An introduction, please … who are you, where are you, and what pays the bills?

We are Ricky (R) & Marco (M), we both live in Perugia (Italy)

(R) I’m a music lover, and a life long digger and a dj since 1984. I got my first mixer and a second turntable when I was 11. I’ve been Red Zone Club’s resident dj for 25 years and I’ve spinned all kinds of music in all kinds of clubs. Hear & Now is one of my many musical projects and aliases in my life; I’ve run a lot of parties and released numerous records for labels such as Ibadan, Vega, Claremont 56 and many more.

(M) Regarding music, I studied classic piano at a very young age and was self-taught some other instruments including bass guitar and guitar, performing live too with some bands. Around my teenage years, I started djing and composing / producing electronic music as Marcoradi, which has been released on various labels including Defected, Earthrumental, King Street and more.

Thanks to music we met about 15 years ago and there our friendship began. Hear & Now started 3 years ago, and we had this common idea which still had to be clearly defined so, before starting any composition we have been having long listening and talking sessions in the studio, understanding the direction to take, and the whole concept; imagining the sensations, the places, the feelings and the experiences that actually inspired us and which we wanted to transmit to our listeners. Our first album ‘Aurora Baleare’- released in 2018 by the amazing Claremont 56 – took 1 year of work, and we were very satisfied that a lot of people ‘felt it’ the way we did.

Where was the mix recorded, and what is the inspiration behind it?

The mix has been recorded in our studio, picturing ourselves road tripping elsewhere, picking up some of the tracks which gave us the same sensations we wanted to translate on our compositions and that we actually used as an inspiration.

Strictly vinyl? Strictly digital? Strictly …. couldn’t care less?

Vinyl has and will always have its charm, its unique sound and its importance in the musical landscape. We are also collectors as well as musicians / dj’s, so with that in mind, we much prefer to have our music released on vinyl. However, we embrace both analogue and digital instruments – whether for performances or compositions – and the right combination of both gives you the best output overall.

‘Balearic’, seems to be a somewhat overused term these days, but if you had to – and we are asking you to – describe the essence of ‘Balearic’ in one record?

(M) Really hard to describe in just one record what is already impossible to express in even 1000 words! I think for me, it is mostly about a feeling, an emotion, a specific experience where the music makes you live. I could name a lot of records giving me these sensations, but let’s try to pick one anyway … Laid back – Fly Away / Walking in the sunshine

(R) – Assuming we use around 90 of those 1000 words, Balearic is what Alfredo and Leo Mas played in Ibiza at a certain time & space so it means “any kind of music”; considering that later on, the interpretation has taken more connotations, I find impossible, like most things, to name just one…but if I have to, I’d say that “Driving away from home” by It’s Immaterial is definitely among my top ten: it’s pop, it’s gipsy, it’s hippie, it’s a mediterranean sunset, it’s driving a white-horse on the beach. It is Balearic!

Favourite place you’ve travelled to? And why?

(R) I would like to mention a place not really far from where we live, to which we have dedicated some of our tracks: Trasimeno Lake. A wonderful body of water with 3 small islands which gifts me breathless sunsets and has always transmitted to me the idea of beauty.

(M) I travelled to a lot of places, but probably Tanzania – Zanzibar, last year, has been the one I will keep deeply in my heart…. just magic! The people’s attitude, the untouched beaches, the amazing wildlife… it will be hard to forget enjoying the sun going down over a camp tent in the Savannah.

Sunset or Sunrise? And the best place to experience it?

Well, here we cannot but choose a nostalgic sunset over the Mediterranean Sea.

Most embarrassing record(s) you’ve bought? Most expensive? And your best bargain bin finds you’ve dug out over the years?

(M) I can’t say the most embarrassing ones… that wouldn’t be fair to anyone and their efforts. The most expensive I guess is Anima Latina by Lucio Battisti, can’t recall exactly… in any case, to me, It’s a priceless masterpiece. I remember being in Chicago, digging at Gramaphone record store, and finding Spanish Guitar (Joe Claussell Dub Rmx) which actually now is not really “hard to find” …. But the emotion to discover it there was delightful.

(R) I’m sure that there is something interesting in any record I got. It is hard for me to say “I don’t’ like it”. I prefer saying “I don’t understand it” and then try to unfold its whats and whys. I aim to be objective and find the pure essence of things. Even if the record sounds totally crappy to me, there would be some good samples on it for sure. So, I don’t ever feel embarrassed at all.

When the internet did not exist, it could often occur to spend a lot of money on a record you probably couldn’t have been able to dig anywhere else, and it certainly happened to me.
I remember in the second half of the 90’s, times when a lot of records came out first (and sometimes only) in Japan, I could mention Spiritual Life’s sampler, the hard-to-find Joe Claussell remix (Monday Michiru’s “Higher” above all); Maw, Flower Records, Jepthe Guillaume and many more as examples, I used to spend an astonishing amount of money on those records every week.

As best bargain bin I could say Roundtree “Hit on you”, a 1982 record, that went unnoticed at the time. I found it in the early 90’s in a clothing store, placed in a pile of records on the floor in Kensington Market, London, a place I loved and that doesn’t exist anymore. I paid £2 for it. I started to spin the Dub version, and it became one of the biggest and long-lived Red Zone anthems, the place where I deejayed most of my life.

Favourite DJ you’ve heard play out over the years?

A lot of djs went trough Red Zone Club since its opening: from Mancuso (the only club hosting more than 2000 people where he played at) , to Tony Humphries during his golden years, Kenny Carpenter mixing on DAT without pitch control, Joe Claussell, till reaching masters like Moz-art, Baldelli and Beppe Loda, just to name a few.

That said, Francois Kevorkian’s first time at RZ in 1995 has been an eye-opening experience. It was his first gig since he decided to stop djing shortly after Larry Levan’s death in 1992.

He had a really long sound-check where he enlightened us using the Yamaha SPX990, a multi-effect box (considering we were in a pre dj- efx or cdj era) which he required to have at every gig. The way he used his FK’s verb and FK’s delay changed my life. The following evening, as soon as he accessed the console area, he took off his shoes to wear some comfortable slippers, placed in front of him a frame of his daughter and wife, a small Japanese lucky charm and, shortly after, brought us to the “outer space”. I’ve always thought that Larry was spiritually with us in that moment… a memorable and meaningful night.

Anything else we should know about you or what you are up to in terms of music releases, dj stuff, what underwear you are wearing etc?

It’s been 2 years since our debut album, and we are happy to say our 2nd album ‘Alba Sol’ is to be be released on Claremont 56 (thanks to Paul Murphy) and is out in stores on May 1st, 2020. You can purchase a copy here. Actually, the title track ‘Alba Sol’, has already had a release on the “Claremont Editions” compilation from a few months back.

We are also djing and preparing our live performance, unfortunately the situation now is slowing down everything we are working on, so we dedicate the spare time to doing things we can from home / studio: new music, remixes, other musical projects, listening sessions and other life matters

And do you have a track listing for the mix you provided?

Cassiano – Onda
Coastlines – Sunset reflection
Jean-Luc Ponty – Mirage
Piero Piccioni – Detours (versione 2)
Seaside lovers – Evening Shadows
Holy Models – Swimming
Mike Francis – Features of love (Club Mix)
Harks & Mudd – Susta
Cristophe Laurent – Nuit brésiliennes
Quintus Project – Night flight
Patrick Cowley – Sea Hunt

Thanks to Marco & Ricky for taking the time out to answer these questions.