Benny Benassi — Satisfaction. Brief story behind the track

George Palladev / 1.11.2022

Benny Benassi — Satisfaction. Brief story behind the track

It’s difficult to live a long and happy life without hearing Benassi’s track Satisfaction. Benny Benassi is a union of cousins: the elder Marco (the one in the spotlight) and the younger Alessandro (prefers to stay in the shadows). Both come from Reggio Emilia, a town of 150 thousand people in the heart of northern Italy. Marco Benassi has been DJing since the mid-80s, that is, since the age of 15, and gradually moved from his lonesome basement sets to local clubs. Meanwhile, Alessandro Benassi received a classical music education, lived in the same house as Marco, performed in a jazz band, and invested his earnings in his own studio. Suddenly it turned out that the older cousin knew what people on the dance floor would dig and the younger one could record it.

“I’m not a musician,” said Marco, “And have only a very basic grasp of music software. I’ve always needed to work with musicians and producers. My cousin Alle made the music, I brought in the ideas and directed operations!” They took one name ‘Benny’ for two and, throughout the nineties, were mastering the lucrative Eurodance and house scene: they recorded remixes, released singles, and collaborated with other musicians. This was until Marco decided to turn to the passion of his youth—the electro sound of the 80s. Releasing something like this in the early noughties seemed suicidal, but the guys took a chance.

“I owe everything to my cousin Alle Benassi,” often confesses Marco, “It’s important people know that. The Satisfaction hook was created by him.” Legend has it that Alessandro Benassi was chilling in a hotel after a jazz tour in 2002. Suddenly, the carefree Italian’s peace was disturbed by the sound of a car horn. Alessandro recorded the sound, came back to his homeland, and recreated it digitally. “Alle showed me the drafts and we thought it wasn’t bad. We could even release it.” An early version of Able to Love, which contained the as-yet-unfinished sound of an electric drill, became the trial balloon. By the cousins’ next single, its drawback was rectified. Satisfaction was released with a bass drum that hit your head as well as the bass part, which was also the melody, that drilled through your skull.

Something similar was actually already released at the turn of the millennium by Mr. Oizo (Flat Beat) and Azzido da Bass in a remix of Timo Maas (Dooms Night). These singles also didn’t leave TV or radio, but Satisfaction did the impossible—with a seemingly absolutely unbearable sound, it became everyone’s favourite. During 2003—2004, it was impossible to hide from it: Satisfaction hammered through your brain on high and low frequencies in all shops, beaches, and taxis. It came out of the windows of houses, played on the airwaves of all radio stations and all telethons. It buzzed in all headphones and was played at the most remote rural discos. “Alle gets all the credit for the riff.” Marco recalls. “At the time, he invented a unique way to use compressors in the studio, which gave the track that signature pumping sound.”

Satisfaction was released in 2002, first in small quantities, signed Benny B. France gave it a start—from there the buzzing single went triumphantly all over the planet. It was the sound of the new millennium, it was the coming EDM. Benny B officially turned into Benny Benassi Presents the Biz. The cousins weren’t going to tour together. Alessandro planned to continue working in the studio. Marco wanted to perform as a DJ in the best clubs in the world and at huge festivals. However, there was still a huge demand for a concert program of drilling tracks.

This forced the cousins to create a choreographic project with two singers/dancers: Italian Paolo Caiti (Paul French) and Romanian Violeta Bratu—both had known the cousins for years, both had auditions in Alessandro’s studio before, both had a single by the time of the Satisfaction hype (I Love my sex and Don’t touch too much). At the peak of Satisfaction (2003—2005), The Biz flew around the world several times. They had separate shows, their own riders and tour schedules that didn’t overlap. (Benassi was so little known in the world that, at first, it was the touring Paul French who was mistaken for the author of Satisfaction—for a while, the dancer even performed in an “I’m not Benny Benassi” t-shirt). As a project, The Biz had fewer copyrights—they performed with pre-recorded music and didn’t sing.

The robotic male and female voices in Satisfaction really belong to a robot—the MacinTalk programme built into the Apple operating system, which voices any text typed on the keyboard. By the noughties, the voice synthesizer in Macs had 20 different characters. Alessandro chose the voices of Fred and Victoria for Satisfaction, who will be able to pronounce the same text if you get an old Mac with the same old version of the programme. Benassi only distributed the words and syllables so that they clearly fell into the rhythm, plus corrected the tonality of some robowords. There is a suspicion that a robot reads the text in 12 tracks out of 14 on the cousins’ debut album Hypnotica, definitely in the hit singles (Satisfaction, Able to love, No matter what you do and Love is gonna save us).

Recorded in a couple of months, Satisfaction brought the Benassi cousins to a level in one year that they hadn’t been able to reach for ten years. Of course, Satisfaction was the result of all these ten years of work. Satisfaction has experienced countless copies, reincarnations, parodies and remixes, and Benny himself has received many awards, titles, and offers of cooperation. “Are you satisfied?” he is asked. “Yeah,” Benny smiles blissfully.

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