Next up in our Artist Profile series is an Italian duo that goes by the name Pelussje. The male and female pair are known for their high energy performances, their lucha libre fighter masks (they did the mask thing before it was cool), and their eclectic yet incredibly original and intriguing productions. Any musical artist that claims to be “born in flaming walls of sound” is bound to be fascinating, am I right?
James Nayler and Chiara Benelli joined forces in 2004 playing in the underground circuit until several years later when they decided to bring their sound back to being club ready. Finally settling into their own style and feel, the performers took hold of their brand and solidified their presence as an artist. Not too long after, the DJs were touring the world, sharing the stage with superstars such as Skrillex, Deadmau5, Steve Aoki, and more, and even getting the attention of one of modern dance music’s most coveted labels: OWSLA. Not long after, the pair was being applauded by the online community as well as big player such as Rolling Stone and MTV Clubland. Through all of the chaos, the two are still going strong 12 years later and show absolutely zero signs of slowing down. Below, Pelussje has answered some of our questions:
1. How did music start for you guys? Did you begin learning classical instruments or did you begin DJing and then later producing?
We’ve both always been passionate about music since we were kids. Chiara used to sing in high school and Nayler started producing beats for his rap band when he was 16 and since then never stopped. We both experimented with tons of different styles of music, and when we met we naturally started making music together. Being DJs was the inevitable evolution of our creative process.
2. What does Pelussje mean? Is there significance in the name?
This is a weird story; many years ago I (Chiara) had a dream. I was in a desert on the top of a mountain, and suddenly a shaman appeared. I knew his name was Merlin. He looked at me for a long time, then pronounced the word “PELUSSJE”. When I woke up, I knew that word was powerful, and we just KNEW that we had to use it as our stage name.
3. How would you describe your personal style to the world?
Since we started we always felt the need to experiment with a lot of different genres, but at the same time we tried to always maintain our sound. At the moment we’d say it’s a mix between Future Beats / Cosmic Hip Hop / New Wave Trip-Hop / Galactic Downtempo with World Bass influences, but with something in it that will always make you know it’s our music!
4. I noticed that you guys wear masks in your live performances. Tell me, how did this become part of your stage act and why is Mexican Lucha Libre a part of your brand?
Our masks were initially linked to our musical roots. We took inspiration from bands like The Locust, Vitamin X or the Italians Almandino and OvO. We loved their attitude on the stage, and for us, their masks added something more theatrical to their performances.
We wanted to bring that attitude into our shows and the Lucha masks were perfect for this aim! We’ve always been fanatic about Mexican Lucha Libre, so we chose one of the strongest luchadors of the past (Huracan Ramirez) and the strongest of the present (Místico), customizing their masks with our own style. Now a lot of DJs wear masks, but when we did it…it was very original!
5. Last year you had a three piece nostalgia EP on NEST (which was dope by the way.) How was working with NEST and would you perhaps someday make a follow up EP on their imprint?
Thanks!! 🙂 Working with Nest was really awesome, the whole crew is so open-minded. Creating music for them was really inspiring, we’ve never been afraid of doing something “too weird” so it’s really cool to work with people who get that. We’re always in contact, and we’ll definitely make more music for them on the same imprint, maybe with our parallel project Maekl Jordn.
6. Out of all of your performances all over the world, which one(s) were some of your favorites?
Heaven, Seoul (South Korea) in 2011 has to be one of our favorites. It was the first time we had played in South Korea and we were mad excited to be there! Koreans are crazy party animals! There was a huge audience and fireworks and confetti everywhere, and the stage did this 180° rotation that brought us round from backstage… it was incredible! The energy of the whole show, everything was perfect. And after that, at 7 AM we ate the best soup of our lives in a random little place close to the club.
7. Tell us about the inspiration for your latest track “Bad Habit.”
We’ve been working on this song for a long time. The melody came first, then we spent a long time looking for the perfect singer to understand its mood and perform on it. Arielle (Vakni) was everything we needed, and much more than we expected, when she wrote the lyrics for Bad Habit they were just the right ones. We were very lucky to find her – you should definitely check her out ’cause all her works are amazing!
8. Do you have any bootlegs in the works?
OHHHHHH yesss!! We haven’t worked on bootlegs for a while ’cause we wanted to focus more on original stuff, but now we’re ready to release one (a sort of special reedit/rebeat) of “Cashmere Cat – Wild Love (Audio) ft. The Weeknd, Francis and the Lights”. We absolutely love that song but it’s really hard to play in a set, so we respectfully put our hands on it to make it more dancefloor-ready. But the most interesting project we’re working on right now (bootleg-wise) is a very special cover of one of the most popular songs of the nineties, you gotta stay tuned for this one ’cause it’s gonna be a huge surprise…
9. What are your plans for 2017?
We’re working on a lot of new original music. We have another (amazing) collab in the works with one of our favorite singers, Josh Money, who already made some magic with the vocals on our track “Down The River.” Besides that, we have a lot of new collaborations in the oven, with some young guns you’d better keep an eye on like MaTTsh, Kaizer, Santa (of the Sorry We’re Silly/¥EN), Marble, QLVNE, Redan… With some of them we’re also working on a visionary project, something potentially fresh and out of the box. We’ll reveal something about it in the near future, but for the moment all we can say is that YtaloW_KIDS are coming. StaY tWned.