Michele Mininni

By: Dream Chimney

The following interview was conducted on May 22, 2024

Michele Mininni The stunning Pop Archetypes album by Italian artist Michele Mininni is an easy going as it is complex, and as random as it is beguiling. Yet what is consistent and true about this incredible album is that it is a fine example of true innovation - unaffected by trends or genres - in a world of mediocre dance music. Here Michele talks eloquently to us about his work.

Thanks for talking to us. Where are you today and how are you spending the rest of it?

I'm in the limbo that has always characterized my existence but with the beautiful awareness of having the people I love close to me.

Where were you born? Where are you based these days?

I was born in Taranto, a beautiful city in southern Italy marred by the steel industry, a place where you can find both metropolitan alienation and the poetry of the sea. For 20 years, I have lived in Lecce, which is 100 km away from my hometown.

What do you love most about where you are living?

It gives me stability, which is important for me today. It's a beautiful place, now completely overrun by tourism, far from the center of the world and where practically nothing ever happens. However, over the years, I have learned to make everything happen in my head, even though it's obviously not the same.

How long have you been making music?

I've been making music since 2013, simply by installing a DAW on my computer. After 11 years, everything has remained exactly the same. Musician? I'm not a musician, I don't even know the notes. If you put me in front of a piano, I have the same skill as a 4-year-old child.

Was there someone who inspired you when you were young to go on your musical path?

When I was 20, the thought of making music was far from my mind. The means to produce music were not accessible, and besides, I was completely anesthetized by youthful life. At 20, my life was a playground.

By the time I turned 34, things had worsened, and the tools became more accessible—you only needed a computer and some VSTs. Thus, the need to express a growing discomfort and the curiosity to see the translation of myself prevailed in me.

I started tinkering with the DAW, and this helped me isolate myself from the world. The sounds gave me courage—the silence, the solitude of my room, and those few people who have always believed in me and who move me to tears just thinking about them.

What came first Djing or production?

DJing. I started almost 20 years ago, thanks to my friend Luca who proposed I be the resident DJ in a club in my city. I came from a completely different musical background than clubbing, and I still remember when I got to the console and started playing post-rock. It was normal for me. Not for others though.

Today I laugh about that experience, but it was wonderful for me, and I will always thank Luca for opening the doors to that world.

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What kind of artists, DJs, genres were you into growing up?

I didn't grow up with the myth of DJs. My background comes from new wave, post-rock, post-punk, kosmische musik, experimental music, songwriters etc. One of my all-time favorite albums is "Not Available" by The Residents. Another is "The Emotional Plague" by Supreme Dicks. In short, not exactly dancefloor hits.

Over time, I started getting into more clubbing stuff. I discovered a world and developed a real obsession with finding the best tracks. I didn't care about the labels, the artist, anything. I just listened to the music all day. I listened to up to 20,000 tracks in a day. Yes, I was obsessed with music.

Who are the artists that you follow right now?

I will answer sincerely, as I have so far and will continue to do: no one. I'm not saying this to be a snob, but because it's the reality. I am busy all day with my main job, so I don't have time to follow a world that I often find fake. Of course, there are artists I love and admire, both Italian and foreign, but it's a list that has settled over time. I can't give you an off-the-cuff name. There are many people making beautiful music today; the problem is finding it. It takes gratuitous motivation. Unfortunately, the concept of gratuitousness is less and less popular today.

What is the most recent record you purchased?

Julia Holter, "Aviary."

Your new album 'Pop Archetypes' is strikingly different than some of your past output on R&S for example. At the same time, they are connected in the depth of innovation. How many sides are there to Michele Mininni musically?

First of all, thank you for the question because it flatters me. Today it is difficult to find someone who listens to music with real attention. I am a person who gets bored easily, so I always try to find new keys to understanding. There are many sides to me, perhaps too many. I don't even know all of them because some are buried in my memory as a listener. Then they come out unconsciously when I think of something new. I believe the main factor is my fear of aging, so to overcome it, I have to renew my sound, since I can't renew my cells.

Tell us about your introduction to Marco and Hell Yeah. How did you connect?

I met Marco when I released my first EP for Optimo, 10 years ago. We immediately hit it off. Every time I released an EP, he would tease me, saying he was waiting for the LP someday. Honestly, I didn't think I would ever make one because it would take too much time. Instead, last year, after a long hiatus, everything happened spontaneously in 4 months. I let Marco listen to it, and he immediately believed in the album. I have to thank him because it's not easy to release music by small artists like me today.

Seems like a perfect place for this album. Have you been a fan of the labels catalog?

Of course, I remember I really liked Margot. But in general, Marco releases music out of love, and that's already an incredible merit in a landscape very contaminated by interests and decisions that almost never put music first. Long live people like Marco.

Talk to us about the new album and the initial idea. When did you first approach this concept and what was your original intention?

I work for a furniture Ecommerce, i'm a digital marketing manager. After years without opening the DAW, last year, for fun, I created the soundtrack for a 15-second advertising video for my company's YouTube channel. Everything started from there.

"Pop Archetypes" was born from a commercial. At that point, I thought it would be nice to continue with one fixed idea in mind: I didn't want to create the extended version of my previous records. The idea of creating something completely different in format, style, and length amused me greatly, and the spark to work seriously was ignited.

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What was most important for you to convey through these tracks?

As I already said in the press, for me these tracks had to be like the levels of a video game, where each level has different settings and new challenges. Just as the video game challenges you, this album was my challenge. I wanted to convey the idea of the unknown to the listener: not knowing what will happen in the next track. Surprise, discovery, amazement, adventure. And then irony, I wanted something fresh and light that didn't take itself too seriously, starting with the title.

Do you feel that you were able to accomplish all of your intentions?

I am happy with the result, but others should say that. I can only tell you that chiseling each track, finding the right track list, and making the work cohesive despite different genres and references was very difficult. I must have listened to the album at least 300 times to find the definitive formula. I wanted a transversal, oblique album that could be listened to in the car by the coast looking at the sea, while walking among skyscrapers, at home on the couch with an audiophile system, or at the fruit market while training like Rocky.

What are you most proud of with this release?

To have created something accessible yet complex at the same time. To have balanced the elements in an equilibrium that was difficult for me to recreate, blending everything into a mood that my friend Martino (yes, it's him, Hyper Martino) has defined as "nostalgia for the future." I love his definitions.

Finally, to have put myself out there in a radical way. It means I am still alive. Perhaps I was dead, but deep down, I didn't want to die.

What was the most challenging part of bringing the release together?

Making even the shorter tracks feel like miniature songs, chiseling the writing so they didn't seem like unfinished sketches or abruptly cut due to lack of ideas. And then working without adding too much, with a type of development and arrangements different from my previous releases. A short and "pop" track doesn't have time to grow over long developments, but the elements must fit together like a puzzle, entering, and exiting in a homogeneous but clear way.

Are there any other contributors on this album you would like to celebrate?

Yes, it's time to pay tribute to a friend of mine named Francesco, a radio speaker with years of experience. He was the first person I talked to about the project for this album, over coffee in a city bar. Since then, we have met once a month, always in that bar, with rituality, and he had the patience to put up with me and also gave me valuable advice as a listener because he knows music very well.

He witnessed the birth of the album step by step during these monthly meetings. I tell him now, thank you.

Tell us a little about the amazing artwork. Who made it and what does it represent?

The artwork is by Sandro Leucci, a visual artist from Lecce. Occasionally, he shares his creations on social media, and that tiger immediately struck me because I find it perfectly in tune with the spirit of the album. It is immediate and seductive, but at the same time, looking at it more closely, it is strange, unconventional, and with a dose of indefiniteness.

What drives you to create music?

To remind myself that I exist, to communicate with a universal language, to escape from what my eyes see, to smile for no reason, to leave a trace after my death.

What has been one of your favorite moments from the past year?

Every time I realize that my parents are still alive and I can hug them.

Where do you find the most inspiration when it comes to discovering new music?

Until a few years ago, I couldn't forgive myself for missing even one beautiful record. The search for music was an obsession for me. Sometimes I stayed up until 5 am with my eyes closing just to complete listening on the online sites that sell music. All those thousands of hours gave me nothing in economic terms, and on the contrary, contributed to destroying a part of my life that will never come back. I risked becoming destitute because of music. Today I love it as before, but I will not sacrifice myself for it because I am owed by it.

What can we hope to see next from Michele Mininni?

Until today, I believed that making an LP would be incompatible with the time I have available. Instead, I have it in my hands, and we are talking about it. Maybe one day, we will talk about a live performance of mine at a festival. It's something I've always dreamed of doing because it would close the circle of an adventure that might deserve a collective ritual made of tears and smiles.


Check out the latest release from Michele Mininni.


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