Denis Curman is well known Croatian producer.... His story began long time before 1990. but in that period he became popular, first in homeland Croatia, and then in the rest of the world.
Known as Italo/Eurodance/Eurobeat producer all these years he made lots of great songs. “Hey Hey” by Vanessa, “Music” by Sophie, “Power Of Love” by Casanova, “Pretty Woman” by Lolita etc. etc. All these songs have founded tops of the Hit Lists particularly in Japan.
In Croatia he made great album for domestic female singer Nina. Today Denis is pretty still active with others projects. What he told me about his career and about, for me the most interesting, his work for Time Records and other interesting stuff read below.
To listen to some of his great work, go to homepage
Zeljko: Denis, could you introduce yourself in few words?
Denis: Croatian composer & producer born in Zagreb, promoting Italian and German dance music.
Zeljko: I would like to start talk about your career in chronological way. When you started with music and with what kind of music?
Denis: I've started in the age of 14, playing guitar and singing' in my rock band named "ad acta". Beside our own songs we used to play songs from Dire Straits, U2, Simple Minds, Queen, Bon Jovi, Satriani, etc... I have to admit these bands had a lot's of influence on my work, not only in my beginnings but they even have now. Let's face it that New Order with" New Monday» start to change my way of thinking and perception of music. Stuff like : Koto-Visitors, Laser Dance-Exitation, Dead or Alive-You spin me around like a record, Ken Laszlo-Tonight, Radiorama, Modern Talking, showed me the way I should go. It's been confusing' for me the first time I’ve heard these stuff, you know excellent sound, nice vocals, good arrangements with powerful melodies, and at that time sound pumps like hell. Few years after I've left my band, and started making music with this new approach and astonishing sound.
Zeljko: What or who is your inspiration Denis?
Denis: Well don't ask me, I simple converting my energy into my songs.
Zeljko: Energy SS! This project was the first I have heard from you. The first song was “Lili Marlen” A few words about this project?
Denis: Lili Marlen is a beautiful song, long time ago I've had idea to make a cover with this old song. During 1989 we've finally cut new version of this song, made with Nina as a vocal. Since that war was just about to begin, with too many political tensions they have decided to forbid public performance and broadcasting of the song. I’m sorry but at the moment, this song had nothing to do with politic or whatever, it’s just a love song and that's it. Concerning the name of "Energy SS", it's just had to be something with Hi Nrg music in the title, and the "SS" was simple an extension since the first version was made on SSL.
Zeljko: After “Lilli Marlen” few other great songs you made: «Love And Desire», «Tokyo-LA», “Wild West”... were awesome for me. What can you tell me about these songs?
Denis: They were logical proceed after Lili Marlen, and trying to achieve this famous Italian sound.
Zeljko: With «Love And Desire» you had concert in The Hague, on I Venti D'Azzurro party. Was this your first international concert or...?
Denis: Yes it was, thanks to my dear friends Marcell Van der Belt & Eduard Pipp.
Zeljko: At the same time, the concert has Fred Ventura as well. I guess it's privilege to be on the stage together with the one of the genius of italo disco music?
Denis: It was not only a privilege; well let's say it was a miracle. Fred is great man, big composer and nice friend, always willing' to help people. You know there is a God, but you just got to have faith.
Zeljko: Denis, could you describe me what's going on in your head when you composing?
Denis: I am sorry, but I don't think that I can explain what happening, but somehow you always know what and how to play it. We all know what we should do to make a good song, but how we receive this energy it is hard to explain.
Zeljko: I would like to talk now about song «Hey Hey» by Vanessa (Time Records). This song was your first real international success. But first, could you tell me how you made this song as demo version and the vocal was Croatian female singer Anamarija?
Denis: Since that we've split with Nina soon after the concert in The Hague, cause' she wanted to sing quasi pop music in Croatia and even Fred Ventura couldn't make to change her mind, offering' us promotion in Europe we were forced to find a new vocal. In the recording studio owned by my friend Senna M, artist and producer of Anna Maria, there was no other solution than hire Anna Maria to sing on this track.
Zeljko: How you got in contact with Time Records?
Denis: I have to say what a story. I've arranged a meeting with Giacomo Maiolini in Milan at Discomagic, (at least I thought so) I come to Milan, step in Discomagic and wait for Giacomo to show up. There is some producer moving' around, asking questions and he told me: You know there is no Giacomo Maiolini in this company but you can wait. After some 20 minutes same guy approaching' me, says: Hi, I am Giacomo Maiolini we don't make any italo songs, but if you want you can work on House music right now in our studio. Do you know what 600 km to drive is, and then someone tell you something like this? I decide it to make a phone call with Time rec. in Brescia, from the other line there is a guy telling' me Giacomo is in Milan but he is a co-producer and he will wait for me in the studio. Once again the same story like in Discomagic, we don't make Italo or Hi Nrg songs what we do is house music. You know I see Italo records all over the floor, but no only house. I'm looking' at that lunatic and I'm not sure what to think. So finally he gave me some records to listen and learn about the stuff they don't produce. As soon I got back from Italy, I’ve made a phone call to my friend Marcell Van der Belt in The Hague to tell him what happened, and he says don't worry I am sure it was misunderstanding and I'll arrange new meeting for you. A year after I coming' to Time rec. once again, bringing' a copy of Hey Hey, now Marcello arranged the meeting but anyway I'm not feeling' very well still remember meeting a year before. And guess what! There he is the same producer I saw a year ago. His name is Laurent Gelmetti the producer of Hey Hey, one of the finest producers on the world. That very same producer made me to start thinking about the music in the best possible way, to listen and learn how to make a real Hi Nrg song. Laurent Gelmetti thank you and God bless you.
Zeljko: I can not to ask you about Mauro Farina (my favourite producer). I had chance to see photos (still have them) from your visit there. Denis please tells me some impressions about him and about his work!
Denis: Well Mauro Farina & Giuliano Crivelente! Whether you like them or not, you have to be impressed anyway. Can you imagine Italian music industry without them? Mauro is the one who gave me the first relevant information's about record companies in Italy, and how to start at all. At the moment they were running' only 2 or 3 labels, but today they became huge real huge company.
Zeljko: Why didn’t you have any cooperation with him?
Denis: We intended to, but somehow we couldn't managed for several reasons. One of them I wasn't member of any European writer’s society, and Mauro obviously knew what happened in such a cases with royalties. After some time I've went to Time rec. and A.B.C. rec., started my own project in Croatia-and you know time simple goes by.
Zeljko: Also, very important is your cooperation with Giancarlo Pasquini! Could you tell me more about your work with him?
Denis: Giancarlo Pasquini, Alberto Contini & Andrea Leonardi: excellent and powerful producers from Mantova. They really work hard to get the right sound, and to make everything perfect. Just listen to Dave Rodgers tracks, so you'll know what I’m talking about. You can make the most beautiful composition on the world, but with the wrong producer you’ll get nothing. They really like what they do, and you can hear it yourself everyday.
Zeljko: Success in Japan! How that happened?
Denis: It is not so easy to make a good record, but with the right producers you can make a miracle. They are the one who pick's the right song, arrangements and vocals for the record. Basically, it's up to one person decision what is good and what is wrong to make a good track. Keep on mind that you have to learn and work a lot, if you want to get at least close to their knowledge from the ground up. That is the secret of ours success in Japan. Dedication...
Zeljko: Japanese market is very strong market, do you think so?
Denis: Japan is big country with more than 130 000 000 inhabitans, urban culture and high-tech approach of living. Now you know why they like Hi Nrg music.
Zeljko: Denis, do you still making Eurobeat songs for Japanese market?
Denis: Eurobeat no, but eurodance for Asian market yes indeed.
Zeljko: Now i have to ask you something what i am asking every artist, your favourite’s producer(s)/artist(s) in Italo disco?
Denis: Laurent Gelmetti, Fred Ventura,Giancarlo Pasquini, Alberto Contini, Andrea Leonardi,Mauro Farina, Roberto Zanetti, Accatino & Rimontti.Bobby Orlando,Dieter Bohlen & Luis Rodriques,David Brandes,Enrico & Jurgen-Masterboy,Anzziloti & Munzig,etc.....
Zeljko: Please be honest, is music all about money or pleasure, or both? I guess both but the point is on – money!? Unfortunately :-((
Denis: The music has to be your first love if you want to do this for a living. Making' music is something you have to do from your heart not from your wallet. You can't buy feelings, at least if you don't ask my wife the very same question. You know, selling records is something different and it has nothing to do with making' music. You can sell 500 copies, but on the other hand you can sell 1 000 000 copies. You never know what is gonna be.
Zeljko: For techno freaks, could you tell me about your equipment you are working on?
Denis: ExtraLogicus studio goes digitally. Hear it to believe it. I love to use stuff like: Nord Lead, Roland 303, JV 1080, Novation.
Zeljko: What’s your opinion about today’s dance music? Italian dance music particularly.
Denis: They are awaking up a bit, but slowly. They are obviously to shy to show all their power and happiness of living.
Zeljko: Denis, what can you tell me about your Eurodance work these days? For example, “aLien – Show Me How To Love” is one great song!
Denis: aLien is just one of our's 10 artists we are running at the moment. We have brand new projects you'll definatly like it, plus Xmas release’s Xmas trance & Xmas soft. Eurodance, Trance and Pop, that’s the stuff we produce now.
Zeljko: At the beginning of the 90’s, here in Croatia, you made, among others, one great album, “Godine Nestvarne” by Nina. This album became the best dance album of the 90’s in Croatia. For me personally still is the best!
Denis: I like the album, not the project. Listen to the new stuff and enjoy.
Zeljko: Soon after that album you and Nina split from each other. Denis, Savage in his interview told me next: “The artists always the same, every time they have success they start to create problems and at that stage I prefer to stop and start to work with a new name.” Was something similar happened with Nina?
Denis: Well Roberto knows what we all know: Brain surgery would definitely fix our problems. We are not shrinks for God sake, we are producers.
Zeljko: Do you allow singer to be involved in creating of songs or you are doing all by yourself?
Denis: If they are so smart they should be producers, not singers. Making' composition or lyrics, arrangement or production it has nothing to do with singers. Singers usually sing, and butchers butchering the meat instead of fixing problems on your car.
Zeljko: In the same time when you have produced Nina, you had another project, a band called Roxy! Music was great in every single song, no doubt, but voices were problems in my opinion. Too young, too childish. What do you think?
Denis: Yes I do, but I've just had to do it anyhow.
Zeljko: Do you accept critics? :-)
Denis: Well of course, if you know your job.
Zeljko: You are married! Your wife is lyricists. In short, could you tell me how you make songs, from the beginning to the end?
Denis: Yes I am with the most beautiful woman on the earth, Renata. We have two beautiful daughters, Vanessa & Antonella. Composing melody comes at first place, writing lyrics and adapting it to match to the music is a second step. Arrangement and recording get you closer to the final step, production.
Zeljko: In your opinion what part of song is the most important?
Denis: Chorus...I'm not saying the other parts are irrelevant, and they are not. But what you really need is a powerful chorus, good riff and great sound. You see how it's easy...It is not a big deal.
Zeljko: Denis, your domestic work today. Could you tell me something about it and please could you tell me something about your new projects, for example MB Exciter?
Denis: Impressione, mB exciter, Enrico, Goldie T. & aLien represents our eurodance projects, Marina & Ellena pop projects, Night riders, am Beat, Dragon & HercegBoys represents our trance projects.
Zeljko: Are you satisfied with your work today and what are your plans for near future?
Denis: Yes I am, we got good fresh projects and we are ready for overtaking the positions on the charts in Croatia.
Zeljko: If you could, would you change anything in your career? Any regrets?
Denis: No I wouldn't, God has his own ways he’s taking us through the life.
Zeljko: Thank you very much Denis for this interview!
Denis: You are welcome.
My big thanx goes to my friends Mirko “mB exciter” Barbir and
Alen Milkovic - www.italo-disco.net
© November 2003 Zeljko Vujkovic - All rights reserved