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Planet Funk: the exclusive interview for Lamborghini

19 Abril 2024
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The first edition of the Lamborghini Arena weekend had a very special soundtrack: the collective Italian band Planet Funk set the perfect mood for the two days celebrating the passion for Automobili Lamborghini with fans and customers on the Imola Circuit track. We caught up with Alex Neri, Marco Baroni, Dan Black and Alex Uhlmann ahead of the exclusive concert they held during the Party Night at the Bologna Fiere exhibition center.

How was Planet Funk born?

Marco Baroni: Planet Funk was a merger between two production groups: Alex Neri, Gigi [Canu], the late Sergio [Della Monica] and myself. When we met in London, there was already mutual respect, so we decided to do something together. We went straight to the studio in Naples where they had the label, Bastin’ Loose, we started recording and Planet Funk was born.

What was the first track you did together?

Alex Neri:  The first track we did together was “Chase the Sun”. Marco and I spent some time in Cuba and we had a tremendously spiritual, deep experience that was very special to us. When we came back to Italy, we decided to write a song about that: about chasing the light and energy. And it turned out to be very deep.

Marco Baroni: We were looking for something different, higher than what we had done before. I think we had the right spirit and the lyrics, and the song reflects that feeling. 

Speaking of light, what’s the story behind “Another Sunrise”?

Alex Uhlmann: Around 2010 or 2011, I was standing in line at a supermarket, and I realized that everybody was on their cell phones and nobody was looking at each other. While today it is completely normal, it wasn’t back then. And I remember thinking, “What's going on? We're not communicating anymore.” I thought this was a scary experience as we are missing out on things. The sun is rising, for example, it's beautiful, but we are looking at our phone. It’s a very basic concept, but we are losing a lot of touch with reality. So, I thought we need to concentrate on the simple things around us.

From a supermarket to… being “stuck in the UK”. What’s “Who Said” about?

Dan Black: “Who Said” was the last song we did on the first album [Non Zero Sumness]. I thought we were done with the record, I was back in England, and I got an email saying, “We've got one more thing. Could you write on it?” So, I thought it was very low pressure. It's built around a kind of Gary Newman idea. It was different from the others and it seemed kind of punky. Often, if I'm writing songs, I'll think of other artists as some kind of clothes to try on. I’m a massive PIL and Sex Pistols fan, so I thought, what would John Lydon do on this? I kind of just did an impression of John Lydon, which one could argue is what it sounds like. And at that time, we hadn't really released anything. I had a band, but would still do depressing, difficult jobs. And I had technically been to America with my parents when I was a kid because my gran lived there. So, I had been. So, the line ‘I’ve never been to the USA’ is a lie, but it's a character mixed with my life of working, being resentful. It kind of comes from how I was living my life at that time in a very small, cheap flat in north London.
It was quite unconscious. I did it very fast, and I didn’t think this would be a really key track on this album. As a lot of good songs tend to be, the less you worry about it, sometimes the better it is. 

Luxemburg, the UK, Italy are your home countries, and you are currently living across Europe. You're probably the most international Italian band: how do you deal with cultural differences?

Alex Neri: Oh, stereotypes do come out! But culturally, it's not a coincidence that this project was born in Naples. Because Naples, being a city which has always been influenced by a lot of cultures, I think that they are reflected in the music. And the fact that we are from different cultures is a plus in our music.

From a merge of cultures to a merge of music genres. As an encounter of dance, electronic, indie and rock music, it’s difficult to put a label on what you do. How would you define your music?

Alex Neri: Marco and I come from dance music. And in the nineties dance music was the only music which we exported from Italy to Europe. So, for us it was more natural to be with an international band than a strictly Italian band. Thanks to dance music, Planet Funk exists.

Dan Black: But Alex [Uhlmann] and I actually don’t come from dance music. Which is one of the strengths because that tension makes it all more interesting. It's quite an unusual marriage.

Marco Baroni: One of the missions in the beginning was to do something different, we wanted to explore something more, mix indie rock into dance music. Guitars, real bass with the samples, synthesizers. It was quite new at the time.

What do you think about while you perform on stage? What's on your mind?

Alex Neri: I try to live the moment, to stay focused here and now. 

Marco Baroni: I enjoy the moment without thinking too much about what is happening around me. I try to be free to express myself without too much pressure. 

Alex Uhlmann: I don't think about anything. I think that's what I appreciate about it as well. It's what I used to love about sports as well. You know, it's the one place where you don't think about anything. 

Dan Black: You’re doing something very sort of automatic, but you've also got to be engaged with it. So, it's slightly paradoxical that you're present and doing it and sort of watching yourself do it, but also part of you is involved and emotionally riding/conducting what you're doing and watching the audience, feeling, “Oh, they're reacting to this. I'm gonna push more this, less of that.” So, it's a very unique state to be in for me when it's going well. I'm like, “Well, let's do it. Let's really try and do well. Even if it's, you know, ten people or 10,000.”

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Valores ahorro de carburante del Revuelto*: Ahorro de carburante combinado (electricidad+gasolina): 23 MPGe; Ahorro de carburante combinado (solo gasolina): 12 MPG; Valores en base al EPA