Italian born DJ Marinella Contestabile moonlights as Mariiin, the guise for her explorations through deep, immersive and introspective electronics. Back in Caserta, the city where she spent her university years, she ran a series of club nights called L’Appuntamento, which became the springboard for her to be invited to become a resident at Nice To Be, an underground event in Naples. Now based in Leeds, alongside Bobby., FKA Bobby Pleasure, she plays as a resident for Pleasure Club and makes up part of the amazing Equaliser collective, who provide a platform to empower wxmen, queer and non-binary people.
We chat to her about her passion for collecting alongside a mix themed around journeys, particularly the music that soundtracks her regular trips back and forth to her home of Italy…
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
In my case unfortunately I haven’t inherited my family’s record collection. I started to have my own collection only when I decided to buy records myself. What was important to my musical education was clearly my father’s music. We used to travel a lot around Europe by car and music accompanied us in these long hours driving. He is very into Italian songwriting music of the 60s and 70s like Battisti and De Andrè, as well as psychedelic rock (I still remember “The Wall” from Pink Floyd playing on loop in the car).
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
The first time I bought a record was for the simple reason that I was so in love with those tracks that listening from digitally wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to touch it and listen to it from a turntable and once you enjoy this experience you can’t stop! When you buy a record, you get a closer relationship with the music you love; the feeling coming from it is inexplicable. This thing motivates me to keep buying but it is not the only reason: I also buy records that I want to play during my gigs or for mixes that I record from time to time.
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
Actually, my situation is temporary. I moved all my records into my boyfriend’s apartment but some of them are still in Italy because I didn’t move all my records over from there. As soon as I’ll move to a place for longer – the idea is to go to London after my PhD – I’ll try to grab my whole collection. Sometimes when I’m in Italy I pick some stuff that I want to play and bring it back with me to England.
Now I store my records in plastic crates so I can easily move them. I use simple stickers when I want to pick some tracks on a record according to their sound, for example if they are well suited for a warm-up or for a peak time set, especially ahead of a gig when I want to recognise them easily. The plan is to start to sort them by genres as soon as possible!
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
Here in England one of my favourite spots is Tribe Records in Leeds; I love spending time over there and they know my tastes. Another spot where I love to go is Vinyl Exchange in Manchester. The first time I went there was mind-blowing because you have to dig among thousands of second-hand records and you can find classics, as well as very rare records coming from the golden era of Manchester.
If I have to mention a place that is across the ocean, one of my favourite ever places to dig remains A1 in New York, it is heaven for record collectors and house music lovers, where you can find bits that are impossible to find anywhere else in Europe. I want to go back to NY just to spend few days in that store and spend all my money!
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
Alex T is one of the guys who helps me to find records. He knows my taste and he is a friend, so for me it’s very nice to talk to him about what I’d like to buy and every time he suggests the right thing. I’m happy to go somewhere where I can feel very comfortable.
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?
Yes, I have some records that I really wish to buy (you can find them in my wishlist) but I have to say that I don’t really support the philosophy of buying very expensive records, I try to wait for reissues in these cases. I love buying records but I don’t like to spend £50 for one record. Discogs is a great place but sometimes they push too much in that kind of market.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
To be honest, I am a loner in the process of record shopping. I like to focus only on music and spend all the time I need, I take this very seriously and I prefer to do this when I am on my own. Even if I go with some friends, I tend to isolate myself and focus on digging.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?
Generally, I start to look at the genres I could be more interested in without focusing on the labels. I give a lot of attention to the reviews of the record store that generally you can find written down on the sleeve of the records. I really want to buy records from labels and/or artists that I have never heard of in order to enhance my musical knowledge. In such a way, it becomes a process of discovery. Another good way is to ask some members of the staff if the shop is not very busy.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
Not a lot. I care about the sound and after I may start to look at the details of the sleeve. Some artworks are incredible and they reflect the style of the record but sometimes you find white labels with nothing as artwork and they are amazing. Some labels have their own style which is very recognisable and it is fascinating but it is a secondary thing to me.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
Well, in this mix I imagined myself in one of my travels back and forth from Italy. This mix is something that defines my inner personality through a journey, it is intimate and shows the nature of my relationship with music from a different perspective. I’ve just imagined taking one of those journeys away from any kind of distractions, therefore I chose these records very carefully for their particular melodies and grooves, including dark and electro melodies balanced by smooth and deep sounds.
Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?
I played the new EP from Space Cadets that I love! I play each track of that record in so many different situations. It is a versatile EP because the sound is various but very elegant with a complex evolution.
Another I’d like to mention is the last EP of Priori from NAFF Canada. One of the tracks was perfect for my mix because it makes think about a dreamy atmosphere but in reality it is impossible to pick my favourite!
Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?
Well, I was lucky enough to appreciate several precious collections from my close friends. My boyfriend Agostino has collected records for many years and I really admire his eclectic tastes; sometimes I steal some records from his collection to play them in some gigs. Giuseppe is a close friend of mine from Caserta with whom I used to run events during my University years. We spent lot of time listening to the records and his collection is amazing! Every time I come back we still do this and we play together describing each record we play. Bobby is another collector I have to mention, I have the pleasure to play b2b with him very often and every time I discover something cool from his record bag and we chat a lot about new purchases or releases.
Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?
When I moved to Leeds I met so many guys who were involved in and passionate about music, as well as about collecting records so there are a lot of them I could mention. Sayang, Oliver, Pip, Ranyue are surely part of this group of vinyl enthusiasts.
Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?
On 1 November I’ll be playing b2b with Lukas in an incredible party alongside with Ben Ufo, Batu and Rrose in Nottingham for the 13th Wigflex Birthday. It is gonna be a special one. Moreover Bobby and I are hosting Pleasure Club on 16 November thanks to a collaboration with Nice to Be in Naples – we are very excited about that. On 13 December I will play at a Flux party in Leeds alongside many incredible artists.