Italian DJ, producer, and label head Manfredi Romano, better known as DJ Tennis, first started his long and prosperous music career tour-managing punk bands and promoting left-field events in Italy somewhere around the turn of the Millennium. From there, after finishing a University degree in computer science, Romano went on to form Italy’s first-ever booking agency that was solely dedicated to electronic music.
Some years later, around 2010, Romano started to establish himself as a DJ in his own right. His eclectic selections have earned him top spots at many of the world’s most well-loved clubbing destinations and festivals ever since.
As a producer, he has been known to draw upon his past relationships with iconic post-rock bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Tortoise, and Fugazi for inspiration when getting to work on his own intricately synthesized electronics works.
Romano is also the man behind the hugely successful record label Life & Death, which has seen a magnitude of releases by artists such as Tale Of Us, Recondite, Red Axes, Marvin & Guy, and Autarkic to reel-off just a few.
As longtime admirers of DJ Tennis and Life & Death, we reached out to see if he would be interested in getting involved with our Mix Series. The result is an hour-long journey through the more mystifying and cosmic side of house, techno and electronic music. Keep scrolling to check out our interview with Manfredi below. Enjoy!
Hey Manfredi, thanks for contributing towards our Mix Series. Can you tell us about your recording and what the idea was behind it…
There is no real idea behind the mix – normally I start selecting some tracks & listening to music that’s on rotation from my playlists, promos and own demos. Then I pick tracks based on the mood of the moment. So there’s not really a “preparation” – it’s more me diving into some of the sounds and combining them with the mood of the moment.
Could you tell us a little bit about your record label, Life And Death, how would you describe this to anyone that isn’t already familiar with it?
Life And Death is a kind of electronic translation of what my actual background is. I grew up listening to psychedelic rock, Brazilian music, funk, a lot of indie rock, hardcore punk and shoegaze – plus pop of course. I started listening to a lot of music in a different way, with a different approach, and I decided to combine this with dance music. This is pretty much how I describe what started Life And Death – a multi-faceted indie dance label.
Are there any exciting new Life And Death new releases on the horizon?
There are definitely more albums coming – maybe also shifting away from dancefloor music a little bit…
Life And Death aside, what are your other favourite record labels out there at the moment?
Especially during the pandemic I have been exploring genres of music that I was not used to exploring anymore because of heavy touring. Now with more time & a different mindset I have been listening on Bandcamp to a world of world music and jazz for example, so it’s difficult to identify a specific label at the moment.
What’s your preferred method for finding new music – do you still enjoy digging around in dusty crates (when record shops are open!) or do you prefer to buy online?
I find music everywhere, scanning from everywhere. Occasionally I will go to a record store and spend 8 hours in there looking for something. But I do not only go to record stores – I find a lot online. I listen to a lot of mixes from other people. I ask for demos and promos from other people that can inspire me or I can play. There’s not a specific way. When I go to record stores I often follow the lead of a very good friend of mine – to name one for example, Danilo Plessow, who is a very inspiring person and taught me a lot of new things.
And what about these crazy lockdown times we’re facing today. What’s been keeping you going through it all?
What keeps me going is keeping busy in the studio and activating new things, making new connections – speaking to people I didn’t see for a long time and have a good break. It’s been a difficult time indeed with ups & downs but I have tried my best to be active on other fronts.
What does the rest of 2021 have in store for you?
Re-opening and restarting nightlife. I grew up as a promoter, a tour manager, an agent, a composer and a DJ – nightlife is pretty much my whole life, so I’m looking forward to its return.