Thursday, 21 August 2008

Interview: Flemming Dalum

Flemming Dalum is one of the world's most famous Italo-collectors, actually having a collection that can be decribed as "near complete"! His legendary mixes such as 'Amazing Run In The Tube Vol 1-3', 'Lost Within The Fog And Strobe' and 'Dance Of The Obscure Robot' have long been favourites on the playlists of both CBS and Magic Waves, championing obscure gems alongside more established underground classics. We had the pleasure of interviewing him about all things Italo Disco...

How and when did you first discover Italo Disco?

- In 1982/83 a friend of mine played some Italo records he bought on a
holiday in Italy. One of them was KOTO – "Chinese Revenge". I was instantly hooked to this pure synthesizer masterpiece. So far I listened to more commercial stuff – but with the synthesizer a whole new universe of sounds emerged right in front of me: I was really hooked – and have been ever since.

In 1983 the same guy asked me if I would like to go with him to Milan
to buy Italo records. The first of many trips to Italy...

That's basically how I discovered Italo Disco and my passion about Italo Disco started.

What are the most special memories you have from the early days?

- Ohh so many great memories....

Of course my visits to Disco Magic and Il Discotto were outstanding. Being able to buy all the records directly from the source was absolutely fantastic. The guys at those famous distributors were really surprised over me travelling all the way from Denmark to Milan... just to buy records. It gave me a unique possibility to find ALL the Italo classics.

At that point we hadn't the internet – I mean, now everybody can order records from all over the world and have them within a few days. Definitely not an option back then! So it gave me a huge advantage, having certain records a long time before everybody else.

For example: I bought Valerie Dore - 'The Night' from the Merak record shop in Milan – it arrived/"hit" the Danish radio stations approx. 6 or 8 months later... Same thing happened with several other releases.

Also great memory to experience the Creatures live show at A'ltro Mondo Studio in Rimini. Robots on the dancefloor in 1983!! And the state-of-the-art laser show. I also remember being inside the spacefly as something very special.

Another nice night in Rimini we visited the Cellophane Club – and met
Giorgio Paganini. He was so surprised and at the same time really
happy to hear about our love for his 'Gimme Love' track. We had a long
conversation with him.

... I could go on.

(Flemming Dalum outside Cellophane club)

(one of The Creatures kidnaps a girl at L'Altromondo Studios)

I read that you made in total 11 trips to Italy to meet with the main distributors, is this how your collection became so legendary? And what was it like to observe the Italo phenomenon in its glory days first-hand?

- Yes that's right – in total 11 trips in the years 1983 to 1986. It was fantastic – just imagine stepping inside "THE ORIGINAL SOURCE" of Italo Disco and being able to buy everything! (even with fair/cheap prices: approx 2.5 to 4 euros per record).

And at the same time the guys who worked there were very cool and friendly... I also contacted them by phone in-between the trips... to be 100% updated.

(Discomagic's distribution department in 1985)

Did you visit many clubs while you were over there and what do you remember the most about them?

- Number one is without doubt L'Altro Mondo Studio in Rimini..... with the Creatures show and everything. I wish I could bring you back to experience that vibe and atmosphere. Also a lot of others clubs were cool – Cellophane Club in Rimini was also super nice.

And in Milan there was this super dope underground club called "Plastic" - very freaky. Smoke machine and strobe running all night – very raw atmosphere. They didn't play Italo. Other clubs in Milan were "Odissea Due" (huge discotheque) and "Mistral" (which had lots of great
neon light/effects).

I also visited a small club in north-west Italy called: "Pata Pata" and became friends with the resident DJ – so he invited me to DJ: meaning I actually played a 45 min. Italo DJ-set in Italy ;-)

(Flemming Dalum outside Pata Pata club)

Who were the greatest Italian DJs in the old days in your opinion?

- Well several – hard to pick one. But I have to mention Jonathan (Jan Edouard Philippe) at Studio Jonathan 67 in Switzerland. I'm very inspired by his way of mixing on several compilations for Il Discotto...

Can you tell us a bit about the scene for Italo in Denmark where you are from? Scandinavia in general seems to have always had a special relationship with Italo...

- I don't think Denmark had a special scene for Italo... Sweden was
much more into it... with Beat Box records etc.

When Italo Disco faded into obscurity in the late 80s as Chicago House and various other forms of American and British dance music came to dominate the market, how did you react at the time and what did you do for those years through to the late 90s? Did your passion for Italo stay strong or did you need a rest from it by that stage?

- For me the real Italo sound/period stopped in the summer of 1986. This was my last trip to Italy after records, quality wasn't high any more and the sound also changed... so I moved on into House and later New Beat etc. My passion for Italo was always there.

When the CBS launched you were a vital contributor to them, both through providing classic mixes full of Italo gems and through extending the general wealth of knowledge about a lot of these very rare and often overlooked records. How did this relationship come about and what are your feelings now the CBS is gone?

- CBS was the perfect place for me. Ferenc also has a true passion for Italo and Disco, so that really made me want to contribute and share my passion. It started by coincidence - I was typing: "italo" on the net... and out came: CBS. I sent Ferenc a mail and received a friendly "greeters" back. A shame CBS ended - because my little mission wasn't over. Still lots of nice more or less unknown records to share in mixes etc..

But I believe something new will start soon: "Intergalactic FM".

You're the man behind Belgian label Flexx's recent re-release of Ghecko 'Firelight' - are there any other nuggets we can look forward to you bringing back in the near future?

- Actually it was the label owner Tom who asked me. So I guess he is the man behind the release – let's say I helped with it. I only do this for fun and again to share my passion. I still have a
demanding full-time job – besides this I manage to find extra time to make mixes and edits.

And recently I teamed up with Steen Gerulff from "Body Electric"...really exciting.

Lots of new projects in the pipeline.

Which Italo records are your personal favourites after the many years you've been into it?

- Hard to pick one or two – the list would be long...

You're renowned for your themed mixes such as 'The Last Days Of Italo Disco', 'French-Spanish Italo', etc Which is your personal favourite of these?

- I like them all.... all my mixes include records which mean a lot or something to me.

What does it feel like to be able to say that you've been into this music now for over a quarter of a century?

- Great – I really used music to relax and to recharge my batteries over the years, plus I still find energy when I'm mixing. 25 years with Italo and the 80s style gave me a unique and almost complete overview – which has proven to be very useful for me.

It was great for me to find CBS, and actually make a few new disco discoveries! That's the interesting part about collecting Italo and Disco.... There always seems to be more out there, just waiting to be found.

Which of the current batch of artists/producers do you like the most?

- A lot – actually most that were played on CBS...

In what ways has Italo benefitted your life?

- Some amazing memories from the 80s – but also now a lot of very cool friendships with other Italo freaks from all over the world...

What other genres of music do you enjoy you listening to?

- I've always been interested in the underground and was growing up during a time where lots of styles emerged – such as: Hip Hop, New Beat, Electro, Electronic Dub, House, Breakbeat, Techno and early Hardcore.... It's been great to be amazed over new styles
during the years. Now it dosen't seem so innovative any more....

So I've been back to my "roots": Italo, for some years.

If you could drive any car down the highway in the world listening
to any records, what would they be?

- Often Italo like: Peter Richard – 'Walking on Neon'... Brian Auger - 'Night Train to Nowhere' or more unknown tracks....

What other obsessions/passions do you have in life?

- Hmm besides music: I used to play a lot of badminton earlier in my life...

And of course: my family.

(sorry, have to ask!!) What is the rarest italo record of them all in your opinion?

- Tricky question – so many rare records. Hmm if I mention one... then
"the records hunters" will start searching for it and soon it's not THE
most rare record anymore...

Well OK anyway here's a shot: DIVIETO DE SOSTA - 'Forever' (Poker records).

What do you think of the current resurgence of interest in Italo?

- It's already been around for some years now... I love it.

Finally, where do you think the future of Italo Disco lies?

- There will always be an interest for Italo Disco, maybe not always big....
But I believe Italo will here be forever.

(inside Il Discotto)

(SIAE, the Italian music publisher)

(Merak shop, legendary supplier of fine Italo vinyl)

(the tube at L'Altromondo Studios)

(photos courtesy of Flemming Dalum)

To download Flemming Dalum's 'Italo Fetish' Mix containing the ultra-rare Divieto Di Sosta track 'Forever', click this link:

Flemming Dalum 'Italo Fetish' Mix


Flemming Dalum mixes to download

Flemming Dalum on myspace

Flemming Dalum on discogs


dario.zg said...

Great interview!
Italo still rock's!



Stefano said...

Very nice, amazing to see all these pics of 1985 here in Italy, Discomagic was an Aladdin's cave!

Greetings from Italy.