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The Rapino Brothers: Production Lines

Interview | Music Production
Published May 1995

Some record producers may object to having their work remixed, yet according to producers Charlie Mallozzi and Marco Sabiu — better known as The Rapino Brothers — remixing is an acceptable alternative way of viewing a track. Here they explain why there will always be room for the remixer...

In this business, it's not the producer that counts — it's the artist. Artists are the ones that pay the bills so if they come to us with a track they are unhappy with and ask us to fix it, we go along with that. There will always be a job for people who have a different point of view because it's refreshing for a record company to see what someone else can do with the same song. When we remix a song we make it sound completely different, because all we keep is the vocals.

Ultimately, remixing is as old as the record industry. The first time Stravinsky walked into a studio he found a guy in the control room who was introduced as "the producer who was going to fix it." If the industry can do that to Stravinsky, who the hell are any of us to complain?

These days, music is just another product, and therefore we all have to accept and expect modifications to our own original ideas. Socially speaking, this is justified because record companies are the ones who pay the bills, so they have the right to do whatever they want with their product. Those are the rules of a Capitalist society and unfortunately not all of us are Che Guevara.

As remixers, we feel we put a great deal of craft into what we do. We are creatively enhancing the product, not destroying it, and we must be doing something right because we're incredibly busy. Certainly, we have never had any complaints from other producers whose work we have remixed. Perhaps they do complain and maybe we do have a few enemies that we don't know about. But if that's the case, we don't really care because if a song we have remixed ends up being a huge chart hit, they will still get paid.

In our opinion remixing has a lot to do with the times. We are at an historic moment — at the end of a century you usually get big political events, but creatively you don't get much that's new. The last decade of any century is always about recycling old ideas and clearing the decks for the next 100 years. That's what we feel we are doing. The industry reached a creative peak at the end of the 1970s when Punk came along. During the 1980s there was very little music that was new or exciting and that is pretty much where we are still at. The tide is turning because there are a few good bands coming through now, but for the most part there is still very little that isn't just a re‑hash of something else.

As remixers, we don't feel there is any type of music that can't be remixed. With pop music nothing is sacrosanct. Remixing is assumed to be just for the dance market, but that isn't always the case — even indie rock tracks can be re‑mixed. You can turn them into a ballad, for example. It's just a question of altering the arrangement. We certainly don't feel we are being ghetto‑ised into the club scene because a lot of the mixes we have done have been big pop hits. Our job is to take a track and make it more commercial. That is what we are paid for.

We should all remember in the end that the audience is king. The audience decides what is good because they are the ones that have to part with their money to buy it. Most of the time we don't know what is going to be a hit. We know what sounds good to us and we often get the feeling that a track we have worked on has something special, but we can never be 100% sure that the buying public are going to agree.

We have had projects where we think we can't work with a track. In those situations it's a matter of taste. If we don't like a track we don't do it, but that doesn't mean it won't appeal to someone else's ears. As producers, the main problem we face is when a record company asks us what constitutes a hit. We have no idea, because we are not salesmen. We know how to make a record and how to apply our taste to that music, but ultimately we are not the ones who have to go into a shop and try and sell it.

What we try to do is combine our ideas and come up with something different. We have very different musical backgrounds that include classical training (Marco) and the tackiest type of pop (Charlie) and we meet somewhere in the middle. You could say that we are the living proof of an interesting remix. To all those who complain about having their work remixed, we say — at least you still get your 3% and your producer credit.

The Rapino Brothers began a writing and production career in their native Bologna, Italy. Since moving to London in late 1992 they have scored considerable chart success — production of Take That's 'Could It Be Magic' and subsequent Everything Changes album, and remixing Corona's 'Rhythm Of The Night' and Haddaway's 'What Is Love', to name but a few. They have been recently writing with Minogues Kylie and Dannii (whom they are currrently producing), Lulu, Lindi Dayton and Kym Mazelle. As artists they have their own act, Rapination, featuring various vocalists.