Mix 126 - NLPGNN

№ 126

Deep bass sensations from the future: welcome to the world of producer, DJ, label runner, and party host Giovanni Napolano aka NPLGNN.

№ 126 - NLPGNN - BABYLON - The EDWIN Music Channel

Originally from Italy, now residing in Barcelona, he is constantly propelling his music career with new solo tunes and the BABYLON event serial - a bass music-leaning party, that brings fresh bass energy to the Catalan capital. Since 2015 he has been playing all around the continent, sharing the decks with the likes of Andy Stott, Simon Cell, Low Jack, Fumu, Judaah, The Bug, Om Unit, Jasss, and Rabih Beaini.

A long list of highly celebrated producers influenced his DJ and production style with their multicoloured approaches to electronic music. 

As a producer NPLGNN released Grime, Dub, Breaks, Acid and experimental electronic learning tapes and vinyl EPs on labels like Real Torque and Youth from Manchester, Hypermedium from Athen, Greece, as well as Forever Now, an imprint that he co-runs with a friend.


In early 2024 NPLGNN joined forces with EDWIN for a series of Babylon events in Barcelona, welcoming artists like ex-Hype Williams member Lolina, and Leeds-based Principe Records DJ and producer Dj Danifox.

To celebrate the collaboration, NPLGNN created a mix for The EDWIN MUsic Channel, that mirrors the musical adventures of his party actions with tunes by artists like Dave Saved from Napoli, the globally acclaimed mysterious PAN records act, Honour and some new tracks by himself.

As ever we chat with our host, talking with NPLGNN about his artistic career, his aims as a producer and what makes his “BABYLON” party special for Barcelona.

EDWIN MUSIC CHANNEL - Spring-Summer-2024- Mix 126 - NLPGNN - editorialEDWIN MUSIC CHANNEL - Spring-Summer-2024- Mix 126 - NLPGNN - editorial
EDWIN MUSIC CHANNEL - Spring-Summer-2024- Mix 126 - NLPGNN - editorialEDWIN MUSIC CHANNEL - Spring-Summer-2024- Mix 126 - NLPGNN - editorial

Q. Hey Giovanni, could you introduce yourself to our readers? How did you become a DJ, producer, and curator and when did it all start?

A. I was born in Napoli and grew up in Qualiano. What was a small town in the province of Napoli to another un-greened void of the Northern suburbs of the city. Sonically speaking, in Napoli the province and the suburbs around the 2000s meant one thing, House Music. “O’ Cantato”, is slang used to identify soulful house and any track that had a vocal on top of the 4/4 rhythm really. This world and underworld reached me when I was more or less 13/14 years old. During those years I was often hanging out, wasting my time and especially my money in the clothes shop which belonged to a guy named Elvidio, best known as Elvio.

It was one of the few places, maybe the only place in town where you could hear and discuss stories about events, DJs, music, and nightlife. With the benefit of time, I would say that it was a sort of hub for youngsters who were looking for something different from the vacuum of the province. I was too young to go to those parties, so I started to buy bootleg CDs of the recordings of the events. The House Music parties thing was so big at that time in Napoli that there was a huge pirate market of bootleg CDs, you knew that after the event you would have found the recording of it the week later in some shops. Sometimes up to four CDs of the same event.  I was listening to those CDs, collecting flyers, and buying the same clothes as the people going raving but I was sitting in my bedroom. 

What marked a turning point was listening for the first time to Masters At Work. That sound blew my teenage mind. I wanted to do that thing. I bought a Behringer VMX200, a secondhand turntable with no pitch and a Discman. That was my first set-up and has been there for a very long time till I had the chance to afford a couple of belt-drive Numark TT1100.

Then, a hero decided to open a record store in my hometown. Every Wednesday he was getting new records in and I was there picking them up directly from the fresh box. That store was crucial to feed my passion and ideas at that time. From that time (2002/2003) everything evolved through many things, till now. 

Then, of course, red-eyed reggae music has always been there. I remember to print and stick on my bed as a kid two pixelated images of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. However, Soundsystem culture came later, when I was 19/20 years old, almost along with what was called post-dubstep or UK bass at the time. Many years of politics, squatting occupations, Zer081, Officina99 and sound-system rigs followed. Those years were formative for me for what I'm doing today. I'm glad to have had the chance to listen to the foundations such as Jah Shaka, Aba Shanti-I and many others on some of the best rigs in the country. Every week you could find a sound-system night or even more than one, that was a magic time. 

Then Hessle Audio, LSC, Oltre, many parties, many memories. As for the curation, I held my first party when I was 13 years old in the garage of a friend and practically never stopped from that. I find it stressful, to be honest, but somehow, I always end up organizing and curating parties. At this point I accept it as a need for expression, another medium I use to pull out my ideas in music/politics of music/parties etc. 

Babylon - Barcalona - EDWIN MUSIC CHANNEL - Mix126 - NLPGNN - editorialBabylon - Barcalona - EDWIN MUSIC CHANNEL - Mix126 - NLPGNN - editorial

Q. What would you say are some releases, that are pivotal for what you are doing today?

A. Quite a few, the first that come to mind:
Masters At Work - Lido Circe
Dennis Alcapone - Dub On The Lake (every Dub On The Lake really)
Jah Shaka at Officina 99
Aba Shanti at Officina 99
Theo Parrish - Plastic People 
Burial - Untrue
Andy Stott - Luxury Problems 
The Bug feat. Miss Red at Unsound 2016 and many others…
Q. In your bio you describe your work as part of the “wide sonic spectrum of the sound-system hardcore continuum”. Can you explain what the “hardcore continuum” means to you and how you bring it into the future with your very own unique take on it?

A. Of course, see Simon Reynolds. then Hauntology, TAZ, etc. 
Are those 90s or late 90s concepts still valid in the present? To be honest for many heads those were not valid already when they were conceptualized back then. Adding the word “Soundsystem” means to me to trace a continuum path from Dub music, going through the UK Simon Reynold theorized continuum, the hazy “post-everything” mutations of the first ten years of 2000 (see Hype Williams) till the more recent not-UK/Global South Oblique Riddimz directions of Gqom, Singeli, b-funk, nu-batida, dancehall mutations etc. directly-not-directly connected to Dub. The Soundsystem, not only the powerless of it but the totem, the catalyst, finds for me a centred role as a unifier of these dislocated dots and cultures. 

“The reality of the hardcore continuum is not of the order of a physical fact, but of an abstract entity. The notion of abstract-real materiality may cause commonsense to recoil, yet a moment’s reflection makes us realize, not only that abstract entities are real, but that there is nothing more real than them” (MF)

Babylon BarcelonaBabylon Barcelona

Q. What’s the story behind your alias NPLGNN?

A. I’ve always found it hard to find an AKA for myself, in my teenage years I changed at least four different AKAs or tags since it started when I was going through my Hip-Hop phase. Some are still sprayed on some walls around my hometown. Broke/BRK, for instance. Around 2013 I started this new project and needed another AKA, the acronyms were kind of trendy at that time. Then I just used the first letters of my fiscal code which are my surname and name. It’s funny because over the years I got so many people trying to figure out what it means. The best ones I remember were a review of Norman Records saying Nipple-Gun and a guy asking if the meaning was no-plug-in (I could use this one). There’s a Rinse FM audio rip out there back to 2014 where Ben UFO says, “Just N-P-L-G-N-N no idea how to pronounce your name”, well that’s it.

Q. You grew up in Italy, and now you live in Barcelona. What made you move?

A. As I mentioned before, I grew up in Qualiano, Northern suburb of Napoli. Spent my teenage days mainly around the “Death Valley” of the Napoli suburbs and then all my university years in the centre of the city between squats, occupations and of course loads of sound and music. Mainly dub, reggae, trojan skinhead ska/rocksteady/early reggae, drum & bass and dubstep. Togetherness, happiness, politics, community, free spirit, TAZ, the centre of Napoli was a Villaggio Globale. Then everything changed, from 2015/6 to 2018 Napoli was almost dead. I felt stuck in that boredom. In 2018 Francesco (the other half of Babylon) was already living in Barcelona and was pushing me to move to the city. I came for a holiday and then I got a call for a job and decided to stay. Half consciously and half unconsciously it’s marking six years since I moved now.

Q. What is the idea behind your MBE series and what will it bring in the future?

A. MBE series was originally born as a podcast series as a sort of tribute to Napoli's pirate figure of Mixed By Erry, hence the name. Then it mutated quickly in a label in 2015. To be honest back then I didn't have a clear idea of what it had to be direction, apart from a limited series of blue tapes with that fixed design and giving the DJs free space. Then for the MBE001 Beatrice Dillon came in with an outstanding 90-minute mix of West African music that defined the direction of the label. From that point onward I asked the people involved to record specific mixes around a specific focus on a genre or a certain era etc. 

With the release of the first zine “Nyege Nyege Archive” the label again took another direction and slowly shaped itself into what it’s today. Nowadays I see it more as an editorial platform than a proper label, which helps me to curate and investigate different aspects of music not only related to club or electronic music. See Trance Mediterranean. A few things are in the pipeline for the future, The first to appear will be a sick zine-only release about the punk and the HC punk movement in Napoli then hopefully a new issue of the Trance Mediterranean sub-series investigation etc.

Soundsystem Culture - NLPGNN - EDWIN MUSIC CHANNEL - Mix126 - editorial - EDWIN - Spring-Summer-2024Soundsystem Culture - NLPGNN - EDWIN MUSIC CHANNEL - Mix126 - editorial - EDWIN - Spring-Summer-2024

Q. How did you select the tracks for The EDWIN Music Channel mix?

A. I recorded this mix while finalizing a new tape that will be out soonish. It came along as a sort of appendix to that. FM 95.3, haunted frequencies. 

Q. We partnered with your “BABYLON” night in Barcelona. What does the night distinguish from other parties in the city and was it hard to place a party in the Catalan capital?

A. Babylon, from its name, was born as a conceptualized entity around Chaos and Present. A box, a platform, an ever-changing abstract expression of my ideas in music and behind it (see what was said about the HC Soundsystem continuum etc.). If it's an eternal present, then Babylon wants to narrate the chronicles of this present. 
We don’t care to distinguish from other parties really, it’s not our aim. We just want to make what we like in the way we like. 

Barcelona is the eternal sold-out city, with big clubs fully booked, no small/mid venues and mostly no cares at all for the quality of listening, or the quality of the Soundsystem. Restrictions and no care apart for money, no culture for quality over quantity, and very low interest in changing the status quo sometimes make things very hard and it heavily limits the creative great potential of the city. Thankfully there are spaces, venues and collectives that resist this scenario.

I will always be thankful to Meteoro for allowing us to bring a DIY sound system into the venue, something still completely new for those kinds of spaces when we first did it.

Q. What do you intend to achieve with your own music productions?

A. I never questioned if there’s something to achieve. I started producing music as a need of expression and mainly for the fun of it. That keeps me doing it. It’s just an eternal flux of consciousness in which I find ways to express my emotions, my thoughts or just euphoria and escapism. or anything at all. 

Q. What was the last book you read?

A. Don Durito de La Lacandona - Subcomandante Marcos

Q. The world would be a better place if only…?

A. Palestine and all the oppressed people would be free.

Bristol Pirates - Side A
Hype Williams - Jah
Pure Wicked Tunes - Special Birthday Request (Find a Partner)
NPLGNN - Untitled
Honour - (Hot) The Stroke (Bass Mix)
Dave Saved - Laguna 117
Honour - Worries in The Dance
Co'Sang - Buonanotte pt2
Dave Saved - Laguna 119
Dandelion 15811
Pure Wicked Tune - Flashlight
xxxxxx001 - Stage 2
Iya Shillelagh - Out ere as a outlaw
Ganja Tree - Rootsman Corner
NPLGNN - Untitled
Liquid DnB-like Ambient Grime 2 - '06 Dubstep Mix
NPLGNN – Untitled

Photography: Jacopo T.

instagram.com/nplgnn | instagram.com/babylon.bcnnplgnn.bandcamp.comsoundcloud.com/nplgnn

№ 126 - NLPGNN - BABYLON - The EDWIN Music Channel