Vito De Luca, better known as the newly solo Aeroplane, hits the Warehouse Project this weekend. Jasmine Phull sits down with him to talk everything from illegal remixes to Britney Spears.
Date published: 29th Nov 2010
Garnering success is a great thing. Though in the music industry it’s also the fastest way to ‘genrification’ where being ‘labeled’ can act as a stigma. A sticky stigma that the artist has to fight hard to shake off.
Vito De Luca is the newly solo Aeroplane. You may remember the Belgian export from its popular remix of Friendly Fires’ synth pop party ‘Paris’. Untouched it was an instant hit. Post-touch it was something else and, fortunately, global listeners were only too aware. After the release Aeroplane’s status rose exponentially from ‘underground’ web hot-property to that of chart radio show. Aeroplane was the purveyor of the remix and the then-duo could have quite easily stayed stuck; pigeon-holed as ‘the remixers’.
But ironically enough it is because of the Paris remix that 2010 debut We Can’t Fly came to be. The record is a 12-track culmination of non-disco songs where a remix-addict’s expectations are confronted with an onslaught of guitar solos, string sounds and prominent piano chords. Though this is no obituary, where instrumental is embraced the late ‘70s and ‘80s italo-disco sound of Aeroplane is only enhanced. Yes Georgio Moroder is in full-swing. Finally De Luca is able to take charge of the wheel, steering his aerodynamic baby in a direction it has been ready to run for years. With a little deviation, it is now following the trajectory he always knew it could. Sometimes it just takes a little time for others to see beyond the horizon.
Jasmine Phull sat down with Aeroplane’s Vito De Luca, who was as uninhibited as he was honest. From film scores, Britney Spears and illegal SoundClouds, to that MGMT remix that wasn’t meant to see the light of day - though no one complained when it did- all grounds were covered.
You owned a record store. How do you actually collect enough records to open a store? It was a brand new one. So I was mainly selling like electronic music that was being released at the time.
Do you remember the first record you bought? The first record I bought was Michael Jackson’s 45” of Bad.
And I hear it was your dream to write scores for movies. Yea cause I still haven’t done it. Writing music for images is what I really want to do.
So how do you think the scores of today compare to those from 20 years ago? I would say the older ones are better but that’s just because I like music from the ‘80s. But then the soundtrack for Requiem for a Dream worked perfectly! I really think the movie wouldn’t be the same without that soundtrack.
Scores would probably have a big influence on your perception of most movies? Definitely does. If the music is right you don’t really realise it but it really gets the movie together. Good music is nice but you really know if it doesn’t fit with the story. It’s such an important thing and still better don’t realise when it’s being done well.
I guess that’s kind of the point? If people don’t think about it, it must mean it’s been done correctly. Yea yea. It’s like special effects in movies. If you say omigod that special effect is amazing, it means they ‘failed’. When you see a special effect that’s perfectly made, you don’t actually ‘see’ the special effect. It’s the same thing with the music. If you don’t notice the music but it makes the whole thing work so that in one scene you feel angry or sad and in another you’ll feel happy, any sort of mood shift, that’s when it’s a win. That’s when it’s being done right.
Aeroplane became quite well known after the release of the remix you did of Friendly Fires’ track ‘Paris’. Did you have any inkling? You never know how a track is going to be received once it goes out. You struggle to make the best music you can and you never really know if people are going to like it. Sometimes it’s the stuff that’s the most different that people actually love. That makes the difference. But when you work on stuff that is quite different you have no idea if what you are doing is ‘right’. When I did ‘Paris’ I had no idea if throwing the singer out and replacing it with this really stretched girl voice would work. Or if the weird groove was going to work. I just did what I felt was right for the song.
You said the label was happy to give you creative freedom after the release of that remix. It’s not really that song that made Aeroplane ‘big’. Aeroplane started getting big and then the label started getting attention from a lot of people so then they were like ‘ok maybe we can do something a bit bigger than we are planning on doing’. The bigger Aeroplane was getting the more freedom the label was giving to us. But it was really hard, especially for me, to push the way I wanted to record the album because in electronic music today nobody really makes records like the way we did with our debut.
It sounds like you don’t really like to define yourself yourselves with your remixes and much as you do your own productions? To be honest I don’t like to define myself at all. It’s the commercial part of this industry but it’s annoying when you are the musician cause you don’t stuck in a genre. I make the music I want when I wake up in the morning. I don’t make the music people are expecting from me. When you start doing that it’s like a factory where you’re turning out the same stuff. It really does kill your creativity.
Nicole Morrier wrote the lyrics for one of the songs on the album. You’ve said she wrote songs for Britney Spears. Are you a fan of Britney? Or was that not really why you chose Nicole? Yea she wrote some songs for Britney Spears but she did a lot of other stuff. It’s funny that that’s the only thing people remember about her.
Let’s talk quickly about the MGMT “Electric Feel” remix issue. They asked you to do it and then it ended up being turned down. You’ve said that happens a lot in the music industry because of the internet and leaks. Do you think it was just a tactical move on the client’s behalf? I don’t know if it was. The thing is our remix got a lot of success after we put it on the blog. Still today people like Pedro Winter play it. It got play-listed on radio even though it was an illegal remix. But nobody emailed us. No one said 'guys you should stop 'cause you don’t own the rights to that song'. So I’m pretty sure they were happy. I mean ‘Electric Feel’ was a big success. They didn’t need an Aeroplane remix. But still they obviously thought it was ‘useful’ for them to have it there.
It’s so crazy to kind of get your head around that though. I mean the internet has erased that ‘line’ that defines ‘right’ from ‘wrong’. Everything’s really blurry. Yea seriously. A couple of days ago these guys were putting some songs, from our album, on their blog for people to download. But then not only this, they promoted it by putting links on MY Facebook wall! I was like ‘ok put it on your blog but don’t put it on my Facebook wall, that’s a bit much’. Then somebody tweeted back at me and was like ‘do you pay any rights on the songs you play when you DJ or on those that you put in your mixes’? And he was right. I don’t pay anything on that. So the remixes that I’m doing on SoundCloud are as illegal as those guys putting my songs on their blog. I don’t mind if they do because blogs are what made Aeroplane big... initially. Today with internet there’s no real limits and if you know how to play with it, it can become a way to save money for major labels. You don’t have to promote, you don’t have to pay the guy who remixed it, who promotes it himself, and all of a sudden you’ve got promotion.
And thousands of people have heard it.
Now that Aeroplane is just you, have you found the transition from duo to solo hard? No. The transition is only in terms of work load. With one person there’s still twice the amount. But it means that whatever crazy idea I have... I don’t have to ask anybody if I can do it. I was meant to turn off all remixes after I did the Gypsy and the Cat one but now that I’m alone i can do whatever I want. Like I just got a remix offer that was really amazing, so I stopped everything and concentrated on the remix. I also stopped working with a manager three weeks ago. I’m just that kind of person. I hardly work on a schedule; very unpredictable.
I guess it just gives you complete creative control. Yea especially when the studio is in your house. (Laughs)
Just means you can set the alarm for what ever time you want.. or not at all. I usually just get up, grab and coffee and then go sit in the studio and that’s what I was missing. You never know when you are going to be creative. If it flows at 3am then damn, you better be in the studio at that time.