By Cory Sklar
By Alee Karim
By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
Eleven out of 10 disco dollies agree: The dusty, insular San Francisco house music scene needs foundational upkeep, some substantive spackle with a little sparkle. Fortunately, Italianjob is ready to work, with stylishly pegged sleeves and staple guns loaded with fresh grooves for weary dance floor mavens.
The brainchild of Leonardo Oculisti and Gianmaria (Giamma) Clerici, two Italian expatriates who met in the Bay Area, Italianjob frequently throws parties at S.F.'s Supper Club (among other venues) that showcase both new and undiscovered Italian sounds. For a little over a year, it has been regularly booking DJs from Tenax, a legendary 25-year-old club in Florence. It also hosts CD release parties for the affiliated Cinedelic and Mondo Groove labels. Cinedelic unearths rare soundtrack compositions and experimental lounge tunes, while Mondo Groove cultivates a minimal, yet lively house and electro-based aesthetic. Beginning this fall, the duo will also regularly host nights at Tenax, where they can spring gems from the Bay Area underground on unsuspecting Florentine revelers.
Nightclubbing does Godzilla business in Italy, yet in San Francisco the revenues are Mighty Mouse in comparison. So for Oculisti (owner of Berkeley's Locanda Olmo restaurant) and Clerici (an S.F.-based Java software developer), throwing parties is a pursuit of passion over profit, an opportunity to present the aspects of their home that they connect with most.
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"We are moving on two fronts: Bringing in the DJs who [have] the more upbeat, electro sounds and then the lounge [music], because that's a very unique type of sound that's Italian-specific," notes Clerici. "We do both, depending on which event we are doing."
While the Italianjob playlists are certainly heavy with Italian artists, there's also a premium on finding like-minded DJs from around the world. At the Supper Club, for example, Clerici has lately been slipping in electro and house versions of familiar classics songs like Boogie Pimps' creative remix of Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love" or Deep Dish's new take on "Dreams," recorded with Stevie Nicks. And the audience is as diverse as the beats.
"Italianjob attracts such an international crowd," says Shannon Titus (DJ Shanti), who has played at their events and hosts the two-year-old monthly "Triple Power" with Clerici (fourth Fridays at Shine, in the Mission). "You can walk through the bar or hear people on the dance floor speaking different languages Italian, French, Spanish. It reminds me of traveling to a European urban destination and tapping into the international dance scene, which is so different in some ways from what we have here."
Triple Power has cultivated a colorful following that flows into the Italianjob parties, a crowd rife with eccentric expression that appreciates new/unfamiliar music and art. When Italianjob nights start in Florence, Bay Area DJs will be there as an example of this fun, freaky outlaw spirit. "We're trying to bring a little bit of this culture we have here the underground culture, the Burning Man culture, which has so many positive elements and bridge it with [Italy], where some of the club culture can be a little bit too business-oriented," explains Clerici.
Oculisti highlights these differences: "The people from Burning Man show up [to parties] dressed strangely, but in Italy you have to pay some people to show up like that."
Oculisti ventures that he and Clerici are not "typical Italians," painting a portrait of the spotlight-hugging, money-grubbing club promoters that are anathema to their mellow style. He guesses that some regulars don't even realize that he and Clerici are the hosts.
"We are always in the back," he says. "It's important that people enjoy the music, the art, and the vibe of the party."