It’s an early afternoon in Los Angeles, and an early evening in London. I’m met with lovely Francesca Macri, better known as Italian DJ and artist “System Olympia”. Her music defies a singular genre, and rather she describes its essence as, “night rides in my Mercedes Benz”. While it’s a rather brief description, that’s all it needs to be, as upon reading that description the first time I listened to System Olympia, it all made sense.
Diving right in, I ask Francesca about this saying “night rides in my Mercedes Benz”…
“It’s kinda like my motto.” She tells me years back she had bought herself a 1992 Mercedes Benz in white. “I was so proud of it…it had a whole mood, and provided a kind of soundtrack”. Unfortunately her mom sold the car when she was away, but its legacy remains in the feel of System Olympia’s music, Spotify, and Instagram bio.
System Olympia got her start back in college in the early 2000s. “I started buying records and DJ’ing college parties. In 2003-2005, Hip Hop instrumentals became a whole genre in itself…I eventually got software and started making beats”.
In her early music, Francesca tells me she used sampling a lot to get her start. “I still love using it occasionally, but I’ve started to detach myself from sampling. Now I’m ‘loosely’ doing synthpop in my own way.”
What initially drew me into System Olympia was the sensuality of her music. Her projects are filled with dreamy house-esqe tracks alongside smooth synth melodies that are reminiscent of the sounds of Vaporwave. Ultimately, her music exudes a late night energy. Whether partying, driving fast down an empty freeway, or other things, System Olympia’s music will fit an evening activity just for you.
I ask Francesca what inspires the sound of System Olympia–”I’m a very emotional person. I let feelings take me places, and I’ve always had a passion for eroticism.” She adds, “I let my mind run…I like to create soundtracks for my mind.”
Earlier this year, System Olympia released her newest album, Always on Time, and I wonder how it differs from her prior album, Delta of Venus…. “I made it really quickly…I had lost someone very important to me, and I met a man and fell in love…”
With her loss alongside taking care of her son, she describes to me that she went into autopilot. Due to overwhelming life changes, she ended up breaking up with her boyfriend, and ultimately realized she had pushed him away. Francesca tells me, “[Always on Time] was such a change in my career—a milestone.” She goes on to describe how she began to include more of her own vocals into System Olympia, rather than samples. On the album, she tells me “I wrote Crest of a Wave for him”, referring to her ex boyfriend at the time.
“Through all of this, my true therapy was making music…I use music as a channel.” It’s beautiful to know that System Olympia opened herself to singing and evolving her music through healing and self-expression. Trying new things can be daunting, and the fact she did that on top of sorting out her emotions through a difficult time is a feat in itself.
Francesca is incredibly intentional with the sounds and aesthetics associated with System Olympia. She has feelings and moods she enjoys to convey through her music, so I ask her: What do you want listeners to feel?..
“I just want to feel something—I want people to feel something.” She adds that she listens to a lot of 70s Soul music, and hopes that influence carries over into her music. “I hope people think it’s honest…”
System Olympia can’t live without anything from Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson. “Those are like my foundations”. Francesca adds that she always had the CD of What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye in her car, so that’s an album she specifically can’t live without.
As System Olympia has expanded from her DJ beginnings she still Djs frequently throughout Europe. I ask her what her favorite DJ’ing experience was, to which she tells me “Tresor in Berlin…it was a DJ Stingray release party.” Francesca describes DJ’ing for 4 hours straight (apparently sets in Berlin are notoriously long) and meeting a bunch of her favorite artists, specifically recalling sitting at a table with Drexciya…”I’m gonna remember that forever.”
System Olympia’s music is a soundtrack for nightlife and fun. And as our conversation comes to a close, I ask her if there’s any clubs she likes to frequent, to which she replies—”The Gay club ‘Dolsten Superstore’…It feels timeless, and they always play older music.” She adds that it’s within walking distance to her flat, so the convenience and good music make it an extra fun time.
System Olympia’s music is the perfect soundtrack for your nighttime adventures. She’s got an EP in the works set for a January release on top of a series of singles and remixes releasing in the next couple of months. Tune in to System Olympia on Spotify, Apple Music, and her monthly show on NTS. Keep up with her on Instagram!
Written By: Alexa Terry