Interview #61

Giorgio Di Salvo

* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).

Giorgio Di Salvo (Milano, 1981) studied at IED (Milan). Among his personal projects: Brutto Posse, MASCVS, United Standards, VNGRD and the editions Afroasia, Blacknuss, Enlarged, Stealth, Tabara, TATTOOS, VNGRD. He worked with Carhartt, County of Milan, Damir Doma, Diesel, Fantom, Nike, Stussy, UPPERCUT.

Your productions include design, photography, music. What led you to occupying yourself with all of these things together?

I’ve always been fascinated by all these worlds that are inevitably connected. Starting from graphics I explored various topics looking for a comparison. I am very practical and concrete, when I develop a passion for something I generally do it after a short time.

Is there a particular path that led you to do any of these things?

I’ve always been embarking on various self-taught disciplines, I’ve always believed that there is a common denominator among various activities, a basic logic that one has to understand. As an engine needs fuel, a photo needs a composition and a graphic design needs a layout. Starting from this vision it’s easier to understand the overlap between various activities.

You work a lot with photography, both to document your travels as well as to realize projects in the studio. How did you get involved with this medium?

I’ve always found photography an extremely interesting language because of its synthesis. One of my best friends is a photographer and through him, years ago, I started to learn the basics. I think it was an inevitable step, also as a function of my passion for travel, to be able to adequately document every place I reached.

Thus Ethiopia was born, a photo journal of your trip to Africa. Over the years you have created several publications: they are all different, but associated by a remarkable attention to detail. What fascinates you about the editorial process, pushing you always to take care of your productions by yourself?

I always saw the production of my fanzines as the end product of a project. The handcraft component is something I really enjoy handling: it’s nice to find the formula that combines the best content and form, from paper to print passing through the binding.

In recent years the cultural globalization has brought to light the fascination with exoticism and a subsequent debate about cultural appropriation. In Milan I think it’s easily to be found.

The thing I like most is the consolidation from the younger generations, daughters of immigration, of their own cultural roots. What until recently was seen as a problem, today, slowly, is experienced as a value. I am happy when I see the children of African, Arab, South American immigrants, recover the customs of their families and share them with their peers who grow up with a more complete picture regarding other cultures.

Between projects like United Standards, collaborations with Vice, Damir Doma, Diesel and County of Milan, what is your idea of a brand?

Brands are flags in which people identify themselves. We must therefore give some points of view and communicate a clear idea of belonging to a specific tribe. Talking some time ago with someone who knows a lot about fashion told me: “making a brand is like when you play – your dj set should make people dance and express your personality – if people aren’t having fun that means that you have done something wrong”. If people don’t recognize you, that means you did something wrong, I might add.

 About dj sets: in 2008 you created Brutto Posse, and generally you’ve always been very active in organizing events and concerts in Milan. How has this phenomenon changed over time?

We created BP – we were three people – because at the time there were no free events where you could go, pay the right price for a drink and listen to music of various kinds with the logic of the ‘teenage room’. From those first nights at Connie Douglas the Brutto Posse events have moved, have changed, people have changed and even the music has changed, but the spirit remains the same. As regards to other events, I can say that I know almost all and I see that something is happening: I love it when things get mixed up, I like the contaminations.

Over time you’ve engaged in more structured musical projects such as Afroasia. What’s is that about?

It’s been a few years now that I approached music production. The more natural approach was the one with the sampling also derived from my passion for music in general and my vinyl collection. With Marco Klefisch I then developed a sort of theory, on a close relationship between graphics and sampling, to create collages with pictures or music samples, this is just to say that there is a pattern that is common to the two arguments and for me the interest for music production has been implicit. 90% of Afroasia is built from samples of folk music, researched among hundreds of vinyls purchased over the years.