Mauro Picotto Interview: “There's no business, we're doing music for passion"

With a new record out on Friday, we caught up with Italian Techno Titan, Mauro Picotto, to chat about all things Techno, Meganite's Ibiza days, and how he thinks the industry has changed.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 17th Apr 2023

Mauro Picotto should need a little introduction for fans of Techno. As one of the pioneers of the Italian techno scene, his work has influenced countless electronic music artists around the world, and he has given a fair share of today's biggest names their first starts. With classic tracks like "Komodo" and "Lizard," his productions are recognised as some of the most innovative and influential in the history of dance music.

But beyond his chart-topping hits, Picotto has also made significant contributions to the clubbing culture. His residency at the legendary Privilege in Ibiza, where he launched the Meganite parties, was a defining moment in the development of the Techno scene on the island. The Meganite events were characterized by their high energy and forward-thinking sounds, and they quickly became the go-to party for those partaking in a season, who were seeking something fresh and exciting.

Now, with his new album "From the 80s till Now" set to drop this Friday, the Italian techno maestro is poised to showcase his talents once again. The album is split into two parts, with the first half featuring more commercial tracks that are inspired by the music of the 80s. The second half is a 40-minute continuous Meganite mix that looks forward to crafting new sounds, showcasing Picotto's ability to push the boundaries of techno and electronic music.

In this interview, we'll dive deep into Picotto's storied career, his thoughts on the current state of the industry, and what inspired his latest project. So, without further ado, let's explore the mind of one of Techno's true titans: Mauro Picotto.

 

 

So you have a new record coming out ‘From The 80s Till Now’, being released next week? What can you tell us about it?

It's something that actually it's been building in the last few years. Because of COVID, obviously, we were all at home, so during that time we were listening to old tracks, getting inspiration from the music you can find on the web, or in my memory for certain records. I just started to make music not so much for the club, but more just to listen to and be good for the home. But when the situation got better, and we started to work and go out again, I just was thinking it would be silly to leave all these tracks just parked in my laptop. 

So, I decided to create an album that was divided in two. One to listen to like I’ve just said, which was more for the streaming and the ‘popular’ side, and then one that is the Meganite techno, which is the music that I still like to play and create for the club; for the people that just love the more underground sound. 

That second side was very personal, it wasn't a case of me needing to do it, it just happened from playing around. Mainly because every time I was going to a set and played some new tracks if it was Techno or something a bit more Housey, I could see there was interest from the people. So, I just decided to let's release a new album with it all on. 

 

So, the title is kind of pretty revealing of the content of the record itself ‘From The 80s Till Now’, does the record kind of look back in a wave of nostalgia? Is it more of a blending of old and new? Or is it something else entirely?

It is actually a combination. My first gig in a club, when I played to actual people, not in the house or in the studio, was in the 80s, when I was 17, so from then until now, that's a long career. There has been so much to take inspiration from. 

For some of the tracks, I was completely inspired by the 80s when I was listening back then. So for example, the first track, Reignite, is inspired by City Lights, by William Pitt, and there's another inspired by The Logical Song by Supertramp. So, there's a bit of a mix of the music from the 80s, but then it's all manipulated for 2023.  Then we also have music like ‘Pure Tau’ or ‘Khuyay’ on the Meganite Techno side, which for me are like futuristic tracks dedicated to the club. 

Why have you chosen now to take this look back into the 80s with your music, what was the thing that inspired that look back into the music of your youth?

As I say it was during COVID. We had so much time at home, just listening to all that music, and you’d get a memory and then you feel like oh we'll be nice maybe this want to recreate it with a new sound. But then it's not just me because now I listen to music. Everybody's doing the same kind of thing.  

Even the most commercial and superstar DJs like David Guetta or Swedish House Mafias' new track with Roman Flugel - and whilst they don’t go far as far back, usually they’re going to the 90s - they all getting inspiration from that time, you know, I think was just because we were all home and had nothing better to do.

We felt nostalgic, and we tried to bring back the emotion from those times, because maybe in the last few years, the music was a bit too much about the loop and the repetitive, boring sound, the rolling drum machine, and the bass going up and down.

It infected the clubs. People were coming out from the party and actually, when they were asked, how was the night? Brilliant. What music did they play? I don't know. But you told me it was brilliant? 

From my point of view, maybe these days we should bring it back to real music, meaning to involve a real musician, with instruments, not just a DJ. As much as I am a DJ as well, I know that having a real musician in the studio is so important if you want to try to catch something new. 

 

How do you think music, and the music industry as a whole, has changed in that time frame? 

To me, the music business is very fake at the moment, especially in the club scene. Now you can now hear a track in the club, and then the next day it’s number one, these tracks always don’t sound great either to me. Today it is more about the branding of the label; who pays most gets more gigs or more sales. 

I don't want to be a part of that group. I understand why their doing it as a business, but at 56 I don't care. To be honest, I just want to do it for the passion, for the pleasure of the music. I know that DJs, especially young DJs, need a window into the market. But this is a story about pay-to-play, or pay-for-track-in-the-top-20. 

 

Surely it isn’t as widespread as this though? Do you not see people within dance not, or even within the techno world you have inhabited in your career, doing things differently? Or do you think this commercialisation has truly taken over?

Yeah, I think the big audience has always been more commercial, everybody has become a fan of techno now, but they have no clue what techno is. Because, you know, even the festivals in America, they all say they play techno, but then their ‘techno’ is just dance music with a kick. 

I don't agree with what they consider to be a techno track, like even Roman Flugel's new track with Swedish House Mafia, we know it’s pop music because it’s gone straight into the mainstream; the ideas do come from the techno side, but we know that is not pure techno, that was just a new concept in the techno world.  For me, Techno is in the technology and trying to find new boundaries to experiment. 

A great example of those trying to challenge me is my partner in crime Ricardo. He is different from me, I can be more commercial, and my mood is more commercial when I do tracks for streaming, but he refuses to do this. He did in the past, but he doesn't like to do it anymore. Because for us, there's no business we're doing music for passion. 

The numbers you sell or stream don’t make you rich anymore and thank god we don't need that because we came through in the 90s when music was still a proper business. Now if you don't do tens or hundreds of millions, just a few million on Spotify, it doesn't change your life.

 


 


  

Coming back to the record, it finishes off with a 40-minute Meganite mix, It all sounds straight out of the book of your Meganite Ibiza days. Did you approach this side of the record in the same way? And how did you put it all together in that final formation?

Yeah, to be honest, a lot of it came from an offer I had already to bring a party again to Ibiza this summer. But I didn't feel ready, I even spoke with Chris Liebing and he was like, are you not interested in doing a one-off? Why not? You know, it may be in August in some big club. But in my head, I was like, I don't know if it's the right time to do it. 

But the Meganite side is what the brand has always been; looking for something new. Not for the business, not for the play, not for visibility, but just for our ego, really. We wanted to have new tracks, ones that nobody knows what they are, and get people asking: what is this track? 

For me, that's the most fantastic moment when you play, where you see thousands of people jumping to tracks they never heard before, when their like, what was that? It’s beautiful, that’s always been my challenge, and it is what it’s all about for me, and that's what I wanted to do with this side. 

 

If you cast your mind back to those infamous Meganite parties you used to put on in Privilege, one of the most impressive things you did during that time, which also fits in with the ethos you’ve mentioned of finding something new, was those names that you gave slots at Meganite who have gone on to become household names in Techno and Dance music. Marco Carola, Adam Beyer, Maceo Plex, the list goes on. How did these nights first come about? And what has it been like for you watching these guys go on and do what they have in the scene?

It was all about the DJs that, for me, had the most attractive sound in the underground at the time. At the time, Ibiza was all about House Music and Trance Music and there were big brands already before me in Ibiza. 

For example, I was a big fan of Sven Vath’s ‘Cocoon’ nights in Amnesia. But, when I first went, it wasn't even that busy at the time; mainly I think as it’s not easy to move people away from where they are and to a new concept. But I loved what Sven was doing and that was exactly my vision as well. 

That's why a few years later, I'm not saying I copied him because I went for completely different DJs, but I liked the concept and this vision definitely contributed to the success of Meganite in Privilege.  

Because Privilege has never been the best club in Ibiza, be clear. But we managed to create this place into a cool place to go to listen to proper techno. Chris Liebing was there, I was too, and then the new upcoming DJs we got were always incredible.

Seth Troxler’s first time playing in Ibiza in his life was at Meganite. It wasn't at DC-10, and many people don't know that. Maceo Plex, the first time he played at Ibiza was at my nights in Privilege. We always went for DJ there at the time as the coolest sound without being popular, that was our goal, and we didn't have the budget to book the big names. 

Now they all go just for big names because they want to guarantee to fill their clubs, but we were creating an environment where people felt that that was what they wanted to hear, even if they hadn't heard of them, they knew the sound. It took us two to three years to build that brand and make it successful because Privilege was a big club to fill. But we managed to do it for a few years, had some great Augusts and made something special, and I think this is why it has lived so long in people’s minds. 

Image: Mauro Picotto on Facebook

Kind of just thinking about that, and you have mentioned a bit about what Ibiza is today, with the current season about to kick off, do you still think it holds the same notoriety as it did? And how do you think it has changed since then?

I don’t want to seem like the guy who just revels in nostalgia and says that it was better all those years ago, but it was definitely different. Now I would say that the Islands have definitely become posher. It’s a bit like Europes Las Vegas but with clubs instead of casinos. It’s become much more Americanised compared to the hippy vibe it used to have.

That being said I’m still a believer that Ibiza is the most important window in the world for DJs, and maybe for music as a whole, although I probably would say that haha. 

However, nowadays, lots of DJs go there as they know it's a window for them, but they don’t come with anything new, they go with the most obvious music, the ones that the planners want to hear. But if you know Ibiza like I feel I can say I do, being out there four or five months a year for ten years, you know there are still places that still have the magic of Ibiza and have managed to maintain that. I don’t blame the big names for going and doing all the biggest clubs, but if you as a listener want to see them truly expressing themselves then you have to go to see them when they play these smaller or ‘cooler’ clubs where they play for 5/6/7 hours, and you can enjoy it the same as it was 20 years ago. 

 

Just want to finish off by looking forward, you have your Album out this week, and you’re playing a number of festivals and dates in the UK this year too, is there anything that you particularly looking forward to playing?

I have a few, with the way I do things now, I have three or four dates every month, and this year I am fully booked until October. I have festivals abroad, festivals in the UK, and so much to look forward to, yet for me, the ones that truly excite me still are the club nights. 

The Meganite club night in London for me is a big one. When I play in the UK, lots of people know me of course, but there is also this new generation of people who love what UK club music is now, but they don’t know what it was like twenty years ago, and they want to experience this.

 

 


 

If you want to catch the Italian techno Titan himself live, then don't worry Skiddle has you covered. The main event has got to be when he is bringing his classic Meganite party to Londons Union Club Vauxhall in June. If you would like to find out more information, then you can find so by clicking, or tapping - HERE

If you can't wait around then you will also be able to find tickets at the bottom of this page. 

 

Mauro Picotto will also be performing at a few UK festivals this year, such as Lost Minds Festival in Newcastle, and 90's Fest in Sheffield, both of which you will also be able to find tickets for at the bottom of this page!

 


 

Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.

 

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Header image credit: Mauro Picotto on Facebook

 

Tickets for Meganite London ft: Mauro Picotto, Gabry Fasano, Pagano, F.Poggi

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Tickets for Lost Minds Festival in Newcastle

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Tickets for 90's Fest in Sheffield

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