Dino Lenny: Crafting Timeless Electronic SoundscapesApril 24, 2019
Interview Mike Moggi Mannix
Arranged Mauro Quinto aka Dr.Flamer
In this exclusive interview with Dino Lenny, an accomplished figure in the electronic music scene, we delve into his inspiring journey from the early days of Italian radio to working with industry giants and maintaining a strong sense of authenticity.
Lenny’s story reveals the deep connection between his life and music, proving that his passion and dedication have been pivotal in creating timeless electronic soundscapes to collaborating with music industry legends, such as Madonna and Wu-Tang Clan, Lenny’s story is a testament to the enduring power of passion and dedication. We delve into his creative process, the significance of authenticity, and his thriving record label, ‘Fine Human Records.’ Throughout the conversation, Dino Lenny’s deep connection with music, his unwavering commitment to artistic expression, and his positive outlook on the evolving electronic music scene shine through.
Mike Mannix: Dino Lenny, it’s a real pleasure to get to talk to you at Iconic Underground. Could you give us some background on your early influences, both socially and musically, as you were growing up in Italy? How did you get into dance music, and what gave you the itch to mix?
Dino Lenny: I fell in love with a local radio station when I was 14. I used to call in for song requests, and one day, I asked if I could visit the studios. They liked me, so day after day, I learned how to broadcast 😉 After a few months, I had my own show. Then, I got fired because I used to mix tunes also in the daytime. I guess they had in mind a different concept of radio 😉
Mike Mannix: You’ve worked with some giants in the music industry, from Wu-Tang Clan to Madonna. Can you walk us through the usual process when you’re in the studio creating your new tracks? What’s key in the whole production process, from the analogue outboard, MIDI, samples, to the DAW you use, and why?
Dino Lenny: I usually have an idea that I record on my iPhone, and it could be a bassline or a vocal hook. When I’m in the studio, I listen to a lot of vinyl from the 80s just to get excited. I say to myself,
“Wouldn’t it be great if people listened to your stuff in 30 years just like you are doing now?”
Then when I’m in a good mood, I start, and I try to make something different. I use Live, and the usual plugins are nothing too fancy.
Mike Mannix: Could you tell us how your life changed when you moved to London and started working with labels like Ellum, Innervisions, Crosstown Rebels, Exploited, Yoshitoshi, and Toolroom? What did it mean to you?
Dino Lenny: I used to release on UMM in Italy, so I was already quite happy. Honestly, it doesn’t mean much when a record is finished and it’s out. You’re already thinking about the next one. I love the process of making it more than seeing it in the charts, which sometimes could feel a little too ordinary.
But all labels did a good job. I love it when people discover your hidden gems. Like Marvin & Guy and DJ Tennis are about to release something I did in 1993 called ‘My House.’ You need your tracks to be reasonably popular to get some gigs, but a good balance helps the soul and the pocket. Regarding labels, one day it’s about one label in particular, and then the day after it’s another one. But mainly, independent labels are more about the DJs who run them, not their artists, so that’s why I’m happy about my own ‘Fine Human Records’ 😉
Mike Mannix: What’s the biggest life challenge you’ve overcome, and what did you learn from it?
Dino Lenny: Getting older and being in the dance industry can be quite challenging, but I think that people don’t mind a little experience these days. At one stage,
I thought that electronic music was losing credibility and edge
but fortunately, there are a lot of good ears out there searching for interesting music and artists. I think it’s still very exciting. The techno scene seems a little bit of a bad repetition from the old days, but there is a lot of downtempo indie leftfield stuff that is incredibly well produced and pushing forward, good enough for me.
Mike Mannix: What does music mean to you?
Dino Lenny: Music has saved my life; I owe a lot to music.
Mike Mannix: If you could change anything about the scene, what would it be?
Dino Lenny: I would love label owners to ask themselves one question before they release something: “How is this record going to sound in ten or twenty years?”
Mike Mannix: What are your biggest stand-out festival/gig moments where you thought, ‘This is real, this is amazing…?’
Dino Lenny: I don’t have a preference; small gigs or big festivals don’t make any difference. Festivals are great because you have a different approach with people during the day, but I also love playing at Robert Johnson, Fabric, or Watergate. It’s all about the vibe and the mood you’re in. I usually say
it’s amazing when I play a record for the first time, and it sounds better than I thought
Music always comes first. Still, Tomorrowland’s setup is quite impressive, but a different thing altogether.
Mike Mannix: In 2016, you were on remixing duties with Seth Troxler on “The Magic Room,” which was released on Seth’s label ‘Play It Say It.’ Could you tell us how it all came together and what your feelings were about the production process?
Dino Lenny: It’s just a magic record. Sometimes it just happens when you hit the right notes and say the right words; magic just happens. There is no formula; each record takes its own direction. Myself, Seth, and Doorly just clicked as if we had known each other for a long time, and we said exactly what we wanted to say. It’s a classic, and I’m very proud of it.
Mike Mannix: Tell us about what Agoria and Maceo Plex are doing for you.
Dino Lenny: Maceo is a great guy and an awesome DJ, and we respect each other a lot. Ellum is a top label, and I’m really excited about my fourth release on Ellum called “Guilty Officer,” which was released on the 27th of Dec with a huge Maceo remix, my twisted original, and Fiberroot’s remix of “Dissolved by Ambition.” Agoria is doing well with Sapiens and has released a big record of mine called “Shoot Me to the Sky.”
Mike Mannix: What are your plans for your label ‘Fine Human Records,’ and are you happy with its progress?
Dino Lenny: I love it; it’s exactly what I am, not perfect but vibing. Fine Human Records looks back at the 80s with a futuristic touch and is very opinionated on the dancefloor. Like the latest release “Techno is dead” says: ‘I’m Still Here. Dancing.’
Mike Mannix: What artists, producers, and DJs are inspiring you at the moment and why?
Dino Lenny: Of the new generation, nobody really inspires me.
I like a lot of stuff, but I don’t hear anything I haven’t heard before
However, there is plenty of new music that is fun to play out. It doesn’t necessarily need to be innovative; music is also therapy, and having fun is good enough.
Mike Mannix: What are your next big planned events and projects?
Dino Lenny: I mainly have the festivals that I did last year confirmed, and new music coming out on Ellum, Diynamic, Fine Human Records, and a few surprises 😉