Alexander Robotnick (65) jumped to international fame with his upbeat 1983 disco track, Problèmes D’amour. It was a hit in America’s underground club scene and was used in the Hollywood movie European Vacation (1985), starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. In a lilting Italian accent, Robotnick tells us that he learnt about the song’s popularity outside of Italy, much later. “I didn’t speak English back then and didn’t care much about what was happening internationally.”
Robotnick (real name:Maurizio Dami) started out with a dance -cabaret band, eventually moving to produce electro music. Alongside, he composed for theatre, local films, and fashion events. He admits to taking whatever work came his way to sustain himself. “I didn’t come from a rich family. When I quit my government job to become a musician, my parents were horrified,” Robotnick recalls.
Bored with electro, he switched to creating world music in 1987. With Boliwar Miranda (on flute) and Ettore Bonafé (on tabla), he founded a world music band, Masala. “It wasn’t the most original name,” he laughs. “But I feel I made the best music in that period.” In 2003, a French promoter emailed him asking if he still DJs. “I’d never DJed until then. But the music I was into (world music) wasn’t in fashion during the period, so I promptly replied saying yes,” he says. And that’s how Robotnick turned into a DJ.
The musician has taken several bike trips across India, especially through the south. “I’ve been to Goa, Hampi, Mysore, Mangalore… My favourite state is Karnataka, followed by Tamil Nadu and Kerala,” he rattles off. “I love Carnatic music, and Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia is my favourite.” Interestingly, Robotnick has a huge collection of temple music cassettes.
Though Robotnick has been visiting India since the early ’90s, he played his first gig here only last year. “I always concentrated on Carnatic music when I was here; I didn’t go to parties. So I didn’t know India had so many dance music fans,” he says, adding,“Last week, I played at a live music space in Mumbai. The promoter wanted me to play disco. I wasn’t sure it’ll work but the young people loved it.”
Alexander Robotnick will play at The Future Theory Festival’s after-party on February 27.
Where: Fort Jadhavgadh, Hadapsar Saswad Road, Jadhavwadi, Pune
Tickets: Rs 1,800 onward on insider.in