Italian producer/DJs DJs from Mars, the duo of Max Aqualuce and Luca Ventafunk, are quite hard to pin down. Pure pranksters at heart, they are difficult to spot in a crowd because they don’t reveal their identity, choosing instead to wear boxes over their heads (inspired by their first single, “Who Gives A Fuck About Deejays”). It took some effort to find them, but with a bit of effort and a little luck, I interviewed them at the Amsterdam Dance Event and can honestly say that the infectious energy and humor of their tracks and videos are true reflections of their animated personalities.
RS:How did you two guys meet up?
Max Aqualuce: We met at a recording studio about ten years ago, and in 2004 we started the project “Djs From Mars” as producers. A couple years ago we started with the bootlegs and continued that for years; right now, we are trying to focus mostly on production.
RS:So you were producers, then DJs?
RS:What was the first mash-up that you did?
Luca Ventafunk: It was “Disturbia” by Rihanna. About 4 years ago we released an original track called “Who Gives A Fuck About Deejays,” but the vocals did not work in the clubs, so from there we did a mash-up with the same instrumentals but using Rihanna’s voice. We weren’t doing gigs as DJs From Mars at the time, we were playing as resident DJs, and it worked, we put it on YouTube and everyone liked it, so we started to do more.
RS:When you do your mash-ups what software do you use?
Max: We usually use Cubase for the mash-ups and music production. We try to stay tuned to the new stuff because we don’t want a young guy of 16 years old to be better than us, we have to stay on top of the new stuff.
RS:How do you get the parts that you use, like the Rihanna vocals?
Luca: We search the web, there are a million ways. Sometimes we invert the phase of the instrumental against the original track and we get the acapella. We use filters, equalizers, and whatever we can to make it work.
RS:Have you ever heard back from artists about your mash-ups?
Luca: Yes. Paris Hilton tweeted to Lady Gaga about our mash-up of “Telephone” vs. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. We saw it on YouTube and people were going crazy. We had some feedback from the producers of Art of Noise and also from Stromae about his record “Alors On Danse” – he said that it is the best mix that he has heard of his track. No one is angry at us, so far.
RS:I was going to ask you if there have been any legal issues or anything.
Max: No, everyone is happy; it is more promotion for them.
RS:From the mash-ups you started doing more and more remixes, what were the first few remixes that you did?
Max: The first ones came from a little label in Brazil if I remember. The first bigger remix that we did was a cover of “Zombie” by Andrew Spencer and The Vamp Rockerz from Germany; we love that song and it was easy to do the remix since it was already playable in the clubs.
Luca: Jason Nevins from the US got in touch with us through MySpace and wanted to bring us in because he loved our style. He has great connections with big labels in the US and brought us some major remixes like Ciara and Cascada.
RS:I live in Nashville, Tennessee, which is the home of country music, and the remix that you did for The Wanted’s ”Heart Vacancy” has been huge for almost two years; was it a challenge to take such a slow ballad and make it into a dance record?
Luca: We just sped it up. We strive to always be and do the best, and sometimes it takes days or a few weeks. Sometimes it happens that the remix ends up being better than the original.
RS:You did it in that case. Was the video in “Que Pasa” your idea?
RS:Okay, because I still have nightmares about the hand. Who wrote the top line on the song?
Luca: It was an old record of Jeffery J, the rapper from Eiffel 65. Gabry Ponte, the owner of the track, had the idea to do the rap with the new track.
RS:What is it with the cartoon heads; I still haven’t figured that out, are you anonymous when you play live? Do the cartoons have any special meaning?
Max: No there is no special meaning. With the track “Who give a fuck about Deejays” the video has cartoon head puppets. When we started getting touring requests, we decided that it was a good idea. We wore two boxes and the reaction of the crowd was great, they wanted to take pictures of us. We kept the idea and put some lights in the eye holes and it kept improving. We have always kept them so no one knows our face, except you.
RS:I was going to see if I could take a picture with you. Will you ever reveal your identity to the public?
Luca: No, we have to go to the bathroom at the club with boxes on our head.
RS:What is up next for you guys?
Max: We are about to release a new single. It is very different from our usual stuff; it is a club track with not as many notes, just 4/4 beats and strange vocals.
RS:What is it called?
Max: It is called “Phat Ass Drop” (How To Produce A Club Track Today).
RS:What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Max: Enjoy. Don’t drink and drive.
Luca: Don’t take drugs. Enjoy the Silence. We are happy and thankful to our fans. We have more than 100,000 fans on our Facebook page. We are so grateful because they are the reason why we are touring.
Interview conducted during Amsterdam Dance Event 2012.