Mathias Modica / Gomma Rec pic


Label owner (Toy Tonics — Kryptox), Munich (Ger)


-Hi Mathias, we’re really happy to have you here for the Apparel Q/A. How’s it going?

Hi! Very well thanks. We’re very busy and a lot of things are happening at the labels so, as always, we’re working hard to get the best possible exposure for our artists.

-Your stage name ’tastes’ Italian, more precisely of Sicily. Tell us what’s your relationship with Italy.

I should say a pretty ‘tight one’ being my mom from Sicily; I got Italian passport and most of my family is in Mazara Del Vallo (province of Trapani). I only moved to Germany when I was six (before we lived in Italy and France) but anyway, Italy and Italian culture are surely a big part of my life and that helps me to have a more open approach to music and arts in gen-eral. Germans and Italians share a common ‘productive’ mentality and Germans are surely perfectionists but Italians are, all in all, much more about sharing ideas which definitely helps a lot when it comes to thinking about new ways of making art and, in my case, music. So, in regards of what I said at the beginning, yes, the Italian side of my personality is strong and present and I guess it also reflects in my work and in my labels!

Mathias Modica

-Now let’s talk about music rewinding the tape back to your childhood. How did this passion come about? What made you understand that you wanted to work with music?

It’s a family thing. My father is a Contemporary Classical music composer. Back in the days he studied with Goffredo Petrassi and Olivier Messiaen in Rome and used to live in Villa Massimo (North-East Rome) where there’s a really important academy of Music composition; a sort of German detail in Italy where every year six incredibly talented musicians get chosen to study there, and luckily enough my dad was one of them. Once there he met my mom and the rest is history hahah. So being music a primary good in my family I guess it came natural to me to get more and more engaged with it, also because my dad kinda forced my mom to go to concerts twice or three times a week when she was pregnant to get her belly (hence me) used to the vibrations of music!

-Observing your growth as an artist and a label manager we reckon that versatility is one of your best qualities. It pushes you to find a diverse approach to the music you make and the artists you produce. What do you look for when you listen to new music and how do you recognise a talent?

Well first of all thanks for the compliment! To me, recognising a talent is a mixture of rationality and intuition (here’s my German and Italian sides complementing each other). Surely my German part helps me to put everything into context and to see the big picture and the Italian one allows me and my instinct to recognise that ‘spark’, which is almost impossible to put into words. Anyway, my view is always consistent with the view of my colleagues at the label. I love to pick artists when they’re young and to create a path with em and for me the personality is a really important side of an artist’s profile. So firstly we look for interesting characters instead of just bright talents, that’s why the ideal artist for me is somebody whom I can go out for dinner with, someone who can have an interesting view on things, who’s curious. Then of course we want them to have a personal musical style and to be able to bring that contemporary touch to what they do instead of copying trends. Another important aspect to mention is how crucial is for an artist, nowadays, to find its public and to communicate his/her message; we don’t believe in egotistic and selfcentred producers who think that the world is waiting for their music. That’s the wrong approach. We want to help them to develop their own world and to make their vision concrete enough to reach the people as the other way round is not possible. Today this type of communication (or music marketing, in the best positive meaning of the term) is really important.

-Germany is of the greatest exporters of Techno and then -in the past 10 years- of some really good House music but more recently we are seeing a substantial rise of the Jazz scene. Does this transformation of the scene -in your opinion- mirrors the transformation of Germany itself, which is nowadays becoming an extremely complex and multicultural country?

Yes and I really like it. Recent politics have been increasingly inclusive, many immigrants came to live in Germany and that’s changing the fabric of the community, which is great. Plus, recently the right-wing have lost some ground (and I hope it’ll happen the same in Italy) so all this have led, as you said, to a cultural change. In regards to Jazz I see too that the youngsters are getting more and more interested in the scene and in general in this genre. Like every trend, the massified Techno wave have become standardised and people got -let’s say- bored of it, wanting to move to something different and in the past twenty years Electronic music (inc. Hip-Hop which is not so much ‘sample based’ anymore) have decisively turned into mainstream music. So in my opinion the reason why Jazz is rising again is because it embodies the new, the change. Jazz, being made by people, in a group, with real instruments that require a certain dose of technique to be played, has also a much more human feel and needs a certain amount of ‘culture’ to be approached; whereas Techno, for instance, doesn’t necessarily imply this. You don’t need any culture to download some sample from the web and put together a Techno track and I’m not being judgemental, it’s a fact! Jazz is also about togetherness, being in a band -as I said- so it’s also of more difficult access; we can compare Techno to Punk for its immediacy and directness but at some point Punk became boring too. In the UK this shift have already took place in the past five years and so it’s happening now in Germany, which to me is honestly remarkable.

Toy Tonics

-Tell us how’s your daily routine like and give us four tracks that help you make it through the 24hrs, one for each moment of the day: morning, afternoon, evening and night!

I have a schizophrenic life between Berlin and Munich. When I’m in Berlin I spend the day in the studio making music, while at night I check the e-mails and I work with my label partners, whereas in Munich (where our office is) I basically do office work with my friends, like now. So yes, these are essentially my two identities apart from private life. Talking about tracks: in the morning I always listen to Jazz as my brain needs a more complex music to wake up, so give me a free Jazz record by Ornette Coleman and I’ll surely wake up faster and in a good mood! In the afternoon I need something relaxing which could also help concentrating a bit so I’ll go for some Ambient… Vangelis or Angelo Badalamenti would fit! In the evening I’d need some good vibes, something that could stimulate positiveness for me and the ones around me so I definitely wouldn’t put some dark, Industrial, Noisecore music cause I don’t want me and my friends to feel aggressive ahaha. So I’d pick a good James Brown’s or Sly Stone’s record or… yes, let’s put The Meters from New Orleans! At night we can either dance in a club (in normal times) or at home, why not, so let’s put some cool Disco vibes by Was (Not Was) from NYC!

-Now the fateful question: when the pandemic will be left behind, how do you see the Club/Live Shows situation developing or changing? Do you think the politicians comprehend the importance of such an influential industry, culturally-wise and economically-wise?

I think when we will be able to dance and meet together again people will be craving for good vibes and they’ll be wanting to dance, hug, kiss each others which will create a high demand for club nights and artists to play. The German government, for example, which has been wise and judicious with tax payers money is now heavily funding artists and es-pecially non German artists, encouraging them to work either in Germany or with German companies (like us). By being a German-Italian, on the other hand, I’m really sad to see that in Italy something like this is impossible due to the carelessness of all the recent Italian governments that preferred to waste money creating a huge debt, instead of investing in culture.

-Any future plans? What’s keeping you busy at the moment?

I’m in the office now with Max, Lilly and Moritz (my partners) working on many future plans especially focusing on some bands that we’ve been signing for our labels, which is really exciting. We’re also publishing the second issue of our graphics magazine called The Toy Tonics Pocket Poster Magazine. We’re also releasing t-shirt monthly in collaboration with artists so we’re quite busy at the moment!

-Thanks a lot for your time Mathias, it’s been a great pleasure to chat with you on our imaginary couch. We hope you felt at ease talking with us. Cheers!

Thank you guys and thanks for your interest and your questions! We really appreciate your work and without people like you getting interest in what people like us do we wouldn’t be able to make it, so it’s me thanking you. Grazie, arrivederci e buona giornata!

Apparel Music is an internationally distributed record label with a “Jazzy” sound.