London-based Italian producer Dino Lenny has skirted the boundaries of production prowess while staying true to roots in house and techno. Spanning his twenty-five-year career, the DJ and producer has built a discography with a foundation of jackin’ cuts of vocal dance. Recent records on Ellum, Innervisions, and Sapiens prove that Dino has no intention of slowing down. What’s the secret? Lenny’s healthy dose of vinyl and unwavering dedication to an ever-evolving sound helps him continue to deliver on the forefront of underground sound.
Legends like Dino have framed club culture as we know it today, with a career that isn’t slowing down we’re excited to showcase innovation in action. See what Dino had to say about origins, wax, and what’s next from his studio.
You started in music young, playing tracks for a small radio in rural Italy. Did anything about the sounds and records of that time lead you down the path as a dance producer?
The eighties were very inspiring for me, in a lot of my tracks you can hear influences from Trevor Horn productions to Fleetwood Mac from the Police to Kraftwerk.. quite a wide range I know.. but somehow it makes in my productions 😉
There were no styles, just good or bad music. That’s still my reference today, I need to be excited about my tracks and create something different, of course, I’m trying to stay on the side that I like to call good music.
You recently dropped a dreamy tech cut ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, what’s the story behind this track? With so many influential labels behind the Dino Lenny project, what made you decide to go for a free download?
Ha, good question. The truth is that I have a lot of music ready to be released, sometimes the wait is so long that when a record is being promoted I already had enough of it.
So with this one (and for many others to follow) I said to myself that there was no point waiting to put it out in a year time and do the usual feature along with a nice chart position. In that moment you are probably excited about the record you are making.
Releasing Electronic music should be a little more instinctive and fresh. Wel, that’s how house music was when it first surfaced. I want it fresh, different and possibly asap. I have decided that if I think it’s gonna take too long I’m just going to put it out on soundcloud.
I want to share my music with my fans and it has to feel right. I want them to know I’m buzzing with them about it, in the same moment, I wanna be synched with them.
Over 25 years you released a massive discography across influential labels in dance music. What first got you into the studio, how did you finish your first record?
My first record was called Cocaine, I recorded it in Ray’s studio in Camden Town where Pet Shop Boys used to do all their stuff “West End Girls” included. I paid Ray 150 pounds and he did a great hammond solo on the Bside. I had a bunch of samples, my friend Keith Pisani helped me put together the piano and other stuff on tape. I had 24 tracks and no arrangement because we had trouble with the Revox time codes.
So we played the the tape from the top and I mixed the track live fading and muting buttons for eight minutes flying on my studio chair from one side of the mixer to the other.
We decided to go with one take as it was impossible to do what I really wanted in full as I only had ten fingers. Anyway I went back to Italy and played it to Flying Rec/UMM and it ended up being a huge italo house hit. It got licensed all over the world and it was such a big House record in the UK that PWL (that used to release pop artists like Kyle Minogue etc) decided to sign it. Then from that day I had to properly learn how to make records.
You’ve released plenty of 12” records and embody the sound dance vinyl was built on, what draws you to vinyl? How do you keep your crate fresh?
It’s hard to keep up, but luckily a lot of shit doesn’t make it on vinyl. The quality of the vinyl releases is quite high these days as it’s not an essential format as it was. I’m quite lucky I play with a lot of talented djs so I always go up and ask what they are playing, they happen to be mostly rare unheard bits which makes it even more fun.
Many of your tracks feature unique and passionate vocals that really stand out. What’s your trick for working with vocals?
The trick is that I’m not a singer and I can’t sing very well. But I know what I want to achieve when I write the lyrics so I try first with my chords and then with my plugins that deserve most of the credit. So they are pretty dirty because over processed. I record a lot of stuff with my phone, a little 80s valhalla reverb some good compression and the tricks are in the track.
Global nightlife is making a shift toward classic tones of house and techno. In your opinion, over the past 5 years what has made the biggest impact on club culture and electronic music on the dance floor?
I guess Djs that have a certain experience and knowledge are back and in the game and are making the difference. I’m happy to be part of that movement and to do my bit.
What’s next for the project? Ellum, Innervisions, and other have been recents, any records that we should be looking out for?
I’m working on something new for Sapiens even if they don’t know yet and yes for this year I have something coming out on Ellum, Correspondant, & Darkroom Dubs. Plus my Fine Human Rec label is going to be a little more active because I want my tracks to be fresher than ever. It’s baking time x