MIKE SIMONETTI with WILL MUNRO and MIKEY APPLES at Wrongbar (1279 Queen West), Friday (July 11), 10 pm. $10. myspace.com/troubleman. Rating: NNNNN
The releases coming out on Mike Simonetti’s label, Italians Do It Better, aren’t like anything you see in the record store bins. The surging imprint that he co-runs with Johnny Jewel (whose twilight disco brainchildren Glass Candy and Chromatics are the marquee names on IDIB’s roster), only drops product that looks and feels laboriously crafted: handmade cover art, limited-run vinyl, totally unique aesthetic and vibe – not to mention some of the hottest tracks propelling the current obscure-disco movement.
“We don’t believe in cutting corners with anything,” says Simonetti from his base in suburban New Jersey. “Why bother doing anything if it’s going to be half-hearted? We believe the image of the label is as important as the music, since they work together. They support each other. Johnny spends as much time on art as music. Plus no computers were used in the layout for the most part, so it looks unique.”
Their first release – a homemade compilation called After Dark, featuring Chromatics, Glass Candy, Mirage and Professor Genius, which was only available at Jewel’s or Simonetti’s live shows – found its way to the taste-making hands of a prominent website who gave it one of the highest-rated reviews of 07. The only problem was that at the time, the compilation barely existed as a sellable product.
“Definitely it was the turning point,” says Simonetti. “We weren’t expecting it; we weren’t even an official label at the time. It was a first release – I think Johnny made 200 CD-?Rs or something like that. We were testing the waters at the time.”Barely a year later, Jewel’s bands have graced magazine covers, Simonetti is travelling the world as a sought-?after disco specialist rivalling DFA’s James Murphy, and Italians continues pressing to meet an explosion of demand.
If Simonetti, with his digital-dismissing ways, comes off as a bit of a throwback, that’s because he clearly is. Raise the issue of laptop DJing and you’ll get the fury of a lifelong record collector.
“I don’t really care for it,” he says. “Plus it’s weird to see a DJ playing disco on Serrato [DJing software]. Go to a record store! It’s so easy: pull out records and listen to them. You may find a good song you never heard before instead of the same 50 songs you hear when you go out.”