Flying the world with Birdee

On big beat, big names and big travel

Marooned in Los Angeles post-COVID and struggling to get flights home to Italy, you’d think Birdee might be a bit too stressed to chat. And you’d be wrong. In fact he’s probably the most enthusiastic person I’ve texted in months.

And he has good reason. Arguably one of the breakthrough disco acts of the past year or two, he’s actually provided at least one reason to be glad 2020 happened with his collaboration with Barbara Tucker Free Yourself. Factor in virtuoso remix work with disco house legend Michael Gray and you’ve got all the ingredients for a major player on the scene.

I thought I’d better have a word.

First things first, how are you and how are you coping with the current situation?

I’m pretty good, I’m actually in LA at the moment so not only am I dealing with the Coronavirus but I’m also dealing with the situation that stemmed from the death of George Floyd. It’s been a pretty trying time, I’m hoping this will be a turning point. There’s been a lot of talk about what’s been happening in the music industry as well and lots of people have been very vocal in supporting the Blackout Tuesday thing which has been great. It just feels a little surreal being here, but I think it’s definitely time to have a conversation and change things for good.

I called you a breakthrough act but actually you’ve been very active for a while haven’t you?

Before I started with the Birdee thing I was DJing and producing under a different name and I was active on the breakbeat scene which at the core of it wasn’t that different from what I’m doing today. The root of it was more funk than disco but still coming from the same influences. But yes it’s only been in the last five years that I’ve fully gone back to my roots and re-embraced my disco roots which is what I was listening to when I was growing up. I was born in 1971 so my childhood was rooted in the disco era. I went through a rock phase for a little bit and after I stopped playing in bands I started DJing and producing. But you’re right, I have been doing music for maybe the past twenty years or so, so yes it’s been a while!

You’re an italian living in LA and have travelled the world DJing – for those less travelled, give us a feel for what that’s like.

Well I’ve been lucky enough, I think I moved to London at the right time in 2004, 2005 when I was back in the breakbeat scene. Fabric had a night where they had three rooms where it was just breakbeat and from there it was quite easy to tour internationally. I was lucky enough to go to Australia three times and I just managed to go back to Australia in January just before the whole virus thing took hold of the world so I’m very very thankful for that. It’s just amazing to travel and see the reaction that crowds have to music in different parts of the world. At the risk of stating the obvious there’s nothing more amazing than playing a track that you just finished in the studio and see it get a great reaction in Sydney, for example or Milan or London. It’s just an incredible feeling.

Your recent collaboration Free Yourself with Barbara Tucker is getting great reactions – what’s the story there?

That’s great to hear. So Nick Reach Up who did the track with me, contacted me to say he was coming to LA to attend the Grammys as one of the acts he manages had a Grammy nomination. I was playing some of his tunes, he was playing some of mine so we had a chat and he said “I’m going to be in LA, why don’t we meet up and try and do a track together?” I did know who he was but I didn’t realise he was pretty much a legend; he was an A&R man who had a good word in signing The Prodigy back in the day [and] he had worked with Barbara quite a bit as he was A&R at Positiva when Beautiful People was released. When we worked on the track together it came together pretty quickly in its instrumental form so we were looking for a singer and he casually mentioned “maybe I can ask Barbara to see if she’d be interested,” and I was like “yeah, by all means if you can do that, let’s!” Luckily Barbara really liked the track from the start and it was a great process. It was a bit time consuming because we were all in different parts of the world – Nick was in London, I was in LA, Barbara was in Ibiza for the summer – so it took a bit to get it all together but when we did we were very happy with the results and it’s great to hear it’s got some good reactions.

What’s next for you then?

I’ve just finished a couple of remixes, one is for an American act called Pink Flamingo Rhythm Revue which should be out fairly soon. I’m finishing a remix for a friend of mine called Per Qx, a Swedish producer (he’s actually the guy that introduced me to Seamus Haji a few years ago) and I’ve also got a couple of EPs lined up and I’m finishing off a few more tracks. Obviously I’ve got a lot of time in the studio like everyone else, so there’ll be a lot more music coming from me very very soon.

Thanks for chatting, and all the best for your travels back to Italy

Thanks man, I appreciate it!

Published by Martin

Geek, DJ, runner, family man.