Interview: Q&A with Bassolino – The Neapolitan Soundscapes of ‘Città Futura’ (March 2024)

Words by Marco Canepari / Photo by Gennaro Canaglia

Naples has long been a cradle for diverse cultural expressions within Italy and perhaps the broader Mediterranean region. Music has consistently been one of the most exciting examples of this expressiveness, and up to the present day, this has been exemplified by projects like Napoli Segreta and the work of labels such as Periodica Records and Early Sounds Recordings, alongside artists like Nu Genea, SuperMegaFunkinMachine, Pellegrino, and Mystic Jungle, just to name a few.

The city’s music scene is renowned for its unique fusion of cinematic and progressive jazz, psychedelic funk, and the distinct flavours and intonations of the Naples Gulf, captivating audiences globally.

In this vein, Bassolino‘s debut album Città Futura, released by Periodica Records in partnership with Berlin-based Jakarta Records, is a reflection of this evolving musical landscape.

Dario Bassolino, also known as Dario Bass, a Neapolitan producer, pianist, and composer, has contributed over the past decade to the works of various artists, including Nicola Conte, LNDFK, Kurtis Rosenwinkel, Jason Lindner, Pink Siifu, Chester Watson, and Paolo Fresu, as well as the previously mentioned Nu Genea and Pellegrino.

His work is a continuation of a longstanding musical tradition in Naples, echoing the artistry of legends such as Toni Esposito, Tullio de Piscopo, and James Senese with his Napoli Centrale, also drawing inspiration from the rich vein of 1970s and 1980s soundtracks for poliziotteschi movies.

With the recent release of Città Futura, we had the opportunity to ask Bassolino several questions in a Q&A session, aiming to delve deeper into his new project, his connection to Naples, and his perspective on the current dynamics of the local music scene amidst the backdrop of Mount Vesuvius.

What specific aspects of Naples served as inspiration for the themes explored in your album Città Futura?

The entire history of my people, an ancient civilization, deeply influenced me. Naples, founded by the Greeks, embodies memories from multiple historical eras. The city’s layered construction, with millennia-old stones, has always imparted a profound, renewing energy to me.

What was the creative process like for Città Futura? Did you encounter any challenges during its production?

The creative process began with a screenplay I penned, depicting an 80s music producer adrift. The initial goal was to translate those images into music. The challenge from a sonic point of view was not to fall into the revival but to precisely interpret a popular sentiment that was at the basis of the music of the 70s

Naples has a rich musical heritage and identity. How did they influence the sound and style of Città Futura?

Neapolitan music has always influenced me: having started playing traditional Neapolitan songs on the piano as a child, those melodies undeniably flow through me and shape my memory. This is the peculiarity of many artists and what makes the scene strong: we have a common repertoire and based on the times it is adapted to the mood of the events.

Translating the energy and vibrancy of Naples into a musical project like Città Futura can be challenging. How do you feel your album captures the essence of Naples, both culturally and musically?

My intention was precisely to include in the album not only aesthetic musical concepts, but something more radical: trying to bring the concept of ‘live recording band’, of ‘warmy funky sound’ but also of social criticism and sociological research back to the centre of musical patterns. The album best represents my story which is that of many other Neapolitans.

Are there any specific locations or neighbourhoods in Naples that inspired certain tracks on Città Futura?

The whole port area, which is where I live. It’s a crossroads of goods, legal and illegal exchanges, embodying the darker aspects of the Gulf.

Are there any specific tracks on Città Futura that hold special significance to you in terms of their connection to Naples?

“Napoli Visionaria” for sure: The Mediterranean sound, the shouts of the market, the voices of the streets, the solos that remind me of the chaos and traffic of the city, the nightmares of the night.

Could you guide us through the music scene in Naples? What are the places to go to listen to music, and are there any up-and-coming artists you would like to suggest we listen to?

There are bars with very cool music like Perditempo and Vesuvius Soul Records, Auditorium 900 is a very old recording studio where there is live music in the evening, Basic Club is a super contemporary European nightclub. Then there are super-stocked record shops such as Futuribile and Kagoshima Records. There is also a new label in town that is releasing new artists, called La Scimmia. I recommend you follow it.

How do you see the music scene evolving in Naples, and what role do you hope to play in it?

The music scene is lively and there is a lot of energy among the musicians. Listeners expect great things from us as a scene and I’m sure that my desire will be to unite everyone more and more: musicians, DJs, clubbers, producers, record shops, promoters, labels.

Can you discuss the collaborative process behind Città Futura and how working with other musicians such as Nicola Conte, LNDFK, and Pellegrino, among others, contributed to the album’s unique sound?

The process took place largely with Paolo Petrella. He was fundamental in accompanying me in writing the music and the sound. Alessio Pignorio gave a great contribution in the production phase as well as having splendidly recorded the guitars on the album. Working with Nicola Conte is a pleasure; I’ve been listening to his music since I was young, and he has influenced me more than he might think. LNDFK is my musical other half, when I have any doubts I always ask her, I trust her taste and aesthetics a lot. Working with Pellegrino was very interesting because he allowed me to arrange, write and produce for him, he gave me a lot of experience with sound and the world of vinyl.

What led to your collaboration with Periodica Records and Jakarta Records for the release of Città Futura?

With Periodica we are great friends, Mystic Jungle, Whodamanny, Milord, Geo, they have a very interesting vision, and are promoters of great music. Jakarta had a great interest in the project right away and they impressed me with their musical and performance quality. So I thought I’d join forces to give more space to this album, it seems to have gone well.

Aside from Naples and its music scene, what other influences have shaped your sound?

I love Brazilian music, from bossa nova to jazz funk, Italian prog music has always influenced me, some orchestral Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner 70’s records, all traditional music of the world.

How do you hope listeners, especially those unfamiliar with Naples, will perceive and connect with the themes presented in Città Futura?

The themes addressed are closely related to many movies. The concept of a soundtrack serves as a catalyst for listeners, aiming to offer something beyond mere listening. I worked a lot on the music to ensure the imaginative possibility of a story on the point of view of the listener.

With your debut album ready to be published, what are your plan for the future?

I hope to be able to play with the band live and allow people to listen to this project at its best. As for the rest, we’ll see, I already have a second release in mind after the summer.



Città Futura, the debut by Bassolino, is out now via Periodica Records/Jakarta Records.
You can get your copy HERE

Join the album launch event on Monday, 11/03 at Brilliant Corners in London



Photo ©: Gennaro Canaglia