People outside of electronic music may fondly associate the name Yoshi with the dinosaur in Super Mario’s World: its signature characteristics include its voice originating from the sound of record-scratching, as well as its ability to grab out-of-reach objects with its tongue and detect the hidden collectibles therein with its nose… Ironically not too far off from the DJ and vinyl digger Yoshi (as we know him in the electronic world!) 😉
Yoshi-Libertine has been Djing since his childhood years. He moved from Rome to Barcelona, where he was resident at Prozac’s afterhours, and finally moved to Berlin in 2010. A talented producer, Yoshi has released music on Rome’s Instruction label, Frankfurt’s HardWorkSoftDrink and his own Berlin-based Libertine, an independent label and party that sits at the heart of the underground electronic scene in Berlin. He stays true to the collective’s anti-establishment identity and has even set up a home-made Libertine club. Naturally it was about time that we sat down with the DJ and producer to further explore his achievements to date!
Hi Yoshi! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. It’s great to have you featured on Say What?.
Hi Tarita, thanks for inviting me!
So you are originally from Rome. Do you agree that it is one of the most beautiful and cultured cities in Italy and in Europe? How did your city influence your music path?
I totally agree! Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. When I was young, the clubbing scene was really amazing: festivals like Dissonanze for example. A lot of people were spending their Summers in Ibiza and then coming to Rome for the Winter. There was a very young and fresh atmosphere in the clubs at that time, but unfortunately the laws didn’t allow for the scene to fully ‘explode’. Almost 10 years ago I left my hometown and started to travel around.
I’m happy to see that there is still an underground movement in Rome, besides the institutional clubs like Goa or Rashomon there are also new concepts that are manifesting themselves – the record shop Ultrasuoni Records, labels like Instruction Records and of course Stadlin, one of my favourite places in the city. It’s a mix between a cool cocktail bar and a small club, that has amazing programming – two years ago it was unbelievable to find guests like DJ Overdose or even Stingray playing in Rome. The guys are doing a neat job.
Well the guys from Instruction are long time friends of mine. The Different Shades EP happened quite spontaneously… when I had some material ready to be put out, they were also looking to release an EP.
The new Jeremiah R is great, good job!
Two years ago you made a podcast for Faciendo. A great selection indeed. I noticed your style has changed a bit since that podcast. What are some subgenres of electronic music that you are particularly interested in today?
I’ve always collected records… from a variety of genres – house, electro and everything in between! For me, as you get older, your music style changes – it’s a natural consequence .
At the moment I look more for Techno, Electro, a bit of UK early Rave and anything else that I find that I like 🙂
When did you start living in Berlin? When did and what inspired you to start your project “Libertine”? Who is the team behind Libertine and the artists that represent it? The label has a powerful anti-establishment identity. What is the main message?
I’ve been living in Berlin for almost 6 years now… Libertine started when Stefano (a friend of mine) asked me if I wanted to make a little party in a basement / bar called BohnenGold. Up until then I had never wanted to organise an event… I preferred to just play, so the idea for the party was born out of simply wanting to have fun. We had a good response to the first party and things started developing, which is why we’ve continued. As for the concept, I associate “Libertine” to freedom – freedom to play what I really feel, without any restriction; freedom to do what I enjoy the most; and freedom to keep it as real as possible .
The team (apart from the DJs) includes Ariel, who now helps us with bookings for the Vae Victis agency and Ina, our graphic designer. Sbri and I are managing the label, and setting up the parties.
Can you talk to us about Vae Victis Agency that you and your Libertine crew recently joined? The agency homes a wide range of global artists, such as Ben UFO, Pangea and Pearson Sound, Seven Davis Jnr and The Black Madonna. What makes this agency work for you?
We’ve just started collaborating with Vae Victis and we’re really happy about it – it’s such a professional and respectable agency. A good friend is taking care of Libertine and helping us with gigs and showcases. To be honest, I’m very happy that they’ve taken a young project such as Libertine on board, to be able to join a roster that is already filled with well-respected and established DJs and producers is really quite something!
So you now have a Libertine Club in Berlin. Can you tell us more about it: what makes it a perfect place to party? What sound system do you have in place? What parties, what artists can we look forward to seeing there?
Libertine Club is our new concept party. We’ve rented a warehouse space that hasn’t been used for those kind of parties before. It was near to empty – so we made the bar, installed the sound system, the DJ booth… what makes it a perfect place to party is that we’ve had the opportunity to set the place up from zero, so we haven’t been restricted at all. We spent time to make our own cocktail menu with a good selection. For the sound-system, one of the most reliable companies in town helped us to set it up. We are very happy with the results.
The club opened with Vera and Hubble – that was really great. Our next event is on June 24th, with Etienne and Max Vaahs; in July we’ll have a special all day/night party with Onur, Dj Masda and another guest and for sure Andrew James Gustav will play for us in August. As for the other dates we’re still working on it :).
How about the Libertine record market? It was you that started this concept – you sell records from your own collection. Would you mind sharing with us a record that was particularly hard to part with? 🙂
The market with the Slow Life guys was something we initially did for fun. one day DJ Tree and I had the idea to invite some people to our place to sell some records that we didn’t play anymore. In the end we happened to spot a small kitsch bar nearby and decided to do it there. The first time was a success so we’ve continued. To be honest, in the market, I’ve never sold a record that I’ve regretted selling, but generally speaking it’s happened for sure – I’ve sold a couple of records on Discogs that I would really like back…
Libertine’s 01 EP features some recurring artists; Saverio Celestri, Sbri and you. You produced a really great solo B1 “not an ordinary place” with some acid tones – would you say that that’s a sound you are particularly fond of? Do you plan to release more productions on your own?
I don’t look to create a particular sound, I just try to make music and the results can vary with each production. I play a lot of different genres so this also influences my productions.
As for upcoming releases, Libertine 03 has just been released – that’s my first solo EP on the label. Then there’ll be a co-production from Saverio and I (Libertine 04), which will also feature other great artists and friends 🙂 I then have a solo production featuring in a Various for Resolute New York’s DisDat label, and another limited 10inch co-production with Saverio for Libertine.
That’s quite a programme! What’s the story behind Libertine 00? It’s not every day that a label releases a #00 EP!
Both tracks on the EP we made with friends – just for fun – after the first release… and we had a good response to them! You can notice that the style is a bit different from Libertine 01 so we decided to start the catalogue with the 00…
Actually Spesimen’s Emergent_Cy was released on a Various Artist on a USA label. I’ve always loved that track but it was too fast, so I asked the label for permission to press it again but at a slower BPM. I got in contact with Spesimen too. The other tracks are new material from the guys.
What previous releases by the two artists particularly struck you?
I like almost all of the Spesimen releases. The Rusuden material has also impressed me a lot.
From a first glance it would seem that the two artists don’t have too much in common (no prior collaborations for example), however you’ve managed to put together a holistic EP. What was the reason for bringing together the two artists for this one release?
I contacted both artists and they sent us material. We then put together an EP that I hope is coherent with the tracks we had – the result I think was nice!
Would you like to say a few words about the mastering company you have chosen, Analogcut Mastering and why you prefer them over other companies?
Marco from Analogcut is a good friend of mine and a very professional sound engineer. He understands what I like… it’s actually very comfortable to work with him.
Let’s talk about your recent Playground EP on Frankfurt’s HardWorkSoftDrink with fellow “work-mate” Marieu. He was also featured on Libertine’s mix series. We’re assuming you go way back! How do you find working together in the studio?
Marieu is another good friend of mine. We have different styles for sure, but share the same passion for analogue and live recording. Fundamentally, we have a great respect for one another’s work. Once we started making music together, we came up with something in the middle of what we usually do alone. I have to say that I’ve learnt a lot from this experience.
And speaking of Frankfurt, last February you played at Robert Johnson with Nicolas Lutz and Max Vaahs. If you had to share one track with us, that best represents the tone of that night, which would it be?
Well for a track that represent the tone of that night you should ask Nicolas – he played some great records and an incredible set! From my side, a track that I remember being a good moment was LFO – Lord Of Light.
We’re looking forward to hearing you play again Yoshi, and best of luck with all your amazing work. Thank you again for your time!
Listen to Yoshi’s most recent podcast on neighbouring Berlin party and label Sleepers:
Edited by Kaajal Shah