Diggers Directory: Luca Cazal

Italian-born DJ and producer Luca Cazal‘s musical journey has been shaped by many different influences and experiences. Getting the bug for collecting in his teens, his first second-hand buys consisted of 70s rock and Ítalo Disco 7″ from local markets and shops, soon extending to electronic music when he started clubbing at the age of 16. During the mid-90s, the music soundtracking those clubs came in the form of Italian house and what people called at the time, progressive.

These early influences have all fed into his journey as a DJ and producer; from releasing music under several aliases like Infinity Ink, becoming a resident at stalwart club DC10, and launching several labels including the newly-founded Dacha imprint, attached to the record shop in his now home of Ibiza.

Drawing from the heritage of his home and looking back to those formative experiences, his vinyl-only mix explores the sounds that first turned him on to electronic music in the 90s: Italian house and progressive. This sits alongside an interview about his relationship with records and the search for the unknown…

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?

My parents always played music at home, mainly 60s and 70s artists from The Beatles to Leonard Cohen and ltalian singers like Lucio Battisti and Fabrizio de Andre’. My first memories of hearing electronic music was going clubbing in Tuscany as a 16 year old in the mid-90s, it was either underground US and Italian House or what, at the time, people called progressive: a mix of trance, techno, Mediterranean melodies and everything in between.

There’s a lot of music from both of those periods that represent the beginning of my musical journey. ‘Creuza de ma’ by Fabrizio de Andre’, the late 70’s albums by Lucio Battisti from my childhood, and from my early clubbing days the music found on cassette tapes recorded live at the clubs by DJs such as Francesco Farfa, Joey Kitikonti, Dionigi, Ricky Montanari and Flavio Vecchi. Those were really popular at the time amongst young club kids.
Recently I’ve been going through some of those recordings and I’ve found some real gems.

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?

I’ve always been into “collecting” things. As a kid I’d collect anything from seashells to stamps, then when I really started getting into music around 14/15 it was records. There were many second hand vinyl shops and markets in Milan at the time and I used to buy lots of cheap 7’’ singles, anything from 60s and 70s rock to US and Ítalo Disco. I think once you get the bug for it it stays with you.

What motivates me to keep digging records is the fact that I know that there are thousands of records out there that I haven’t discovered yet that I would love to play or just have for myself to listen to. The only way to find them is to keep digging into the unknown; there’s so much out there, it’s almost endless.

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

My records are loosely organised by genre and the time they were bought. 70% of them, the ones I’ve had the longest, are in Italy and the remaining 30%, which are the ones I’ve bought more recently and the ones I’m playing at the moment, are in Ibiza where I’m currently based. Every time I go back home to Italy I go through my older stuff to find some good ones to bring back to Ibiza.

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?

I do most of my buying online these days, but there’s a few stores around the world that I always check out if I happen to be in town. A1 in New York, Phonica and Kristina in London, Space Hall in Berlin. Also my local record shop in Ibiza, Dacha, that has a great selection of new and second hand Records.

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?

One of them is my friend Sidd who owns Dacha Records in Ibiza and is also my partner in the label of the same name. He’s introduced me to a lot of weird and beautiful music since I’ve known him and has impeccable taste. Jean Paul from Vinyl Junkies, a now defunct shop in Berwick Street in London during the early 2000s, was a colourful character. A real “vinyl pusher”. A bit like the guy in the record shop in the movie human traffic. I used to go and buy records there and enjoy watching him work his magic on the customers.

Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?

There are quite a lot of records that I should have bought before their prices became excessively high. Some of them are hard to come by but the majority can be found if you’re willing to pay the asking price.

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?

I prefer doing it on my own so I can get more in the zone whilst going through the records and I can manage my own time.

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?

Depends what kind of shop it is. I usually use the same method whether it’s a second hand store with a lot of stock or a warehouse/collection. I try to go through as much stuff that I don’t know as I can. If I don’t recognise the label or the artist I look at the year and the country where it was made, the type of artwork/logo etc.

I listen to everything quickly, make different piles then go through the ones I like more thoroughly until its filtered down to what I really want to buy.
If it’s a shop that sells new records I usually have a look around myself going by genres or I ask the staff to suggest something based on artists or labels I already know.

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

Not very big, although the look of the artwork can tell you a lot about when it was made and sometimes what genre it is etc.

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

This mix was inspired partly by the Italian house sounds that were around when I first started clubbing in the mid nineties, and partly by recent finds that were made around the same time but in different European countries such as Holland and Germany. It was made at my house in Ibiza on two 1210’s and a Taula 4 mixer looking out to the countryside on a beautiful winter day…

Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?

If I had to pick one would be ‘Echo’ by Onirico. It’s one of my all time favourite Italian tracks. The dissonant top line, the dreamy chords and unusual arrangement make it very unique. Wait for the unexpected acid solo in the middle.

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

My friend Ed Cartwright is definitely one of them, he’s a dance music encyclopaedia and has a very eclectic taste. He knows more weird disco records than anyone I know. Welcome to Unreality, my friends from Ibiza, have been digging non stop and have found some amazing music in the past couple of years. Desyn is also someone I admire, I’ve been listening to his mixes a lot recently as well as Hamish and Toby from the UK.

Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

Quest has great records, I heard him play quite a few times in the past couple of years and he gets better and better every time. Vlada is also someone that has impressed me recently with the choice of music for her last podcasts.

You’ve been a regular over in Ibiza then moved over a few years ago. How have you seen the island change since you first moved over?

I moved to Ibiza three years ago but I’ve been going there regularly since 2009. Obviously the island has changed a lot during this time, musically and socially. VIP culture and the rise of prices have played a massive role in this. A lot of people find it hard to accept this change or are against it. I think it’s good to be able to step away from that and just have a better look around, the underground scene is very much still alive there.

Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?

The second release on mine and SIDD’s label Dacha, a repress of ‘Traffic Jam’ by Bushwacka and the launch of my new project LVCA.

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