically, without any limitation.
In addition to original productions, you’ve built up quite a repertoire of collaborations and remixes. What do you add to a track that gives it that Marvin & Guy “sound?”
Mmm, interesting, but hard question. We can say that an M&G track needs to be dirty, with a disco flavour, a lot of real percussions and shaker in general, a special arpeggio at some point (almost randomly) and, most of the time, very long! We know it’s not enough saying just this, right?? Jokes apart, we think the main reason is that we build a track like a real pop song. The construction always has the main role in it. If you listen to all of our productions it’s impossible to find a track which sounds the same for more than 1 minute, have you ever noticed that? We basically have a pop approach to doing music.
Your music would lend itself well as the soundtrack of a movie. Do you have plans or have you thought about scoring a film?
Not for now, but it’s gonna happen in the future for sure because we both love movies’ soundtracks and it would be so the next step since the music we produce has a lot of this flavour. It’s gonna be another step in our journey as musicians.
That’s it. Thanks again!
Sweet, thanks. Ciao and see you at ADE!
You can find the Bizarre Culture staff dancing with Marvin & Guy at the Life and Death ADE party this Friday, October 20th at Thuishaven in Amsterdam.
Words by Tyler Besse
Photo by Raff Grosso