“LIVE LIFE, LOVE MUSIC.”
That is DJ Giovanni’s motto, and it seems that following those words have lead him to success. Faced with chronic ear troubles that have resulted in multiple surgeries and hearing loss, it was doubtful Giovanni Iglesias would be able to have any career in music….but he does. Currently holding one of the biggest and most popular residencies at Webster Hall in New York City and with a brand new track about to be released on Beatport, he has overcome the odds and is continuing to break through any obstacles that get in his way. I decided to chat with him to find out more about his story. Here’s what he had to say…
MARISA: Your first song “UP (We Are Free)” Ft. Alexa Green just got signed and is about to be released on Beatport. What characteristics in this song reflect your personal musical style?
DJ GIOVANNI: It reflects me in several different ways. I’ve always had a taste for ambient and spiritual sounds while growing up, for example “Return To Innocence” by Enigma, “The Whistle Song” by Frankie Knuckles, and my personal favorite, “Children” by Robert Miles. As I matured and started traveling to spin in different countries like Ecuador, I got into popular records such as “The Weekend” by Michael Gray and “Time of our Lives” by Paul van Dyk which really lift my soul. I take that kind of genre and I create a style that fits my desire to move to that groove. What I noticed throughout the years, whether I was DJing or distributing a mixtape, was that the audiences have found appreciation in my music choice. In regards to “UP (We Are Free)”, I wanted to take this record to a happy ‘summertime feel’ about a girl who’s really into someone. Throughout the song, co-written by my artist Alexa Green, this girl sees and tells him “You know what we gotta do, you know where we gonna be, you know we’re dancing ’cause we are free.” Pretty much the message is “Let’s live it up, shall we?”
MARISA: Listening is a vital part of playing an instrument, composing songs, and producing music. Even though you wear powerful hearing aids, what do you find is the most difficult part of creating sounds and producing songs?
DJ GIOVANNI: Everything! No joke. I struggle not being able to engineer my own music. I often hire professionals just to get it right, sound wise. However, arranging sounds the way I want it to sound is pretty easy. My biggest problem is mixing individual tracks at low levels, but throughout the years I’ve learned so much from the great producers and engineers who work with me, especially my buddy Dean Saghafi (Sax Player/Producer-Engineer). The Starkey Foundation (one of the best hearing aid manufactures), sponsored me with state of the art double amplified Hearing Aids, which have really helped me be able to do what I do. The average hearing impaired has 1 amplifier in each aid; I have two for that extra boost. These hearing aids allowed me to get better by concentrating on listening to certain sounds and being patient when calibrating certain frequency so I can tell the difference between what I hear and don’t hear.
MARISA: That’s amazing! What advice do you have for others, whether in the music industry or elsewhere, who face similar challenges to what you’ve face in your career?
DJ GIOVANNI: Have faith. Every struggle is meant to be a challenge. I suffered with Cholesteatoma (a tumor in the middle ear) from the age of 6 to 25 with a total of 20 surgeries. For those of you who are hearing impaired like me or my friend DJ Robbie Wilde, you need to just try your hardest and never give up on what you imagine yourself to be. We all have dreams but it takes work to get there. Oh and also, if you wear hearing aids like I do, always leave enough batteries in your wallet …laughs…Seriously.
MARISA: What is on your DJ bucket list?
DJ GIOVANNI: Hmm where to start! I would like to travel the world (EDM style, of course), have at least 5 to10 hit songs, and sell out big arenas like MSG. But more importantly, I’d like to spin somewhere on the beautiful beaches of Ibiza Spain, looking down in front of thousands on a huge stage with my family behind me watching me with joy, while having someone special in my life right next to me telling me, “You see what happens when you believe in yourself? It comes true…you did it”.
MARISA: Who or what inspired you growing up to get into the music industry?
DJ GIOVANNI: Enrique Iglesias is a first. Since his first album in 1995, I understood Enrique’s lyrics. He wrote what he felt and as I grew older I truly understood the messages he was trying to convey on songs that weren’t even his hits, but in his albums. His album “7” was definitely one of my favorites. Second, Tiesto. When I discovered Tiesto in 2001, that was it for me. I said, “One day I will become just as great as him but also as an inspiring talent since I can’t hear so well”. Those who knew me when I first started in the industry know that I lacked confidence and thought I would never have the chance because I’m deaf. I took in every word that every person told me as fuel. Today I look back at those moments and I’m glad I made all the right choices.
MARISA: What non-EDM artist would you like to collaborate with most?
DJ GIOVANNI: Enrique, hopefully I’ll get the phone call one day about making a record.
MARISA: If you could be in the crowd for a night instead of behind the DJ booth, who would you be dancing to?
DJ GIOVANNI: Swedish House Mafia. They’re amazing at what they’ve done to bring to the dance community, along with many other great talents who have made EDM stand where it is at today. Thank you guys for making history.
MARISA: You hold one of the biggest residencies at Webster Hall. What do you want to give to audiences who come to see you every weekend? What is the DJ Giovanni experience like?
DJ GIOVANNI: I enjoy reminding people about the best dance records from the 70’s to today. I like to be different when it comes to music choice. I find those great records of songs that I grew up to, as I mentioned before, and I remix them or find the best remixes in my record-pool such as vocals like “Rapture” by IIO, “Children” by Robert Miles, or “The Wall” by Pink Floyd and then mashing the shit out of them with today’s electro and progressive anthems. For example, l’ll use “Rattle” by Bingo Players, “Cannonball” by Showtek & Justin Prime or “Kick Out The Epic Motherfucker” (Otto Knows Remix) by Dada Life just to name a few. At Webster Hall, I spin in the Marlin Room, which is the second biggest room at Webster Hall, from 1am to 2am or 2:30am primetime. It’s funny that I’ve been told when I go on, a quarter of the crowd that was dancing in the Grand Ballroom end up going downstairs to rock it out with me. I guess it’s a good feeling knowing that I bring something unique to the table at Webster Hall.
MARISA: You just opened up Darknite Studios. What can we expect in the future from this recording studio and marketing company?
DJ GIOVANNI: DARKNITE STUDIOS is my life. Back in 2003 my good friend Emanuel “Wildchild” Vega from Step Fenz (one of the lead dancers in Fall Out Boys “Dance Dance” music video) and I envisioned building a studio where the best of NY’s talent can work. With my partner UCH, our Team Darknite helps create great music from start to finish. The marketing aspect played an important role in my life when I became a DJ. I became successful at it when I started following my friend DJ CHACHI. For years I saw what he did to market himself. I would call him all the time and he never had a problem helping out a friend. By creating DARKNITE STUDIOS, my goal is to help those who want to make it in the business, whether they want to become a DJ, producer, singer, or are a band. Marketing is essential in order to look established in this business. Having great music, photography, artwork, social media, and a presentable website is the start of successful brand marketing. At DARKNITE STUDIOS, we’re more than just a recording studio. It’s a facility for “Creative Marketing Solutions”
MARISA: Lastly, since you are a New York native, I need you to settle something for me. Where can I get the best slice of NYC pizza?
DJ GIOVANNI: Most Definitely, Ben’s Pizzeria located at 123 MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. I used to go there all the time (hammered mostly)!
Although it is a continuing struggle, what once seemed impossible for Giovanni Iglesias became possible – and victorious – for the deaf DJ. See him for yourself on Fridays and Saturdays at Webster Hall or follow one of the links below to listen and download his music!
–Marisa Bianco for EDMNYC
DJ Giovanni Website
“Up” ft. Alexa Green on Soundcloud
DJ GIOVANNI’s Podcast by DJ GIOVANNI