How a Disco Daddy Made it to Hawai‘i by Conquering His Fear of Air
James Cave • When Daniele Baldelli performs at thirtyninehotel tonight, it will be the first time the 61-year old Italian DJ has ever played in America. He’s known as the father the Cosmic sound, a sort of slower-paced mixing style that became popular in Italy during disco’s waning days when people would smoke heroin but still want to dance. Thirtyninehotel owner Gelareh Khoie ensured us Baldelli has been asked many times to play at other USA venues over the years but has always declined due to his fear of flying. So we wanted to know: Why now?!
We called Khoie up while she hosted Mr. and Mrs. Baldelli poolside to see if we could ask him ourselves, and she was nice enough to pass over the phone.
“I was very scared about flying,” Baldelli said in his thick Italian accent. “Five years ago, they start to call me. I always say no, but I said yes after I went to Australia’s Sydney Opera House two times. Then another flight to Melbourne. After that, I think, ‘It’s not so bad.’”
While drugs helped make his music more demanded by an audience in the ‘80s, Baldelli says the shift has happened now where his fans like him more for his artistry alone, rather than how it makes the drugs hit them. “Some people come only for the music, but some people come for other things, like drugs,” he says. “For me, the only drug is music, but for 2,000 people staying outside instead of coming in, which was happening in ‘81-82, it’s not happening now. Now, I have a lot of fans old and young. They say they know me from their mom and dad. What I play now in Italy is music for people who love music.”
How has this DJ from the disco-era found a way to sustain an international career? “I think that what’s happened in Italy in the ‘80s was underground,” Baldelli said. “This movement they call Cosmic Sound now was underground. Now, people follow this music. Because of the web, now everybody knows. They write me and say thanks for the influence. Even now, I go to the shop to buy new records. I listen to maybe 100 records & buy one. Back then, I would buy 99. It’s because I don’t like the music now. The difference is they call themselves DJ producers. We need to be musicians. We can make many things. The machine is very nice, but the hands make it, you know what I’m saying? The machine is always the machine. There is no improvisation, no soul, no melody. Of course, some people can do good music with the machine. But not everybody. That is why I only buy one instead of 99.”
Now, after a plane ride Baldelli says reminds him of the 20-hour train trips across Europe, he’s finally in America, playing at thirtyninehotel’s Space Truckin tonight at 8pm, with DJs Mark Chittom and Timo opening. $10, click here for tickets.