Canzone Italiana, Italo-Wave and a subconscious pull towards Pop // An Interview with INFESTA + “Brucia i ponti” Video Premiere

WL//WH Interview+Video Premiere  INFESTA  

My liaison with Infesta began by chance last October when I chose a track for a premiere from the brilliant cassette compilation “Nebula Aranea #03” via the French imprint Bella Ursa. Even though, at the end, the track assigned to me was another, I was intrigued by the surprising “Vincitori” (not included in the next LP), with lyrics in Italian and an infectious Synthpop sound, by an enigmatic moniker, so much so that I immediately researched the project which, to my surprise, ended up being located in Ticino. It seemed to end momentarily there, when Dee Dee’s Picks label head honcho Déandrah proposed to me the Lugano-based mercurial storyteller’s upcoming album, which intriguingly combines, with a refreshingly heartfelt yet haunted and raw attitude, my lingering past heritage of traditional “Canzone Italiana” and 60s/70s “Cantautori”, with the late 70s/early 80s Italo-New Wave I grew up with. Let’s investigate further with Infesta himself and enjoy the brand new Video.

  • Thanks so much for the interview. What are your earliest formative memories when it comes to music and sounds?

My first distinct memories of sound are the sounds of the cassettes that my parents were playing on the ‘autoradio’ (car radio) while driving for family visits or vacations. There were cassettes with music and stories for kids and cassettes of the main renowned Italian singer-songwriters such as Lucio Battisti, Fabrizio De André, and so on.

  • Do you recall when you started to learn to play instruments and later compose music? What
    triggered you about it?

I had a very basic musical education in classical music in the village brass band: as a kid, I learned to read notes and to play along with the trumpet. As a teenager, I dropped the trumpet, picked up a guitar and started my first band and projects: Punk, No-Wave, and Rock’n’Roll. While in high school I started to do my first solo demos: it took me almost 15 years to expose myself in this solo environment. In my perception, the process of composing music is a sort of dialogue with our inner landscape and I see music as a tool to crystallize feelings and make them available for our future self, and to future listeners as well.

  • Let’s talk about your environment almost by the border with Italy and how and to which degree has affected and shaped your artistic and musical sensibility…

Ticino is a region located between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. I would say that the main cultural reference is Italy but politically Ticino is part of Switzerland. In Ticino, there was a succession of local scenes that shaped my musical growth: from the Punk-Garage Wave of the early 10s to the situations that were Casotto and the Spazio Morel for the city of Lugano. At some point Lugano became a sort of ‘zwischenstation’ (stopover) for bands crossing the Alps for tour purposes: we had the luck of being able to host many concerts of great live playing bands.  At present, this region has a big problem with cultural spaces: there is really no political will to have constructive processes regarding the need for cultural spaces. As far as extra-institutional realities are concerned, the mood one will perceive is one of great hostility on the part of the authorities. I see in music a tool and a force that can bring strong libertarian messages and shocks to landscapes that tend to stop and settle into stillness.

  • What led you to the start of your project? Did you already have a set idea of how you wanted it to sound or has it been a gradual process of discovery? Tell us also about the choice of “Infesta” name, seemingly 3rd singular person of the verb “infestare”. Is it a common thread throughout the album? 

Underlying the desire to start a solo project are certainly the reasons given above as well as a strong component of identity search and affirmation. On top of that, I finally managed to start this project because I really wanted to explore the immediacy of the solo musical journey: I wanted to expose my musical aesthetic, ideas and lyrics, bring this into a record and start to play live. All of this with the ability to make decisions right away and move fast toward a final form for the songs. I strongly recommend picking a name before you record an album… I decided to look for the final name only when the album was already done, it was a lot of brainstorming, cut and paste and long lists of ideas. Finally, I set for Infesta, it resonates with me as it carries a double meaning in Italian: “to haunt” and “to celebrate” or “to be in a joyful mood”. I like the contrast of the two meanings and of course, I like the way it sounds, I’m always about sounds also in words. I had to embark on a quest: finally, the title of one of the songs seemed to be a fitting umbrella for the whole album. In Passerella I see a metaphor of life as a walk on a narrow path as well as the concept of ‘catwalk’ as a place where you expose yourself or your fashionable self.

  • Can you tell us about how the album came together and took shape?

In September 2022 I spent 5 days in a house on the shoreside of Lake Lugano. During these days I sketched 9 songs and made rearrangements on 3 previous songs I wanted to take on this journey. For the next months, I only listened to the songs, letting them grow on me, thinking about possible lyric-changes. In December 2022 I worked on the final lyrics, recorded them, added or corrected a few synth lines, composed one more song, and then moved on to the mixing stage that took place in January 2023 in Geneva

  • How about your composition and recording approach? How cerebral and how instinctive is your creative process?

I would say that the process is very instinctive in the beginning: I found a few tricks that allow me to work on songs at a fast and consistent pace. I play the bassline on top of a simple drumbeat and eventually a rhythmical synth line, as soon as I find a solid groove I move on to find a B part, a chorus and some bridges then I press record and proceed to print the structure of the song. This leads me to short and simple songs: I like the idea of having a lot of space to play with in the later stage of production, I learned not to fear simple and minimal elements. Later in the process, I do a lot of fine tuning on the lyrics but I would say that many of the musical elements are really instinctive and crystallized on a very early stage.

  • Reading the press, ‘your sound is a combination of 80s Synth-Pop, Post-punk and Darkwave, with subconscious derivations of “Canzone Italiana”…Could you provide us more in-depth details about it? What about the latter, which we use to call “cantautorato” (70-80s Italian singer-songwriters)? Which 80s Italian New Wave bands, like CCCP or Diaframma for example, are you fond of?

These labels are for sure some good hints on my musical influences. Throughout my life, I enjoyed listening to a lot of ‘cantautorato’ such as Gaber, Dalla, Battiato, Giuni Russo, Battisti, De André, Renato Carosone, Patty Bravo, Rino Gaetano, Pino Daniele, Paolo Conte, Mina, Donatella Rettore, Alice, Luigi Tenco, and Nada to name a few. These artists for sure gave me a taste for good and catchy vocal lines and solid arrangements. I listened to a lot of CCCP and Diaframma while in high-school as well as to other artists such as Neon, Faust’oJeunesse D’IvoireDisciplinatha, C.S.I., Matia Bazar, State of Art, Other Side, Massimo Volume and a lot of non-Italian Minimal Wave stuff.

  • Your lyrics are filled with an array of diverse elements such as being an individual, the pull of herd mentality, spirituality, the importance of the arts, war, wisdom, romance, and the difficulty of starting over. Can you make us better understand from where you draw your storytelling? Is there a thread that ties your storytelling together?

My main influences are the books I read and the movies I watch. Besides that, I like to discuss things with my friends, and this is also a huge influence. 

  • Unlike French or Spanish for example, almost all Italian groups sing in English, often because ‘it’s cooler’ or maybe too complicated, I had to meet a ‘Swiss’ to listen to my language. Why did you choose to make a full album in Italian, is it so difficult to adapt to music genres of Anglo-Saxon origin?

For me it never really was a possibility to write and sing in English. I have a few demos with English texts but in my opinion for non-fluent speakers to write in English flattens the possibility that is represented by the lyrics and all the little twists of pronunciation, word games and cultural references. I ended up writing in Italian, it’s a big challenge not to have the language mask to hide myself but I feel I’m in a process that allows me to express my inner world and feelings. 

  • The album will be released by a mainly electronic music label, in one track, called “Certo”, you also nod to the Kraftwerk, tell us about your relationship with synthesizers and with music made with machines.

The transition from music played with vibrating corps such as strings and reeds to music played and performed by oscillators and filters happened to me in a natural continuum, it always felt that both worlds can achieve high musical results. I never really stopped and questioned the nature of the medium that was being used in the musical process. I love the sounds and the aesthetics of music made by machines and humans. During my composition process I really count on the limitations and the expansions that I can get from the machine world. 

  • Do you think your music needs a visual component? What’s your relationship with the visual arts?

    The visual component in my music is something that is under quest at the present moment. I’ve never really been active in the creation in the field of visual arts besides being an interested observer. For the present album, I had the luck to be able to find people to whom I could delegate the choices in the visuals and graphics: I’m very thankful for that and happy with the result.

12″ Vinyl / Graphic design by Frédérique Gagnon / Illustrations by Delicate Ruins

  • A song you wished you had written?

“A Forest” by The Cure

  • Were there any pivotal records or live concerts that changed indelibly your perception of music?

I think about the live of Schwefelgelb I saw in 2015. Flavien Berger in 2017 and Dame Area in 2023.

  • Tell us about your live experiences, if you ever had any and if are you planning to bring the new album to the stage?

For me being on stage is a key factor to a certain type of music, I think that my music belongs there and for this reason, I decided to play my first live shows. For the moment I’m playing as a solo act: singing and playing the bass lines while the rest of the instrumental is played back. I’ll be playing the album live in the coming months: I’ve already done some shows in Switzerland, France and Italy and it felt very good. Up next are other nations in Europe, keep an eye open to catch me live! Thanks a lot for the interview and enjoy the beautiful Video Clip I could produce together with Radiana and Yumi

The black and white visuals by Radiana Basso use an ancient bridge and two old-timey travelers to express the “Burn Bridges” sentiment of the soundtrack. A beautiful, somehow supernatural cavern underlies a foggy footbridge carved in thought-provoking symbols, where a ghostly couple take a graceful, ritual walk to a mysterious structure on the other side. Aerial views, thoughtful costumes, and high definition perception bring forth the magnificent aesthetic details of times gone by, giving pause for the tradition and reverence of our ancestors’ time.

Graphic design by Frédérique Gagnon / Illustrations by Delicate Ruins

Infesta‘s debut album, “Passerella”, is out now, on Digital and Vinyl 12″ formats, via Amsterdam-based  Dee Dee’s Picks label. 

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