My First Club: I-Robots

The Italian producer opens up about an early cosmic disco disaster.

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Dec 4 2015, 3:15pm

My First Club takes us back to the beginning, transporting DJs and producers back into the depths of their memory, asking them to take us on a trip to those pivotal first nights in clubland. Following entries from the likes of Michael Mayer,Herve,MK, Slimzee,and Hudson Mohawke, we caught up with Italian producer I-Robots.

My first performance didn't actually happen... I walked out on it.

It was in the early 80's when I enrolled in a DJ school at the legendary Big Club in Turin, my hometown.

The course awarded a certificate of commendation to the best students during an official ceremony, after which they would be performing. I recieved one of the highest grades and I attended the event waiting to perform. I will always remember it. It was a Thursday night during the official programming of the Big Club. On that Thursday night the sound was New Wave, pop and rock, and I, ready with a set of cosmic-disco funk, as a matter of course, certainly wouldn't have been much appreciated by the club's management. Anyway, they decided to make us wait for ages, until late at night, for our exhibition. At the time I was very young and proud, and flared up by this lack of respect and attitude towards the attendees of their own course, I decided to simply walk out on them!

Fortunately things were to get better for me from there. In 1984 the cosmic disco scene was starting to wane. As a consequence, the venues supporting this type of sound were much smaller and could be counted on the fingers of one hand, and one of those was to become very important in my musical formation.

From the 1970s, in a seedy area of the city of Mirafiori South, there was a venue that was, in spite of everything, a part of the history of the underground nightclubbing in Turin: the Mexico Club, where for some time I was one of the few to offer the cosmic-disco sound and it was there that I performed for the first time.

The venue was a real club, small but well laid out; an underground structure with stylish interiors and some decorative plants. The technical infrastructure however was rather basic, the electric meter was inadequate for the voltage required in the club and it wasn't uncommon for a fuse to blow part way through a set. I myself was mid-flow when suddenly there was a total blackout... I hardly recall my set selection except for some songs like "Sex Machine" by James Brown, "Why Can't We Live Together" by Timmy Thomas, Sky's "Westway", but the embarrassing memory of suddenly being plunged into darkness and silence has stuck with me.

Until the mid-80s matinee openings on a Saturday or Sunday were part of the clubbing landscape, another 'classic' club feature that died along with lots of local venues. The Mexico Club still exists but under a different name, while the "mythical" The Big Club turned initially into a bingo hall, then again into a club and finally was shut down. Recent rumours are stating it might open again.

From my early roots in the 1980s I went on to become a key part of the 'scene' in Turin and beyond, I collected vinyl voraciously and worked as a journalist, DJ, remixer, label owner and promoter. I eventually returned to The Big Club, many years after the terrible Thursday night. This time I was in a different role as the organiser of Guru's Razzmatazz Vol.1 concert getting to share the stage with the likes of Donald Byrd, Courtney Pine, Keith Edward Elam Kima, NYC & Big Shug, DJ Sean-Ski.

I-Robots current single "Dirty Talk" is out now and his new one, "Come to Harm" drops early next year on Opilec Records

Follow I-Robots on Facebook // SoundCloud

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