One moment IRKO was working on music in his dad’s garage just outside of Venice, the next he was in New York engineering Jay Z’s Kingdom Come album…
“I've noticed in my life that stuff develops in steps – but not in a linear way,” muses Italian multi-platinum audio engineer IRKO from his studio complex in L.A on his springboard into the hip-hop big time. “It's like, one day it's here, the next day, it's here,” he says, widening the gap between his hands dramatically.
Growing up in a small town in Italy, as a boy IRKO became obsessed with US hip-hop after getting his hands on Busta Rhymes’ 1997 record When Disaster Strikes and Snoop Dogg’s debut album, Doggystyle, plastering his room with posters of everyone from Snoop, Dr. Dre, Cypress Hill, Ice-T to Wu-Tang Clan.
The source of his new favourite genre? A nearby US air force base, where he would later go on to hone his skills as a DJ.
“Niche is not even the right word for my musical taste at the time,” he points out. “Nobody knew what any of that was where I was from – no one! So that shows the weirdness and the uniqueness of my situation.
"My little town started hearing about the stuff that I was listening to once I was able to drive. I would blast music in my car driving around this little town with 30,000 people in it,” he reflects nostalgically. “I would drive around in this car where the subwoofer was more powerful than the engine!”
Fast forward to 2023, and he’s refined his car collection. “One of the cars that I drive often is a DeLorean,” he says, smiling.
“You better believe that's the best looking car ever. Man, I drive a UFO! I still remember to this day, being a kid watching Back to the Future on my little cube TV in my bedroom, and now I drive that car and I live in the same city where the movie was shot. It's crazy, right? But it just kind of happened. It wasn't really by design.”