A Sit Down With DJ Valentino Kanzyani

15:39 Dec/14/2017

Valentino Kanzyani has been involved in the country's dance scene since the mid 1990s. A celebrated DJ first and foremost , Valentino built a solid reputation for himself whilst he was resident spinner of Ambasada Gavioli - Slovenia's best known electronic music club. His fame grew when he started spinning on three turntables as standard. Joining forces with fellow countryman and techno champion Umek, Valentino saw his first release in 1999 under the moniker Recycled Loops. Due to the success of their joint EPs, Valentino Kanzyani and Umek set up Recycled Loops as a record label, which further helped establish. A number of world tours.

Valentino Kanzyani is a founding father of Slovenian techno and has been involved in the country’s dance scene since the mid 1990s. A celebrated DJ first and foremost, Valentino built a solid reputation for himself whilst he was resident spinner of Ambasada Gavioli, one of Slovenia’s most famous clubs. His fame grew when he started spinning on three turntables as standard.


"The only thing we really have is the present moment; the future and past are non-existent. So getting stuck in the past or hopping into the future is never a good thing to do. Live the present."


Your real name is Tine Kocjanèiè. Why did you take a pseudonym and why an Italian name?

When the Second World War ended, many family names in Slovenia were changed by the Italians. My name was originally written differently, but it sounds the same. My first name is originally Tine. That is an abbreviation of Valentino. Tine is a children's nickname, so I decided to change it to Valentino, as it was originally intended. I often hear from people that they think it's a nice name. A friend of mine is a graphic designer and I think my name is just a brand name! 

How did you first get exposed to dance music and how difficult was it setting up a scene in those early years?

Being born in a decaying communistic regime that was soon leading to a war was definitely not a nice childhood. So it may sound typical, but music really saved my life! If my passion for music hadn't have been there, who knows where I would have ended up, or even if I would be still alive! Things were quite complicated for me and my people especially during and soon after the war.  But as I said love and passion for music gave me a way to follow, some sacred and secret space to hide and be out of the daily shit! I consider my self lucky already because of that, everything else was and is just a side effect or by product of love and dedication I put into my craft. 

You’ve been described as one of the founding fathers of Slovenian techno, what first got you into Techno? Can you pin-point a life-altering moment?

I was always interested in music since an early age. I wanted to be a drummer when I was 8 but also liked dancing and when got a chance to go to a club when I was just 11 it was when I realized that I definitely want to be a DJ, and step by step I became one! Years passed and I started to produce music when I was 19, and got my first release track when I was 21. My first EP came when I was 24, so it took some time to get things moving back then. I was also the first Resident and Artistic Director of Ambasada Gavioli from age 20 to 24, and had the chance to book and play alongside the best DJs of those days including some like Jeff Mills, Laurent Garnier, Richie Hawtin, Demon Wild, Regis & Surgeon, among other important artists. Basically we brought to Slovenia the best Techno artists of that time, also we booked House DJs, offering a lot of inspiration from both sides. That’s why I’ve never stuck to just one sound and have always loved to fuse different styles in my sets, like I did as an Artistic Director back in my twenties… 

Who are your parents?

My father is an old rock star in my country. His band was very big in Slovenia, compared to the Beatles even. Eventually they became so big that the Communist party decided to end the band. They became too important and the Communist party began to wonder what the political idea behind the band was. My father wrote about 200 hits that were played on the radio. Unfortunately, as a father, I did not have that much to him. He left us when I was eight years old. He never had time, always busy rehearsing. My mother was also a singer. But she concentrated more on motherhood. She has sung in one of my father's bands. She is an old hippy and when I'm at a big party she often comes to watch. 

Imagine for a moment that you are preparing for your last ever DJ set before retiring for good, what three tracks would you pick to close your final set, and why would you pick those?

Well it's difficult to say what it will be then as music keeps on striking me! Number one would be Steve Reich's 'Music For 18 Musicians', because this track is like hearing heaven coming down to earth! I'd also play the synth track on Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side Of The Moon' to put some age and drama to the situation, and finish up with Ravel's 'Bolero' for a grand finale!

Where are your musical roots?

The first music I listened to was what we had at home, Pink Floyd, Madonna and Michael Jackson. I loved Michael for his dancing. When I was about 15 years old, I participated in Acid dance competitions. I wore T-shirts and belts full of smileys. One day I participated in a dance competition that also an Italian participated. He had moves that seemed impossible to us. Then I decided that it had been enough with dancing. I was already busy at the time, but I loved dancing. The first music that really got me in her grip was the first acid and house that came from America. The brother of my classmate played this music. He was one of the first DJs to play house in Slovenia. I had no idea that running could be a profession let alone at an international level. Turning was something that you did for pleasure. It was more of a hobby like skateboarding. But back to my musical roots, Pink Floyd and Michael Jackson have made a permanent mark on my music. Madonna also, especially her older albums. I thought "Vogue" cool because many people were against house at that time. She had something like "fuck you, I'm gonna make it anyway.

Dancefloor or VIP? 

Dance floor, as I started to love and enjoy music on it, and spent much of my teenage years on dance floors, partying on early acid house and new beat. Dancing is my first love and I dance also when I’m in the VIP area, having conversations with some extremely interesting random people, but if you really want to enjoy music you have to be on the dance floor because only there you can really feel the music.

In all your years touring around the globe, what’s your favorite club or city to play?

I have a lot of appreciation for the Romanian scene but also love Uruguay. I had a very nice gig in July at Phonoteque, Montevideo, the crowd was amazing and all the people from staff to clubbers were just amazingly educated and nice! It’s hard to point just one favorite place as I love also to play in Berlin, especially when I play with my friends at Club Der Visionaere.

How has Slovenian underground house and techno progressed in your career? Who of the new breed have you most excited?

The scene has its ups and downs like everywhere else, but the most fascinating thing for me is the variety of styles we had and still have for such a small country. Also the influence we had on our neighbouring countries all those years back, in the days when Slovenian techno was growing its recognition internationally. From the first small events in bars to the first raves and festivals in the last 23 years I've seen and done a lot. And being part of a movement from day one that had passion for music and joy of living as its first priority made me the person I am now!  It made exceptional other artists like Random LogicUmekTomy DeClerque, Ichi SanIan F and Aneuria all working on different styles but having one thing in common - the love and passion for music. Definitely one of the more extraordinary artist coming from the later generation is Gramatik who's proved again that with a clear vision, passion and hard work the impossible becomes possible! He shows by his example to future generations that, if you want to, you can really make it despite where you come from.


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