First of all let me share my pure love for 06.00 am. In the last few months, this has been a source for amazing music and extremely thoughtful and inspiring interviews. A perfect view of the current and undercurrent.
Excuse me in advance for some long answers:
06. What where you doing before getting to answer these questions? We are curious to know what do you do in one day of yours?
Yesterday i went to bed at 10.30 in the morning, because i had to finish a remix. I am sleeping super late in the last weeks, and i seem to enjoy it. After i finished my master thesis i decided to keep doing some stuff that i wasn't able to do before. Sleeping really late is one of those things. When you are stressed and anxious, even getting to sleep is a burden, so now that i am stress-free (relatively and supposedly), i sleep whenever the fuck i want to.
So, i woke up at 16.00, replied to some emails, and went straight to the park for running. This park (Giardini Pubblici "Indro Montanelli") is my favorite place in Milan, i fucking love this park, there are times that i wish that i could just go and live in there, but the doors close around 22.00 each night, and i don't want to get raped (yet).
While i was running, i was supposed to listen to this remix i finished yesterday, but i fucked up the export, and there was a midi channel playing, but it was supposed to be muted. And this made me angry. But i decided to calm down, because right after i finished my thesis, i persuaded myself to be more calm and cool. It's super hard but i try. I also try to eat healthier because i turned into a fat fuck and i hated myself.
So, instead of getting back home to re-export the track, i just listened to the Marc Maron WTF Podcast with Louis CK, and i instantly got better. I didn't run that much today, and after that i got home, had dinner, and watched the last SNL episode, with Louis CK hosting. Last year I found about Louis CK (i came to the party quite late), and my life literally changed, i am so happy about it.
06. When did your relationship with music start to develop and which was the first record you ever played?
My father had lots of vinyl at home, his favorite bands were Pink Floyd, Uriah Heep and the Beatles (i guess), and on the side he had LOTS of Lucio Battisti LP's. I think that this is the single best thing that my dad gave, considering that the original Numero Uno copy of Anima Latina can go up to 100€ on ebay. It depends. I wouldn’t ever sell it, so i really don’t know why i even mentioned that. Hmmm.
My first musical memory is Mozart's Magic Flute from the Amadeus film, and the first song that i really liked, in the sense that i was constantly thinking about it and waiting for the time to come to listen to it again, was El Condor Pasa (If I Could) by Simon and Garfunkel. I think i was 5 years old. Around that time my father made me to go have music lessons, and i was super reluctant about it initially, but i still thank him for that.
The first band that i became obsessed with were Pink Floyd (around the age of 12), and the first CD that i bought with my own money was Chronicle by Creedence Clearwater Revival (or Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull? still not sure). The first LP that i bought with my own money was New Day Rising by Hüsker Dü.
06. How did you come to know that you could make your own music? What does being able to get involved in such a creative process 'offer' you as a person?
I started getting to play around with chords and stuff when they bought me my first guitar, a red korean imitation of a strat. The brand is kimaxe and i still use it today by the way. i wanted to have a strat because i was watching that pink floyd show at earls courts in '94 and i was so in love with dave gilmour and his guitar and his fingers and his fat belly.
My first "songs" were just imitations of nirvana's power chords, and then i kept on copying. Thinking about it, i made my first songs on a computer copying dj shadow, and then i just spent 2 years around 2003-2004 trying to copy four tet's sound. and that's how i started learning how to use software and all that.
in the story "pierre menard, author of the quixote" borges is talking about this guy, who wanted to write don quixote, so he started living cervantes life. but then he realized that even though he acquired the exact same experiences, he couldn't write it. he just couldn't. so he started copying it, by hand, page by page, line by line, letter by letter. And then borges compares the exact same passage from these two books, and he praises the differences in menard's writings, even though the two texts are identical. this story somehow describes many parts of my creative process.
the rest of it, comes from being super young and uncool when i was at school, and never actually had had any real and close friends. i was always geeky and unfriendable, and always passed unnoticed and unobserved. all this made me try harder in the things that i liked, and that kept on for years after years. I guess that it's the same with all the people. we just build a small corner with some abilities or plain features that we perceive them to make us fell “better” (better being an extremely vague and open term here) than other people, and just stay there and never move out of that corner.
if i had to write it down in less words it would be like that: i constantly feel that everyone is better and happier than me, and i keep putting down huge amounts of effort in order to overcome that feeling, but of course this never happens, because i have problems and anxieties deeply hidden that never let me think straight.
06. How was the environment like while growing up? How was your family like?
Small city, shitty people, ugly buildings. I don't have any brothers and sisters, spent mostly time with my mother when i was back home, my father was working a lot back then, he still does.
06. Do you ever find yourself trying to become something that others would expect?
I was like that for a huge amount of years, let's say i sort-of stopped this habit two-three years ago. i am turning 30 this december, so that means that i spent 27 years trying to do stuff i don't like, and deliberately trying to persuade myself that i like them. last frontier was my aforementioned master thesis.
The weird thing is that everyone constantly tries to live himself up to a projected image that others have on him, but an image that he somehow imposed himself into trying to fit into. So it's like a typical programming deadlock, the door is locked but the key is behind the door. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadlock
"A deadlock is a situation in which two or more competing actions are each waiting for the other to finish, and thus neither ever does"
06. Do you believe in luck or do we have absolute control over what' s going to happen in our lives?
All i really believe is that life is about to fuck you up at any given point, constantly. And that failure and disaster are always imminent.
06. Is there another kind of music that you have secretly wanted to make?
I wish i could play jazz, but i am uneducated. I would love to start studying at some point though.
06. Are your parents influenced by your way of living?
Only in the sense that i am not living in Greece, and there is some extra effort needed from each one of us when we want to meet. Other than that no, not at all.
06. How would you explain the fact that people are so slow to recognize and accept the work of ingenious people?
I never thought about that. Really. But I guess that, considering the way the media were always functioning, most of the times what is perceived as ingenious is just imposed by random factors. Then instantly, an actual hub is created around this "ingenious" work, where imitators attach themselves to it, and its artistic value is raised. But initially, there was no actual value per se, only a relative one. It is always about networks of influences and those prevalent nodes that are always randomly chosen.
06. How did you choose Milano as a current living place? Can a city influence ones creativity?
I live in Milan because my girlfriend works here and it's much easier for me to move around, considering i don't have an actual office or anything. Another reason that makes me happy being here is that Lucio Battisti was living here for many years, and when i walk around thinking that i feel weird and happy about it. I don’t think i’ve ever been happier.
06. What is there for you to say about your new album? Does it signify a new phase in your work?
This new thing (Silent Congas) is part of the proper album sessions (Years Not Living) and all that work was based on the book "Life: A User's Manual" by Georges Perec. It's been some time since i finished those songs, but at the time, there were some extremely strict constraints imposed on the songwriting, recording and producing that material, and all of that was directly influenced by Georges Perec and the whole Oulipo movement (and Raymond Queneau’s way of cross-referencing styles, influences and moods in a vertical way).
For example, the numbers of samples used per song, the way that they were chosen, their role in the songwriting and mixing processes, all that derived by setting some specific constraints in the beginning of the project, sort of creating a certain environment where the relationships between the samples would start emerging on their own, and everything started functioning in a semi-generative manner. From my point of view, It's just a rip-off of the methods that Georges Perec used when writing Life.
Another big influence was Borges and the various definitions of infinity found in his fiction and non-fiction work. During the months when i was working on those songs, i would get to sleep and dream constantly about Perecian and Borgesian libraries, full with crosswords, labyrinths and infinite rooms. At some point i even had a fucked-up dream where i actually just installed a copy of a early 90's sierra-style adventure game, where the main character was Perec himself, trying to navigate in the Library of Babel, solving mysteries and talking to characters straight from Borges' stories and Perec books.
Hmmm, thinking about it, i never managed to get over all that. In a sense, reading that book (life: a user's manual) and then getting to Borges through Perec and Achilleas Kyriakidis (the most prominent greek translator of perec and borges), literally changed the way i approach my life, the people around me, my work ethics, and the bottomline is that it just changed my life itself.
06. Do you believe that art making is also a way of psychotherapy?
I guess that it depends from person to person. (I have little idea regarding the actualities of psychotherapy, so i wouldn't just start comparing those two things. It would just be embarrassing on my behalf :) )
06. In your opinion what is the role of art in periods of economical, political and social turmoil?
Who gives a fuck about art in those cases, seriously. It's like a tiny small percentage of what is actually happening, and really, who cares about what a singer or a poet or a painter is doing or saying. People have to deal with real problems, fucking heavy day-to- day stuff. Getting to be interested about art, and being influenced (or even informed) by it is just pointless for most of them.
06. Have you ever cried from happiness?
I cry a lot, but most of the times it's a combination of happiness, relief, admiration and excitement, which is quite different i guess.
I think that one of the few times that i was just crying from ecstatic happiness (dancing and hugging strangers) was at an Edan gig, and being honest, i have to say that this was the best concert i've ever seen.
Oh, i think i cry when i get to eat something that blows my mind, but even that, i wouldn't put it in the "pure happiness" category.
Also, another recent incident was when i visited a huge Pipilotti Rist exhibition in Milan. and to be specific the moment when i entered the huge black cinema hall (photos of the whole exhibition: http://goo.gl/dqH7g)
It was the first time in my life that i was feeling that the person who created those things was there in person and cared for me, it was a really primitive emotion in a sense, it was just warm and heartfelt. i was just feeling being loved. and i know that it sounds corny, but i went 3 more times in there, just to get that feeling again.
06. Have you ever been at a concert from which you decided to leave?
06. Are there things that bore you?
Watching movies on a laptop.
06. How did you come across Sun Ra? Was there somebody that gave you a record and told you: 'Listen to it'?
I bought some jazz records in high school (a love supreme, birth of the cool, keith jarrett's koln concert -not strictly jazz, but you know, high school-, bitches brew) but my whole infatuation with jazz has two very specific foundations/roots:
I bought my first wire magazine on 2002 (asian dub foundation on the cover, and best of the year lists in it) and the next one i bought had Lou Reed on the cover, and he was saying how in his first days was trying to emulate Ornette Coleman's sound with his guitar, further stating how free jazz changed his life, and that "Shape of Jazz to Come" is his favorite album ever. I just went out and bought it instantly.
The other is Four Tet. I bought Rounds later that same year (2003), and i was obsessed with that sound. I was reading interviews and he was talking about the huge influence of Alice Coltrane (namely journey in satchidananda and THAT amazing beast of an album with Joe Henderson called Elements) and i just started from there. I bought 5 Alice Coltrane albums, and then i bought even more John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Cherry etc etc. I think i was just trying to buy all the impulse albums i could see in front of me. One of the albums i bought in that spree was Space is the Place and this is how i got my first taste of Sun Ra.
Lateri i came to love him even more through Madlib, and those Quasimoto tracks where he samples Astro Black and all that stuff.
06. Tell me a person who you truly admired in your life.
All those people that can really and honestly care and deal about other people's problems and issues instead of their own.
06. Can you send us a picture that best illustrates your current state of mind?