Few DJ/producers ascend to the heights of greatness, where their live sets are considered as legendary and inimitable as those of skilled orchestral conductors. Having been a professional DJ since 1986, Ivano Bellini today exemplifies the term *superstar DJ* with his long-running “Sunrise Sessions” afterhours residency on the famed Terrace at Miami’s Club Space.
Ivano Bellini’s sound is intoxicatingly sophisticated, irresistibly sexy and full of hidden pleasures. At a time when advances in technology produce fledgling producers at a dime-a-dozen, Ivano Bellini is among the rare breed of *global DJs* whose name on a club flyer is enough to draw crowds from far and wide. With a catalogue of his own artist tracks, remixes, compilations and a full-length artist album on-the-way, Bellini has established himself in the industry as the penultimate professional.
Lifting his listeners to exhilarating highs on buoyant blasts of audio dynamite, Ivano Bellini is the DJ’s DJ. He speaks four languages fluently (his native French, Italian, Spanish and English), and he never tires of the arduous task of finding, producing and playing the world’s best electronic music. He also can’t imagine his life without DJing. “I've been DJing for more than 20 years. If not for the love of it, I would’ve left business a long time ago. That's what I always tell ‘kids’ when they ask me about what it takes to succeed as a DJ: do it for the right reasons, or you'll get burned very quickly,” he says.
Born in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1966, the young Bellini was influenced by his father’s jazz performances, as well as by the influences of funk, soul, disco and pop music. In 1989 – just as the dance music scene was undergoing a tectonic shift with the revolutionary success of “Madchester” in the UK, elevating DJs to the level of rock stars – Ivano Bellini won first-place in Switzerland’s National DJ Championship. In 1991, Bellini moved to South America where he lived briefly, but it was a year later when he flew to South Beach on vacation when his life changed. Falling in love with the sultry rhythms and exotic flavors of Miami’s stylish inhabitants, Bellini decided to stay and helped form the “South Beach sound” with residencies at Le Loft, Van Dome, BarRoom, Living Room, Opium , Nikki Beach, Space, Suite and Gryphon; hosting such high-profile audiences as Madonna, U2, Prince, Lenny Kravitz and Mick Jagger.
Word spread about the sensuous, fun-loving atmosphere created by Bellini’s DJ sets, and soon, prestigious nightclubs in Amsterdam, Ibiza, London, and throughout the U.S. were clamoring to have him play at their venues. “I moved to South Beach in ‘91 and started to make a name for myself there, and I really started to travel in 1996. The feeling was awesome. I’d always loved to travel, but the best part was to know that my music was appreciated all over the world, and that it could touch people’s souls far away from where I lived,” Bellini says.
Joining forces with DJs Pierre ZonZon and Marc Sacheli, Bellini created SFP Records (Sounds For People Records) in 1996, the label that today houses a diverse array of talented artists and sub-genre imprints. As SFP Records’ label chief, Ivano Bellini is in the enviable position of discovering the best dance music artists, playing those tracks out in clubs, and finally releasing the music on his own label.
In 2000, Bellini’s good friend, club-king Luis Puig, asked Bellini to take part in Puig’s latest nightclub undertaking: the highly ambitious nightclub in downtown Miami which today boasts one of the country’s only 24-hour liquor licenses outside of Las Vegas and New Orleans. Puig’s highly regarded venue, Club Space, would go on to win the coveted DanceStar Award for “Best Club,” and it is undeniable that Bellini’s celebrated sunrise sets on Space’s open-air Terrace significantly contributed to the club’s success, both in its original location as well as in the current locale. Over the years, Miami’s Space has hosted headlining DJs such as Paul Van Dyk, Deep Dish, Danny Tenaglia, Tiësto, Paul Oakenfold, Steve Lawler and Sander Kleinenberg, as well as artist combinations like Erick Morillo with P.Diddy. But before any of these world-famous artists came to play at Space, Ivano Bellini was already its resident.
House music legend Danny Tenaglia was a regular visitor at Space, and in 2001, Tenaglia witnessed one of Bellini’s marathon sets. A journalist for DJ Magazine proclaimed that that performance was the “Best Surprise DJ Set” of the entire Winter Music Conference. Tenaglia soon invited Bellini to spin with him at Tenaglia’s “Be Yourself @ Vinyl” parties in New York, as the city’s demanding crowds quickly embraced Bellini for his exceptional DJing skills.
Today, Ivano Bellini can be heard back at his residency on the Terrace at Miami’s Space and at Fort Lauderdale’s Gryphon. In New York, catch Ivano Bellini headlining the main rooms at Crobar and Spirit. Today, Ivano Bellini is a regular DJ at clubs in Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, as well as internationally in Toronto, Ibiza, St. Tropez, Paris, Bogotá, San Juan and Tunisia. Bellini is a voting member of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences), and is one of the official voters for the annual Grammy Awards. Bellini’s SFP Records is also one of the first dance music label to be sold on Apple’s iTunes.
There’s no doubting that the future looks bright. “The Gryphon Session" is the culmination of this past year’s events: worldwide gigs, changes in DJ residencies in Miami, personal events, and the new sounds and energy I felt coming from the dance music scene in Europe. I love my new (and old) residencies in Florida, South Florida: Gryphon is great and the improved DJ booth has been awesome. In New York, I’m still playing gigs at Crobar, Cain and Spirit, and I can't wait to have a real residency in NYC. Convert one city at a time, one person at a time,” says Bellini.
Ivano Bellini’s latest compilation, The Gryphon Session (SFP Records), will be released in the U.S. and internationally on April 24th, 2006.