Dan Fioretti and I came into contact sometime in the mid 1980s. I had seen his name in Sound Choice and we traded some tapes not long afterwards. His joie de vivre outlook was refreshing and his energy level pretty amazing. At the time his prolific nature was mind blowing. It seemed he was releasing a tape almost every day and collaborations with people like Ken Clinger came at an accelerated pace.
It may be trite to say but there is no one quite like Dan. His vision may seem naive but behind his hijinks is a cagey, creative individual who walks his own path proudly.
Dan had a casio keyboard style mixed with sung/spoken vocals that sometimes sounded like it was recorded in a box in another room. To me though, this only created a more magical presence. Later, he started using midi keyboard for a much higher fidelity and utterly abstract compositional sense for amazing results. His two styles could not have been any different.
As noted, Fioretti collaborated with many other home tapers. His Kenny And The Clingtones tapes ( with Ken Clinger) were hilarious, bizarre, sometimes frustrating and plenty. To me, nothing was better though than his duets with Heather Perkins as evidenced on their absolute classic cover, ”I Got You Babe” download here. This is the essence of Fioretti: his humor, sense of comraderie, plain goofiness and celebration of self creation.
In the early days Dan would hand color by magic marker not only the tape covers but the tape labels as well. Above, his tribute to my own daughter Nicole with guest appearances by yours truly, Dino DiMuro, Ken Clinger and others. Below, the tape shell for this 1988 release.
At first I couldn’t believe how lo fi his tapes were. And then after becoming familiar with them this aspect only added to the charm. Above, his late 1980s cassette, “The Present Day Composer Refuses To Diet”
What are some of your earliest memories about hearing music?
The Monkees! The show started when I was in kindergarten. At least ONE person on the internet guessed my age from that. Before that, there was a record of The Chipmunks singing with kids. They did a rockin’ version of Rag Mop! R, I say R_A, RAG…..
Did you play any instruments as a kid?
Some piano but that’s about it.
When did you first hear of the underground network?
One day I was doing my laundry at a laundromat and I went next door and I got a magazine. It was Sound Choice. The rest is history.
Did you already have completed tapes to trade?
I had about four tapes, including the original C-30 version of No Reason To Worry and the C-30 When Drowning Men Sing The Blues, which was reissued as the C-60 No Reason To Worry.
Who were some of your earliest tape trading partners?
You were one of the first, and the second tape you sent was Pinata Party, and I got addresses from Ken Clinger and Dino DiMuro from that. Also, I knew you from the Music For Muzak’s Sake compilation and I got some other addresses from that, too.
Kitti Man became your “non de plume” early on. Why?
Kathy the Post Office Lady was the mail lady at the Highland Park post office and she called me that.
Didn’t you release a tape by your cat at one point?
It was a CD! I converted my kitty’s meowing sounds to MIDI and I made a CD of variations!
When I visited you in Princeton in 1995 I was surprised to see your tapes on display at The Princeton record Exchange, a local record store. How did that come about?
They said they have music releases by local artists and they asked me if they could have some tapes to put in the store. I brought some in and they played one. It was fun to walk around the store with people listening to my music.
You have done countless collaborations with many home recording artists, especially Ken Clinger. What makes this interesting to you?
It’s fun to have people bring things to your music that you don’t actually do youself, like Dino playing banjo. Also, I can make this big list of all the big names in the cassette network I did collabs with.
Were you ever afraid of being too personal and giving away too much information about yourself?
In the earliest days your sound was very lo fi, filled with personal references and extremely quirky. Your use of casio style keyboard and sung/spoken lyrics and talking was unlike anything I’d ever heard. Did you improvise most of this…or was their a plan?
I’m like Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight Returns. Do I look like I have a plan? I just started singing and talking and whatever came out went onto the tape.
Then, sometime later your music took a dramatic turn with complex keyboard compositions that may have been informed by Zappa and Phillip Glass but were totally unique and unlike anything I’d ever heard. Was this the result of learning new equipment?
I wouldn’t exactly say ‘LEARNING’. More like David Bowie and Brian Eno throwing away the owner’s manual. It’s more fun that way.
You also wrote reviews for various magazines. Did you simply volunteer and then the tapes started to roll in?
I just said I wanted to review thingies and they sent stuff.
Did you ever get any hostility after giving a negative review?
I never had any complaints.
After the internet took over you seemed to slowly disappear in a way. No longer sending out many tapes or CDs and gradually sort of fading away. Did you expect the internet to be just as fertile and active as the postal system?
The internet is actually a lot faster than the postal system. You don’t have to walk everything to the post office, you don’t have to spend money on blank tapes or time on duplicating tapes. You can write a song and upload it immediately. That’s fun.
Do you still occasionally mail out packages?
I haven’t been mailing anything out.
What are your projects or goals now?
I’m in semi-retirement. I digitally remastered most of my catalog, but I have a SMALL number of things left to go.
What’s the best URL for people to hear your music or for contact?
Seagull Sea Productions features my collab projects
Kenny & The Cling-Tones, collabs with The Silly Pillows, Nick, Kayla, Heather Perkins, and Your Host Bobby.
Thanks Dan, good luck with all,Don