They were at the center of a sampling scandal that made them the target of much vitriol in the music industry. Their use of Kevin Saunderson’s “The Sound” may have initially brought in negative attention, but fast forward one year, the issue has been cleared and many hit songs have since ensued. The Italian duo of Supernova has exploded and is hitting hard… their signature remix work now being laid on many House classics.
Let’s get this out of the way shall we? The first time my attention was drawn to you was with your song “Beat Me Back” – the scandal that ensued because of the sample from Kevin Saunderson, who blasted it out to the media.
One night after a gig in Milan, we came back to the studio to create something new. We began to hear sounds from an old school sample library we thought was all cleared and free and we found a loop that we really loved. We tried to play it over, giving it a different bpm and adding similar sounds on top in order to create something special. We loved the way it was matching with our groove and kept on arranging the track with our style.
We called it “Beat Me Back” but we kept this track in our hard drive for five months, because we thought it would not be a potential hit. Then we decided to play this track for Rob Mirage, the owner of Nirvana Recordings. He loved “Beat Me Back”and took it.
The track soon climbed to #1 on the Beatport House chart and was included in many big artists’ charts. In a short time it became one of the most played tracks in the world. Two months after the release date, when the track was charted #1 for seven weeks, some friend informed us about Kevin Saunderson’s attack on his website. We were very surprised by his letter because we were in good faith and didn’t know his 23 year old track “The Sound”. We were disappointed too, as no one had previously contacted neither us nor Nirvana, giving us the chance to resolve it peacefully. These things happen very often in our business and it’s normal to resolve them by a simple email or a phone call.
We have definitely cleared up everything with Kevin and could not be happier with the outcome. Both sides are now in complete agreement and Kevin is now convinced of our good faith. He has even contacted us to say sorry about his attack, to our relief. He explained to us he had to do it this way because his music, especially this track, had been sampled many times by countless artists and he was really upset. With us being in contact, now there is mutual respect and we have also decided to collaborate in the near future on new projects together.
Has this incident changed in how you approach sampling?
We have not changed the way we work because we used to build our own sounds almost always. We didn’t know that it was a famous sample! Electronic music is full of sampling and these kind of things can happen when you play music for many years. House Music was born with the use of samples!
I take it your first big break was when Sony/BMG signed your album Downtown Underground in 2007, yes? How did you hook up with Grandmaster Melle Mel?
Downtown Underground is our second album after Afterbeach in 2003. Downtown Underground is definitely an important step in our career because we had the opportunity to work with big international artists and musicians. It’s an album that takes inspiration from the downtown underground New York scene under Dave Mancuso and Larry Levan. A friend of ours, an Italian rapper who lives in New York, knew Melle Mel and so we had the chance to record the single “That’s What I Like” together in the Big Apple. It was a very satisfying experience!
Your music is being played everywhere and it’s hard not to see a Supernova track in one chart or the other. But really we don’t know too much about the two of you individually. Were you both aspiring DJs and producers that met on the party circuit in Italy?
We have both been fascinated by the scene of ’70s disco and soul music, by the energy of the dancefloor that you could breathe in Dave Mancuso’s Loft and in Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage. We started DJing when the first House Music records from Chicago arrived in Italy and we were affected forever. From this moment on we had separate careers in our respective cities – Emiliano as a DJ, producer and creator of successful parties in Florence, Giacomo as a pop musician and producer in Milan.
When we met in 2002 to start the Supernova project we had very clear ideas and enthusiasm to make an explosive artistic journey. A strong artistic feeling and a great friendship have always given us the strength and conviction to go ahead with our music.
I see that you just remixed Derrick May’s “Strings of Life” and Chez Damier’s “Can You Feel It”. Are you getting more offers to put your spin on classic songs?
Yes we had the opportunity to remix these two great classics for Defected and we remixed another big one last year for King Street Sounds, Kerri Chandler’s “Bar A Thym”. We really love to remix House classics because most of them are tracks that we have played and supported a lot in our past DJ sets and we are now proud to give them a new touch. At the moment we are working on a remix for Great Stuff containing a sample from “Intro” by Alan Braxe and we have just closed a deal to remix Joey Negro’s project Jakatta “American Dream” for Z Records. We are currently also working on David Morales’ “In The Ghetto” for Stereo Productions and have signed three remixes for King Street Sounds for tracks from DJ Pierre, Cevin Fisher and Kerri Chandler that we will also release on our label Lapsus Music. So we will be quite busy with remixes.
Since you are both young producers more familiar with the digital age, I’m sure you’ve heard some of the older producers lament about how the music industry has changed. You used to be able to make money off of your music, now it’s really with DJing gigs. What is your take on this change?
We started DJing and producing many years ago, so we had the chance to also live the vinyl era. For sure, until some years ago it was easier to make money with records but it was also really expensive to rent a studio or to buy studio equipment to produce music. Now the digital market has changed everything. To buy a song is really cheap and fast and to find a free download is unfortunately very easy. But producing a record now is easier and cheaper and you don’t need to rent expensive studios for a long time to finish your track… this means that there is less money in the music business but more space for creativity.
Anyway, even today if you make a big hit, you can still make some money from a record and you can have the opportunity to spin around the world and get money from the gigs.
You know what my absolute favorite song of yours is? “Marana!” What is that song about?
We wrote this song one night on a terrace in front of the beach. The sound of the waves inspired us with some Latin flavor, that’s why we used that Brazilian piano pattern. We were in the Punta Marana’s gulf in Sardinia, thus we have called the track “Marana.”