Balearic gods and goddess, Leo Mas, Fabrice, and A Man Called Adam`s Sally Rodgers have taken a trip back to `89. This Unspoken Love (Questo Amore Segreto), on Music For Dreams, is an anthem unashamedly aimed at big rooms (when they reopen) everywhere. No surprise there though, since the team behind it have all collected considerable kudos in the on-going history of balearic and house. The trio here reference and update the sound of the second summer of love – a sound they helped to originate – and turn in a sure-fire crossover hit that should have been. If this were 1990, and not a locked-down 2020, it would have been on Top Of The Pops. The music throbbing, insistent, animal, sexual. Sally purring in and out of English and Italian. Reviving the vibe of her own hedonistic Ibiza 90 hymn to mind-expansion. It`s “rave” undercut by eddying introspection, it`s the stuff of sueno latinos. For “heads”, the song`s flipped by a far darker dub, which adds scary symphony strings and an increasingly frenzied 303 – for a bit of Lucie that’s less purple ohm and more a microdot double-drop.
How did the collaboration come about?
Leo: The collaboration with Sally was born after an exchange of messages in 2016 – where I wrote to Sally about how much I loved, and love, her music. Sally then wrote to me saying that she loved our productions as well.
Who’s idea was it?
Sally: I think I suggested it?? Can you remember Leo?
Leo: Sally had written to me, asking to buy a Balearic Militant T-shirt. She was to play in London for a party and she wanted to be able to wear the shirt. I was leaving for the holidays but I promised that I`d make the T-shirt as soon as I returned to Milan. In the meantime I sent her a copy of the Mediterraneo compilation that I`d put together for Music For Dreams. Sally then wrote me a “Thank you”, and wondered if we, me and Fabrice, were interested in working on something with her, together.
Have you actually met?
Leo: At the end of August 2016, we met for the first time at a Full Circle party in London. A Man Called Adam were playing live and Sally also did a DJ set. She played just before Alfredo. Nancy Noise and Phil Mison were also DJing … there were many, many friends there.
Sally: I’d been a fan, so was really happy to be introduced to him. We became Messenger buddies after that. Managing to communicate in spite of the language barrier. He’d send me his new music, I’d send him mine. He sent me the personalized “Balearic Militant” Tee – I made Commander rank (laughs). Later I went to Milan and recorded with them there. I ate a fantastic dinner with his friends while Leo played a wonderful set at a great restaurant in Milan – he played a really eclectic set – including a great Jean Luc Ponty track – I remember asking him what it was, but can’t think if the name of it now. He showed me round the city. He was a wonderful host and we became good friends.
Leo, do you have a favourite A Man Called Adam tune?
Leo: I started buying A Man Called Adam records in `88. The first was APB, on Acid Jazz, then in `89 Techno Powers became a big hit at Movida (legendary Italian 90s house club – that elevated its DJs – Leo, Fabrice and Andrea Gemolotto (Cutmaster G) – The Triade – to equally hallowed status). I loved it very much. It’s the one I like the most. I liked the deep bass and the drums – that seemed live – with that jazz trumpet and the key solo. The beginning reminds me of Virgo Four. I loved it then, and now I also love it for the memories attached.
Sally, do you have a favourite Leo tune?
Sally: I have lots. I loved their mix of La Bellini’s Satan In Love. Their mix of Why Why Why? though was a big track for me – for everyone – when it came out. I was back out DJing again after a bit of a break and I did a gig at Bestival. It was one of my first bigger stage gigs in a while and I was nervous. I played to this crowd of teenagers – “their first festival” types – and when I dropped Why Why Why? they went crazy. They were chanting my name at the end of my set. I’ve never had that before, or since (laughs).
With This Unspoken love, which came first, the music or the lyrics?
Leo: In mid-March 2017 I sent an instrumental track to Sally asking her to listen to it, and wondered if she would like to sing over it. Then I asked her if she could also do a spoken part. At the end of October 2017 Sally sent me the vocal stems – which I liked it right away. Fabrice, my studio partner, and I started working on the project properly – with Sally’s voice – in the spring of 2018. Then all of us agreed that it would be cool if Sally could actually come out to Milan and work on it with us. I`d talked about the project with my dear friend Kenneth Bager – the boss of Music For Dreams – and he was immediately very enthusiastic, and happy to arrange Sally’s flight. Sally arrived in Milan, for 2 days, in early June 2018, and we went to straight into Boombox Studio.
Sally: The backing track that Leo and Fabrice sent me was just a great deep house groove. I wrote the melody, lyrics, and arrangement, and sent these back to them. Later, in Milan, we then changed it up a little.
How long did it take to make the finished track?
Leo: We worked on the production at various times, on and off, from June 2018 to January 2020, when we finished it. The vocal has undergone several metamorphoses and changes. It is no longer the same as when we started. We were satisfied with the arrangement, but the turning point came when – to make a good mix with the sounds that we liked – we returned to Boombox to make the definitive version. I mean, we, Fabrice and I, did a lot of remixes during this time, and the process of doing these – developing our technique, and being exposed to other people`s new music – expanded our horizons, and impacted the finished track.
Are there any more collaborative songs in the pipeline?
Leo: I hope so. I would like that very much. I think it is the beginning of many future collaborations. I respect Sally very much. I have a great respect for her art, and her history. She is a dear, and lovely, friend.
Sally: I hope so. We’re good friends so anytime they want me I’m there. Maybe they might want to do an AMCA remix? (Now there`s a thought – a AMCA remix album – any suggestions on who’d do “Barefoot..” justice? Estelle?? Easter Song??? CPI????)
This Unspoken Love by Leo Mas, Fabrice, and Sally Rodgers, is out now on Music For Dreams. You can find a variety of digital options here. I think the vinyl`s due in September.