In the Internet era, music moves across the world but it also stretches across history — influences can be picked up from decades or even centuries ago.
For Andrea Mangia, also known as Populous, the Italian producer and beatmaker, that meant imagining a DJ set that takes place in Ancient Greece, hosted for #GucciGig’s performance series. But it’s set in the distant future, year 2155. To illustrate, the Italian artist Odd Arts created a collage across time, putting Gucci crystal-embedded, 1980s inspired sunglasses on a marble bust. The visual aesthetic also takes equally from traditional Japanese woodblock prints, another international influence.
Populous has taken full advantage of the way the Internet lets us access music from everywhere. In his music you can hear inspirations from Italo Disco and Bollywood to the tradition of Cumbia, which was the basis for his most recent album, Azulejos. “I’m more of a good listener than a good musician,” he said.
While he grew up listening to Sonic Youth and Nirvana, watching MTV’s Chill Out Zone was how he first discovered musicians like Aphex Twin, Orbital, and Bjork. His degree in music history also gives his aesthetic its breadth.
Making new music is about the constant search for samples, looking for an unknown dusty record in a flea market somewhere he hasn’t visited yet. New finds come from shopping around, but also online. MySpace was his first virtual community, where he found friends and collaborators alike. Now, Soundcloud is the biggest scene for electronic music. It doesn’t matter where you live; you can hang out and post your tracks in the same space. “It’s very democratic,” Populous said. “Everyone can do it.”
— Kyle Chayka