Dona Basile’s music has a dual identity; as Dona he makes raw house, acid and techno that reflects the early days of those genres, and as DJ Plant Texture, he makes breaks-laden jungle and hardcore, full to the brim with ironic samples.
Records on DJ Haus’ Unknown to the Unknown, Jericho One, and Lobster Theremin’s sub-label 1ø PILLS MATE have seen Basile experimenting with his more UK-focussed sound. With his first release for famed Italian imprint Ilian Tape, this sound has matured into its current iteration. The Bongoman Archive marries Basile’s aliases and showcases the two extremes of his production. In the company of Ilian Tape producers making atmospheric breakbeat techno, such as Stenny and Andrea, the EP is a fresh and welcome edition to the label’s roster.
An avid record collector, Basile’s RA mix is devised like a mixtape of music new and old. His passion for unearthing strange sounds has found an outlet in EXP Records, the store he opened in November 2017 in his hometown of Bari.
I caught up with Dona to discuss EXP, his broad musical influences, and his distinct approach to production. He’s also shared five releases that epitomise the variety of his musical tastes.
What kinda music shaped your childhood and how did you get to what you’re making at the moment?
I grew up listening mostly to rock and house music. I’ve always lived in an area that doesn’t have a proper musical scene, so basically I’ve been inspired by everything that came from all over the world.
There were a lot of DJ sets recorded on cassette, shared from friends to friends during the late ’90s, and I listened to acid house on one of those cassettes for the first time. Then in ’99, I listened to Skunk Anansie for the first time and the 1st loop of Charlie Big Potato captured my attention and totally brought me into another dimension, so I started to listen to jungle and rave music.
You recently opened up EXP records in your hometown Bari, how has that been going?
Ah glad you asked. I’ve been collecting records for a long time and it was difficult to find “weird music” in town, or simply a place to share musical tastes and experience. I was doing a desk job for a construction company and at a certain point of my life I felt very bad, so I decided to change everything and here we are.
Is there anything in particular that you’re trying to push with the store?
Sometimes I feel like it’s a mission for me, to let people listen to something innovative and fresh, I love to do that. But I don’t want to focus only on one kind of music, I really want to promote everything that sounds quality to my ear.
How do you approach production? Is there a difference between your aliases?
Yeah totally. Mainly the Dona alias is dedicated to the machines, so everything is based on the programming of synth and drum machines. As DJ Plant Texture, I mainly work with samples from other music, so most of the tracks are only MPC jams. So if there’s a sample from another track it’s DJ Plant Texture, if it’s programmed by myself it’s Dona.
There seems to be an element of playfulness to what you do, from your name to the sampling…
That’s because I don’t want to take myself so seriously. I mean music is one of the most important things in my life, but everyday I see a lot of people around building their public image before building their aesthetic of music, I really hate that kind of approach but I prefer to laugh on these kind of things.
And the moniker DJ Plant Texture means absolutely nothing, I was just searching for a heavy old-school ’90s rave moniker lol.
You can really sense your love for jungle and hardcore in your DJ Plant Texture productions, how has this music influenced you?
I guess it’s because I’m a drummer, so I totally love breaks, and I feel the power in it. Also it’s because I love the cultural part of music, how it influences generations of people and how it can be powerful, so I always try to emulate the message of the old school music, or the atmosphere you can find in it, with a little modern touch. Despite the “humorous” titles and monikers, I always put a message in my music, and I can’t do music if I don’t already know what I want to do and what the final message will be.
Your last record on Ilian Tape was my favourite you’ve put out so far, how was it working on that record with Dario and Marco Zenker?
The guys are really lovely (ciao ragazzeeeee). Actually Dario was the first artist that charted one of my 1st records some years ago, so I guess before or after I needed to send them some music. When I saw them sharing a video of my track on Facebook I wrote to them and we had that record done after 2 months I guess. It was totally spontaneous and I’m so happy about that. Also because I love to work with friendly people, and the guys are amazing.
What are your plans for the future?
Ah there’s quite a lot of things happening. As Dona there’s some upcoming music on Mannequin (with my girlfriend Fabiana aka Aloth), Creme and Interdimensional Transmissions, this last one as an album. As DJ Plant Texture there’s a Jericho One upcoming, plus I’m working with the guys trying to put out a new EP on Ilian Tape. Also there’s a new project with a brother of mine, Mike Tansella, an amazing DJ, as EXPERIMENT ZERO, and some music with Derek Plaslaiko and Bill Torres.
Also with Fabiana and a couple of other friends we started this kind of illegal party around our town Bari, just to let the people express themselves musically, the name of the party is NUMB and we did the first one last Friday, it was really stressful but so good in the end.
And then I need a vacation.
Catch Dona playing for Texture, July 13th at Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh.
Buy tickets here.
Words: Jess Cohen