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Twisted record label and the man behind it - Rob Di Stefano

Rob Di Stefano has visited Finnish clubs several times in the past, and every time it's been an awesome party. Besides being a DJ, he's running a record label - TWISTED.

accesss.org: Rob, please tell us your full name, your date of birth and your current place of residence.
Rob: My name is Robert Eugene Di Stefano, Italian-American born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 7, 1965. My place of residence is New York City, although more accurately would probably be my suitcase, as I have been practically living out of it for the past 3 years.

accesss.org: Tell us about your typical day, Rob.
Rob: I wish I had a typical day. An average day would probably include a flight somewhere, lots of frantic phone calls to sign records, plan releases, approve covers, brainstorm marketing ideas, book gigs, answer anywhere between 20-40 e-mails, and listen to music, music, music. And pet a cat. I like cats!

accesss.org: Have you always been into music business? How did everything begin?
Rob: I think I was born near a plastics factory because vinyl is in my blood. Records are a part of my family, sort of. My great-uncle opened one of the first record stores in Philadelphia in the early 1900's. My grandfather owned another in the 50's. So I grew up with records around me. In the baby book my parents kept about me, they wrote that at 1 ½ year old, I used to sit for hours and watch the records spin around (getting dizzy on purpose?). I bought my first 7" single at 4 (and still have it. "1900 Yesterday" by Liz Damon's Orient Express on White Whale Records).

accesss.org: You have an excellent label, TWISTED. Please tell us something about its history!
Rob:Thanks!! TWISTED began in 1996, when I left my first label TRIBAL. I was just an employee for rock label IRS Records. They owned TRIBAL, and I was working my ass off for them. After 5 years, when TRIBAL was at its peak, I asked for a piece of the company. So they fired me! I then took all my artists and staff with me and started TWISTED. IRS went out of business 3 months later. J TWISTED began as a joint-venture with Universal Music Group, with our first record "Fired Up!" by Funky Green Dogs. We stayed with UMG until '99, when our deal ended. It was a mutually expected split. They wanted a pop label, I wanted a dance label. It looked like TWISTED was finished. I split with my two partners, but ultimately bought their interest in the name and relaunched the label in June 2001with "The Revolution" by Superchumbo. The old catalog remains with Universal.

accesss.org: What's it like to run TWISTED these days compared to first years?
Rob:It's so much better now. More like TRIBAL, which was just me, Danny Tenaglia, a sales person in Los Angeles, and my designer Steve Newman. The early TWISTED was a corporate nightmare, and was too big for its own good. We had 10 employees, 2 offices, and a big overhead! We had to release a CD a month just to pay the bills. And I was always fighting with my partners to keep the label credible, when they always wanted to chase pop hits. Now it's a one man showâ?¦which by the way, is becoming too much, so it's soon to be more than one man. But I certainly enjoy making my decisions without having to defend them to partners who didn't have the same goal. I sign what I want, and when. And if no one likes it, it's their loss. I've slowly learned to trust my instincts as they've seemed to serve me well the past 10 years.

accesss.org: What is exactly your role in TWISTED? You must have tons of stuff to do, please tell us something about running everything.
Rob:I have way too much to do, actually! My primary job at TWISTED is finding the music and artists, and working with them on the material they create and release on the label. TWISTED is my baby, and I am very protective of its image and sound. I have met about 7 people with TWISTED tattoos on their bodies, and I feel a sense of responsibility to keep the label a respected outlet for quality house music. A tattoo is forever. Can you imagine if we started releasing cheesy pop music? These people would be branded with that.
I also write all the copy for the packages and website, work with the designer on the cover concepts, and final artwork. And wave the TWISTED flag as often and as many ways as I can.

accesss.org: What kind of plans do you have for the future of TWISTED or is everything more like living day by day?
Rob: If I were more of a businessman, I would probably have greater plans for the label. Right now, I simply want a consistent, and modest flow of strong recordsâ?¦ones that will stand up years from now, and aren't trendy or "of the style of the moment." I've signed about 15 new singles which will be released over the next 6-12 months, plus I have two Superchumbo compilations coming - one in the US with EMI, and one in the UK with Loaded/Skint. I have a new double CD TWISTED compilation coming in Portugal, one CD of which will be all new TWISTED, the bonus CD all old TWISTED. And I'm working with new artist Sapphirecut on her debut album due in early 2003. Whew!

accesss.org: You have any "TWISTED-ideology" that's behind everything you do?
Rob: Again, only to release really good records. That's always been my motivation, and I think it shows in the catalog of records I've released. There's so many people making music, and so many labels releasing records, there's very little consistency in the industry. Lots of people are just trying to cash in on an over-hyped market. Labels with strong brands and of dependable quality give the industry some stability.

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