Interview: Elena Savlokhova
Cover Photo: Thomas Hensher
Samantha Togni is an Italian music producer and DJ, currently based in London.
What is great about your life right now?
My amazing household that got me through these really hard times in the best way possible, my family in Italy, I can not wait to hug them when we will be able to travel again. The amazing community and friends I have around me, my physical and mental health, my studio which is my forever happy place, and my cat Regina.
When did you first experience the power music carries within itself?
I have such vivid memories of being maybe 6 years old and glued to my grandma’s TV, she used to always tell me off for being too close and watching MTV all day. I think that’s the first time the power of music clocked in me. It’s something hypnotizing that disconnects you from reality but at the same time it carries such powerful ideologies and feelings that make you look inward and challenge yourself.
You’ve mentioned how you used to travel for hours to attend gigs and that your passion and commitment to music has always been vital to you. Was there ever a time when you were fed up with music?
I was never fed up with music because nothing exists without it. I used to live in a very remote part of Italy, I will always remember my first gig – The Exploited were playing at La Gabbia in Bassano, it took me two buses and a train to get there, summed up perhaps six hours journey in total. When I was there for the first time I felt like a part of something and realized that
music is the main instrument that brings people together. It’s ultimate power increases by the attitude and political message behind it.
How would you describe the thrill and experience of performing?
I have been craving that feeling so bad! I miss that connection you create with people and the raw energy that fills the room. I miss getting excited about my set and that calm that comes straight after it.
What is the best or most memorable gig you’ve ever attended as part of an audience?
There are so many! I feel a bit bad by just choosing one, plenty of memories! The first one that comes to mind is the first time I saw Hole. Courtney Love is such a total bad-ass icon, I remember being right in front of the stage the whole time singing to every song, she looked like a gorgeous disrupted Virgin Mary and she was saying such empowering and powerful things during the show that really resonated with me. I was such a sweaty mess with no voice at the end of the night but so worth it!
Do you let an idea freely take whatever form it wants or do you tend to follow certain guidelines when creating?
My creativity is definitely an ongoing process that follows a certain pattern. I have ways that work for me to get into the creative zone and I am quite disciplined in having a structure within the time I work. More than all of a sudden having an idea in my head and having to run to the studio to write it down, I rather start jamming and the ideas come during the process.
How was your experience being in a hardcore punk band? What were you like during that time in your life?
Being in a band was so good, I really miss rehearsing at the local studio where we used to go to and the collective creative process. I was in Florence at the time and we used to sit for hours near Santa Croce drinking beer and writing lyrics – good times! There was as much laughs as there was drama, we were all opinionated kids. I guess not much has changed? I definitely don’t have the same energy I used to have back then and I am surely much wiser but the attitude and beliefs remain the same.
What kind of people are usually the most difficult to work with?
The ones that take themselves and their work too seriously.
It’s good to be protective towards your work but having the capability of trusting who you work with, trying different ways of creating, scraping the whole idea off and starting again and having fun whilst you do that is essential.
What does friendship mean to you? Do you think it’s difficult to build a strong friendship nowadays?
I am so grateful for the amazing and trustworthy people surrounding me. My friends are my second family and I have some amazing, creative and talented individuals that serve me as an inspiration every single day. I consider myself lucky to have some amazing people around and by being so comfortable with them, I sometimes neglect getting to know new people, I find that quite hard. I am very selective with my friendship circle and I am a bit careful with people I don’t know too well. I guess it’s also a bit of a consequence of being hurt in the past from friendships (even more than relationships) but in the words of Chuck Palahniuk in Invisible Monsters (one of my favorite author and my favorite book by him), «The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open».
How do you think, what impression do you make on people when they meet you for the very first time? And to what extent do you care about what others think of you?
I am such a chilled person, I always try my best to make people feel comfortable around me. I worked a lot on myself in the past years, I used to be a very different person before. I used to be very stiff around people and they seemed to be perceiving it as of me being stuck up whilst actually it was just part of my insecurity. I think through that, as well as practicing a lot of meditation, yoga, and fitness,
I’ve learned the sweet art of not giving a fuck! I don’t have anything to prove to anyone anymore and the validation that once used to rule my existence is long gone, I am just here for a good time and for everyone else to have one!
If you could have a conversation with any historical or famous person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
With no doubts, I’d say Robert Mapplethorpe. I fell in love with his persona since I read Just Kids by Patti Smith and even more after reading his biography. His work moves me so much and he appears as one of those characters that could look past your soul just with a look. I think he’d definitely have one story or two about all the crazy things that must have happened at the Chelsea Hotel and New York during the 70s.
You’ve previously noted that you are obsessed with technology. Is there a particular technology that you look forward to most?
Always keeping myself up to date with new software and forward-thinking ways of making music in particular.
Technology allowed us to be anywhere in the world and being able to create, to read about new devices, plugins and hardware – it’s pretty fascinating and inspiring!
In your opinion, why do people hate what is not them?
It’s quicker and easier to hate instead of revaluing your ideas and educating yourself. Hate comes from a place of ignorance and negligence. Hate is insecurity and fear projected on others; if you live comfortably in your skin, there’s no need to recur to hate and use it to communicate your feelings to others.
The pandemic should have taught us equality and solidarity, yet as soon as a breach of our freedom was restored, the true colours of some people re-emerged. Once again they try to divide us and attack minorities that should be the ones we protect the most. I am really hoping that the news and social media will serve us good and be a tool for change and education, I am seeing some positive changes already, so let’s stay strong.
What changes do you expect or would like to see in the world after the quarantine, both in the world and in the music industry?
I hope that people will act with more consciousness and kindness. Personally, during these times, I learned a lot about how important it is to listen to each other and check-in with others. We are such a fragile species that can not operate alone, we need each other we need support more than ever. What I have also learned is to waste less and be more mindful about how much and what I buy and where I buy it from, this is something I will really hold on to.
I hope that people will learn to realize a bit more that we are here for such a short amount of time and that everything could be taken away from us in a split second, so give value to the things that happen to you on a daily basis and respect the needs of others.
I want to believe that the future of music is based on variety and acceptance, where venues and festivals will make sure that people from different ethnicities and genders will always be fairly represented.
What question would you like to be asked in an interview and what would your answer be?
“What’s the weirdest dream you have ever had?” For quite a while I used to have sleep paralysis. If you never had it before, you have such vivid dreams that really seem like reality, but at the same time you know that you are sleeping.. weird. Some of the nights the dreams were pretty awful and scary but there was this one time I dreamt about my old dog jumping on me with her paws on my chest and licking my face non-stop. Imagine being pinned down and not being able to move whilst a dog licks your face. I woke up that morning with cramps in my stomach for how much I was laughing in my sleep.