Savage, whose real name is Roberto Zanetti, was born on 28/11/56 in massa, Italy. Music was just a hobby for him until he began studying the piano at the age of fourteen. Shortly afterwards he got together with small musical groups, such as "l’inchiesta", "Fathima e I pronipoti", "I sangri", playing the keyboards .
His first professional experience arrived with the group "Santarosa" and, together with them, he recorded a single, "Souvenir", that sold 200.000 copies in Italy. The record was produced by Zucchero Sugar Fornaciari who was a great friend of Roberto's at the time.
After this experience, roberto continued playing keyboards with other groups, among which "I vicini di casa" and "Taxi". It was with Taxi that collaboration with Zucchero grew stronger and the two friends played together for a couple of years. In 1983 Roberto produced a dance single entitled "Don't Cry Tonight" suitable for his voice, and he chose the stage name of Savage. Note that, throughout his career, Roberto has used two different professional names: "Robyx" as a producer, and "Savage" as an artist.
The song became a big hit and savage was invited to take part in many tv shows such as "Mister fantasy", "Discoring", "Pronto raffaella", "Azzurro", "Festivalbar". Thanks to the catchy melody and timbre of his voice, Savage quickly became one of the most appreciated dance singers in europe. This led to real episodes of fanaticism in Italy and Spain. During his shows, girls threw themselves at him and Savage started to receive thousand of fan letters. At the festivalbar finals (the main tv summer festival in italy), he was the most applauded artist.
Between 1983-85 Savage was continuously on tour, performing about 300 shows throughout Europe: Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, former Yugoslavia, Sweden and, of course, Italy. In the meantime other singles, "Only You", "Radio", "A Love Again", were released and collected in the album "Tonight".
Savage's popularity crossed the european borders and, while new singles were released ("Time", "Celebrate", "Love Is Death"), he also performed in shows in such countries as the United States, Brazil, and Japan. In China a special version of the album "Tonight" came out, sung by a local rock star, while a famous french actress recorded a version of "Only You", called "Dans Mes Yeux". In august '89 savage was present as a guest artist at the sopot festivalbar, in Poland.
In the final show of this festival, broadcast live to all the eastern countries and seen by a hundred million viewers, Savage sang for more than 30 minutes. Tours to eastern Europe started. Here Savage was one of the most popular artists and his most important shows were the one in Katowice (in Poland), in front of 15.000 people, and another in Ierewan (USSR) where, over 4 days, 70.000 people rushed to see and listen to him. In the same period other singles were released: "Loosing You", "Goodbye", "I Just Died In Your Arms", and "Strangelove".
Since 1990 Savage has been dedicating most of his time to his career as a producer and, under the name "Robyx", he has signed the successes by Ice MC, Pianonegro, Double You, Alexia and Corona.
Consequently, during this period, he has rarely been on tour. However, we recall the american tours (in New York, Chicago, Miami, Boston), where he has returned every year since 1990, and the Brazilian tour, which lasted fifteen days. In 1994 the last single, entitled "Don't You Want Me", came out, meeting with fair success all over the world.
(Taken from Savage's homesite)
Zeljko: Dear Mr. Zanetti. My name is Zeljko, I'm from Croatia and I am a writer for the music magazine Final Impact. It is my most greatest pleasure and honor to make an interview with the music genie you are!!! I have a lot of questions for you. First of all I would like to thank you for this opportunity. It means a lot to me because I've been your fan since 1985 (since I started to listen Italo disco) and from then I am watching your work.
This interview is something like a dream come true for me. Really! I would like to start with next. Could you tell me who is Roberto Zanetti? Tell me about your childhood, how old were you when you decided to play music? Something about you in general before you started with the music?
Savage: I was born in Massa, Italy. music was just a hobby for me until I began studying the piano at the age of fourteen. Shortly afterwards I got together with small musical groups, such as L'Inchiesta, Fathima E I Pronipoti, I Sangriò, playing the keyboards. My first professional experience arrived with the group Santarosa and, together with them, I recorded a single, Souvenir, that sold 200.000 copies in Italy. the record was produced by Zucchero "Sugar" Fornaciari who was my great friend at the time.
After this experience, I continued playing keyboards with other groups, among which I Vicini Di Casa and Taxi. It was with Taxi that collaboration with Zucchero grew stronger and we played together for a couple of years. In 1983 I produced a dance single entitled Don't Cry Tonight suitable for my voice, and I chose the stage name of Savage. Note that, throughout my career, I have used two different professional names: Robyx as a producer, and Savage as an artist.
Zeljko: I suppose you didn't start your musical career playing Italo disco?
Savage: No, as I said above, I started with Italian music.
Zeljko: Were you inspired by some artists to make Italo disco? For example, High-energy music existed before Italo-disco, one could say that Italo is the child of High-energy in some way (a logical continuation of disco music). You know who Bobby Orlando and Patrick Cowley are. Did they have some influence on you?
Savage: Of course they influenced me. As you state Italo disco is an evolution of High-energy. I think our style is a medley between the High-energy's sound and the Italian melodies.
Zeljko: The year 1983 is far away from us now. Your first single was Don't Cry Tonight. How did you compose this song?
Savage: I was in a blue, sad moment of my life. the melody went out from the deep of my soul. It was written in five minutes.
Zeljko: By the way, you have chosen the name of Savage for yourself. Why Savage?
Savage: I took inspiration from a very famous comic: Doc Savage.
Zeljko: Italo disco is a very nice and strong music. Your song Don't Cry Tonight in an example of a beautiful, soft song, a very good song for our heart and soul, for our thoughts. Italo disco in general is the most beautiful music in the world, don't you think so?
Savage: Yes, I agree. Many thanks for you compliments.
Zeljko: Please Roberto, could you tell me if you had any special feeling when you made your Italo songs? I could bet you did since all your songs sound incredibly beautiful, strong, and harmonical. When I listen to your songs released in the 80's such as Radio, Only You, Love Is Death, A Love Again etc. I could cry of happines! Your songs makes me incredibly happy and I know they have positive influence on all my friends who listen Italo disco as well.
Savage: My songs are made to make people have fun and to enjoy themselves, however there's always an autobiographical side to the song with a message I like to transmit.
Zeljko: Italo disco doesn't exist anymore, unfortunately, in the way of 80's. Before I ask you about your work in the 90's, I would like to stay a little bit longer in the 80's. As a producer or a songwriter, you did make songs for many other artists, etc. Tell me something about this side of your work. I remember a song entitled Magic Carillon by Rose, in the 1983. Am I right? This song was simply great. There was also Kamillo and Buenas Noches etc.
Savage: In 1983 I made the first single for my group Taxi, entitled To Miami. The record became a local success (it was released only in central Italy) and it paved the way for another piece: Angelica by Joey Moon. After these first experiences, I was contacted by two DJs and, together with them, I produced Incantation by Gang. This record, a cover of a Mike Oldfield song, worked out well in Italy and it was the beginning of a collaboration with Discomagic, which distributed it and was to become my partner in the future.
In October-November 1983, I produced four other records: Buenas Noches by Kamillo, Starman by Claudio Mingardi, Magic Carillon by Rose and, finally, my turning point: the song Don't Cry Tonight by Savage. Since 1990, after Savage, I have been dedicating most of my time to my career as a producer and, under the name Robyx, I have signed the successes by Ice MC, Pianonegro, Double You, Corona and actually Alexia.
Zeljko: Did you have some contact with other Italo composers and producers? For example Mauro Farina or Giancarlo Pasquini (alias Aleph), or Fred Ventura? Please, tell me something more?
Savage: I know Mauro Farina very well. He is a great professional person. Also Fred Ventura is a friend. We did several tours together in Poland and USSR.
Zeljko: You used to work together with the great Ivana Spagna. What do you think of her as a disco star in the 80's? By the way, I saw her perfomance at the San Remo 2000 Festival. Her song was great, but don't you think her position on the final results was unfairly bad? I think she sung the best song of this festival!
Savage: Ivana Spagna is a great singer and also a good songwriter. She co-wrote some text of the Corona's songs that I co-produced. The first time I met her, she was the singer of a local dance band (around 1980/81) and I was the keybord player of a group called Taxi. I was on stage in a club here in Italy and she was there to listen to me and my band.
Zeljko: I know you like all your songs in the beautiful career you had in the 80's, but is there any special one for you and why?
Savage: I'm a romantic person. I always feel a little bit nostalgic thinking back on everything that happened. I love all of them in the same way. Of course, if I have to choose one, it's Don't Cry Tonight.
Zeljko: So, now we could talk about the 90's and your fantastic work in the last decade. I clearly remember 1994. when I first heard your song Don't You Want Me. (You know Roberto, in 1994 the war was in my city and all over Croatia. But your songs, previously and during that period, represented a big help for me. While I was listening to your songs, I thought less about the war. When rockets were falling on the city, I put my walkman's headphones on my ears with Italo disco and I was listening and listening...
This was a terrible experience but I survived with the big help of you and the other Italo-disco songs. Thank you for that, really). This song was huge success in many European countries, wasn't it? At that time, many "old" Italo artists had released their own new songs, for example Miko Mission with I Can Fly, Tom Hooker with Runaway, Ken Laszlo with Tonight Remix, or Den Harrow with You And The Sunshine...)
Savage: You are right: war is a very bad experience and I'm very sad that it happened here in Europe, in your country. I'm very proud to know that I gave you a little help with my music and your words make me feel more important as human been.
Zeljko: In your opinion, what are the differences between Italo-disco music in the 80's and the one released in the 90's?
Savage: Italo disco was done with the heart, the music of 90's was done for business.
Zeljko: Your musical carrer in the 90's is characterized by production for the other artists. The most popular of them is Alexia. Please tell me more about your work in the 90's?
Savage: In 1990 I met Double You by chance, and a fruitful collaboration began. It led to the single Please Don't Go. Also on this occasion, my intuition proved right when I launched a style: "Covermania", later followed by many others in europe. Following its release, Please Don't Go became an instant hit, being one of those songs that climbs charts without the help of any particular promotion. In 1993 I inaugurated an unending series of successes, such as those by Ice MC and Corona.
The first hit was The Rhythm Of The Night by Corona. In this piece I confined myself to giving some suggestions to the producer Francesco Bontempi, and it was only from the second single (Baby Baby) onwards that I became a very important part of the project, making mixes and cooperating actively in the creation of all the songs.
With other new records by Ice MC, Think About The Way and It's A Rainy Day, I worked on finding new sounds. The famous sounds of the kick drum and the movement of bass, that were to characterize Eurodance, were used for the first time in these songs. In a few years, I saw myself catapulted among the most important producers, selling more than six million singles and two million albums all over the world, with Ice MC and Corona.
Zeljko: What are the plans for the future as far as your artists are concerned?
Savage: I already terminated to work with Ice MC, Corona, Double You. The artists are always the same: everytime they have success they start to create problems and at that stage I prefer to stop and start to work with a new name. No plans for Alexia... Just wait and see!
Zeljko: Why did you decide to produce for other artists exclusively, with no more production just for yourself, for Savage?
Savage: So many songs in my head... Too much ideas for one artist only!
Zeljko: Roberto, in your opinion, and according to your experience, what does a song need to be good and successful?
Savage: A catchy melody, easy to remember.
Zeljko: What kind of commitment and dedication does a producer need to make a record which his has the feeling it will become a big hit?
Savage: Lots! For example, the recording of the new album by Alexia began in September 1998 and went on until july 1999: that's nearly a year! After that, there are: photo shoots, videos dance steps for the shows, interviews, promotion with radios, televisions and so on...
Zeljko: Now, could you tell me something about the studio equipment you use for creating your great songs? I know, many readers of my magazine would like to know.
Savage: The mixer is a Soundcraft 3200 (36 x 32). I record vocals and guitars on Protools and I sequence the keyboards with Logic Platinum. My computer is a Mac 9600. All samples comes through various Akai but I also use Roland JV, modules by EMU and KORG. I like to use vintage analogic keyboards, like Roland Juno 106 or Super Jupiter and also drum machines like Roland 909 and 808.
Zeljko: Something about your studios?
Savage: My studio is located in the ground floor of the house where also my offices are located. I have a big room for the main studio plus a medium one for the vocals. The studio is located in Massa, near the centre, four kilometers from the sea.
Zeljko: Could you describe a typical working day for you?
Savage: Jogging in the morning (I did New York Marathon last year), then a couple of hours in the office. Studio time in the afternoon and sometimes during the night. I never work on Saturday and Sunday.
Zeljko: Do you have enough spare time?
Savage: Yes, especially right now. I'll be travelling a lot in the next period.
Zeljko: Roberto, two years ago many European artists came back, realeasing their old songs again in new versions: the Germans Modern Talking and Bad Boys Blue for example, or as well the great Italian Radiorama with Aliens 2000 or Miko Mission with How Old Are You 2000. But nothing from Savage! Please, tell me why?
Savage: To be honest I should like to do a new record, instead of remixing old things. We'll see in the future.
Zeljko: By the way, what do you think about German disco scene, back in the 80's and today?
Savage: I think the Germans have a lot of things in common with the Italian producers. They did a similar music during the 80's and 90's. I remember a group called Maxx that copied me and my Ice MC.
Zeljko: The same question about the Italian disco scene. Are you interested in Mauro Farina's work for the SAIFAM Publishing Group? What do you think about his work?
Savage: It's a good and professional producer. I don't remember to have never copied him in any way.
Zeljko: OK Roberto, it was a great pleasure for me to write these questions for you. Can we expect something from Savage in the near future?
Savage: I really don't know, but I would like. Just wait and see!
© 2000 Zeljko Vujkovic - All rights reserved
Zeljko: Roberto, I'm very glad we can talk again. It past one and a half year since our previous interview. Today i would like to hear from you about present days and the situation in your music life. Month ago many of us could heard new single of Alexia. Surprise was more bigger when we found out that you are not her producer anymore so could you tell me more about this? What happened? (was it something similar with Ice MC, Corona, ...)
Savage: Last year I released my last song for Alexia, untitled «Ti amo ti amo». In this period there was conflict with her, due to the fact she said she wanted to change her style (exactly like Ice Mc, Corona and Double You), so I was forced to break off all relations with her. She signed a deal directly with Sony, but I claimed damages.
It is always the same story: you pick up an unknown singer from the street, you take him by the end the lead the way... then he say: «Goodbye!».
The curious thing is that Alexia said she wanted to change her style, she wanted to render herself in more of a melodic style, that could let her singing voice be heard, bla bla bla ....
but her new song is in the same style of Robyx productions: same commercial chorus, same dance arrangement. Anyway she had no success anymore!
Zeljko: Your new project is Gazosa ? Tell me more about this band who, by the way, won famous Italian San Remo festival?
Savage: Last year I was watching the Sanremo Festival and I said: «Hey, this band is really cool, they show grit and the young singer has a beautiful voice!». So I realised that the creative moment was arrived and I was really inspired. I had a song on my desk that I composed for Alexia, just before our conflict. This song was very nice and I thought it was suitable for this young band. So I called Caterina Caselli (their manager) and I told her about my idea. She liked the song very much and she said: «OK: www.mipiacitu will be the new single by Gazosa, but I want you to produce the song!». Afterwards, I was in Rome to register the song and I was really impressed about the skill of the young band. The song became one of the most popular songs of this summer.
Zeljko: The next surprise from you is Zucchero. What can you tell me about your co-work with him on his two very popular songs (Baila and Ahum) these days?
Savage: Zucchero is an old friend of mine. We started our artistic career together, playing with a pop cover band touring discos, dancing music hall, but also village festivals. We lives not far one another and we often meet each other at friendly dinners. During one of them, we decided to co-operate to create some songs for his new album.
We have a mutual characteristic. I think that Zucchero and I, we still have our feet quite firmly on the ground and the only thing we want to do is to just be able to create something new, some «new» sounds. I'm very proud for the work we have done together.
Zeljko: Anything new for Savage maybe? In our previous interview on my question «... can we expect something from Savage in the near future?», you answered «I really don't know but i would like. Just wait and see.» What is your answer today? Oh i would like so much to see and hear new song from Savage. And i think many Savage's fans would like the same.
Savage: Today my answer is the same.
Zeljko: Roberto, i think the last period was very good, productive and successful for you. Your thoughts about that period? Are you satisfied, in music way?
Savage: I like very much to work like I did this year: a lot of satisfaction!
Zeljko: Your plans for coming days and months?
Savage: I would like to write songs for some famous artists and produce them. I'm also considering to find a new young talent.
Zeljko: And for the end Roberto, did you have time for travel, you sad you will try to travel a lot. Also, New York Marathon, after WTC attacks?
Savage: I took part in NY Marathon two years ago and it was a great experience. Last year and this one I didn't go because I was out of training (and not for other reasons, like fear).
Anyway I travelled a lot in Europe for holidays and I'm not really scared about war.
Zeljko: Any message to your fans and to other people?
Savage: Music is in my blood. I think of myself as being extremely lucky to be able to do what I've done with music. In the past, when I worked hard, it often happened that I had so many different things to do that in the end I didn't have any more time to concentrate on new projects and this maked me a bit stressful. In fact, it was the negative side of my job that I found difficult to accept. I've often been irritable. Now I can work in a new way. It's so peaceful... and I'm still able to get emotional even hearing some Savage's old songs.
© November 2001 Zeljko Vujkovic - All rights reserved
1983 "Don't Cry Tonight" Single
1984 "Only You" Single
1984 "Radio" Single
1984 "A Love Again" Single
1984 "Tonight" Album
1985 "Time" Single
1986 "Celebrate" Single
1988 "So Close" Single
1988 "I'm Loosing You" Single
1989 "Goodbye" Single
1989 "I Just Died In Your Arms" Single
1989 "Greatest Hits" Album
1990 "Don't Leave Me" Single
1991 "Don't Cry Tonight" Rap Remix Feat. Ice MC Single
1993 "Something/Strange Love" Single
1994 "12" Remixes" Vol. 1 Album
1994 "12" Remixes" Vol. 2 Album
1994 "Don't Cry" (Double CD) Album
1994 "Don't You Want Me" Single