Critter Comforts

Italian DJ duo Racoon is tuned for maximum chillage

For 4mula, South Florida has offered not just a sexy, sunny bargain but also the chance to cut loose musically, both on Racoon's crafted studio productions and the improvisations of live sets. "I like jazz a lot, but when you play with other musicians, you hold back. And when you write your own stuff, it's really hard," offers the mellow 4mula, edging some words in between Bailone's dramatic monologues. "I love working with Corrado, because you have a different perspective. On some of this, I'm basically just playing on top of what Corrado's doing. I like what he's doing; it's really easy to play on this stuff because it's really open."

Live sets highlight this partnership by tending toward the instrumental. Universal Vibes includes vocals on a number of tracks -- a concession to label head Zonzon. "I asked [industry] people in Europe, and they said it needed vocals," says Zonzon from S.F.P.'s office on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, "so then we had to find singers."

"Yeah, the idea of the singer was Pierre's idea, because we have an aversion; we don't like singers," laughs Bailone. "We are more in the music, because if you're listening to my music and there is nobody telling you something, you can think whatever you want. You can think bad things, you can think good, you can dream. But if there is someone telling you something, your mind is going with what he says, so it's like a deviation. I mean, we like the voice if it's going to be an amalgamation with the music, but if it's becoming a lead, we don't really like it."

When mixing tracks for the CD, Bailone cut out most of the recognizable lyrics and instead sampled whispers, sustained notes, and spoken French from singer Nancy Danino. But they also kept the Portuguese lyrics from local singer Rose Max because of the musical lilt of the language and Max's powerful delivery.

As the afternoon sun sinks beneath the horizon, casting an amber light across the apartment, Bailone and 4mula are busy creating a track for a BMW-sponsored short film. If things work out, they'll add an appearance in Munich to their late summer gigs at Café del Mar in Ibiza and various clubs in the cities of Rimini and Ricconi (Italy's version of South Beach on the Adriatic Sea).

Given their Continental cachet, why would the pair name themselves after a varmint synonymous with the backwoods of America? "It's the coolest animal in this place, dude," says Bailone with delight. One wily critter visited the DJ every day when he lived in Coconut Grove. "The raccoon is coming in your house," he recounts, "is looking around. If he sees you, he's looking at your eyes, not escaping like a dog or cat. [He is] looking at you: "So, what's up, man? Think I'm afraid? I'm not.'

"The animal is kind of a wild animal. Not a social animal, like a dog or a cat, but at the same time very human," Bailone adds. "And because it's an animal of this country, of this place, we feel like a kind of raccoon, because we are not into this scene. We are not the dog of this situation."

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