Joseph Capriati: Naples' Music Scene Could be Compared to Berlin or Detroit

One of Italy's most successful electronic music exports discusses parties and pizza in the mafioso stronghold.

by Martin Guttridge-Hewitt
13 February 2015, 7:00pm

In 1998, Joseph Capriati was an eleven-year-old watching a DJ play to U.S. navy servicemen as part of a 4th of July celebration near his family home in Caserta, close to Naples. Inspired and willing to lie about his age, he jumped into underage work as he saved for a mixer, turntables and records.

By 2005 he was producing, releasing a track 12 months later, before playing to 5,000 Neapolitans a year after that. Capriati has slowly built a reputation for himself as a purveyor of no bullshit techno - an honest guy in a world often dripping in falsities. It's not without good reason that clubbers in his hometown have gone all early-noughties-Sasha-lunatics on him, dragging Italian flags and pro-Napoli chants to venues across the world - nor can there be any doubts why Fabric offered him the next release.

"I never expected to make a Fabric compilation, and to have been chosen to do it means a lot for me. I see a few haters' comments on the social networks - for some people I'm not so 'underground' just because I play in Ibiza on the terrace of Amnesia, and at BPM daytime on the beach with some groovy techno, and I don't have a long beard and I sometimes post funny pictures on Instagram for example."

"That's completely wrong for me. I think underground is inside you, it's your soul and how you love music and how you do it without thinking about increasing your profile and earnings, but you do it naturally and enjoy playing a set every time like it was the first time. That's what DJing means for me," he says. For Capriati it doesn't matter if that's at Berghain, Amnesia, or the Neopolitan nightclubs in which he started.

Capriati seems to reject the cooler-than-thou attitude held by many on the scene. He's about starting parties, wherever they may be, with pretense-free tunes to which you can lose inhibitions. We're interested how this goes down in Naples, a city that, ironically, takes no prisoners.

"To be honest I've always been making music without knowing the negative sides. Of course there are criminals, even amongst the club owners, but this happens in almost all of Italy, and all over the world, as the interest of criminals is money and money is power."

Despite the buoyancy of the ever-popular Italo disco sound and the pure joy that is premium blend Italian piano house, the country has never been taken as seriously as a nation of dance music like Germany or the UK. Capriati is quick to point out that Naples is different.

"Since the early-90s in Napoli there's been a respected techno scene, made by real artists who spend hours every day in the studio, doing everything by themselves, playing with an incredible technique and a unique groove. I don't wan't to say something crazy, but I think that Napoli's scene could easily be compared to cities like Berlin or Detroit, in terms of musical credo and union of the artists, and a special and unique sound." The difference, he argues, between those cities and his own is due to an unfair media focus. "But I still believe that something will change in the future, and we will always try to make this happen through hard work."

Capriati is realistic about the obstacles standing in the way of the overall scene. And, unsurprisingly, it's the establishment that he thinks has plenty to answer for. "90% of politicians in Italy don't even know what electronic music is. We are governed by old-mentality politicians and sometimes they don't even care about the parties and their growth, all they see is techno = drugs and alcohol. They just don't do anything, except when there are elections and they want to show their 'power' - closing parties early, going to clubs with police dogs and stopping cars for alcohol tests."

Despite those limitations, there has long been something enticing about the Naples scene. It maintains the raw inimitable spirit indicative of a cultural melting pot, made possible thanks to the city's innumerable guests who arrive through the port, one of the largest in the Mediterranean. Like anywhere, though, visitors have just as much chance winding up in a bland establishment as they do somewhere worthwhile. With that in mind, we ask our guide for his top tips in terms of parties, and that other local speciality, pizza.

"I would definitely invite you in summertime and show you our holy techno place, which is Old River Park, where all the best techno DJs have come to play since the very early-90s, and where I heard techno music for the first time ever. It's a 'must-do' if you love techno and you go to Napoli." Clubbing's great and everything, but the pizza's what we're here for. "Pizza choices in Napoli are very personal, there are a few key pizzerias, but for me the one and only is Michele's that makes only two types of pizza, Margherita and Marinara, the real original ones. If you go to Napoli you have to go there and taste the best pizza in the whole world."

With thoughts of thin crusts, weighty beats, exquisite toppings and one of the great unsung clubbing destinations on our mind we draw things to a close, albeit safe in the knowledge that a trip to southern Italy probably won't be too far away.

Jospeh Capriati's Fabric 80 mix is released on the 16th of February. He plays the London club on Saturday the 21st to celebrate the launch. Tickets are available here.

Joseph Capriati is on Facebook // Soundcloud // Twitter