20 years is a long time in electronic music. Artists, labels, even genres, have come and gone in those past two decades – yet a core group of essential contributors continue to bring quality music to the fore.
For the last two decades, Italian label Neroli has been largely been operating under the radar, yet a dig through the label’s back catalogue reveals a world-class selection of house music spanning releases from Theo Parrish, Titonton Duvante, Patrice Scott, Lars Bartkuhn, Dego and Kaidi Tatham, and Fred P.
We caught up with Neroli label boss, Enrico Crivellaro (aka Volcov), over email for a chat on the past, present, and future of Neroli.
Can you tell us about the beginning of Neroli? What inspired you to start the label? Who’s on the label team, and what do they do?
Neroli started in 2000 as a side project to what I was doing with Archive records. It started as something a bit more tracky and leading towards house, but eventually across the years became more musical and eclectic. There’s never been any staff, is basically just me. Also a non-continuous operation…slowing down from 2006 to 2010…but then picking up in pace with 38 releases out of 53 done in the last 10 years…
How did your experience running Archive help you start Neroli? For a number of years these two labels coexisted, what was it like running two labels at once and how did you keep their musical identity separate?
Archive started around 1998 and that was funded with Frank Siccardi and with the backbone and help from DiPiù, an Italian publisher. I was doing all the A&R but not following a lot of other important aspects which I then started learning while working with Frank, Pierangelo Mauri from DiPiu’ and also our distributor Goya [thanks to Mike & Spencer].
So those experiences were precious when I started Neroli a couple of years later. Yeah, the 2 labels coexisted for a while, Archive being, in general, more abstract or especially fully developing album projects by Domu, As One and the late Phil Asher [RIP] in particularly. Neroli at the beginning was mainly trying to convince broken beat producers to give me some house tunes ahaha
Listen to Volcov’s Neroli-focused mix for Carhartt Work In Progress series.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve had running the label? Have the difficult events of COVID affected how you run the label?
There have been quite a few events across the years like changes of distributors for various reasons or slowing down the pace of releases due to the market situations for example but I gotta say you always have to be flexible and adjust. COVID has affected all artists and also labels on many levels, I am lucky that since my current distributor & pressing plant is based here in Verona [Mother Tongue] I can at least have more trust and control over many phases of the physical release process.
Since platforms like Bandcamp have made it easier for artists to self-publish, what role do you think labels play in the music industry?
I have always been a fan of artists self-releasing their music and running their label in a DIY style, I have Omar S on top of my mind here but there are loads of examples. I think Bandcamp is great and gives a great opportunity to artists and labels but at the same times there a lot of other levels to take into accountability. For example, all this online shopping is great but the real experience of buying records in a store or been given tips while digging in the flesh is pretty priceless, and the memories attached to certain records bought in a certain moment while with friends cannot be compared to ‘that time Fed-Ex rang the door to deliver that parcel’. Hopefully, we’ll get back to this already in 2021!
Also, I think both the artists and the buyers get a kick from certain combinations…for example, a release from a certain artist on that particular label [which has a certain history, catalogue, etc] can be very exciting, more than if it was on his own one, so to get back to your question I think labels with a certain history and curation still have something to say…
Neroli put out the epic First Circle compilation for your 50th release, with a focus on beatless music. This isn’t a style that we generally associate with Neroli so what was the thinking behind this? Some of the artists on the release are not really known for beatless styles so how did you decide on who would appear?
Well, The First Circle album is a project where the melody has been put in the forefront… I always wanted to do a record like this with a lot of emphasis on the musical textures and a certain sense of intimacy and beauty rather than a focus on the rhythmic aspects. Those who know me well know how much I love records with warm pads and melodies.
I tried to assemble the kind of record I would have imagined to buy at Fat Cat in ’96 but with my 2020 ear. The choice of artists wasn’t really too difficult, some were already known for delivering these type of songs, or at least in my book, and others I knew they had that type of sensibility to understand the spirit of the album. The idea was to have something to listen to from beginning to the end without skipping the needle…
In your opinion, what is one tip that an aspiring producer needs to know that could help them get signed to a label?
Not sure this is a tip to get signed, but I think a good tip is to make tons of songs, and not finish 2-3 and start proposing them to labels….but really do the work, make many tracks and choose the best ones to propose only when it feels like you are 100% comfortable with them.
You recently put out some brilliant Theo Parrish remixes of Love To The World – how did these come about?
Very naturally – I’ve known Theo since the late 90s and over the years we did already a couple of other projects for Archive records. He was really into the original song and on the 12’ he gave it his own unique twist and trademark. Really an unmistakable sound…extremely happy about this!!
What’s coming up next for Neroli?
We have an ep by The Abstract Eye [aka GB or Gifted & Blessed] an artist I always admired and that I chased pretty much for the last 5/6 years after a brief meeting in Berlin in 2013.
Which record do you wish you’d signed?
Who would play (DJs, bands, and artists) at your ultimate club night, and where would it be?
Ah, that’s too much…maybe 2000Black [ft Kaidi Tatham and JAB] playing live…Theo Parrish and Sadar Bahar + Lee Collins djing? Too difficult though, many great artists to mention and invite…