Cornerstone Tracks
Deborah De Luca recalls her formative influences

If it wasn’t for sheer determination and relentless hard graft, it’s quite possible Deborah De Luca would have followed a different path, far from her current position as one of the world’s most in-demand DJs. Having worked as a dancer in Riccione on the coast of Italy over ten years ago, De Luca was constantly exposed to club culture and the art of DJing, something that sparked an interest in her after observing multiple DJs at work in the club. Gripped by a curiosity to know more, she picked up the skill of mixing and played her first set at the same venue she was professionally dancing. Met by many challenges along the way, from lack of money to lack of opportunities on the Neopolitan electronic music circuit, her persistence prevailed as she played more sets and ventured into production. The launch of her Sola Mente imprint in 2012 was a significant point in her trajectory, which allowed her to put out her own material and support releases from a plethora of names both emerging and established. Now leading a fruitful career built on her own accord, De Luca’s profile continues to grow in tandem with her heaving tour schedule. One of her upcoming dates is a return to our own space next Friday, so ahead of joining us, she picked out some of the tracks that influenced her musical tastes, and life to date.

Madonna – Like a Prayer [Sire]




My father has been an avid record collector ever since he was a boy. As a child I spent many afternoons with him listening to his records, which were almost all Italian or in any case “romantic”. Madonna's Like a Prayer vinyl was the first record to come close to disco music, and I remember I was amazed by it.

How much influence did your parents have upon your music taste, both electronic and generally?

My father was a huge influence on me from a very early age. I discovered his vinyl collection when I was just five years old and was very inspired by his love for melodies and music in general.

Madonna recently announced a 2020 world tour with tickets costing up to £500, and has previously said how fans should save up as she’s worth the high price. What do you think of this attitude?

I believe that the value of music has been lost since you can download so much for free or play it over and over for the price of a cup of coffee. When I was a little girl, the cassettes and vinyls not only cost a lot, but were consumed as a physical product, so we took care of them. I don’t agree with Madonna that a concert should cost £500, but I understand the message she wants to send to music.

Fugees – Killing Me Softly [Columbia]




I was 16 when this came out. I was kidnapped by the cleanliness of the sounds, by the rhythm and the voice of Lauren Hill, so much so that my debut album from last year features a track called Everybody Knows That Song, including a refrain from the Fugees original. It was my first "musical" love and I wanted to include it in my album to show the effect it had on my path in music.

Everyone has certain tracks attached to their adolescence, especially with a visual video reminder. How would you typically discover music at that age, were the videos also important to you?

At the age of nine, I saw the music video for Madonna's Like a Prayer for the first time and I was shocked at how the theme of religion and depictions of saints weeping were being used as a backdrop to a disco record. From that moment I began to open up to various genres and interpretations that may at first appear to be disconnected but could actually be bound by a thread.

Was there a specific point where you moved from following hip-hop into more electronic sounds?

To be honest I’ve never followed one specific genre and I’ve never gone from one genre to another. I don’t have a genre. I think it’s better to think of it in terms of having a "taste" if that makes sense. I have feelings and emotions that bind me to melodies that are different every time and can be in any genre.

Save The Last Dance OST [Columbia]




The whole soundtrack of this album for me is a tribute to 90s disco. An amazing selection of music that you can listen to in the car, but also imagine dancing to in New York clubs.

I’ve noticed you’ve mentioned disco a couple of times. Were you into disco first before discovering more techno style sounds?

I was always intrigued by music from all genres. I never really went to clubs much so I discovered music by listening to the radio. I used to spend all my time recording new sounds and experimenting with my cassette tape when I was a teenager. Then with the advent of CDs I followed the foreign charts, which at the time were true and appreciated, not like today, driven by sellers.

Larry Heard Presents: Mr. White – The Sun Can’t Compare [Alleviated]




I remember DJ UOVO used to play this record in Riccione in the early 2000s. I was a dancer in clubs all over Europe at the time, and I distinctly remember asking him the name of this record. Hearing it reminds me of those times, and also gives me a sense of closure on that period of my life.

Funnily enough, I remember hearing this record for the first time on a sunny morning by the river at Club der Visionaere in Berlin and rushing to find out the ID. What do you think it is about this track that evokes such a feeling on the dancefloor?

It’s just such a great record. When I put on a record and I see someone trying to understand the name from the track, I always smile, because I know I gave someone an emotion. I hope it's always like that!

Were there any venues or DJs in particular that had an important impact on your formative club experiences?

Yes, Nina Kraviz and her courageous journey to where she is now has definitely had an influential impact on my career.

Was there a specific moment when you decided to start mixing records?

Yes, in 2008 I decided to stop being a dancer, but I still wanted to be in the middle of music. Feeling it and loving it. I looked around and realised that I should try the path of producer and DJ, because at that point I could not only hear it, but also choose it and create it. I saw it as a distant goal, but not impossible.

Amy Winehouse – Back To Black [Island]




I discovered Amy Winehouse late. I started following her after hearing the story of her personal life and the pain she put into her lyrics. I put a lot of my personal life into my tracks, including my voice and even the titles. Nothing is random!

When did you first get inspired to use your own vocals in your tracks? Was there someone else who’d captured your imagination?

I was definitely inspired by Nina Kraviz when I heard her put her own voice in her records. Instead of singing though, I use audio messages that I’ve sent to people in real life and turn them into sounds. It was a particular period of my life where I wanted to leave a mark linked to my private life.

Do you spend a lot of time listening to non-electronic music? Are there any particular genres you favour or connect with?

Yes, I spend a lot of time listening to various types of sounds that are very different and far from electronic music. I connect the most with melodic music and in my sets you will often find sounds and tracks that I listen to in my day-to-day life.

Michael Jackson – In The Closet [Not on Label]




I have always loved Michael Jackson from an early age. So much so that I managed to convince my family to call my brother Michael! It was only as an adult though that I really came to appreciate how forward thinking he was as an artist.

This isn’t a world apart from a club track. Earlier this year I heard Ricardo Villalobos play an MJ edit in a club. Have any of his tracks ever made it into your record bag?

Yes I often play a bootleg of Billie Jean! Every time I put it on, people go crazy because it’s so unexpected. Also because Michael Jackson’s sound is so avant-garde that it can be easily worked in wherever and whenever.

Nina Kraviz – Ghetto Kraviz [Rekids]




The last track I’ve chosen is Ghetto Kraviz by Nina Kraviz, simply because she was a huge inspiration to my career and my way of making music. The first time I saw this video I was totally enraptured by her and her sounds. She is art in every direction. A singer, an actress, a performer – she can be everything. I love that she is not afraid to change.

I think the one thing with Nina is, like you say, she’s a performer beyond being just a DJ. How important do you think it is to make a ‘show’ for the audience as well as the tracks you play?

A DJ is never just a DJ. Many know how to mix, but it is it is what you transmit with your body, mind and look that makes you an "artist". There are feelings and emotions that are transmitted through your way of being behind the console, and it is not a question of beauty, but of presence and of the hype you have around the people who look at you in every movement.

Are there any other electronic musicians past or present that you admire in the same way?

I admire anybody who remains themself, despite the market. I also admire those who have the courage to change their path, despite what they did before. Nina did both!
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Friday 5th July

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