Giotto, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Dante and Leonardo da Vinci names ring any bell? It’s the bell of the majestic Campanile echoing ad midday over the beauties and marvels of Florence, THE city in the world that gave birth to timeless talents, those geniuses and artists who, centuries ago, did make a difference in the world we live today. Italians often wonder if it was something in Florence’s air that sparked such creativity and mastery – worldwide we all know it was the political and social circumstances that played a big part.
Today, 500 years after Leonardo Da Vinci’s death, Florence is no longer the blissful and picturesque oasis that it used to be back then: dozens of herds of foreigners following their guides – at times like the ‘walkers’ off that HBO series follow fresh flesh. The bustle of the city, the cultural contaminations from the multitude of expats studying arts, design and fashion isn’t all bad news: Florence is still where talents come from. With no Lorenzo the Magnificent sponsoring creativity, the Tuscan capital can still put its name on the map tanks to the electronic music Family known as Tropical Animals. A collective of domestic and international residents as well as a record label that in the last decade has ‘created’ a clubbing scene in Florence.
Ricardo Baez, who started out with a career in fashion and in 2009 dropped front-rowers in favour of the dancefloor and ‘devoted himself completely to the music world’- is the founder of the label and we have spoken to him and one of the residents Michel Byrne to find out how far can the name of Florence go with this label.
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D360: How did Tropical Animals come together?
Ricardo Baez: I founded Tropical Animals in 2010. From the beginning, I’ve always had the idea of creating a strong, nonconformist and alternative project based solely and exclusively on music. Various people of different race, culture, social class, sexual taste and style are welcome … united by a single common denominator .. respect and love. After 8 years of parties and having discovered so many talents before they became famous like DENIS SULTA, DJ BORING, BAMBOUNOU, AVALON EMERSON, JAYDA G, GESAFFELSTEIN and many, many more, I decided to open the Tropical Animals record label in 2018. Since 2017, Michael Byrne has become one of the resident DJs of our party and thanks to his past experience as a music assistant with the Crosstownrebels crew… I thought he would be the right person to work with on this new and exciting label project.
D360: What can you tell us about the clubbing music scene in Florence in general?
Michael Byrne: It’s actually great. Our first and foremost mission is to bring the best, international rising stars – who usually play the biggest well-known parties around the world after a couple of years – to Florence, and our regular club people know that. So we always have a nice crowd open to listening to something different. Also, other promoters in Florence are doing a great job of bringing top names in this beautiful little city. What Florence is probably missing are alternative locations outside of regular clubs, it’s hard to organise parties (legally 🙂 )
D360: Florence is a rather touristy city, does this affect the clubbing scene?
Michael Byrne: Not much in our case, most of our crowd consists of locals, the only tourists that come to our club are well prepared and they know exactly why they choose to visit us, just enjoying good electronic music. Out of our music scene probably yes, there are also many parties in some clubs where you can only find tourists (mostly from the US).
D360: Can you tell us of any residents that were ‘launched’ by Tropical Animals?
Ricardo Baez: At the moment, all our resident DJs are working on their music productions. Some tracks will be released soon on our label in a beautiful “family” compilation. I would be delighted if any of our residents became a rising star of the music biz, for me, it’s just great satisfaction!
D360: What’s next for Tropical Animals? What projects do you have coming up?
Ricardo Baez: We are working on label showcases that will take place from September, for our 10th anniversary of activity. After the beautiful release of 2 Italian legends Daniele Baldelli e Dario Piana, we are really happy to launch the ep of a newcomer, EVA00. We planned a great V/A of “guest” friends and we are organizing amazing parties for this summer for our beautiful people in Florence!
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Tropical Animals events are hosted at Club 21, known as the one of the other jewels in the heart of the historic centre of Florence.