DJ CASH: Francesco Civetta – Interview

CASH (I think we all like the sound of that word) or more commonly known by family and friends as Francesco Civetta, has built quite a name.

When I witnessed CASH years ago request how a check was to be written out, I knew we had similar spirits. I watched him say softly “please write the check out to CASH,” I couldn’t help but start laughing. I thought to myself, this guy is slick and why didn’t I think of that? Francesco, the son of Cavalieri Nicola Civetta (Cavalieri is “Sir” in Italian) a famous restaurateur (Ristorante Primavera – a one time eating institution in NYC) and hotel owner (he was knighted by the Pope and President of Italy at the time), made a name away from the family business. Known globally as DJ CASH, I wanted to bring his story to surface.

Can you explain the evolution of Francesco Civetta to DJ Cash, how did it happen?

CASH: When I was a kid I was always fascinated with music of various styles. I grew up playing around with my parent’s record collection, it was very eclectic, consisting of various rock, funk, disco, and soul records, amongst some of the 1st mixtapes my dad used to get from his dj friends at Studio54… I was in some forms obsessed with putting these various genres together, attaching record players to cassette players, cd players, using all different formats, even used to hook up the VCR to record sound clips from movies or off of MTV. I loved Grandmaster Flash and the SugarHill Gang and what those dj’s were doing, also Run DMC, Jazzy Jeff and The Beastie Boys were a major influence early on… I started DJin in Nightclubs when I was 17 for Scott Sartiano by chance. One night I was out at 203 Spring Street in 1998, I was introduced to Scott, who was djing, he mentioned their resident DJ cancelled on him at the last minute so he was filling in. My older brother, who knew him mentioned I was a DJ, so scott asked me if I wanted to play a bit, an hr later he asked if I wanted to play another hr, then he came back and asked if I wanted to play the rest of the night, at the end of the night he said : ‘You wanna play next Friday?”. So I started DJin at nightclubs while I was in high School, was amazing!!! Instead of sneaking into nightclubs with Fake Ids, I was being paid to be there. This seemed really cool! Even now after 13 years in the mix, I still get excited every time I play music!

The evolution from DJ Francesco Civetta into DJ CASH? That’s a very long story, including a 4year stint as going under the name Izzy Gold, but I can tell you how I got the name CASH… I was at Jimmys in Monte Carlo about 4 years ago and this woman comes up to me. She was one of the most beautiful women I had seen, I was wearing a tshirt that said CASH. She said “hey Cash, u want me? “ I said ummm yes… she goes “ok 500 euro”, I jokingly responded, no its 10,000 euro to book me. Confused she replies “no, 500 euro”, obviously she didn’t understand what I was messing with her, so I replied, ok you give me 9,500 euro and we’ll get out of here…. She, plainly said, “FUCK YOU CASH”. My friend, after overhearing the dialogue was hysterically laughing and was like, looks like you got your new name…

What is your average day or night like at this time in your life compared to when you first started?

CASH: Well my average day is incredibly different then when I started, cause I don’t go to high school or university anymore haha 😉 Basically I’m in the studio recording something, whether a remix or original track, or on emails planning gigs and figuring out where Im gonna be for the week or month. It’s a full time job now, at night, Im either spinning some party or event, or at concerts or the movies or dinner with friends, although Ive been known to have a few drinks out on my off nights 😉

Who were the biggest assholes or people you conflicted with in your business?

CASH: Luckily I haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with assholes, apart from my ex-business partner(s) who destroyed my label Izzy Gold and kinda threw me off my tracks for a bit.

Who or what has helped you grow to where you are today, traveling the world, booking top venues and circling around with celebrities?

CASH: Well growing up in NYC had a major influence on where I have gotten to today, but as far as people I would have to say my older brother Michele helped a great deal with the international side and my younger sister, Cristina, has helped a great deal domestically, and also several friends have helped as well. Via my brother I was booked for huge events during the Cannes Film Festival four years ago, there I built up connections with the heads of The WildBunch, as well as Tete D’Affiche, who books a bunch of gigs for me in France.

If you had to describe your “perfect” schedule from venue to venue and city to city or country to country, what would it look like and why?

CASH: Wow that’s a hard one! I love playing in NYC, it gives me my roots, but traveling keeps me vivacious and somewhat youthful I feel. In NYC I LOVE djing at The DoubleSeven, I can play whatever I like, the owners, the staff are amazing, my dj booth is exactly how I like it, and the women I meet there when I spin are oh so beautiful, I feel very much the same when I play at Electric Room, except I stick to Nur’s guidelines of only Rock, which I love to play. I kinda live some version of my ideal schedule: NYC fall, in winter a trip to Miami for Art Basel, then I try to take a month of and disappear somewhere warm (although this year I was booked solid till spring in NYC, so no warm month vacation), then Fashion Week in NYC keeps me busy, LA for Coachella, this year played The Rollingstone Electric Milk Rock Room with a special performance by RadioHead… which was epic!!! Then back in NYC till early May when I split for Italy and Cannes. I love playing in Cannes, I always get the opportunity of playing and meeting people I really have a lot of musical respect for. This year I got to play with Yuksek, Breakbot, 2manyDJs, Pete Doherty, and got to kick it with Kavinsky on a few occasions. I usually come back to NYC to catch the tail end of spring and start the Hamptons summer season, although this year I have a 3 day gig that brings me back to Italy for a week in July, and am in talks about a month long dj tour travelling to Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, South of France and Italy. Then I plan to be back in NYC for Fashion Week in September, then I go to Tokyo in October for a month I believe.

You can obviously DJ and produce music until the day you die, a lifetime profession. If ever, would you consider transitioning into other areas of the industry? Perhaps discovering and building other DJ’s? Or a wild transition like giving it up for medical school and becoming a Doctor?

CASH: I don’t plan on retiring from DJing any time soon, Im only getting more driven and focussed and growing a lot, but I have been getting into producing tremendously in the last six months. I love it! I feel like I can do both for a while hopefully. As far as discovering and building other DJs, people ask me a lot for lessons and training, not sure what type of teacher I would make, haha Also I have been writing a movie, but that’s a whole other story. And yes, DR CASH has a nice ring to it too!

Do you feel free and Inspired? Do you get a natural high and vibe from being a top DJ?

CASH: I definitely feel free, Im very happy, I love working, and yes I get an incredible natural high and vibe from DJing, of course that feeling is aided by a couple of Belvedere Sugar free RedBulls and the crowd I’m playing for 😉

When you are done spinning and get a chance to vacation and relax, what is that like?

CASH: Many times I add a few days or a week on to my DJ trip depending on my geographical location. I love a relaxing vacation in Tuscany at my parent’s hotel, Villa Vezza, its quiet, scenic and kinda brings me back to life. Also I love the South of France, I usually end up there for a week at the end of August visiting friends.

Women, are they more willing because of your status and prestige? Do you find they want to “know” you because you are in an that top global “inner circle”?

CASH: Hmmm… with out sounding like an asshole, Ive always been surrounded by beautiful women, cause in essence I’ve always played tunes at hot spots… The only thing that has changed is I speak to more female celebrities now more than I did a few years ago, just because of certain events I play. I was a lot more wild with women when I was younger, a lots changed, Iv’e had a bunch of short lived relationships, some great, some horrible. I kinda live free and let things happen naturally, my main concern is work, not sure if they want to know me cause of it, but perhaps hahah

What are your biggest mistakes in this business, if any, that keep you motivated or sharp, making sure than you don’t make a mistake like that again?

CASH: Drinking too much, that has been my biggest fault… I laugh to and at myself at least three times a year for being too drunk… In my past when I was younger it would happen a bunch, would get too sloppy when I would spin, but my head is at a different spot nowadays and the gigs are getting too important to fuck up…

I agree with Francesco, alcohol has been a factor in making me sloppy at times as well. But it has also been the catalyst for some unforgettable times in my life! For artists in the entertainment industry like CASH, friendly skies and times are always a few moments away. Tight with his family, a gentleman to everyone he meets no matter what background or social class, DJ Cash is deserving of his success. In my several years of knowing this young man, I have yet to find one person who would utter a negative word about him. If you have a chance to catch CASH live I urge you to do so.