For more than a decade, Joseph Capriati has proved himself to be one of the most respected kings of marathon sets, playing upward of eight hours as a standard performance. The proud Italian has produced and performed closely with fellow heavyweights such as Adam Beyer, Carl Cox, Danny Tenaglia and Dubfire, and even launched his own label, REDIMENSION, in 2016, where naturally the first release was a collaboration with his pal Beyer.
In between Coachella weekends, Napoli prodigy Joseph Capriati took a moment to chat with Billboard Dance about his early beginnings, Carl Cox convincing him to play Burning Man this year, and the epic back-to-back he’d like to make happen soon in Ibiza.
Fifteen years ago, you attended your first techno party at Old River Park in your hometown of Napoli where Rino Cerrone was playing. You’re now updating three of his tracks. How surreal is that?
I still remember the first time I was at Old River Park. It was a daytime party and some friends had to convince me to go because I was only listening to classic house music then. I didn’t know the DJs playing and didn’t even really know what techno was. We went and I remember seeing people dancing in the nature, with just two huge columns of speakers. There was just beats, no vocals, but the music was speaking to me. The DJ playing was Rino Cerrone and I said to someone near me “who is this guy?!”. They said “you are here and you don’t know Rino! He’s a Napoli legend!” My life changed that day, I realized techno was the music I needed to play. So now I am doing this tribute remix EP to Rino, who stopped playing about 5 years ago (I’m sure not for ever) and changed life, for his family.
As a mentor, what facets of your DJing and producing have been influenced by Rino?
The most important influence I got from Rino is the groove, the Napoli groove. When I first got into techno, there was a lot of very hard stuff but from Rino, I changed my expectation of the music. He was playing fast music, at 136 or 137bpm, but always with soul, a little influence of House. Also, when at after parties, he was playing very differently, much more minimal and mental, but still with his unique touch, and Iearned also from this for sure.
You are one of the reigning kings of the Awakenings event series at Gashouder in Amsterdam. I’ve never seen another party venue quite like that in the world — it’s really more of a spaceship. What’s been your favorite memory playing there?
You are right, I think Awakenings is one of the top worlds events and Gashouder is a place I can really call home. Next year is 10 years that I have played for Awakenings. These events are like techno concerts, and Gashouder unique. Awakenings production is something else, they really invest a lot for that. I have a lot of amazing memories there but I would say the first time I played Gashouder is the most special. I have to thank Adam Beyer because he invited me. It was the first Drumcode party there, I played as second after Ida Engberg. I was shaking! Adam came very early to listen to me and he said “Man! You play nice. We should play back to back together one day.” I will never forget the moment Adam told me that. A few months later, we played 7 hours back-to-back closing set at Berghain. It was epic!
Speaking of Gashouder, all the times I’ve seen you play there, your Italian fans come out in full force and there’s really no fan base like it. When you play do you feel like you’re playing for something much bigger than yourself?
I always feel like I am playing for something bigger than myself and I think this is the key for me. I never plan what I want to play. I see the crowd and the situation at the venue and go from there. For example, in Ibiza or Miami I might play more groovy techno and house if that’s what I feel. When I play in Gashouder, of course I want to give it all my techno soul, but if the time is right I can play a house acapella, or an old classic with a techno loop on top. Something the people might not expect.
I watch the crowd a lot when I am playing, something I learned from being a resident DJ in my home town of Caserta many years ago. I was playing almost every day, even birthday parties. I have had to play everything, even commercial music, or Latin music, and pop. Whatever the birthday guy or girl wanted! It is your job to make the people dance and in that case even kids. That’s where I have learned to read a lot the crowd I think.
You also had Jamie Jones open for you during the most recent ADE for his Awakenings debut at Gashouder. You two have played many back-to-backs together in your careers. What have you learned about yourself personally and professionally working with Jamie for so long?
I don’t call all the people I know and work with in music “friends”, because I think friendship is a very loyal and special thing. But Jamie Jones is definitely one who I can really call a friend. He has helped me in many ways and always been there with loyalty and respect. Opening the door for me to play with him at DC10 in the Terrace, for example. It was a bit tricky getting him to play for my party at Awakenings because he normally plays for DGTL but thankfully we made it happen and he played one of the best sets of the night. I was expecting that, but he really surprised me and everybody there. He played a techno set but in his own style. Much respect to him!
Acid house pioneer Danny Rampling recently commented on an Instagram photo of you during Miami Music Week, and you responded saying he was one of your inspirations. What do you recall from the first time you listened to him?
It was in Napoli, he played for Angels Of Love in the 90s and early 00s if I remember well. I have tapes of these nights which were part of my first introduction to the dance music scene. I started to learn about the legends of the moment, and Danny Rampling was one of them. He is still one of the most iconic UK artists ever. For these kinds of artists to come to me all these years later with compliments is incredible, I’m dreaming with open eyes.
Not that I’m stalking you or anything, but you also posted that you had a lunch with Pete Tong during Miami Music Week. What was the biggest takeaway from your “inspiring talk” with him?
Pete Tong is a huge inspiration for me and many, many people in the world. We never really had a connection until this March. We met for the first time last year in Ibiza for IMS. In March in Miami we got out for lunch. I brought my laptop and headphones to make him listen my upcoming album and he gave me the first feedback. Nobody listened to it yet, only him. What I see in this man is something quite spiritual actually. After 40 years, he still has the same passion for the music.
You just threw a Burning Man fundraiser with Carl Cox in San Francisco. Have you ever been to Burning Man? Are you going this year?
This is the first year I will be at Burning Man. I have Carl to thank for this, for inviting me and helping to understand more what the festival is about. I now feel ready to experience it, and am really looking forward to sharing my music with the crowd and live the magic of that place.
OK, time to put you on the spot: Who do you like going b2b with more — and you can only choose one: Jamie Jones, Carl Cox or Adam Beyer?
Each one of these back-to-backs is special for me. Different music, different exploration. I don’t like to do a lot of back-to-backs. I’m very slow to get special connections, but when it happens, it really creates unique moments and I learn a lot from the artists I share music with. A b2b dream I have is to play one day with Marco Carola on the Amnesia terrace.