by ANDREA SCARPA - Photo by ANDREA COLZANI
BORN IN PADERNO
I was born in Paderno Dugnano, about 10 km from Milan, on the Milano Meda highway… It was like down town Manhattan… I remember my first trip on a scooter, in two, to visit the city, at around 14-15 years old. I also remember the reason, it wasn’t school…
THE FREE RADIO LEGEND
In the 70s the first private radio stations were born, and Radio Milano International was a myth for me. It has just recently turned forty… that was the free radio, it was free because everything had still to be experimented, everything was allowed.
When I was in high school I started to come to Milan every morning… so Milan became my place. I took the train to Cadorna, in Cadorna the metro to the Duomo, then the tram to Porta Romana… When I skipped school I went downtown, so the city was mine…
THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE
When I was 18 years old the radio station I used to work for moved to Via Franchetti, Piazza Repubblica, which at that time was the Bermuda Triangle of the Italian radio because there were Radio Milano International, Radio Music, the radio I worked for, Radio 105… Radio Music was bought by Claudio Cecchetto and became Radio DeeJay… I was sent away. After a few months, I moved across the square to Radio Milano International, which actually was my dream station as a kid… it’s like as if you’re fan of AC Milan and at 18 you get to play in the first team… imagine what that meant for me.
RECKLESSNSESS? I MISS IT
Well, I was reckless about it, and that is one thing that I really miss… today, I have become an adult, more mature, a man, a father… I’ve become more rational, responsible. I miss being reckless.
TWO WORRIES IN THE FAMILY
Consider that at that time, in the late ’70s, early 80s, having a job like what mine and my brother’s, Linus, since you all know he is my brother… we were two family worries, only someone very passionate and reckless could have a job that wasn’t considered as a profession. Everyone kept asking “Ok, but what do you want to be when you get older? what is this?” They didn’t understand, no one understood… my parents were happy anyway because right from the early years we brought home a decent paycheck.
PERIOD OF DISCOVERY
I lived the period between the ’70s and the ’80s, it was a period of discovery, a period of great enthusiasm for anything.
THE AMERICAN WAY
We liked the American way, because the radio stations followed the American model, so for us at that time everything came from the United States… I remember the trips, group of friends and radio fans travelling with virgin audio cassettes, and once they arrived in New York or Los Angeles they recorded the American radio in order to bring it back home, right? That was the atmosphere, there were record stores I remember…
PIPPO BAZAR AND CO.
There was Pippo’s Bazar in Viale Tunisia, Mariposa in Porta Romana and Merak in Via De Amicis… those were the three reference and meeting points for DJs. There you could also meet the most famous DJs… there was the cool DJ that was a bit more privileged and had its albums put away for him… this was my world in the’ 80s, it was a world of Vespas and then the first car…
THE MIXER DISCOVERY
… of the great enthusiasm in figuring out how to mix a record. I went to the only one who knew how to do it and I stayed in a corner, I was too young and they didn’t let me in. When I did manage to get in, I spent the whole evening in a corner watching this guy…
THE DJ BOOM
By the way, I realized the explosion of the phenomenon right in Milan, at the Rolling Stone that was the first place where I started to play music in Milan, at 18 years old. Eventually I left the Rolling Stone and I began my career in radio and television, I had become a DJ bit more famous and that no longer worked just in a club but all around. Then I went back to the Rolling Stone in ’91, because Sony Music asked us to do a live broadcast from the Rolling Stone to promote the new rap music duo called Criss Cross, who today don’t exist anymore. We organized a live radio event where everyone was free to join. None of us expected that the 3000 people who were inside, and the many others outside, were waiting for us and not the Criss Cross.
WE WERE THE STARS
We were simply supposed to be the radio that supported the event, and we realized that we had become the stars.
Our radio was made of a group of young talented guys, the most talented ones. I worked with Gerry Scotti, Jovanotti, Fiorello, Amadeus, Cecchetto was our boss, and we rocked! We were the strongest team. I was talented, already at 20 years old I had distinguished myself, I had already done something quite important in my little world…
ENCOUNTERS AND GROWTH
But I believe that my growth was due to the contamination with my colleagues, I tried to learn something from everyone… I never envied them but I looked at them thinking “Wow!”. I was constantly surrounded by amazing people who still are the ultimate expression of the Italian show business, Italian entertainment. Some in music, some in television, some in theater…
SUCCESS CHANGES THINGS
Oh well, I had a free pass for the Hollywood… these kind of achievements, the Hollywood, the Shocking… People recognized me, even if I then did not really have much visibility since I worked in the radio… now everyone sees everything, but whoever was on the radio was only a voice. It was a bit slower for me than for my colleagues who were in television… but when you start to get a little famous you realize how people change, how you are luckier because you have privileges that you didn’t before, people treat you differently… I think I have always had great control of my success that came very slowly.
THE DEEJAY TELEVISION BIG JOLT
I had a jolt that upset me at the age of 21 when for a very short period I was on Deejay Television on Italia 1… In the late 80s, early 90s, 5 million people watched Italia 1 and Deejay Television .. it was like being on prime time today, so those appearances upset me a little. I wasn’t ready…I didn’t last long, I don’t know why, evidently I didn’t do well enough… I don’t know, I was never explicitly told why…
THE TV FLOP TRAUMA
I would have preferred to have someone to guide me, to tell me how to correct my mistakes or to tell me what went wrong… I was thrown in front of the camera without knowing what to say, no authors, after a few months I was told not to continue. Anyway, it’s possible to get over those traumas and so that’s okay. Eventually I got my revenge through other channels… perhaps the TV is not my place, I try to express myself on the radio, and that’s what I’m better at…
Unlike today that we have a varied audience, now the young ones have grown up… But I can also have an audience of young people… maybe not teenagers but people in their 20s follow me.
PROBLEMS WITH FANS
Back then our fans were 16 or 17, they are crazy… when you have groupies or persistent fans who also want to enter into your private sphere and become morbid… that is one aspect of popularity that I don’t like…
MY DAUGHTER AND I IN THE DISCO
I often took her and her friends to the disco with me…if I think about it… I thought I would have finished before that, I said if I think of myself at 52 years old I will not still be a DJ in discos… and however often I found myself with my daughter and her friends dancing around my mixing desk.
WHEN TO STOP
Maybe when I will feel out of place, when I’ll feel that I’m not longer suited to certain situations, that I’ll feel uncomfortable… Now I still have a lot of fun and I see that even those in front of me enjoy themselves…
WHAT’S BAD ABOUT MILAN
I find that Milan was architecturally ruined… Its harmony wasn’t respected. Milan city center is beautiful, but as you go further it becomes messier and messier… You look at it and say “Fuck! What a shit hole!” then you get to the center that is very nice, with its history and so on.
I don’t mind our new skyline… I think all in all the city needed it, it gives it an international flavor… That used to be my area.
MY FIRST HOUSE
The first house where I lived alone with my girlfriend, when I left home… I lived in front of what is now the Vertical Forest building, in that street that at the time was a bad place… now it has become so cool.
THE NON-ROCK MILANESI
The true Milanesi… I don’t know why they almost don’t exist anymore…They are in some areas, in Vercelli for example, those areas that are a little bourgeois, they have those beige coats that are not at all rock… “Uè scusi” (Milan’s accent)
I was adopted, my family is from Puglia, one of my mother’s phrases that I will never forget…
If you think of the families from Puglia in Milan in the 60s… we were like immigrants, the same thing… My mother used to tell me “Please dress properly, let’s not stand out as southerners”. Now dressing up doesn’t mean anything, back then there was more attention to aesthetics, because aesthetics were a little like a business card… If we dressed up we looked like the Milanesi, if we dressed up like southerners we were southerners… We had to be dressed up to blend in…
Let’s say that it is not so prepared to accept others… As a kid I never saw a black person, the first time I was perhaps a teenager. Integration with other ethnic groups, other races, is very recent… But after all now we are a cosmopolitan city…
A bit of racism remained, it is true that the Milanese is like “uè figa chel lì l’è negher, va quel marochin de merda” (dialect expressions towards other ethnic groups), there is no point in denying it.
A BIT PROVINCIAL
Compared to other European capitals it is still a little bit behind… although it could have an incredible potential with fashion, music, its mentality… This city could be a lot cooler than it is, I still find it a little bit provincial…
The funny thing is that for over 30 years I’ve worked in Via Massena .. For some strange reason I if I leave home to go somewhere, I almost always pass by Via Massena… probably my car is like Zorro’s horse, it goes on its own, it gets there then from there it moves somewhere else.
THERE ARE THINGS TO DO
It’s our land of opportunities… a place where it is possible to do something, it is a city where there is so much to do, where you can meet so many people… these relationships, not those of Twitter or Facebook, the real ones, can lead to create something.
UNKEMPT AND UNSAFE
It’s a bit unkempt, a bit unsafe… the beautiful cities are those where you can stroll around feeling like you are in a living room… New York has managed to do so in Manhattan for example, I feel so in Florence… Milan is like that in the center, but if you walk around in other areas…