Today we’re pleased to present our latest guest mix from an artist brand new to the LAMP family. Gianni is an Oregon native who first cut his teeth as a DJ in Pittsburg’s eminent hip hop scene. Since relocating to Los Angeles in 2016 he has been making waves in the city’s expansive hip hop and beat scene crushing sets at the popular Cuffing Season and Re-Up party installments, as well as providing DJ support for burgeoning rappers including Benji, Omenihu, and Andre Hondo. In addition to expanding his career as a DJ, he’s focused his gaze on production and has been working tirelessly in the studio on solo and collaborative projects slated for release later this year. For his guest mix he delivers a stellar selection of funk, soul, hip hop and disco infused beats sure to induce good vibes and better dance moves for those within earshot. Check out his interview and tracklist, and be sure to catch him live in support of Omenihu Saturday 4.21 at the Regent theatre for Broke L.A.
Damon Steele: Welcome to the guest mix series, we’re really excited about what you prepared for us. Can you tell us a little bit about what our audience can expect from your mix?
Gianni: For my mix I really wanted to blend the genres that have influenced me the most, Soul, hip-hop, R&B and funk. Since moving to LA I really got into the beat scene as well, exploring undiscovered artists or through remixes and edits.
DS: We’ve had guests on our mix series from all kinds of different musical backgrounds from those that have been classically trained to those that are entirely self-taught. Can you tell me a little about your background and where you obtained your musical knowledge?
Gianni: I have always been surrounded by music. As a kid I played Violin, piano, and was also in choir. When I started getting into sports I moved away from my creative side a little bit, but was able to pick it back up when I got my first set of turntables in 6th grade. From there I took lessons and taught myself how to beat match, scratch, and mix. I had a crate of my dad’s old records, and would spend hours locked in my room practicing.
DS: You’ve lived a lot of different places before coming out here to LA. Can you tell me a little bit about your journey to get here and how those places have shaped the music you make?
Gianni: I was born in Seattle, Washington but was raised pretty much my whole life in Eugene, Oregon. Growing up I was always searching for the music that “nobody had.” I would make CDs for all my friends, and made warm up CDs for all the sports teams. Eugene doesn’t have a huge music scene so I had to really search to find music I liked. After high school I went to college in Montana for 2 years before transferring to Pittsburgh. While in Montana I had a lot of teammates from Texas, I really got into the Dallas/ Houston hip hop scene. After Montana it was Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is where I fell in love all different types of genres. Being on the east I decided to explore house music and got to a point where I was listening to anything I thought was different than what other people were listening too. After Pittsburgh it was Colorado, Arizona, and Texas each of these places I didn’t spend much time in but would go out just to see what people were listening to and what would play well in the clubs.
DS: Before making the transition to focus on music, you were pursuing a career in professional football. How did that path shape the artist that you are today?
Gianni: Football taught me a lot. The most valuable thing it taught me how to really become obsessed with what you want to do and pursue it. I was never the strongest, fastest, biggest player but I was always consistent. I found my thing and became obsessed with bettering myself. Whether that be getting inspiration from people have done it before me or learning something new, I became a gym rat. I think the same goes in music… If you become obsessed with your craft you can really create your own reality, even more than you can in sports. I think that people are too worried about being 100% original, when in my opinion nothing can be completely original. Inspiration comes in different forms. If you want to be the best DJ study the best dj’s, you want to be the best producer study your favorite producers. See what works for them, see what doesn’t, and experiment. That’s why music is in the place that it is right now, because different genres are mixing different elements and making something beautiful.
DS: Stylistically your mix draws a lot on soul, funk, hip hop, and disco. Who are some of your influences in the dance music world that helped shape your sound?
Gianni: Growing up my mom would always be playing old Motown and soul. I think the writing of that era was incredible and unmatched. Artists like Earth wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang, Parliament made music fun. Hip hop producers like J Dilla, Timbaland, Pharrell were also very influential to me. I would say now my biggest influence in modern dance music would be Kaytranada.
DS: I know you’ve been hard at work in the studio can you tell me a little bit about the projects you’re currently working on and what people can expect in terms of the sound?
Gianni: I’ve been working on quite a few projects some independent some collaborative. I’m working on a lot of music and it’s exciting for me because it is all so new to me. Right now I spend a lot of time working with Damon Steele. We are working on a couple projects together that blend soul, hip hop, and funk. I am also working with a couple of artists out of Pittsburgh that I am very excited about. Benji has been a friend of mine since we were both student athletes at Duquesne University. I have been a fan of his music for a long time and now am finally a position to work together. We have a few tracks together and some collabs with Livefromthecity. I am also working with LA based hip hop artist named Omenihu.
DS: I know you do a lot of DJing out on the scene, can you tell us about some of the shows you have coming up that you’re excited to play?
Gianni: This weekend I will be playing the Broke LA festival with Omenihu which I’m very excited about because I have been to a lot of shows at the Regent but never been on the stage. April 28th I will be headed up to Seattle to play Citrus Room at the Timbre room, which is also very exciting.
DS: You debuted a special unheard track in your mix, can you tell us a little about that track and how it came about?
Gianni: That track came together pretty organically. One of my friends from Pittsburgh named Mars Jackson told me about a producer that he worked a lot with in Pittsburgh name NiceRec. He was out in LA and wanted to connect. I hit him up and got Damon Steele to meet me at beat lab academy and we knocked out the track that night. While we were there we got Mike from Penthouse Penthouse to bless us with a bassline. After we were done with the session I sent it to Benji in Pittsburgh and the next day we had a full song. Really excited to put that track out.