Gigi Masin is a beacon of positivity in a difficult world. His music has always been balmy, genial, full of emotional sustenance, but for a very long time it was a well kept secret.
His scattering of work from the late 1980s – inspired by synth disco music of his native Italy but rarefied, drawn-out into beautiful ambient drift – reached only very small audiences, and he produced less and less, eventually settling into domestic life and working for the Italian postal service.
Ripples of interest continued, though – and eventually in the 2010s as archivists and DJs became more interested, he was pulled out of musical retirement.
Since 2014, he has had an ever-increasing profile, gigging internationally, collaborating widely, and releasing music as beautiful and heartwarming as anything in his past.
That even goes for his new album Vahine – despite it being conceived in the saddest of circumstances.
Masin’s wife of many years died in 2021, and this record is his tribute to her. But though it has distinct sadness in it, it is a long way from a typically dark, mourning piece. Rather it’s shot through with sunlight and even dance rhythms, a real celebration of love.
We spoke to Masin on the phone at home in Venice to find out about its genesis.
How are you doing? How are you feeling about this record and the reception from those people who've heard it?
It was a long work... One year ago, we lost my wife, and I decide what to do, if I want to do an album talking about this happening, or something about maybe the feelings behind.
And I found some tracks. I had the idea of something that is female, something that is a collection of feeling and songs and music about love. The feeling that music, like love, is invincible.
So, the result is maybe a goodbye album.
Of course that must have been very painful decision to make to dig into those emotions for this record – was it difficult to start?
On the first time, I disagreed to make an album about my wife, because the feeling could be very primitive about the loss and about remembering all the 50 years together.
But I decide that maybe life need more force... not to forget, but take the best about the rememberings of a lifetime and try to point the things that are more beautiful, that are more warm.
For example, the album, it's about dancing. Because Vahine is the dancer. It's women from Tahiti, dancers.
My wife loved to dance, and she danced until the illness stop her on the chair. So, let's take the dream side of life and imagine that she could dance forever, smiling, you know?
There is no sense of hurting. Take the good feeling, the colour things of life, and sing about love and play about the beauty of love, and not the sadness and not the hurting of a lost someone you love.
Beautiful. Did you think back to particular past inspirations – moments of dancing or experiencing music together?
Well, for example, she loved to do belly dance. We had a lot of places where we would go there in the afternoon and take the belly dance, and it is a dance where everybody is happy.
It's not a sad dance or something very heavy. It's free. It's lovely. It's typical dance of a lovely day, lovely hours. So, this is the kind of things I will remember.
And I suggest that in every bad moment, the days where you just want to cry and just want to forget everything, there is something good that remains. And this is the key to go for work and take your love inside. I'm taking ...
We have twins, two guys, and they are 18, so they have to take their mother inside for all their life. And this is privilege.
It's something you have to see with a different view. It's not the loss. It's not something that life takes away from you. It's something you have inside, and it's a privilege. It's something that other people don't have. It's like something magic that every day when you have problem, already you have feeling.
I say to my kids, the best moment when you have to remember your mother is when you fall in love. Because the feeling are the same. If loves makes sad in these days, love will help us to be happy and go forward in this life.
I know that you kind of got a real sense of appreciation and privilege from what happened with your music: the fact that you are able later in life to get the recognition and the chance to play your music to people. Do you feel like that helped you with that kind of idea of gratitude and appreciation?
Yeah, I'm a fortunate one, not only because the people find my records after long time and I start to have a life like a musician, a composer. But also because I'm open to the people that write me on the social, for example, or during the concert.
You feel that your work is not only in the records and the travel as a musician, but you go inside the life of people. And people sometimes tell me, "Oh, I was very sad, but that music, your record helped me."
So, the work I did the best is like something that comes from my experience, from my impressions, and it's not so easy to translate the feelings into music, but sometimes that thing happens. And have a direct contact with the people that buy your music, that listen to you, and it's the feedback.
I think maybe it's really one important thing in my life as a musician; feedback from the people that say thanks, and wait again for something to pass some hours with the records. It's very, very important for me.
And of course, you have had the opportunity to kind of have meeting of minds, feedback and collaboration with other musicians as well. How has that influenced the way that you play and make music now?
Of course. Yeah, I don't love to live in a tower away from the people. And to stay and to pass a few hours with other musician, because you have always to learn something, and my fortune is to travel the world and have to connected with other musician.
We just finished our record with a great musician, Greg Foat. He's a nice guy. He's a wonderful musician. We make a record I hope will be released early next year. And I say the same for the people like [Dutch DJ/producers] Marco Sterk and Jonny Nash. Playing together, it has happened that we become friends, and it's very rare.
It's very rare because music is a strange jungle where people sometimes fight for money, and with the privilege to be on the front line. But if you take the “you” inside into your job, the music helps sometimes.
You learn a lot of things. If you want to listen, you learn a lot of things, and this is an incredible force that gives you the force to go again, again, making record, making concert, and believe this is wonderful. It's wonderful. It's maybe the best job on Earth.
And what are your plans now? Where is this record taking you, and what else do you have for the near future?
Yeah, the record will be released on the 11th of November. It's a nice record. I was really happy to release, and I'm sure he can take me back to many places where I'll have a concert. And I'd like to go back to the US and Japan, for example.
But it's again another opportunity to find new people, to travel and see new places. I need to go to different places, and it's wonderful for me. If you wait a lifetime to be a musician, you can understand.
Now I'm 67. I'm happy like a child on Christmas morning. I have another project I'm making, thinking about a new record. I have some track to do. It's great. It's great. It's a magic moment for me.
All Images: Anna Semenova
Writer | Joe Muggs
Joe Muggs is a writer, DJ and curator of many years standing, covering both mainstream and underground. His book 'Bass, Mids, Tops', covering decades of UK bass music, is out now via Strange Attractor / MIT Press, and you can subscribe to his newsletter at tinyletter.com/joemuggs