William Bottin is one of the finest purveyors of electronic disco around right now. His tracks have a clear Italo influence, and he's actually Italian, which probably means he has more of a right or something. Even Andy Bell from Erasure likes him! We caught up with him for a quick chat. It would've been nice if it actually was on a boat, but it was just Gmail.
Vice: When did you start making music?
Bottin: I started playing keyboards in acid jazz bands when I was 13, in 1990. I released my first solo track in 1999 on Italian label Irma Records. It was a cocktail music tune, you know, in the fashion of Piero Piccioni or Piero Umiliani. Then I recorded an album on Irma called Chill Reception under the moniker Bluecat. It was an awkward mix of different styles: downtempo, broken beats, house. I guess I was very confused at the time. I was working full-time as a sound designer and music consultant in Fabrica (Benetton's research center).
I started working as a producer/arranger for major pop artists Lucio Dalla and Rettore in Italy and Chambao in Spain. Of course, I was still producing my own music and started my own music research for old interesting records. I started DJing more and eventually teamed up with Spiller for his Nano Records label–though I found it took up too much time and didn't allow me to make music myself, so I quit.
While doing all this I didn't even notice the Italo and disco comeback. I remember one night I was playing with Richard Dorfmeister in a festival near Venice. I played him one of my tracks and he said, "Oh, is this on Eskimo?" So I sent the track ("Fondamente Nove") to Eskimo, and they picked it up for release.
Where does the Bottin sound come from?
The inspiration is basically the music I've been hearing on Italian TV my whole life. You know, those lat-night movies shows with cheap horror films, Giallos, soft erotica. Also the pioneers of disco music in Italy: Celso Valli, Simonetti, Malavasi, the La Bionda brothers.
I think these influences have always been in me, I just didn't know it on a rational level. It all came out since a good friend of mine, older and with a good record collection, gave me some of his records–mostly early Italo-disco and Italo-boogie.
What about recent finds in your "crate-digging"?
Popularia – Barra, on RCA Italy, 1985.
Orient Express, a strange middle-eastern disco LP recorded by French musicians in Tel Aviv 1978.
And a library music album by Franco Micalizzi on CAM Records called Rhythmical Movements n.3.
So what are you working on at the moment?
Lately it has been mostly remixes. I think I have done ten already this year. I've done two remixes of Space (the legendary French band from whom Daft Punk stole their outfits) and I'm doing a cover version of the Theme from V, the TV series. Remixing is generally fun.
How do you approach a remix?
Usually the artists trust me and allow me to do what I feel. Some other times people expect me to make their track similar to mine, and that rarely happens. When I do a remix I always try to focus on and highlight what I think are the most interesting but least developed parts of the original.
I'm also starting my own re-edits label together with a mysterious partner in Rotterdam. And the Horror Disco LP will be out on Bear later this year. After that I'm doing a US tour in September and a couple of UK dates in October (London and Exalt Exalt! in Nottingham). Later I'll be going to Brazil and Australia at the beginning of 2010.
Bottin - "Sciarando El Scuro"