Two days before Aeroplane were due to play Death Disco in June, we were informed by our good friend Facebook that Aeroplane were, as a duo, no more. Naturally, we worried. Arguably predominantly through their monthly mixes, they have managed to tear rampant electro clubbers away from notions of huge ‘dirty/filthy/insert grimy-semi-sexual-sounding adjective here’ basslines and introduce the notion of a more sensitive, musical and, dare we say, eclectic sound to the dancefloor, albeit still knowing how and when to throw out a huge meaty bassline bone to a delighted crowd. The word ‘tastemaker’ was thrown around, and for good reason.
But, although Vito and Stephen were to go their separate ways – citing ‘different musical directions’ as the main reason – Vito was to remain in the cockpit.
Naturally he got pounced upon by the press to do, like, a trillion interviews, so, aware of the tedium of answering the same questions over and over, we decided to ring him up and sympathise with him about the tedium of answering the same questions over and over (how clever!)
What actually happened is that we asked him the same questions that everyone else had, in the fifteen minutes he had between a photo shoot for DJ Mag and catching the Eurostar. So, a big thank you to the generous Vito, and his lovely hundred-words-a-minute garbled enthuasiam and lingering Frenglish insights in the face of an almighty headache.
How have you been finding the press attention since the split?
Well, I’m tempted to say it was annoying even before the split. It’s like everything after a full day of answering the same questions. Everybody wants to know the same thing. I tried to get my label to do press conferences but they said I’m not Mick Jagger… I do talk easily though.
Your Twitter feed is always bursting with tales of airports, festivals, gigs and new tracks – it seems like this summer has been busier than ever.
Are you following me on Twitter? You shouldn’t. I just use it to annoy everyone. To say things like Steve Angello always dresses the same.
But yes, I’ve done a lot of big stuff, which was really cool, but what’s keeping me happiest are the smaller gigs where you get a room full of people who’ve come to see you. You don’t have to think about what you’re going to play. Like, at Oxygen festival in Dublin, there’s eight thousand people but only five hundred know who you are. You have to choose whether to play for the 500, or the eight thousand. There’s a fine line between playing the act you are, and playing for the people. I had a gig in the US and one in Vienna that were really, really amazing. There’s been a lot of great moments.
How have you found working and travelling on your own? Is it not lonely?
It might sound wrong, but I think I prefer it. It’s just easier. Only one person has to make a decision. When there’s two people trying to make the same decision, it turns into an argument and a big waste of time. It works fine for now.
The main reason for the split seems to be that you wanted to spend more time working on tracks, rather than DJing. If you had it your way right now, would you hide in a recording studio and stop playing gigs?
I’m happiest when I’m in the studio, yes, but if you want to be part of the game you have to accept the rules, you know. What makes me keep on playing, DJing, doing interviews etc, I just think about when I had a job and I’d wake up every day and do something really boring. I was 19 when I had a record store, it was just when vinyl was really dropping, but I had been managing clothes stores, working for clothes stores. Every time things feel hard I just remember the time when I had to wake up every day and sell Levis 501s to people.
Sometimes, like today, you’re just really, really tired. I woke up in the south of France – Montpellier – then flew to London, now I’m going home [to Belgium]. Three different countries in one day. I’m here for a photo shoot for the cover of DJ Mag so I got in some interviews at the same time.
Your monthly mixes are hugely popular and, in Glasgow anyway, they seem to have refreshed a certain part of the club scene. Was this intentional?
I have no idea how it happened. Those mixes have just been the music we liked, the two of us, and also what I like when I’m alone. That’s what’s the weirdest about this, I don’t think at all about what I’m doing. I just put it all together, it’s never meant to please anybody. But what I like, other people like.
I have to say, if I’m honest, I never go to clubs – unless I’m DJing there obviously. I still really like DJing; I’ve been doing turntablism for years. What’s harder is when you’ve got a crowd in front of you who aren’t there to see you. But if I had to choose between the two, I’d choose making music. I’m going to try to balance it a bit better.
I met you outside a club in Glasgow once, I think it was the first time you’d played here. You met my friend Anne and told her that her name meant donkey in French. She’s not forgotten.
Oh… Oh. I am sorry. (He sounds very serious, but ultimately confused). Which gig are we talking about?
The Huntleys and Palmers night, at a tiny club called Stereo.
Oh, the first time we played Huntleys and Palmers was actually at a club called MAS! Oh my god, that was the best gig of our life! Whenever anyone asks me what’s been my favourite night, it’s always that gig. When we got in the room is was like… what is going on here?! As soon as we put on the first record they totally cranked it up and the crowd just went… mad. I remember playing the Soulwax remix of Kids by MGMT…
Enough said. You’ve said that there’s a ‘sad happiness’ to your music. This is what I love about a lot of the tracks you use in the monthly mixes. Can you explain where it comes from?
It’s not a conscious decision, it’s more the chord that tends to come out when I’m sitting in front of the piano, it’s always that melancholic happiness that comes to me. I really love movie soundtracks and that sense in them that there’s hope at the end of the tunnel. It’s also a big, big part of Italian songwriters and singers from the 80s. Why I do it, I can’t say.
I should really let you catch your train. What will you do when you get home tonight? Any chance of some relaxation?
Tonight, I’m going to go back to bed. Actually, maybe keep on working… actually, on the train I’m going to work on a track and think about building a new studio. After some medicine.
I heard that you’re working on a project with your girlfriend at the moment?
Yes, we just recorded one of the first tracks, and we’re going to do an EP after that. We really enjoy sitting at home having a glass of wine, setting up a microphone and just playing around. It’s a bit of fun that isn’t related to Aeroplane – a bit of different fun. It’s called Lonely And Heart, you should look it up.
So should we say goodbye to Vito as we know him for the next short while, and leave you to your wine and music projects?
I’m still doing remixes and the live show. In the studio I just want to focus on something to take me out of it.
OK, just one more question: did Air ever find out it was you who threw up on their equipment at Sonar?
I’m actually impressed nobody told them! It was the day we’d decided to start the campaign about me being solo because there was so much press that day, that’s when we needed to break it.
I had had 12-15 interviews, radio, TV… I took painkillers because I was ill after coming back from a US tour. I kept falling asleep when I had to DJ so I decided to have some pure vodka. I fainted on stage like an idiot then stumbled and threw up all over Air’s equipment. They haven’t found out yet. If they do: I’m sorry.
Given it’s his second apology of the evening, it’s probably time to leave Vito to his paracetamol, the Eurostar, and dreams of his new studio.