Steve Forest and Nicola Fasano, the duo behind Pitbull’s smash hit, “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” are quite the production couple. The Italian pair with a Latin flair started creating music together at a young age and have succeeded both as solo artists and collaborators. Their resume includes managing their own record label and production company (Jolly Roger - Sound of Pirates); collecting ASCAP awards (the pair won Ascap Latin Award for ‘Best Urban Latin song’, Ascap Pop Award for ‘Best Pop song’ and an Ascap Rhythm & Soul Music Award for ‘Best R&B/Hip-Hop, Rap and Gospel Music song’ in 2009) and remixing the likes of Armin Van Buuren, Alex Guadino, Bob Sinclair, Eric Morillo and Roger Sanchez. On the production end they've worked with stars such as Chris Willis, Kat DeLuna and Pitbull and have collaborated with singers like Max C and Katherine Ellis.
So far in 2012, Forest and Fasano have released the dubstep-esque "Captain 474," the progressive breakup anthem "Tell Me" (their collab with Tommy Vee) and the club-ready "Sunrise" among other projects. With one foot in the underground market and the other in pop culture, the duo straddles both worlds citing clubbers and listeners as their engine for success. Their crossover sound is green and has potential to grow exponentially in the pop market. If you’re a dancefloor prisoner, these are two producers to keep an eye on. I got a chance to chat with Steve Forest to get a feeling for their style, personal life and more. What I didn't prepare for was Forest, in his thick Italian accent, offering to find me a husband. I guess you could say it was a productive day at the office.
Meryl Luzzi: You both met at a radio station where you were both working at a young age. How do you think you’ve both grown since that time?
Steve Forest: We’ve both just believed in the mission to create crossover music all over the world.
ML: It’s safe to say “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” was the launching point of your career. Where did this lead you?
SF: Of course. It felt like winning the lottery. We made the instrumental track (“75, Brazil Street”) that was in the underground market. We were number 1 on Beatport for six weeks. When the track is high on the chart many people see it. The track got a second life. We won all kinds of awards for it. This happened towards the beginning of our career so we then had contacts with all the majors and it gave us credibility to work with other singers like Chris Willis and Kat DeLuna.
ML: As you mentioned, another artist you’ve worked with is Chris Willis. What is it about his voice that draws you to him?
SF: We love his voice. We actually made this song with another singer, but we knew it was the right fit for him. We sent it to his manager and he liked the track. Music is really emotional. Everything is like destiny - you can’t plan it. If the artist doesn’t truly like what you’re doing then the result will not be good. You need the business connection and credibility, but also there must be an emotional connection.
ML: Recently you’ve been collaborating with Kat DeLuna, Katherine Ellis, Max C, Tommy Vee, Fatman Scoop and Shena. You’ve been very busy, but how are you planning on growing together this year?
SF: We’re continuing to create and produce. We have so many gigs. It’s like destiny is happening for us. Of course, we’re now working on making an album, but we continue to make different singles in the pop market and also underground tracks. We wanted to make something consistent with our sound. We’re really open to music. We don’t have a fixed style. We’ve worked together for 20 years and we like to make different styles. We always want the music to take us by surprise.
ML: What is the collaboration process like for the two of you?
SF: We work together in our magic studio where we have everything from an aquarium to a desert dragon.
ML: Working as a duo has its advantages and disadvantages. What is the best thing about working together and also the worst?
SF: We divide our emotions like real brothers. We are different characters which is sure the secret of success for us, but sometimes we argue like a like a married couple. But we would never get a divorce.
ML: Which track has been the most fun for you to produce?
SF: Everything is like the first time. Every time we say, “Oh my god, this is a hit. What we made before was shit.” Every time we create we always think it’s the best we’ve done. We’re always pushing ourselves to do better. The best is yet to come.
ML: In the “Oye Baby” video private jets, Lamborghini’s and women surround you. Is this what life will look like for you in a few years?
SF: No no. It’s [the video] crazy, but we are really normal. For us, that’s a job. In real life, we are real people. It’s all just for show. It’s a lot of fun, though. It seems like everything is so extreme. We never change who we are for anything so we just want to be who we are. We’re living our dream. It’s work but we have fun. Some people when they see the video they may think, “Oh they are stars,” but after all that is done and people actually get to know us we’re just funny guys. We try to be comics (laughs).
ML: That’s not a bad goal. You’re doing a good job.
SF: In any case, it’s a nice job we enjoy, but there’s also the bad side – stress of traveling, not being able to attend the family Christmas party or family birthdays because you have to work. You need to have a tough family to support you and the success. Success is so nice, but it can cause stress in normal life. We’re not stars yet so we don’t have that stress, but we hope we will soon.
ML: As you know, the scene has grown to be very big here in America. What’s it like playing in your own city?
SF: To be honest, we don’t like playing in our own city. We try to have a normal life there so we try to play outside. We play mostly in Europe or South America. For us, it’s good because it’s a way to be more international.
ML: You cite Miami as one of your residences. Why is this city so important to you?
SF: We love Miami and it’s a good fit for us. We have a lot of business in Miami, but we wanted to live there primarily because we just love the city. Miami is a great place for nightlife and for a mix of different cultures. It’s like an American Ibiza. For us, Ibiza is not new, but to have an Ibiza in the States is a really good and a great place to live.
ML: For us [Americans], Ibiza may not be new, but it’s still exciting (more so than Miami).
SF: You always dream of a place you don’t know.
ML: Where are you dreaming of?
SF: We’ve been able to see most of the world. Of course, the world is so big, but we love to visit each part because there’s something to learn to each place. We can’t wait to go to Japan. We haven’t been there yet and it’s definitely one of the places we want to be. You are in New York, yes?
ML: Yes. Have you been?
SF: Yes, I like New York. I have a sister and brother who live in New York. They went to America very young for family reasons and now they’ve been there more than 20 years. Now they’re like Americans.
ML: My great grandparents moved to America from Italy at a young age as well.
SF: Oh, so you have some Italian in you!
ML: I’m actually full-blooded.
SF: You will return to your roots.
ML: How do you mean?
SF: It’s your destiny to marry an Italian man. I will be your promoter to find you a husband.
ML: I don’t know about that.
SF: Yes, send me your picture.
ML: Are you married?
SF: Yes, I have two children. One is twelve and the other is six.
ML: What does your family think about what you do for a living?
SF: They’re very happy, but they don’t really understand it as they’re not in the clubs with us seeing what we do.
ML: It’s a good time to do what you do.
SF: Yes, everything has changed now. It’s [EDM] so popular. Both David Guetta and even before David Guetta, Tiesto had the power to be a big popstar. And now the DJ is in the big market of the pop star. It’s very interesting. “I Know You Want Me” was not the usual sales for us, but with the normal sales you can’t make big money. The only good thing about it now is that everyone can listen to music (pirates), but you need the sales and therefore to download the music to become big.
ML: The music industry from a sales standpoint has plummeted, but touring is huge, which is obviously important for a DJ.
SF: Gigs are good for artist promotion and are now the main income of the producer. Sales are not so big like in the past, but the gigs are bigger than the past. It’s a balance now. It’s a good balance, because the DJs can headline concerts like big names like Swedish House Mafia or David Guetta can draw thousands. Gigs are just full of big potential.
ML: Are DJs are the new rockstars?
SF: Yes. We hope to be rockstars soon.
ML: Anything is possible.
SF: The only rule is to believe.
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