ALEXANDER ROBOTNICK with WILL MUNRO, JAIME SIN and SYNTONICS at Crosstown (178 Bathurst), Saturday (May 19). $20. 416-362-7677. Rating: NNNNN
Dance music has been around long enough that plenty of DJs now playing are in their 50s. Alexander Robotnick (aka Maurizio Dami), however, may be the only one who didn't start his DJ career until breaking the half-century mark.
His first claim to fame as Alexander Robotnick was for a string of Italo-disco singles in the early 80s.
You'd think there-d be a pretty steep learning curve for someone coming from a traditional musical background, but Dami claims the transition to DJ came fairly naturally.
"On the contrary, it was easier for me. To be a musician allows me to mix in key and do full re-edits of most of the tracks I play. Also, the use of musical software for DJing is easier because of my musical background."
By his own admission, in the early days he didn't take dance music very seriously, and for the next two decades moved on to world music and multimedia ambient performances, not realizing that he'd become a cult figure in electronic music.
Eventually, he discovered through the Internet that his past work hadn't been forgotten. This coincided with a downturn in the world music market post-9/11 and the rise of modern electro, which owes a large debt to the synthesizer-and-drum-machine-driven sound of 80s Italo-disco.
Though previously uninterested in mixing records in nightclubs, Dami began to see potential in connecting his past with the current state of dance music. He picked up a laptop to develop a style of performance somewhere between that of a live electronic act and a DJ.
During his first g0-round in dance music, Dami was more interested in post-punk acts like Joy Division than disco and just hoped to make a bit of cash. His records weren't massive in Italy, but they did make their way over the ocean, where, unbeknownst to him, they had an effect on what would go on to become house, techno and electro.
It's almost like a weird feedback loop - that four-on-the-floor thump keeps getting passed back and forth, mutating and changing its name along the way.
"I recognize my influence on electro, but I'm not sure about house music. To me, it originated more in black music. Anyway, I contributed by making popular a certain way to use electronics."
Does he ever regret taking so long to revive the Alexander Robotnick persona?
"I really never stopped. I was mainly involved in a different kind of music. If you can't develop a thing, it's better to suspend it and then get into it again after a while. Then again, I'm too curious a character to stay into the same stuff for long."