Somewhat surprisingly, 2007’s best nu-disco record didn’t come from a bearded Norwegian, but rather two gents from Brussels in Belgium. We are, of course, talking about ‘Caramellas’ by Aeroplane, a rush-inducing midtempo beast that boasts the best piano breakdown we’ve heard for aeons. Even now, some six months after its release, “Caramellas’ still has the capability to send shivers down the spine.
“We were for sure very surprised and happy with the response from DJs like Prins Thomas, Laurent Garnier and Pete Herbert,” says Vito De Luca, one half of the Aeroplane duo with studio partner Stephen Fasano. “We still receive a lot of feedback for this 12”. It feels strange because for us it is a very old track – we made it two years ago.”
‘Caramellas’ was first launched into the public consciousness when Lindstrom & Prins Thomas included it on their brilliant Radio One Essential Mix back in the Spring. That in itself was a something of a fortunate accident, as Stephen explains: “Dirk at Eskimo found out that Hans-Peter and Thomas had been given this mix, so told us to get in touch with them. So I sent them both “Caramellas’ and ‘Aeroplane’, and I had a really quick, positive answer. They played it on the mix, which was really good promotion for a first release I think.”
The ‘Aeroplane’/’Caramellas’ 12” finally dropped late summer, and ever since Stephen and Vito have been hot property. Eskimo have long believed that Aeroplane are pretty special – label boss Dirk will enthuse about their credentials to anyone who’ll listen – but now it seems the rest of us are catching up. Their recent second 12”, ‘Pacific Air Race’, is flying off shelves, testament to the endearing appeal of positive electronic music.
Like ‘Caramellas’ and ‘Aeroplane’, ‘Pacific Air Race’ is a wonderfully upbeat record – all spiralling synths, bubby basslines and hands-aloft rffage. If the Pet Shop Boys teamed up with Reverso 68 to make E’d-up, instrumental synth disco, it would sound like ‘Pacific Air Race’. B-side ‘Above The Clouds’ is similarly luscious – a slo-mo, synth-heavy chunk of MDMA bliss that bares all the Aeroplane trademarks: chugging beats, strong, life-affirming melodies, sweeping strings and pads and more than a hint of late night melodrama.
“I really love the melodies, so the Aeroplane sound is about having a good melody with a disco beat,” Vito says. “We do this style of music not because it’s the disco buzz right now, but because it’s the music we really love.”
Studio partner Stephen agrees. “I’d say it’s about melancholic, vaporous Italian pop and cosmic disco. I collect disco and synth-pop records. Our music is really influenced by this period. But not just this – when I started DJing it was the beginning of the New Beat period in Belgium. I’m also interested in ’70s and ’80s pop, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Giorgio Mororder, Patrick Cowley, the Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, Marvin Gaye, Ramsey Lewis, Serge Gainsbourg, Elton John, Vangelis, Arthur Baker, Lucio Battisti… I could.. I could go on about influences all night!”
A typical Aeroplane DJ set at the Make Up Club in Ghent would touch on many of these things, as well as nu-disco, Italo, a dash of Balearica and Cosmic Disco. The duo have recently been given a residency, which will see them become regular fixtures in the club throughout 2008. You can get a taste of their DJ style by downloading the ‘Airpsace1’ mix – link and tracklist at the foot of this piece. As well as a fine selection of recent and forthcoming cosmic, Italo and nu-disco bits, you can check out Stephen and Vito’s remix of ‘Fool For Love’ by Das Pop, one of two forthcoming reworks for Kevin McKay’s Prestel imprint. It takes a haircut-friendly indie-pop track and gives it a typical Aeroplane twist.
“We really love remixing other people’s tracks,” Vito enthuses. “We like to work only with the voice and change the whole harmony of a track. We’ve done two remixes for Prestel – the first for Cobra Dukes and the other for Das Pop. We have quite a few others coming out as well. In February there’s a remix for Low Motion Disco on Eskimo, a remix for Lullabies In The Dark on Permanent Vacation and another one for Lindstrom on Feedelity.”
You get the feeling 2008 is going to be a busy year for our Belgian heroes. In March they release their third single – 'Whispers', a collaboration with Sheffield chanteuse and sometime Maurice Fulton studio pal Kathy Diamond – with their debut album due in the autumn. “We are working on it,” Stephen confirms. “It’s planned to come out at the end of 2008. It will be more personal. Maybe there will be some collaborations with singers. We have been working on some demos since last year. We are taking our time to do it good.”
If ‘Caramellas’ and ‘Pacific Air Race’ are anything to go by, Aeroplane could be one of the soaraway success stories of 2008. Here’s hoping.
Aeroplane: Airspace 1 Mix
Download mix >>
01. Kaoru Inoue - The Secret Field [Todd Terje Remix] (Mule Musiq)
02. Martha 407 [Daniele Baldelli Re-edit] (Cdr)
03. Lovefingers - Zoysia (NRDS)
04. Sugardaddy - Stripped To The Bone (Tirk)
05. Aeroplane Feat Kathy Diamond - Whispers [Hercules and Love Affair Remix] (Cdr)
06. Still Going - Still Going Theme (DFA)
07. El Dukes - Tittle Tattle [Borat Edit] (Cdr)
08. Babytalk - Keep On Move (Sticky Disc)
09. Torch Song – Daniele Baldelli Re-edit (Cdr)
10. Camaro’s Gang - Fuerza Major [Tensnake Remix] (Radius)
11. Das Pop - Fool For Love Love [Aeroplane Remix] (Prestel)
12. Peter Visti - Fighting James (Eskimo)
13. Nemesi - Jurassico [Prins Thomas Mix] (Cdr)