Jun 28, 2012|
D: Our father was an Italian sculptor and also taught at an art academy in Pisa. In 1936, a company hired him to do quality control for some marble constructions in Shanghai, and a couple of years later he moved to Hong Kong. On a trip to Macau, he fell in love with the place, so he settled down and started his own company there. During the 60s, he met our mother, who’s from Myanmar.
J: Childhood in Macau was wonderful, very idyllic—everyone is happy there. We were always hanging out on the beach or playing football, having a blast.
D: We went to a Catholic school together. I’d say we were good boys, but not necessarily model students. Our focus back then was mainly sports. And when we turned 13 or 14, that focus shifted to music. It’s something we became very passionate about, but we didn’t think about doing it as a profession.
J: Our earliest musical influence is probably Italian music. We used to live with our older half-brother, and every year he’d receive a lot of music albums from Italy as birthday gifts. He was the only one in the house who had a stereo, so we’d go into his room and put on his music.
J: We left Macau in 1989, when we were 17. We spent a year in Italy at a youth center.
D: After that we went separate ways but stayed in Tuscany. I chose to continue [in] the academic direction and studied literature. And Julio studied graphic design and worked as a designer after college.
D: As I saw it, as a humanities student in Italy, the future was rather bleak for me. So half way through college, when Julio asked me if I wanted to take music seriously, I jumped right in—on one condition: that we had to make music together. I had performed with some Italian bands before and could’ve kept it that way, but I declined the offers.
J: We first got signed to EMI Italy in 1995. After two years nothing came from it... It took us years to get another record deal.
D: By that time we had returned to Asia. I had been in Hong Kong playing in bands with musicians like Paul Wong and Jun Kung, and writing music myself.
D: Being fresh in the Hong Kong music industry was confusing because we didn’t know the “game.” There was a certain way of promoting artists and the company tried hard to fit us into a mode, but we’d refuse to follow the rules.
J: Basically we felt that they were turning music into a popularity contest; we think music is something pure, something to be shared. Therefore we didn’t see fellow musicians as competitors, but as peers. That was our main struggle; it was about principles.
D: There’s an extra [element] when we write and play music together that transcends either of us as solo musicians. We still can’t put our finger on what this magic is, but it’s there. The songwriting process is very natural and quick, very closely collaborative. Sometimes after finishing writing a song, we can’t even remember whose was the original idea.
J: I designed the covers for our first two albums but decided not to do it anymore because I didn’t think I could be objective about our own products. I kept designing for various other projects, though. There’re times when I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and said to myself, “I’ve got to design something!” It’s a need. Can I design a cover for your magazine sometime?
J: It’s funny how people confuse us with each other; we don’t think we look that much alike and we definitely have different personalities. Dino is a very calm and chilled person, while I can be quite intense.
J: We were offered parts in the action movie “Black & White,” which will be shown in China pretty soon. We had to go through a couple of months’ intensive martial arts training. From head to toe, it broke us down, and our bodies almost recomposed themselves.
D: We are very lucky to have managed to marry our hobbies with our professional lives. We love music and we became musicians; we like cooking and we were on a cooking show. Now I’m afraid to tell people I like gardening because someone may ask me to do a gardening show.
J: Both of us can play pretty much all the instruments in a rock band. Drums are our favorite, but we only have one set of drums in the studio so we constantly fight over it. We even play tricks on each other—like saying “Dino, can you go to that room to find that document?”—to occupy the drum set.
D: Sibling rivalry? Oh yes. We argue all the time. Sometimes there’re bursts of frustration directed at each other, but we’ve never had a physical fight.
D: Years of being brothers and professional collaborators have taught us one important thing: respect. It sounds crazy, but we actually sat down and discussed it. We agreed that if we wanted to make this work, we had to change the way we talked to each other—and learn to apologize to each other.