20 Questions With Joseph Capriati: Techno Veteran Checks In From Italian Hometown on Eve of Album Release

Joseph Capriati
Pablo Bustos

Joseph Capriati

While Joseph Capriati has played around the globe, it feels fitting that upon the release of his latest album, he's hunkered down in his hometown in the south of Italy.

Four years in the making and out Friday (Sept. 4) via Capriati's own Redimension label, Metamorfosi tracks his evolution from aspiring producer making music on his family's cheap turntables to a global star, with his 15-plus year career including stops at every key techno club and event on the circuit and countless eight hour marathon sets.

But on Metamorfosi, Capriati evolves both in and beyond the techno realm, delivering driving beats along with more meditative moments and house-leaning productions with guests including Louis Vega. Embedded with concepts regarding love, spiritual connection and unlimited possibilities, for the 33-year-old producer, the album is a deeply personal and highly emotional work, with the music born from both periods of depression and exultation. Altogether it serves as the most complete portrait to date of the artist and human Capriati has become.

Here, Capriati talks about the process of making this music, the comfort of being at home in Italy and why techno is more about a feeling of unity than a cool factor.

1. Where are you in the world right now, and what's the setting like?

Right now I'm in in Caserta, my hometown, close to Napoli in the south of Italy. I've been here for two months, but before I spent three months alone in Barcelona in my home where I live there. It's been a very hard time, but I've produced a lot of music. This is the good thing.

2. What is the first album or piece of music you bought for yourselves, and what was the medium? 

I bought my first record in 1998. It was Eddie Amador's "House Music," and it was on vinyl of course.

3. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid, and what do they think of what you do for a living now?

My father was the only person working in the family. He was a policeman and retired last year. My mom was at home to take care of me and my brother, but she used to be an elementary school teacher before she stopped to stay home with us. The fact that just my father worked didn't allow me the possibility to travel, or to buy gear or records or things to play.

In the summers after school finished, I used to go help my uncle in the construction company. At the end of the summer he gave me equivalent of what would now be 500 Euros. I was 11 years old, and with that money I bought my first turntable. Then I had another turntable from my grandmother, a hi-fi that had no pitch control. Then a friend of mine gave me a two channel mixer without equalizing. It was a very cheap mixer, and I used the hi-fi from my house to play. I used two records for eight months to play and learn with.

4. What was the first song you ever made?

The first song I ever made was called "Microbiotik," and it came out in 2006 on Globox Records, a record label from Napoli.

5. If you had to recommend one album for someone looking to get into dance music, what would you give them?

I would recommend James Holden's The Idiots Are Winning.

6. What’s the first thing you bought for yourself when you started making money as a DJ?

I bought a Macintosh Pro professional computer, to make good music, good Genelec speakers for the studio, a brand new midi keyboard and a good audio card.

7. What’s the last song you listened to?

The last song I listened to is Klubbheads' "The Magnet (Hard Bag Radio Edit)".

8. What’s one song you wish you had produced?

The MFA's “The Difference It Makes (Superpitcher Remix)"

9. How are you filling your time during quarantine?

During quarantine it was up and down. At the beginning, I was feeling, as everyone else I believe, panic. Worried without knowing what was really going on. Then I started feeling a little depressed being at home alone in Barcelona. I came back to Italy, and I felt happy to see my family. I felt more comfortable and safe.

Then I started to focus on a lot on production and started kickbox training very hard. I'm trying to stay positive as much as I can, but it's impossible to stay that positive. But when you are close to family and in their hands, you feel much better. This is the key.

10. What’s distinctive about the place you grew up, and how did it shape you?

I grew up in Caserta, my hometown, and then I grew up around the world, because I started to travel when I was 18 years old. So straight after high school. My heart is in my hometown. Caserta and Napoli warm my heart and recharge my soul, spirit and body. It's very special for me to have this strong connection with my hometown. But the world makes you understand and learn.

11. What's the first dance music show that really blew your mind?

The first serious club night was in Napoli in 2002. It was François Kevorkian, and it changed my life.

12. Your new album took four years to produce. Why such a lengthy process?

My album took four years to produce because I didn't want to produce it in one shot, just staying in the studio every day. I was coming out from a little depression after I broke up with my ex. I was looking for a different way of expressing my music, and the best way is to take time and make your feelings speak for you. This is the key in producing different styles, and it really worked for me. I produced 25 tracks and decided on 12 for the album.

13. What is the first thing you do when you get back to your hotel room after a show?

I have a shower.

14. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

I am an extrovert with the people I love, but I'm kind of introverted with people I don't know. I take time to understand and learn about people's energy. Sometimes I need more time to understand their vibrations, but normally I'm very extroverted. I used to be very extroverted in the past as well. But in time you grow up and realize ... you need good energy around, so you take time to really understand people.

15. What is the fundamental appeal of techno?

For me the real appeal of techno is love, passion and feeling that we are one.

16. Techno has a reputation for being a very hard, dark and "cool" genre. Do you find that description to be accurate? 

I don't think techno has to be hard and dark. This is what the masses have created, because techno has become a popular style of music, but techno can come in many shapes and styles. If you hear Jeff Mills, he never plays that hard. It's not about how hard you play. Techno is a journey. It's an expression of what you have inside. It's not about how banging you go. It's not just cool, as you say. It has to come from inside of your heart. Techno is art. It's not just about mixing tunes.

17. You hail from Italy. How hard do people party there, compared to, say, Berlin or Ibiza? (Pre-COVID, of course.) 

Italy is very different from many countries. The energy is super incredible, but compared to Berlin and Ibiza, which are also very different ... they're just three completely different places to be. Italians are kind of wild. I feel that the young Italian generation needs to be more educated about the scene, but unfortunately mass media doesn't really support our scene, so I'm always fighting for that, to bring our scene into the main discussions and government support.

Here they use a lot of cell phones on the dance floor to make videos. Honestly, this is not right. Music has to be danced to and enjoyed. It's also about education about drugs and alcohol and the mixing of these things and about not driving drunk. This is very serious. We see deaths happen. It's not nice, and something I don't accept, because music is life, not death.

18. The title of the new album, Metamorfosi, is suggestive. Why'd you choose it?

The album is about my metamorphosis as a human and an artist. You can hear the difference between my old tracks and this album, which for me is the beginning of a new era. The album is unexpected. Many people would expect a proper techno tracklist or banging tracks all the time. This is not an album for me. An album is something that expresses your deepest musical sense.

I chose the tracks that really created magic. I'm going to release other tracks that I didn't put on the album as singles and EPs during the next few months, and they're properly banging techno stuff and real house stuff. There are many styles of stuff about to come out.

19. Like you said, the new album spans genres beyond techno. Are there types of electronic music that people might be surprised to know that you enjoy?

The track "Metamorfosi" is very emotional for me and makes me cry sometimes. It's a hopeful song for a moment in my life when I was a little down. And then the song "Love Changes Me," which demonstrates my classical background that a lot of people don't know about. That and the song with Louis Vega, "Spirit Brothers," are both making my dreams come true in terms of producing house music.

20. One piece of advice you'd give to your younger self?

Don't smoke cigarettes. I've smoked for a little while, and now it's time to quit. Everything else I've done I'm happy about, because it's brought me here.