Filed under: Interviews | Tags: Emanuele Errante, Humus, interview, Somnia Records
Who is the man behind Emanuele Errante the artist?
I was born in Udine, in the North of Italy, but I’ve always lived in Naples, South, beside a 4 years experience in Brussels, Belgium. My strongest attraction is for innovation in any form: technical, social, philosophical etc. One aspect I find very interesting is the way innovation can sometimes be the means to reinterpret traditions, a precious key to keep experiences of the past alive and transfer them to the new generations.
This can be a very challenging exercise, especially in a country like Italy and in an area like the Italian Southern regions where traditions are seen as something impenetrable. Maybe for me this is a reflection of my point of view on life in general, as I believe there’s always an alternative to any conditioned behaviour.
Being born in Udine and living in Naples, two cities that belong to different universes but still parallel, and with that meaningful experience in Brussels has given me a wider view on life and and how we should refuse any local conditioning, just because of the relativity of things.
What musical influences did you have growing up Emanuele and do you feel they shaped you to be the musician that you are today?
I used to strongly believe in music as the highest form of mass communication. I thought all the purest feelings and thoughts of people could get out and impose themselves through music, even on bad politics of democratic and non-democratic governments, and rock was the main genre I loved it as a mean to awake the consciousness. Unfortunately today that consciousness seems to have fallen in to a big sleep. Also, I realised that in the mass, the individual tends to disappear. This led me to explore the innermost aspects of the individual and touch those keys that can help to re-educate ourselves to reset our minds from what media and politicians are imposing. Nowadays ambient music is for me a sort of process to clean up the dirty from our minds. In this process no lyrics are needed, since words are themselves a sort of imposition of the author on the listener’s mind. The interpretation of notes and the feelings that arise is finally something that belongs exclusively to the private sphere of the listener. Maybe this can set us free 🙂
Was there a defining moment early on in your life that made you think “Yes…I’m going to make music for people to enjoy”
Music has always been for me a mean to communicate to the outside world and transfer those feelings words cannot explain. This is why there has been a moment in my life when I thought “yes, I’m going to make music for people to build for them a private island where they can finally find themselves the way I find myself while making it”.
When did you start creating music?
I was 6 years old when Santa Claus brought me a keyboard-toy and after a few weeks I called my uncle screaming: “hey come over and listen, I just made a song!!!”
When did the Emanuele Errante project begin?
I’ve tried to settle up several bands before I gave up with that idea. Then I discovered the amazing netaudio community where I introduced myself with the moniker of “Mais”. I made several tracks and an IDM album (“Stand”) under that pseudonym, released by the swiss netlabel Maetrixsolution. Then I made my first pure ambient tracks, collected in an EP (“Absolute”) and released by Maetrixsolution as well. In that occasion, the head of Maetrix, my dear friend Pete Leuenberger, also leader of the Mathon project (Everest Recordings), suggested I use my real name to distinguish “Mais” productions from the new ambient project.
Why did you chose your own name for the project?
I felt ambient music was much closer to my way of being, maybe too much to hide behind a moniker.
When/Where was the first gig/event you played at-How did it go-How did you feel?
With my first electronic-folk-rock band we had our first gig (the very first ever for me) in a local bar and after 5 minutes I was really looking forward to running away from there. It was so bad… But with the other bands I had we played a lot of gigs, 1 – 2 per week for several years, and I really enjoyed every single night. As Emanuele Errante I had my very first concert at the Hefty Records Action Night on a stunning beach near Naples. Lino Monaco of Retina called me on the phone and asked me to play… I was shocked as I had never thought of the live dimension of my music and the concert was only 2 days later!!! But I accepted, I worked for 2 days and 2 nights and the performance was simply great, with all people sitting on the rocks by the sea and chilling. But I was sooo nervous before going on that stage…!!! Retina and Joseph Costa of L’Altra played after me.
What equipment do you use when playing live?
It really depends… Basically I use my laptop and I “play” my MIDI controller in real time to cross sounds, fade them in and out, giving them warmth etc., and I play traditional instruments in a non-traditional way like keyboards, harmonica, a 12chords guitar with or without a violin stick, a theremin overcharged by many FXs. Rarely I also use a Kaosspad.
Describe how you feel when you play live to an audience…
The silence, the attention, catching the audience chilling, those are the factors that inspire me when I play live. I love when I feel the audience completely tuned with me. Everyone with his own thoughts but still part of a whole of people focusing on what they’re hearing. This is why I prefer playing at indoor locations or at striking places like beaches, old monuments, archeological or stunning natural sites etc. I really think the location is 50% of a good concert, especially for ambient music. And my favourite exercise when I play live is to identify myself with each person of the venue, trying to figure out how my music is perceived.
What kind of studio equipment do you use Emanuele?
A 17″ Macbook Pro is the core unit for audio processing and recording. Plugged with it are the following devices:
Digidesign M-Box audiocard
MIDI Controller Evolution U-Control UC-33
CME UF5 and Roland A-30 masterkeyboards
Mixer Mackie 1202 VLZ
Moog Etherwave Theremin
Yamaha APX-4-12str guitar
M-Audio Microtrack II digital recorder for field recordings
Several other acoustic instruments such as harminocas, rythmic instruments, a violin, ethnic flutes etc.
The main sequencers I use are Ableton Live and Cubase, sometimes I like working in Logic as well. And I use a bunch of Virtual Instruments, software tools and sound libraries.
Did it take a long time to build up your studio kit and how much have you spent over the years?
The equipment I have is the result of years of instruments collection. I love collecting music instruments even if I cannot play them all. For example, I have Irish bagpipes, a whistle and a transverse flute I cannot play, but I would never get rid of them. As per the pieces of hardware strictly needed for music production, I buy and sell quite often so I cannot really answer properly to your question. Anyway I never buy just for trying some new equipment but I buy a specific device only in case I become aware of how much it can help the way I make music.
Any tips for someone just starting out with regards to building a home studio?
A powerful computer, a fair audiocard, a couple of good speakers are the basic elements to start. Then your creativity will suggest what to buy next.
Fav piece of hardware?
I love my Microtrack II digital recorder. And I love all my music instruments, those I can play and those I can’t. The Theremin is maybe the sweetest one.
Do you have a process that you like to stick to when working on new material in the studio?
No I don’t. Sometimes a new track sees the light from a rhythmic pattern, sometimes from a sound, sometimes from a melody etc.
Also, the way I explore sounds and experiment track architectures and arrangements can depend on many factors, including the software I’m using. There’s only one thing I stick to: the idea in my mind. And that idea is never a tune or an arrangement, but it’s always a feeling. I “feel” the idea. And the idea itself is a feeling. So I can feel the way the track should be felt once created. If I don’t get to reach that idea, I discard everything I’m doing.
Musical bio from 1st production up until most recent?
The very first track (Wind&Rain) under my own name appeared on a German label (MVG) on a very limited compilation called Unser tägliches Brot – Meditative Musik. It was a new age track whose fragments and textures I reused later in Wheels (album Migrations). The very first album was “Absolute”, an EP released by the Swiss netlabel Maetrixsolution, still available for free download through archive.org. “Migrations”, the first commercial long playing, came in 2006, released by the Canadian label Apegenine. And in April 2008 Humus was released by the US label Somnia. On of the tracks of Humus (Magic Wood) appeared on the compilation Expedition_3 by the Swiss Everest Records.
Tell us about the ambient movement going on at the moment? How do you feel the scene is advancing?
I don’t follow the scene very much. I usually listen to what I like, no matter how “trendy” it is. There are many interesting artists coming out and they belong to different spheres of chillout/ambient music. My favourite branch is the modern classical music and my belief is that the releases we’re enjoying nowadays can leave a sign in the future of music. It seems also that this genre is catching the attention of most of the specialised media.
What genre would you say your music fits into?
Cages are not for music, but I will play the game. Almost all the reviewers of my two albums agreed to define my music “Modern Classic”. Some of them indicated it also as Contemporary. Finally it seems that the parent category they fit me in is Ambient.
How does visual/visionary art fit in to what you do and why?
I cannot imagine any of my live events without visuals highlighting my music. I had worked for a long time with Mattia Casalegno, one of the best visual artists in Italy. We used to work with abstractism. Today I am more into concrete images. I’m using images and scenes from the movie Nostalghia of Andrey Tarkovskij, I would like to build a personal sequence of my favourite actions to playback during my future concerts. The movie itself is the best a music artist can have for visuals, very intimate and introspective.
What is the best way to listen to your soundtracks/mixes?
The father of Ambient music, Brian Eno, said “Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” As such, I don’t think there’s any specific way of listening to it
Plans for the future/Upcoming releases/gigs/events???
I’m currently working on three different albums, a couple of compilations and a collaboration. I cannot anticipate anything yet but you’ll get news soon.
The new album is almost finished and will be out in early 2009. It will be titled “Time Elapsing Handheld” (Somnia Records). I’ve really enjoyed working on this one and I’m very much satisfied with the results. The title came up to my mind while I was sleeping.. I think I dreamt about this very little mobile device that I activated for little time jumps (up to 5-10 mins). I woke up with this title in my head and later I realised that it was a great concept: imagine this little device you can bring with you everyday like you do with your cell phone, that lets you jump up to 5 or 10 minutes later anytime and everywhere you want… it would certainly solve a lot of everyday nuisances or avoid errors you could regret about… It would be a great tool to escape from a grey reality and re-discover all the colours we forgot about. Maybe life could be easier and more peaceful with such a device.
What words can you give to new artists wanting to make music…….
Don’t make too much expectations about the music business, try to be as independent as you can, always be honest with yourself, with your music, with your soul and with those who support you. Be stubborn and don’t let your ambition get frustrated by unsuccessful results. And above all, always keep the consciousness of any limit.
Finally top 5 albums????
-Sakamoto+Alva Noto – everything they did
-Luciano Cilio – Dell’universo assente
-Arvo Part – almost everything, expecially Alina
-Brian Eno – Music for Airports
-Steve Reich – almost everything, expecially Music for 18 musicians
Humus unfolds slowly through a symphony of organic minimalism, evolving and growing over a course of 11 tracks. Classical flourishes adorn warm and inviting textural sketches, and subtle electronic manipulation pervades a humid ambient environment. Reich inspired microcosmic rhythms unfold and undulate beneath wide pastel landscapes.
Emanuele Errante makes a personal and inviting musical statement which fits right at home in the Somnia catalogue, floating between worlds and creating a rich journey for headphone listening.
Introspective atmospheres with strings, piano, harps and loops. Field recordings and electronic sounds appear discreetly on the orchestral themes. Released by Apegenine Recordings (2006)
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