When Alex Neri want to do something, he does it! He followed the instinct. He is a very capable conversationalist in memories of his thirty years of career among which twenty with Planet Funk, from the beginning, he chose to control the front and the backstage while taking on the roles of DJ and producer of his music (more than 200 records) in the national and international dance scene from the 90s to today. The past is full of experimentation, travel, meetings, in a time when everything was possible, because in the music is passion, it’s something you don’t choose, it’s a necessity.
by Francesca Capaccioli
You are an instinctive artist, but over time you became elaborative, you love to think. How do you feel in this society so poor in word, concept and creativity?
It’s true, it’s a time without thought, they are all eager to be part of a global market. Today they have staked everything on homologation, losing sight of the madness, the mixture, the diversity and the contents. We were unique until there was the contamination and until we made the diversity a force. Take house music for example: The house is a flood of musical styles brought into the dance; it was born from this, I was lucky to live and train myself both as a DJ and as a producer in that incredible period, the end of the 80s and 90s. I lived in a post-London punk where you could enjoy, absorb experiment in any field and, having lived abroad so many years, you can only tell something that you know of and this is the only thing that allows you to stand out and that today saves you.
How did your relationship with the public change since you started playing?
Today I’ve difficulty to be empathetic with the public. It is a not attentive public, or rather, it is attentive to other things. The Internet changed the world we live in and the way we understand reality, today you are controlled in everything. We measure our emotions through mobile phones! Personally I find it absurd and, to make matters worse, you are immortalized and judged in everything you do. Once upon a time, this did not happen, you did the evening, you transmitted your emotions through music and ended up there. This being continually checked no allows you to be yourself all the way. When I chose this world I chose it because I was a fool and I freely expressed myself, so I find hard to communicate with the generation of “digital natives” of this new millennium. This twenty years were the most revolutionary and of recent times, it evolved with such ease that it is disarming.
Tenax excluded, what was the Club that remained in your heart?
One of the most beautiful evenings I ever did was at the Bar Rumba, the Gilles Peterson Club, on a Wednesday night in England, where I played an hour of very specific sets, underground music, called by me space funk, a very acoustic sound, but thanks to the installation of the room it seemed sound techno. I’ll never forget!
How do you play?
I always play with vinyls and for necessity, today, even with USB sticks. Today in music nothing has arrived that can be compared to the beauty of the sound and the feel of a vinyl.
A feature of your productions?
I am a lover of groove and bass that for me is 80% of what my dance world is and all this must have an perfect sound! Then there are a thousand other nuances that depend on the mood of the moment.
“All on Me” is the last single from Planet Funk, dedicated to Sergio Della Monica who died a few months ago, when did you meet and how were the Planet born?
Yes it’s, this song and the whole album is a tribute to the memory of a great friend, it is the only way we had to thank Sergio for all the moments and emotions shared together over the years. The Planet is born instead in a period in which I was very tired and bored by music, it was the end of the 90s and there was no great musical innovation. I was looking for new sounds. Coincidentally in London I met two Italian boys Sergio and Gigi who later became my partners in Planet, and they, who at the time were the Souled Out, a group I was listening to and that was known since the early 90s, they recorded a beautiful album “Shine on” with Columbia Records and for a series of coincidences we met and liked each other so much that I decided to join them in Naples to do something together. Initially, Planet Funk was a project of mine, I had written Alex Neri- Planet Funk volume one and volume two and in Naples I wanted to make volume three. Arriving in the studio, however, I went into crisis, my head was drained and I stayed about a couple of days doing nothing. Then, one morning, looking at the Gulf of Naples, I started listening to ska music, provoking myself because I was never a great fan of the genre, but trying, playing and resonating the record that came out was “Chase The Sun”, 160 bpm was ska, pure! Obviously Gigi and Sergio, who at that time were more mature and intelligent than me, convinced me that I should bring all this into a more club world, more like house that was what corresponded to me, and that’s how Planet Funk came to life. They were born from the contamination of my house world with that of their guitars, the first group in Italy to make an innovative and then recognized sound in the world.
Tell me three records that illuminated you?
Only three? I really struggle… Grace by Jeff Barkley, because he was an angel. The dark side of the moon by Pink Floyd, because I think it’s like the Portrait of Dorian Gray. Off the wall by Michael Jcakson, because it borders on the perfection of sound, arrangements and voices never heard before and produced by the great Quincy Jones.
In making a record, what is the best moment?
It is when I understand that I have found the key to my message. Making a record is a mission and when you find the message you want to communicate, it’s the best moment.
What would you have been if you hadn’t become a DJ?
I love philosophy, but who knows…