Lorenza Calamandrei had her first taste of celebrity at an early age: It was primetime in the evolution of urban and club music, and Florence, Italy, it is said, rivaled New York City for both emerging talent and chutzpah. It was an era well-chronicled by the Italian writer Bruno Casini in his book “Clubbing for Heroes,” which also features Lorenza, then 17 and a notable DJ. But celebrity was not Lorenza’s goal; creating music was. So she began integrating composing and producing into her own professional mix. Nowadays, her achievements include writing credits on Spotify and Apple Music and, on IMDB, dozens of music-producing jobs. Like many a true artist, Lorenza prefers being the creative force, and therefore is reticent to self-promotion, but the cognoscenti know her work well. As it’s always been.
Lorenza, please expound on the early life of “DJLo.”
I wanted to play bass and drums – at the same time. So when I saw Grandmaster Flash do exactly that, with two turntables, I lost my mind – in the best way possible – and found a career. Ultimately, I connected with the New York City culture and started DJ’ing and hanging out with top street artists there — like Rammellzee, Toxic, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Later, back in Florence at ControRadio, I began creating and producing shows, events, interviews — alongside DJ’ing for the likes of Jamiroquai and Paul Weller. When RZA of Wu-Tang Clan produced his solo project Bobby Digital, he featured my voicework and lyrics on the album.
Did you find that more creatively fulfilling than, say, simply DJ’ing?
There are two co-existing forces in my life, DJ’ing is extemporary and you are creating live – vibing with your crowd and that synergy actually creates its own sound. Producing and writing is another type of life: You can be on the same projects, beats, snares, strings… for weeks at a time.
You worked in London, then moved to Los Angeles…
Like in London, in LA I’ve DJ’ed for many of the hottest venues and so many famous stars, like Jay-Z and Beyonce. There was Elton John’s birthday party, Oscar(TM) week, Sharon Osbourne’s show, and Taylor to Her Heart – that was for Taylor Dayne.
Taylor refers to you as a musicologist.
Taylor is one of my favorite artists — an exceptional talent and a dear friend. We connected immediately many moons ago — obviously over music — and we’ve collaborated since on several projects. I’m so thankful for all Taylor’s taught me. And when she gives me props, she calls me “the musicologist.”
You’re now working on your sixth documentary. Can you talk about the directors, the subjects, and your successes?
In my transition to original music production, my first documentary experience was “Un Italiano nel Mondo” [An Italian in the World] which featured Giuliano Gemma and Monica Bellucci, and music by composing legend Ennio Morricone. For Roxanne Lowit’s “Magic Moments,” I composed the music featured throughout the documentary – around interviews with subjects including Julian Schnabel, David LaChappelle, Heidi Klum, and Giorgio Armani. More of my music is being used in the documentary “Myth Creation,” directed by Andrea Vecchiato, about the record label Creation and the band Oasis.
Right now, I am composing and producing the score for the “sequel” to Seven Women. The original film featured an impressive collection of stories about some fascinating women like Fran Drescher, Patricia Field, and Rosita Missoni. The new film focuses on one incredible designer – I can’t name names yet – and it’s also an amazingly inspirational story. I am so excited and working hard on the new score. I cannot wait for its release.