If you visited Amnesia on any Friday during party season through the last few years, there’s one thing you had a good chance of finding every time: two Neapolitan DJs dominating both rooms of the expansive space at Marco Carola’s Music On residency.
Carola’s long been affiliated with Ibiza’s biggest club, but it’s only recently that his younger prodigy from the same pocket of the Mediterranean Sea has found success here. Like the Music On icon though, these days Joseph Capriati is one of Italy’s most prolific artists.
At the time of writing he’s played 77 gigs so far in 2016 (12 of them on the White Island) and an extended set in our own EC1 home back in April, with shows spanning several continents still to come before the year is out. In 2015, he played 112 times.
Capriati’s popularity can be attributed to a number of reasons. He’s been a part of Drumcode, Adam Beyer’s distinguished techno imprint, since he was only 21 – pretty much the dream ticket to land at the start of your career (“Adam has always been my favourite techno DJ”, he told us before his debut set here in 2011).
Darker techno pushed by the likes of Drumcode has always been his main weapon, but another part of his appeal is his dexterity; while you might see him laying down a slamming techno set in one place, catch him a week later and he’ll be going soulful and melodic alongside Jamie Jones at DC-10.
Jamie Jones B2B Joseph Capriati Recorded Live at DC10 Ibiza, Paradise 29/07/2015
This was apparent as recently as this month – he rounded off the Ibiza season at DC-10 by joining the Circoloco closing with Jones and a string of other house darlings like Seth Troxler, but then his next gig was at ADE playing for the unrelenting techno party Awakenings.
This kind of oscillating and frenzied schedule might be the norm for some of dance music’s most long-established figures, but consider that Capriati is yet to hit 30, and you can see how rapid his rise to prominence has been.
Charting his early success dates back to his early teens in the 90s. He grew up on US house legends like Louie Vega and Danny Tenaglia, and would start partying at the celebrated Old River Park open-air venue before he was old enough to get into clubs.
Located on the Volturno riverside near the coast of the Mediterranean, Old River Park has everything you might expect from an open-air; stunning scenery, tons of space, and plenty of big name acts playing from sunset to sunrise. In recent years guests have included behemoths Sven Väth and Richie Hawtin, while Capriati also closed the season in 2014 with a 12-hour set (like Carola, marathon sets are another string in his bow).
Joseph Capriati At Old River Park, 2014
Capriati first visited at the age of 15 to catch Dave Clarke headlining alongside the Neapolitan DJ Rino Cerrone. Where he’d always grown up on house and hip-hop, something about Old River Park stuck with him, and before long he was producing techno on a home PC in his bedroom.
Music became Capriati’s key focus, though for the next few years there were still other things getting in the way. There were his parents to please for starters, who had always hoped he’d become a doctor or lawyer, agreeing eventually that he should join the military service.
Joining the forces was hardly his main aspiration, but it was something of a compromise; it was only when his application got rejected due to an administrational error that this presented him the opportunity to continue using his time to work on production.
He eventually caught the attention of Markantonio, a local DJ and producer who invited him to contribute to his Neapolitan label Analytic Trail. Markantonio was the perfect guide for Capriati at the time – his music career dated back to the 90s alongside the likes of Davide Squillace, while Analytic Trail had already helped the careers of acts like Rino Cerrone, whom Capriati already knew from going to Old River Park.
Joseph Capriati- Ce'st La Vie [Analytic Trail], 2007
C’est La Vie dropped in 2007, which was almost the perfect time for Capriati to showcase his sound. The EP showed his taste for sleek minimal - exactly the kind of thing techno fans across Europe were going mad for in the same year. Minus, for instance, was still enjoying a strong run thanks to new artists like Ambivalent and Gaiser, while tourists in Ibiza were hearing Romanian techno for the first time via [a:rpia:r]’s DC-10 residency.
Capriati carried on making minimal, while his gigs had also picked up too – within a year of signing to Analytic Trail he’d started playing across Europe, landed his first Ibiza show, and closed out the year at an Awakenings party.
One of his key early shows was in Amsterdam on a stacked line-up for Electric Deluxe early in 2009. Alongside Capriati were Deadbeat and Speedy J, with the night headlined by his idol, Adam Beyer. Hanging out at some point after the show, Capriati ended up giving a handful of his demos to Beyer after they found themselves in conversation. A few months later this string of tracks came out on Drumcode as Sidechains / Kontrol Room.
The music Capriati was making had always been minimal per se, although as he became a fixture of Beyer’s imprint it was only natural his sound would evolve. It’s easy to pinpoint this exact period in his discography too – where he’d only really been making minimal before 2011, something like The Gallery, with its fuzzy, pulsating growls and low-end frequencies, sounds like it was practically made for Sunday mornings in Berghain.
Joseph Capriati - The Gallery [Drumcode], 2011
Capriati’s career escalated suddenly as he became part of the Drumcode family; while veterans like Beyer and Cari Lekebusch had always been the focus, younger talent like Capriati brought something new to the label. “He has really got the energy and the youthfulness”, Beyer said of Capriati in an interview only last year.
As well as the label, there are also a handful of parties that nurtured him; whenever he was in Ibiza, for example, he’d be joining forces with Marco Carola at Music On, then in Amsterdam he’d always be playing for Awakenings. In London, meanwhile, there was only one space in Farringdon he’d keep returning to.
In a way we were the perfect club for Capriati – as well as having a room specifically programmed around techno, the longer set times we offer artists also lent him the opportunity to play the extended sets he’d always been drawn to (Capriati recently recalled one night where he carried on playing in Room Two until after Room One had closed – a first in our history).
Joseph Capriati - fabric 80 Promo Mix, 2015
This was fostered most clearly in fabric 80, Capriati’s driving techno mix and edition in our esteemed series. While a mix for us specifically, more than anything it highlighted Capriati’s broad palette, and just how much of a range of music he can draw from. Early on he hits us with Adam Beyer’s Stone Flower, but then this follows with the glistening synths of Recondite’s Caldera. By the time he closes out with Maceo Plex’s remix of Odd Parents’ Learn to Fly, it’s clear just how much Capriati’s sound spans beyond techno.
This is at least partly down to his penchant for long sets, although it’s mainly due to where he plays; a quick browse of his tour schedules for the last couple of years show just how far he travels and the number of clubs he’s played in, many of them regarded amongst the best in the world.
Most notable amongst the whole list though is the number of dates at Amnesia, Space and DC-10; 3 clubbing meccas in Ibiza whose bookings are reserved for only dance music’s biggest stars. Not bad for a kid from Naples.