A raver who remains true to his essence. A guy whose passion for partying and techno music led him to become a star, one of the most acclaimed figures by fans of the genre. Ilario Alicante is a friendly guy, one of those who don’t make you think you’re not talking to a star. He has become one of the most important big room techno producers of the moment, as well as one of the DJs who has been able to combine the big room sound with the progressive and acid stuff. He made his debut in Time Warp at the tender age of 15. Today, he still performs in the best festivals on the planet.
We know that you were a clubber before being a DJ. Tell us about how you started your career in the electronic music industry?
I still am, when I can. My passion for nightlife started on the dance floor, living it. I wouldn’t be a 100% complete DJ otherwise, able to read the people who are dancing. How can you understand and communicate with something you never lived? The Cupid who struck me with the arrow, fully, making me fall in love with nightlife, was Tenax, in Florence. The first time I entered that club, I remember I looked at the DJ and, listening to that music, in that context, I thought: “I want to do this”.
Is the current Ilario Alicante very different from the Ilario of the past?
Snakes change skin several times in the course of their life, but they always remain snakes… Right? I have matured both as a man and as a DJ. I go on filling my baggage with experiences. I don’t like to use the word “different” and if I had to choose another one I would use the word “mature”.
Some people think that you could have taken bigger steps in your career, if you had wanted, but you didn’t. Would you agree?
I am happy with what I have done so far and I will always commit myself to do better, following my ideals, my logic, but above all, my heart. Unfortunately, I am a person who in some cases cannot adapt much, and this may have been a problem in some situations. If I don’t like a person, I can’t pretend to establish a relationship just because it could benefit my work. I’ve never done it and never will. The big steps are taken with commitment, passion, perseverance and music.
Which was the biggest step in your career?
Remain what I was before all of this.
Does “Ilario Alicante” mean techno? How would you define your music?
I feel a 360-degree DJ, I don’t like to fossilize myself on a single genre, ever. If I like a track of another genre and it emotions me, I play it; or if while I’m in the studio, I feel like doing something not properly techno, I do it. Anyway, I don’t like to define my music with definitions.
Thinking of Ilario Alicante, some think of Drumcode. Others instead think that you are still an important face of Cocoon. What’s your opinion?
They are certainly two important elements of my career, although I would like people to think of Ilario Alicante when they read my name, and nothing else.
Do you like other genres of music? Which ones?
I listen to everything. Lately, in addition to the music I produce and play in clubs, I listen to a lot of electro. Moreover, I like to understand why people like a specific kind of music rather than another one; I like to understand the message that the artist wants to communicate with a certain type of music, in a certain moment. Music, anyway, represents the mirror of the society when it is created; listening to different genres of music, and music more in general, makes you understand many more things than you would ever imagine.
Do you collect vinyls, even though you always use your computer? Or do you sometimes play with vinyls too?
Before, I used to spend much more time on it, but now less, because I don’t have enough time. I don’t play with vinyls because there are only a few places which allow you to use them without any problems, but mainly because my way of playing music is different, vinyl wouldn’t allow me to play the way I’d like to.
We’re used in seeing you play at headliner timings in festivals and clubs. What are your thoughts regarding the warm up?
In several gigs I play all night long, and these are amongst my favorite ones. However, the warm up is very important for a night, it’s a crucial moment when people arrive at the club. The music you find when you set foot in it can sometimes affect the whole evening. Creating an atmosphere and preparing people to enjoy the party, by having fun from the beginning is not easy, but it’s fascinating and important at the same time.
At the end of 2017 you claimed that, according to your opinion, without the image and the ideals created by social media, many DJs wouldn’t have the same entourage they have. On this assumption, if the DJ booth was under a simple tent, not many people would go and listen to their favorite DJs. Are you still of the same idea?
Of course, my idea is still the same. Image and appearance, in this historical moment we are living, are taking over. The same identical set played by a “big”, if played by a resident or an unknown DJ, wouldn’t have the same effect even if the music was exactly the same and played in the same exact way. Obviously, charisma counts, we are entertainers, however, in most cases today we don’t even talk about that, but only about the image and what a DJ visually represents for a customer. This is bad and negative for music.
This world of Social Media is driving us crazy. As written above, in the past you claimed that music is losing importance compared to appearance. However, we see you very active on your social networks. Are you playing the game despite you don’t like it?
My being active I think is relative, but I’ve never abused of social networks. I would like to add that they are not to be demonized, they should not be taken as scapegoats. They are important platforms which allow you to communicate instantly with our followers and fans. Why not use them? It’s not about holding the game. The problem is the use you make of them, nothing more, nothing less.
11 months ago you published a video “Vlog Presentation” but then we didn’t see any other videos. Is it a project you would like to continue?
I had fun doing that video. I curated personally the whole process, from A to Z, the recording, the idea, the editing, etc. But, unfortunately, it requires a lot of time and not wanting to delegate somebody else to do everything, I have a bit of difficulties as I have very little free time available. Anyway, I have other video projects in mind and I will do some in the future, maybe with some different content.
We know you lived in Berlin for several years and now you are moving to Milan. Do you think Italy is a good place where to live working in this industry, or are you coming back because you miss your country?
I moved to Milan since a few months. I missed the Italian life. I lived abroad since I was 18 years old and I felt like coming back. Milan is the only city where I would live in Italy. You can breath European air, it’s a city in constant evolution and improvement.