“A mix of classic samples and classy house music”

Among those in the know, Bologna has long maintained one of Italy’s most passionate and vibrant electronic music scenes. Buoyed by a diverse range of crews and parties, the city is starting to earn a global reputation, a fact undoubtedly assisted by a knowledgeable and highly talented range of emerging DJs and producers. At the forefront of this movement is DJ Cream. A DJ, producer and label owner, Cream has done more than most to elevate his city to new heights, with his party-starting capabilities and ear for a jam marking him out as one to watch.

A prolific DJ with a liking for the unusual, Cream starting DJing as a teenager. Having immersed himself in the local scene, he was also instrumental in setting up the Homequest crew: a collection of Bologna-based electronic music aficionados with a penchant for vinyl records and analogue hardware. Established in 2015 – exactly 20 years since Bologna’s so-called “Golden Era” of house music – the nine-strong team is undoubtedly one of the most exciting stories to emerge from Italy’s house music scene for quite some time.

As someone who’s prone to keeping busy, it’s far from just the Homequest crew for which Cream is renowned. Similarly involved in 320KB Music (a label he helped establish that’s played host to numerous records from the likes of Tommy Vicari Jr), Cream is also involved in the BoloRepresent project alongside with Bassa Clan, Dj P!sta, Dumbo Beat and Jackie. For DJ Cream, wearing one musical hat is never enough.

Cream describes his own sound as a “mix of classic samples and classy house music”, which goes some way to explaining his relationship with Phil Weeks and the latter’s Robsoul imprint. As part of his work at Homequest, he had an influential hand in shaping Return to the Classics, an instrumental Hip Hop album out on Robsoul Jazz. Cream’s latest endeavor is Smile&StayHigh, a sub label of 320kb that recently played host to his debut solo EP, the brilliant, sample-heavy sounds of “MPC Trips”. Titled in homage to the famous sampler that spawned the tracks, it serves up a thrilling insight into the sounds of a producer who we’re quite sure you’ll be hearing much more from over the next while.

Always rough, ready and primed for the dancefloor, DJ Cream’s work is notable for its boundless energy and an infectious enthusiasm that’s hard not to love. Having finished 2017 on a high courtesy of the brilliant MPC Trips EP, he returns here for the second release on his Smile & Stay High label, the aptly named Hustlin’ EP. Full of catchy, dextrous anthems of the sort he’s quickly earning a name for, the release speaks volumes of the producer’s ability to conjure up deep house of an extremely classy variety. Opening up the release is the sounds of ‘Just Not Ending’, a peak-time deep house track that makes smart use of Alo’s vocals. A warm and engaging indication of Cream’s capabilities, it makes for an auspicious start to proceedings here. The A Side comes complete with an instrumental version too.

On the B side, we get underway with the aptly titled ‘Discotheque’. A wholly captivating track that’s again concerned with sonic intricacies and big basslines, its relentless appeal means it’s most definitely best suited to a large soundsystem. Finally, we’re left with ‘In Your Way’, a sample-heavy track that’s notable for its dreamy, hazy aesthetics. A bumping, rollocking ride that evokes memories of classic Strictly Rhythm cuts, it nods respectfully to the past but also maintains Cream’s unique vibe. A stunning EP that never messes about, the Hustlin’ EP is full of the sort of swagger its title suggests.