With over 20 releases so far this year alone, this Neapolitan twosome are on fire right now
Hailing from the outskirts of Naples in Italy, Matthias Turchetti and Francesco Cozzolino must be one of the hardest-working duos currently operating in the house and techno arena.
We're only just into August, yet already they've racked up over 20 releases this year alone (counting singles, EPs, remixes and tracks on compilations and V/A EPs). And for them, that's not even unusual – they've maintained a similarly prolific work rate ever since making their production debut in 2012.
Along the way, their name has graced releases on some of the most respected labels in the house and tech-house arenas, from VIVa Music to Relief to Skint, while their tracks have been rinsed by DJs ranging from Nic Fanciulli and Solardo to Adam Beyer and Richie Hawtin. Citing influences as diverse as Kerri Chandler, Robert Hood, Radio Slave and Maya Jane Cole, the pair have proved themselves capable of turning their hand to a variety of house, techno and tech-house styles – but always with one eye fixed firmly on the dancefloor.
That, though, was about as much as we knew about them. So with M.F.S: Observatory releases continuing to land thick and fast – their latest offerings include ARTFAT on Foreign Language and the Bandcamp release No Body – we figured we'd best rectify that forthwith…
As you haven't featured in iDJ before, let's start at the beginning! Tell us a bit about your respective musical backgrounds, and how you met/came to start working together…
"We come from two very different musical backgrounds. Mattia has always lived music as a vocation, so he has always sought very underground and particular music, while Francesco has had a passion for electronic music, house music in particular.
"We grew up in the same neighbourhood, in a small town a few kilometres from Naples on the slopes of the Vesuvius volcano. We met each other as children in the neighbourhood playing. After attending various electronic music concerts, we decided to transform our passion and get to work, and started producing music."
I also wanted to ask about the name M.F.S. Observatory… where did that come from (especially the 'observatory' bit)?
"M is Mattia, F is Francesco and S is for Salvatore – he was the third part of the group but he left a few years ago. Observatory because when we were little we often went to this observatory in the Vesuvius National Park, to observe the landscape, and this thing marked us a lot."
You're from Naples, but based in the UK… when/why did you decide to move here?
"Actually, Francesco still lives in Naples. But Mattia moved to London to study Music and Sound Design at London South Bank University."
How do you describe the music you make? 'Tech-house' would seem to be the obvious go-to for a lot of tracks, but that's a term that's falling out of favour right now… how do you describe it?
"We don’t have a specific genre… we like to call M.F.S: Observatory a genre! We try to mix tech-house and techno with a lot of other influences, from electronic to acid house etc."
Your work has featured on some very respected labels, including the likes of Smiley Fingers, Little Helpers, Roush, 303Lovers, VIVa and Lapsus Music. Were there any of those that felt like a particular milestone/achievement?
"VIVa Music was a dream for us since we started to produce music, so the most grateful thing was getting a message from Steve Lawler, who wanted our EP for his label."
…and if there's one label you'd love to feature on but haven't yet, who would it be?
"We love Rekids, Radio Slave's label."
You also run your own Observatory Music imprint, so tell us a bit about that… what's the music policy and what's your release schedule like?
"Indeed it is our own label, it is a very ambitious project that has been carried out for several years. We are growing slowly, and many more established artists are releasing music on the label. And soon there will be some very important news!"
By my reckoning, you've had over 20 releases in 2020 alone so far… that's some going! What's the secret of your productivity?
"Our passion for the music! We spend much more time in the studio than with our girlfriends at times…"
As far as I can tell, though, you've never released an artist album (unless you count a couple of 10-track EPs). Any plans in that area any time soon?
"We plan to release an album, but not now. But Mattia will release an album with his alter ego Tia-Mellow. That's more Hyperdub-style music."
Who does what in the studio – is one of you the ideas man and one the engineer, or is it all 50:50?
"It's 50/50 on the production side, as we share the projects and the ideas. But Mattia is more the engineer of the group as he knows well how to master and mix."
And how do you tend to work: are you hardware nuts, all-in-the-box guys or somewhere in-between?
"We work a lot with plug-ins but we also have some external hardware like drum machines and synths."
Finally, what else is going on for you right now that iDJ readers need to know about?
"We've got releases coming up soon on W&O Street Tracks and many other labels, and there will also be a big remix coming soon on Observatory. Finally, we signed an EP with an important techno label, but we can’t say any more about that just yet."
Words: Russell Deeks