Mauro Farina is the chairman of the SAIFAM Publishing Group, one of the greatest Italo records company in the world. He is not only a talented producer (he stands behind various projects such as Radiorama, TH Express, or Morgana) but also a complete artist.
Zeljko : Hi Mauro, I have been your huge fan since 1986, the year when I started listening to the best music on the world, Italo Disco. This interview is something like a dream come true to me. Thank you very much Mauro for taking your precious time for me, it means a lot to me. During all these years I was reading and reading about you, but it was very hard to find out something about you more before internet. After all, your music was telling much about you. For start, please tell me who is Mauro Farina ?
Mauro : I like to tell, my friends, that Mauro Farina is a simple guy that loved, is loving and will always love the music !!!
Mauro, who or what is your inspiration ?
I have been strongly influenced by artists like The Beatles during the end of '60's, than during '70's I loved the melodic rock of queen and later, when I discovered dance music, during the beginning of 80's, I loved Pet Shop Boys, Bobby O and Moroder productions.
I have read that you played rock music before you discovered italo music. I wonder, many geniuos of disco music played rock before they start with disco, you, Bobby Orlando, Patrick Cowley, the fathers of High Energy. Isn't that interesting and why is that so, in your opinion ?
I started to play with my band during early 70's... At that time rock music was very popular and the most important radio stations all over the world played music of artists like Queen, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin etc. etc. All the young guys dreamt a day to become a rock star... That was my dream as well...
In the middle 70's Disco music came on the scene and became very popular. After Disco "died" in the late 70's, High Energy became popular at the beginning of the 80's with many fantastic artists, and then came Italo Disco music. Mauro, tell me through your eyes about that time, your early beginning in italo disco music, your experiences then, how you met Guliano Crivellente etc. etc.? I would have a lot of time to explain the feelings and experiences of that time, by the way I can tell you that at the beginning of the 80's a big "movement" was born in Italy, especially in the North... Many clubs were opened and people started going to the discoteques to listen and dance that "new kind of music" that people like me, Crivellente and others , was producing... I like to call that period "The golden age"... it has been a "huge and unforgettable" period... With artists like Den Harrow, Radiorama, Albert One, Aleph, Fred Ventura, Joe Yellow... We really loved to write so many songs...
Your first label ? Am I wrong if I say that was Il Discotto production or ... if you can tell me in more details ?
Right, it was our first label that produced our tracks !!!
What is the first italo disco song you made ?
You And Me by Caravan (it was my band during the 70's).
About your work at Time Records and with Giacomo Maiolini ? How did you meet him, when did you decide to work together ?
Me, Giuliano and Giacomo decided to established "Time Records" in 1983... Giacomo was influenced by Fa-cri music and he showed a strong interest to start working in the music business with me and Giuliano. He was very young (20 years) but with a deep knowledge of dance music... It was something like a "love at first sight", so we decided to build a new label and a new society called "Time"... That's all.
The first song you made (together with great Guiliano Crivellente of course) for Time was Atrium - Funny Dancer. Then followed by Danny Keith, Ricky Maltese, Aleph, Fred Ventura, Albert One etc. etc. Please tell me more about that days when your first song for Time saw the daylight?
At that time me and Giuliano used to play our ideas on a old piano (Giuliano) and guitar (me)...we really loved to spend many hours composing new refrains, verses etc... During the 80's me and Giuliano owned Asia and SAIFAM as well, so we needed to compose many tracks to satisfy all the requests we were receiving from the market. Giacomo wished to listen to all the demos and then all together decided which artist could fit them... obviously artists like aleph, or Fred Ventura or Albert One cooperated with me and Giuliano, sometimes me and Giuliano worked on demos of Fred or Giancarlo as well... There was a great team with a lot of cooperation and harmony...
During your Time era you and Giuliano made many many fantastic italo songs as well as before Time. What was the feelings ?
As I previously told you, that great harmony gave me and Giuliano a strong help to compose so many lovely tracks... We really had fun and happiness working with friends like Ken Laszlo, Fred Ventura, Ricky Maltese...
What was the reason why you left Time Records?
During 1987 me and Giuliano had an incredible success in Japan (Asia Records). We sold so many millions of albums there that our work had to be concentrated on Japanese market... We asked Giacomo to continue time records without our help due to the circumstances... He really understood what was happening and we always remained friends !
Mauro, I guess new song can't be made very quickly, so could you tell me how much time you need to make a song ?
This is a "difficult" question... Sometime I can write a nice melody in few seconds... Sometimes I stay many hours in front of my piano or playing my guitar without writing any "decent" verse... I need to listen to my heart and my soul, and if they are in "the right way" everything born in a easy way... I don't know why... But that's it !
Can you recognize already at the beginning what song could be possible success ? For example Boom Boom Dollar by King Kong in the 80's or DJ Miko with What's Up in the 90's. Have you had any idea that these song will reach such a great success ? Not to mention many, many others.
To be honest and frankly, it is quite difficult to recognize a hit in advance... But surely we can often understand the potentiality of a track compared to others !
What does a producer need to make a good and successful song ?
There are no simple rules... Professionalism is the first and main quality to have a success, then he needs a good production with a good sound and a good melody, a good arrangement, good artists and vocalists... But sometimes all of the above qualities are not enough !
You are a very fantastic and good producer as well as a singer. You have a marvellous voice Mauro. The combination of your music and your voice is something really fantastic, equal to divine :-) Of course you are enjoying music but, could you tell me, do you rather make music or singing ?
Thanks for your kind words... Mainly I like to be a producer, even if, like vocalist and artist I performed a lot of records !
And now Mauro about my dearest project of you - Radiorama. I want to know everything about Radiorama ! :-) Your first song for Radiorama was ... ? Please tell me much much more about Radiorama.
Radiorama surely has been one of my most sold projects. I started to produce them , with Giuliano, Paolo Gemma & Marco Bresciani , around 1985. The first released song has been Desire, a strong hit all over Europe, after that we produced Hey Hey, Vampires, Aliens, Yeti... All these songs have been realized in a couple of months ! All of them sold hundred thousands copies all over the world : Canada, Japan, Korea, Germany, Austria, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Italy, Scandinavian, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand ! And then, other hits came... Fire, ABCD, Bad World... Sometimes it can happen to listen to some old Radiorama's tracks played by radios all over the world... In Japan, last year , I heard many Radiorama's tracks played by a radio station in Tokyo !
Radiorama is for sure your legendary project. It is very well known worldwide, and many people who are not so 'in' italo music knows for Radiorama. What's the secret, the reason of such a great success in your opinion ?
Very difficult to understand the real reasons of this success... Probably we have been able to "catch" the taste of a lot of people all around the world !
Simona Zaninni is the part of Radiorama project from early beginning. When you two decided to work together ? Where and when you met each other?
Simona performed the first 3 tracks... Martinelli, the producer of the first single of radiorama , Chance To Desire, released in 1984 , introduced Simona to me... She wrote the lyrics of Desire as well !
Simona is not only a very fantastic singer (she has best female voice in Italo disco music in my opinion) but aslo a textwriter. What is your opinion abut her and would you like to work with her again if you could since she is out of business today ?
Simona is a very nice person but I think she stopped working on music business since a long time. In my opinion another great female singer is Clara Moroni.
You know, I clearly remember the year 1988 when I have recieved a letter from Radiorama. In the envelope I found photo plus biography and discography and stickers ! Then I didn't know about some things, that she and he on the photo were only a models but anyway that day was my happiest day in my life. I love Radiorama so much and when I hear Aliens, Desire, Hey Hey, Flight Of Fantasy, my eyes are full of tears, happy tears because I can't describe that happienes and love to Radiorama and your music. I am enjoying a lot. Sorry Mauro for this emotional things. :-)
I perfectly understand your state of mind.
Mauro, from where you are taking ideas for your songs ?
From my dreams, my experiences, my desires... Every part of my life can influence my songs, everytime !
Aliens by Radiorama you made in 1987 and some 10 years later you made Aliens 2 (The Nightmare). It was brilliant move from you ! How you decided to make second part of that song ?
Me and Giuliano wanted to give a "second act" to a song (Aliens) that sold more than 500 000 copies... I think Aliens has been the most sold track of Radiorama.
After many many names you produced you decided to make Mark Farina. How come and your feelings, thoughts about that ?
With my band I was the main vocalist and I played the bass guitar. During 70's I strongly exercised my voice performing many shows, that's why I decided to try a solo career.
I think that 80's Italo disco music was so fantastic. Can you tell me about that period because you were and still you are one of the geniuses of that age, the king of Italo disco ?
80's age has been a great time for the dance music scene... It will be difficult to see another creative era as it has been "the golden age" ! Many people loved the dance music, started to go to the discos to meet each other... Dancing and having fun together... People were "hungry" of music, music was a vital part of young people... Now young people has a lot of different interests, probably music is a secondary one...
In your opinion the differences between italo disco music in the 80's and 90's and today ?
The main difference is the sound: it definitively changed because of the help of new technologies. Some instruments influenced the creativity of producers (like the samplers machines). Even if the sound changed a lot, the arrangements remained the same: strong sequencers, hard kick together with melodic parts are always used into 2000 productions (I'm talking about Italo dance obviously) !
In your music life you co-operate with some very quality artists. For example Fred Ventura. Also with Giancarlo "Aleph" Pasquini. Can you tell me something about them ?
All of them are "genuine Italo artists" with their own creativity and all of them helped Italo dance scene to become so popular during 80's. Fred has been a great composer, Giancarlo is still a great producer for high energy music. Both of them cooperated with me and Giuliano for so many years and together we worked in strictly connection with a great harmony and feeling !
Mauro, what is your favorite Italo disco song in your production and in others as well as your favorite Italo disco artist ?
There are so many tracks that is difficult to tell you only two titles... Lets' say To My Heart by Mark Farina and Radiorama !
Mauro, I wonder what do you think about German's Italo music, for example Fancy, Silent Circle, Modern Talking, Mike Mareen etc. etc. ?
Great acts ! Lately I worked on a remix of Silent Circle... My favourite ones was Fancy, he wrote great "Italo" tracks indeed !
Recently I have read your letter on your site where you explained some things and your view about your love to music to italo disco music. It was really nice to read such a letter so if you can tell me once more what are your feelings about music you are making (especially the point is on Italo music, not trance, house) ?
My feeling for music has been deeply expressed into my letter, music has totally stolen my life... Obviously firstly I love dance but also trance, house or other styles are fine if they keep lovely melodies !
Mauro, I had an interview with Tom Hooker and he was very honest to me, I really appreciate this (if you can read this interview on http://www.italoworld.com or http://karine.sanche.free.fr). He is not in bussines anymore so he can be honest to me and tell me the truth, no any lies etc (those were his words). But we all, Italo fans, were shocked with his answers. He told me about his music and the point is on money and only money. He doesn't like Italo music but he made some of the best Italo disco songs. I don't know how is possible for someone to make such a great songs when, at the same time, he doesn't like the style of the songs ?
I knew Tom and I worked with him many years ago with a track that was produced by Turatti titled Runaway. He is a quite nice guy but I don't think he has a "dance mentality"... To be frankly, I consider him only a good vocalist and author of lyrics (a very lucky guy 'cause he was in the "right place" at the "right time") but not a producer... I think that people like Turatti-Chieregato or Martinelli or others artists/producers had much more influenced the Italo dance scene during the 80's.
I know your job is to make songs, selling them and get money for your work but I am sure 100% you don't have minds only on money when you are creating songs ?
Be sure... If I thought only about money I wouldn't be here to write about my feelings to a friend !
When I see how Italo fans are very deeply in love with italo music I feel sorrow and betrayed from people like Tom Hooker is. The question is, maybe I live in some unreal world, where I am seeing Italo in some different way, different light so maybe something is wrong with me not with Tom Hooker for example. Maybe I am too emotional so I can't accept the reality. Maybe the Italo disco music is only business ?
I think that for a "creative man" the most important thing is to see "his creativity" shared with much more people as possible, independently from the money. Some 80's artists lived a very huge era at that time, the music gave them a strong push to their ego... They did a lot of money and they were the "shining face of the business", maybe for those people music was only a business for their own... Now they lost that way and they are missed somewhere... Instead of people like me, Turatti, Pasquini, Maiolini, Crivellente etc. Etc. Are still having fun with music and even if the business is important because of money, we all are trying to keep alive the "flame of Italo dance" even if the business for this kind of music is not so "shining" like in the past... But, you and other guys are still loving and feeding this "flame" !
OK Mauro, in my mind, I came till the end of the 80's and we could all have seen the beginning of something different in Italo music : the beginning of the end of Italo disco music of the 80's, when Italo was the most popular. In your opinion, were those changes better or worst ? I think, like many others I believe, Italo lost its own identity. Your thoughts about it please ?
As I previously told in many interviews, I like to define 80's like a "golden age"... And obviously like all the "phenomenons" also the golden age came to an end. Now it doesn't make sense to say that 80's was a better age compares to 90's and 00's... All the musical periods have their own character and identity... Let's say that during 80's the most evident quality was the "melody", during '90's and 00's, thanks to new technologies, the sounds of grooves, drums, keyboards etc. Etc. Sometimes have been more important than the melody.
The only label who was keeping good italo sound in a bit different modern way but still very good was Asia Records?
I think you are right, we tried to continue to write good and typical 80's melodies but using all the new technologies. Thanks to this we have been able to keep in the international charts many Italo tracks !
At the same time Japan market started to ask for more italo music made in Italy. The only reqest was "speed". BPM's gone with speedlight :-) 3B (Boom Boom Beat) Records was your label for Japanese market and for those speedy songs ? Your impressions about that time please ?
Japanese taste is totally different from all the musical world... They have a "unique mentality", that's why the Boom Boom Beat must keep a kind of distinctive like a fast BPM, but we are always trying to write good melodies and I think that some of those tracks can be loved by Italo dance lovers !
Ohh, not to forget F.C.F. project. Florian Fadingar was one of your co-workers. I think that period is also very important for you, F.C.F. became very well known in Italo world so if you can tell me something about your working with Florian etc.?
Florian is firstly a big friend of mine and is still working with me and SAIFAM (together we established SAIFAM Germany in Munich). During 80's, me, Giuliano and Florian have been a big team where me and Giuliano was mainly working on musical aspects (writing and producing in studio the tracks), Florian mainly was working on commercial aspects (printing records, taking care about the distribution of our material and the management of our business). Obviously all together decided the musical and commercial strategies !
Can we talk now more about SAIFAM Group ? When you decided to start with SAIFAM Publishing Group ? This Group includes many labels. Can you say some general informations about SAIFAM group? I guess it takes lots of your working and free time ?
The SAIFAM group is the "natural" development of all the investments that me and my partners had put into musical activities. SAIFAM is a strong structure with around 30 guys that are taking care about marketing, commercial and financial matters together with several producers that are taking care about "artistic". In the structure there are some "key people" like Tiziana Fracasso, Cristina Zoccatelli, Factory Team and Paolino Nobile that are helping the group to keep an "high and stable" reputation into the international music business.
The part of the SAIFAM is 21st Century Records. In my opinion this label has songs which are the closest to the original Italo disco music (in its own modern way) in the 80's ?
I think that the most loved SAIFAM'S labels for Italo lovers are surely 21st Century and one way... But I would like to suggest another label that includes many lovely melodies : Urban Zoo !
Radiorama, Ken Laszlo, Morgana are onyl a few names of 21 Century Records and reminds us all on the golden era of Italo disco music. Did you have intension to do excatly that because they could reminds us on Italo from the 80's ?
Surely SAIFAM will carry on all those artists for a long time !
In the 21st Century Records we could hear lots of remakes. Some people and producers perfer to listen and doing new songs only. What is your opinion of remaking old songs ?
I like to produce both (covers and originals)... Sometime can be very funny to re-arrange some hits of the present or past... Sometimes we had a big success with covers like What's Up by DJ Miko (700.000 copies sold).
What is going on with 21st Century Records today ?
We decided to reduce the releases to concentrate the production only on few artists like Radiorama, Ken Laszlo, Mark Farina, Morgana etc. etc. Our goal is to create only high standard quality tracks, that's why we are taking a lot of time in selecting new tracks. In this way we think to be in the right line !
If you can tell me plans for future with SAIFAM ?
The group will continue to work with success on music business following all the musical styles like dance, trance, techno etc. etc. SAIFAM has an important share into the international dance scene and we wish to keep it still for a long time !
During live chat we had with you recently you mentioned Anthology of Dance compilation, also from Radiorama, Ken Laszlo and new album from you finally. If you can give me more details ?
Me and Factory Team are working on new projects... I wish to talk about those projects during our next chat conversation... Oki ?!!!!!
I guess we can't expect anything new with good old 80's sound ?
It never knows my friend !
OK Mauro, I could ask you much much more :-) but I asked you till now many questions. I want to thank you for your time for me. This interview means a lot to me. Thank you once again. If you have any message for your fans? All the best !!! Ciao from your huge fan Zeljko !
It has been lovely for me as well !!! I thank you and all the Italo dance lovers... You filled up my life !