What do Frankie Hi-Nrg, Jovanotti, Subsonica and DJ Ralf all have in common? The answer is simple – Leonardo ‘Fresco‘ Beccafichi; record producer, author, engineer, sound engineer and Upper Tiber Valley DJ.
We met him in his Malkovich Studios, (yes, it’s a tribute to the movie ‘Being John Malkovich’), and talked about hip-hop culture, Bob Marley and impor tant meetings.
by Marco Polchi
Hip Hop – what does it mean to you?
«I got into hip hop in the ‘90s, but I was also into rock music. It wasn’t just about the music, but also the other factors, like skateboarding, graffiti, deejaying and the clothes. Hip hop encompasses all of these; it’s a way of recognizing each other, a form of expression and of course a way of making music. When it comes to musical instruments I started quite late – I started off with a turntable which I practised on and then in turn formed my first band, (the KUP posse ed !)».
Tell us about the meeting with Frankie Hi Nrg?
«I met him when he did a concert in Città di Castello called ‘Libera la Musica’ (Free Music), and before the performance he invited all the local groups. I was there with mine, we were a little different from the others, and from that day we formed a great friendship. Frankie also gave me my first sample sounds. It was a turning point for a guy who wasn’t even 20».
At a professional level you work together; you’re the producer of his last album and his tracks for Sanremo.
«I’ve worked on all Frankie Hi Nrg’s records because I worked as an assistant at the Sound Studio Service of Alberto Brizzi and Marco Capaccioni, and that was where his latest album was produced. We spent more than a year working on it. Frankie wanted to make a new album, I was glad that he’d want to involve me and so that was how ‘Esseri Umani‘ (Being Humans) was created… and I have to say with a great feeling of freedom. There was no pressure from a record label and we wanted to experiment with something new».
Did you go to Sanremo?
«I was involved with the entire practice session, followed the arrangements and was there until the Wednesday. Then my job was finished and I came back».
Another door was opened with Jovanotti…
«I’m part of Lorenzo’s production team. I would say it’s the most important opportunity that could have happened to me musically and professionally. It happened by chance, with a little persuasion from my wife; I sent him an email, which he didn’t reply to. Then thanks to DJ Ralf I was able to meet him during the remix of the album ‘Buon Sangue’ which we were working on together. Lorenzo came into the studio and asked, ‘Which one of you is Fresco? I read your email! ‘. Initially, I started working with him in Cortona , as ‘ tester ‘ on his outdoor projects, then I started to work on the pre-production of ‘Safari’ and that’s where it all started».
Has working with Jovanotti changed you?
«In a way, because you’re working with a great, professional artist, who puts music before everything, and tries to the get the best from you musically. He encourages you to always give your best, he’s cool».
What about Subsonica?
«Wow, I’ve gone from being their fan to working with them, an incredible step. Along with the studio work with the group I’ve also been on tour with them. It was an experience that gave me great satisfaction, learning that nothing is impossible and that this is actually my job – a profession that must be pursued with passion and with a desire to keep up to date».
What does it mean for you to deejay?
«It means going back to where it all started; me, in my room with a turntable. It means loving music, always listening to it, buying albums and thinking that people like the same music».
Who is your favourite DJ?
«It’s not an easy question to answer, it depends on the genre. If I think in terms of house music, my favourite is definitely DJ Ralf, [he says smiling], for many reasons. Not least because when I work with him I can pick up the latest trends. With regards to reggae I love David Rodigan».
Your all-time favourite record??
«Any of Bob Marley’s, though not one in particular. ‘Legend’, ‘Catch a Fire’… all of them. I could listen to them forever. If I had to pick one song by Marley I would say ‘Zimbabwe’; I have an emotional connection to it. When my children were born I put it on for 24 hours»