The trio behind Italy's biggest ever name in global streaming talks next steps in taking over the world's dance floors
“It’s a good moment for us,” says Mattia Vitale, one third of Italian electronic music trio MEDUZA, as he speaks to us from Ibiza, a sun-dappled swimming pool in the background. On the island for MEDUZA’s weekly residency at Hï Ibiza, he’s spent the summer co-hosting Our House – alongside James Hype – in the Club Room of David Guetta and MORTEN’s Future Rave party. Alongside him is Simone Giani. ‘He’s more of a nerd on the machines,” explains Mattia as we get into the group’s dynamic. “Simone is more of a musician,” he continues about Simone Giani, MEDUZA’s currently absent third member. “I’m more of a DJ.”
Something gelled when they came together as MEDUZA, initially recording covers, then making their own original tracks to become breakout stars of 2019. They wrote calling card debut ‘Piece Of Your Heart’, featuring Goodboys, during a week in London and it was just a demo when they played it to their management, who declared it a hit. Nobody could have predicted its trajectory, however, getting nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 2020 Grammys and catapulting MEDUZA onto the biggest line-ups as they followed it with a string of dancefloor-fillers, including ‘Lose Control’ with Becky Hill and Goodboys, and ‘Paradise’ featuring Dermot Kennedy.
This year has seen them change up another gear. Their new label AETERNA has become a home for the trio’s more club-focussed tracks, while also allowing them to support up-and-coming artists, such as Genesi – another Italian act. Their ODIZZEA live show is undergoing an upgrade, including working with designer and artist Tom Hingston. And their forthcoming debut album will showcase the full range of MEDUZA’s sound. In true electronic music fashion, Mattia also promises “a lot of big things” just around the corner, one of these being a remix of ‘Promises’, Calvin Harris’ latest with Sam Smith.
We delved deeper into MEDUZA’s journey so far.
How did the Goodboys collaboration come about?
Mattia: When you go into the studio you set up a list of people you want to work with. So you have a week of sessions: one day you’re with a songwriter, the next day you’re with a singer. We hadn’t met those guys though management, they’d been sending ideas to my demo email. I spoke to Luca and Simone about them and since they’re from London, I said let’s meet with them to see how it goes, even if it’s just a morning. That’s when we made the track. Luca was playing chords and Josh was in the vocal room. He just asked us, “Sorry, what if it’s dah-da-dah-dah,” because he didn’t know the words yet.
Luca: Luckily, I was already recording. Usually you cut out and trash the artist’s spoken word part, you just use their hook. But it sounded natural and worked so well we decided to try it
What’s it like having your first track get nominated for a Grammy?
Mattia: You aim to become a big artist, like Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Skrillex, those kinds of stars. But when you make dance music you just do it for passion, for the club. You don’t think, this is going to be a big hit, I’m going to the Grammys. When it happened, it was like a dream. Especially for an Italian artist. You don’t have many Italian artists who have an opportunity to go to the Grammys. So it was an honour to represent our country there. It was also the day Kobe Bryant passed away. The Grammy ceremony is next to where the Lakers play, the Staples Centre, so outside the red carpet there were also all these people praying with pictures. It was a little bit weird.
Did it put pressure on you to follow it up? How about opening doors?
Luca: A lot of pressure, but good pressure. It puts you in a spot where you have to do better and better each day.
Mattia: The label and the people around you want you to do more and more every time. That’s not easy, especially if you think about a long-term career. It’s the same for every artist. It’s not like you’re on top and you stay top, it’s like a wave. You need to learn to survive the wave and continue making good things.
It’s been a challenge for us to show people that we’re not a one-shot project. That’s why we kept going to the studio every month and we made ‘Lose Control’ and ‘Paradise’, then ‘Tell It To My Heart’ and ‘Bad Memories’. Obviously the reaction to ‘Piece of My Heart’ was different, but I think it’s part of the process. Music, especially nowadays, changes so fast, so you need to stay updated with what is happening around you. Sometimes you understand that before others, sometimes you have to follow someone else. But yes, it opened lots of doors for us as it made us credible.
Speaking of riding the wave, can you tell us about your album?
Luca: It’s actually a double album, which for us is so important. We’ve done all this radio and Spotify stuff, like ‘Lose Control’ and ‘Paradise’. But it also has what we started doing this year with the label, the club side.
Mattia: We want to show people that MEDUZA isn’t just a project that makes music for the radio. The album is divided into two rooms, like in a real club. You go to room one and you’ll hear the commercial stuff. Then you go to room two and you can hear more underground music, the newer club stuff that we’re releasing for the first time.
Tell us about your live show. Does that unite these two sides?
Luca: Yes, especially the new one next year. It will bring together all these parts. It’s all three of us on stage playing instruments live, keyboards and a drum machine.
Mattia: It’s like a Chemical Brothers live show.
Luca: We love to play instruments, the concept is like a rock concert so we play what we want. There’s no real playlist, there’s no version already made. If there’s a good solo, we’ll keep with it and go with the flow.
Matt: Every time will be different. We’re going to be spending some time with Tom in Ibiza in a few weeks and it’ll take a few months till it’s finished. We want to make sure it’s 100% right before anyone sees it.