Sunday 2 August 2009

For the next installment of Lifetracks, we sent the call out to our man in Berlin, the infamous italo maestro Antoni Maoivvi. Maiovvi has been busy spreading the synth l'amour across Europe and beyond, with second album Shadow Of the Bloodstained Kiss due for release on August 3, an imaginary soundtrack to a long-lost 80s giallo. With this in mind, we felt it only fitting to ask him for a selection of his biggest influences in celebration of this fact. What we got back was something truly intriguing that demanded further investigation. Read the full account of Signore Maiovvi's majestic mindwaves below and then download the incredible mix for your aural delectation.

B: Buona Serra Signore Maiovvi, how does this fine evening find you?

AM: I'm well thank you. I've spent the day hooking my Wii remote up to Ableton Live...

B: Sounds intriguing...

AM: It's not as responsive as the Max/MSP patch I was using, but it's interesting...needs adjustment.

B: You've recently got to grips with Ableton in a serious way, haven't you?

AM: Yeah, I don't find it's arrangement layout at all useable, but it's strength lies elsewhere.

B: Such as?

AM: Essentially I'm using it for improvising my performances now, it's looping capabilities are great. I don't think I'll produce anything with it - just use it for concerts.

B: So where are you right now?

AM: Wedding in sunny Berlin. It's kind of like the Bedminster of Berlin.

B: God help us all! How are you finding the transition from the UK to Germany?

AM: Quite strange actually. This is the first time I've actually had an extended period without concerts here. Over the last two months, I've been back and forth between the UK. I'm finally getting settled now, hence the Ableton binge.

B: How have you found the reception to your music over there compared to here?

AM: Ha, it's quite strange. The more experimental things I do have been received very well. Antoni Maiovvi has been received well too, but it's early days for the Italo scene here I think. Not to say that people aren't doing it and haven't been for a while, but I think there is still some fall-out from the style being so widespread in Germany. I think also because the term Italo has become very much a blanket term for this stuff, some people will forget that some of it was of German origin.A lot of the UK fans have only recently discovered this music, so perhaps it carries a different significance. It's growing though.

B: That's intriguing, I think there is a definite groundswell in the UK toward Italo, but I always presumed Europe was a permanent stonghold for it's charms...

AM: Well, for example at the first night of the Space Operator club I've started here, DJ Benetti played a track by Modern Talking. A member of which is on Germany's version of the X-Factor as their Simon Cowell judge character...

B: Ha ha really?

AM: Yeah, the bar staff were laughing about it, I didn't know any of this of course, but they made it clear how amazingly un-cool it was, ha!

B: Awesome, I would have drawn for the Nena myself...let's talk about the one Italo track you've included here, possibly the quintessential italo track, Spacer Woman. How did your love affair with this style of music come about?

AM: Well, it was Goblin, who are my favorite group. Investigating them I came across the disco stuff, and it really seemed like an extension of the horror / sci-fi / action soundtracks I was already listening to. More research turned into obsession...

B: Soundtracks make up a large part of your influence would you say? You've included here Carpenter's Assault On Precinct 13 theme, a personal favourite of mine and given Shadow...'s Giallo stylings, is it a vital component of how you shape music, how you produce?

AM: A huge part, Carpenter's music especially. There was a period before all this identikit orchestra scores you get for the big movies, or the "alternative rock" compilations for the lower budgeted movies where people were being really experimental and doing fantastic work. Morricone is a god, so is Shifrin. I mean look at the score to The Andromeda Strain, you wouldn't get people doing that with that kind of movie these days, "too abstract" they'd say. Music can make or break a film for me, even if the film is terrible, if it's got a great score then I'll love it

B: Absolutely, but that artform of beautifully crafted soundtracks really expired in the late 80s I would say though...

AM: I'm not sure when the cut of point was. Howard Shore has been doing excellent work for years now. Maybe Crash was the last great one he did, and that was over 10 years ago now...

B: Were you drawn to him through Cronenberg's work?

AM: Absolutely - Scanners, Videodrome, Dead Ringers...

B: A lot of the music you've selected emanates from that fertile late 70s to mid 80s period of music, is that a timeframe you feel some real affinity with?

AM: I'm not sure. I came to the conclusion recently that I think I'm just drawn to psychedelic art. Disco and Noise aren't that far apart in terms of effect.

B: How do you mean?

AM: In the sense that they both take you to different intentional places. Euphoric states, emotional places.

B: Noise definitely makes me feel emotional physically, I think it trips a wire in my head somewhere! Do you feel though that it's harder in this day and age the for really experimental artists to shine? Could something like Whitehouse or Swans exist if they started out now? Things seem a lot more regimented and restricted ironically then in the days of No Wave, Industrial...

AM: I think noise has become quite regimented, but I think that happens to anything over time. A particularly cynical way of looking at it, as a friend pointed out recently, is that its easier to be a bigger fish because the noise scene is essentially a small pond. If Whitehouse formed last year and there was nothing like it before, then yes, they would do well. There are plenty of people who've taken influence from them and there are hundreds of Power Electronic groups now. I'm more interested in people who have taken something and then fused it with something else. Burial Hex is a good example of treading ground between Swans and Whitehouse, but he's mixed it with this Lovecraftian despair and does it very well. I've found it very useful to not listen to the kind of music I'm trying to write. I'll listen to Whitehouse or Sutcliffe Jugend when I'm trying to write guitar music and Ennio Morricone when doing disco.

B: Power Electronics seems very much of it's time though...Burial Hex to me signifies as you say an amalgamation of the better elements of that sound. How did you come to get into a sound like that? Have you always been attracted to that type of extreme music? It seems quite polar opposites with noise and italo being your twin outlets...

AM: I think Power Electronics has it's Renaissance periods every so often. Prurient for example seems to be working in that area. Though I've never liked any of the records, his live show was really amazing. I think it comes back to the psychedelic music thing, being that my youth was spent as a grunge kid - I'm drawn to a punk or counter cultural aesthetic. Noise has it, even something like Patrick Cowley's records have it - records made or at least championed by the underground gay scene in america during the early 80s, where a lot of the Italo stuff was played.

B: Some would argue most truly creative music has had some lineage in the underground gay scenes of the US and Europe at some point...

AM: I think good art comes out of marginalized people, look at the Blues and US Hardcore. It's unfortunate that it seems like people have to be oppressed in some way before the ideas start to flow. I'll never truly understand being an oppressed person, but in my life, I spent a lot of time on my own. I wasn't popular at school, didn't have many friends, music was an escape from that, I think it's the same for a lot of people.

B: A kind of enforced solitary state...I think that's a natural thing for a lot of people growing up. Interestingly I found solace in Scott Walker's music throughout my life and was pleased to see him included here...

AM: Scott Walker's music is incredible, and The Drift is a landmark recording. He takes a lot of cues from some of the 20th century classical music I enjoy and twists it up even further. It's a beautiful album - ugly, but beautiful.

B: That's the faultline he always explores though I's a dichotomy between the two that is truly invigorating in his hands...I can't think of a more unique artist that's had such a bearing on my actual understanding of music and it's power.

AM: Completely. Normally when I get into talking about Scott Walker I'm in conversation with someone who only likes the early stuff, which I do like, but to me there is a superiority to something like Clara, or Farmer In The City from Tilt to anything on the earlier records.

B: Well I'm a massive 4AD fan so I was ecstatic he chose to release The Drift with them, I think it represents a total culmination of his work...the only problem being we might need to wait another 6 or 7 years before another album! Just going back on to your comments about classical music, is that an area you actively listen to a lot?

AM: I used to. I moved onto other areas, but there was a period where I was listening to Ligeti, Penderecki, Bartok, Arvo Part, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Philip Glass & Berio all the time. I suppose Reich and Glass' influence is more apparent in the disco records than anything else, though Berio and Penderecki are there as well.

B: When you set out to write Shadow... how did the process go? The songs are so rich visually it's remarkable.

AM: I write in big chunks and then wont touch anything for weeks, sometimes months, sometimes things will just be sketches, but I try and let the music just flow out, which is why there are so many changes in the songs. I'll start out in one place, and then when the track comes to its natural conclusion it has been through all these ideas you end somewhere else. It's one of the things that I love about Tangerine Dream that I think because I've been a fan for so many years that I've naturally soaked up. But I'd already started work on Shadow... before Electro Muscle Cult came out. Something James from Cyber Dance pointed out was that I play with perceived tempo a lot, which I hadn't picked up on, because most of the tracks are at 133bpm, I was doing things that made the tracks seem faster or slower than they actually were. This is something I've been trying to perfect, and it'll be more apparent on the next album and singles.

B: It's something that definitely adds to the dynamic of the album, which I think was one of the key reasons why I found it so exhilarating. So have you already begun work on the third album? What ideas are coming together for that?

AM: I think the third one is already done. It depends if I cull anything from it - I've done a 12" for Cyber Dance as well. Last time I checked I've actually done 10 full albums - most of it was shite though! I'm trying to make sure the public only get the good stuff.

B: Ha ha! A strong quality control ethos is a good thing! When's the 12" due for release?

AM: I'm not sure, it's CyberDance008. 005 and 006 are just about to be released I believe.

B: Will the new album be another concept piece like "Shadow.."?

AM: No, it's two very long tracks. If the third album stays the way it is, it'll have a concept.

B: Such as?

AM: The working title is "Trial By Bullet" so some sort of Eurocrime / Dirty Harry style drama I think. I feel it's important when doing something that so obviously comes from pastiche to give it a concept. Where as I think with noise music it's important to leave it abstract.

B: We've already discussed soundtracks and it's something I'd like to draw back on before we close the interview. How important is cinema to you in your work? Giallo is clearly one influence, but what else inspires you in film that translates to your music? And would you be keen to move into soundtracking actual films?

AM: I've already done a bunch of theatre pieces and two films, I've always wanted to do more music for film, it's difficult to get into however. Film is a really important part of my life, it's something I continue to get excited about and get a lot out of. But naturally there are plenty of indirect influences other than Beverly Hills Cop or Italian Horror. I'm a huge David Lynch fan, adore Takeshi Miike, Shinya Tsukamoto, Gaspar Noe, William Friedkin...

B: And of course Uwe Boll...

AM: Ha! It's safe to say I like the man more than his movies. Postal and In The Name Of The King were good, but then Jason Statham is very watchable regardless of the crap he's in. He's a modern Jean Claude Van Damme. Though, that new JCVD film was totally impressive. In terms of trash I think Jerry Bruckheimer is a powerhouse.

B: Not a patch on his old partner Don Simpson...

AM: That partnership was incredible. It was a shame what happened to ol' Don.

B: He went out like he wanted though...on the toilet. From Whitehouse to Don Simpson in one interview, there's a strange harmony there I think! Thanks for chatting to me tonight Signore Maiovvi!

AM: No problem, thank you.

Antoni Maiovvi Shadow Of The Bloodstained Kiss is available to purchase from Aug 3rd.

Read our review of the album with a free track to download here

Buy the album here

Lifetracks # 03 - Antoni Maiovvi

01 - Scott Walker - Jesse
02 - John Carpenter - Assault On Precinct 13
03 - DJ Shadow - What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 4)
04 - Il Reale Impero Britannico (Goblin & Fabio Frizzi) - Kalu
05 - Charlie - Spacer Woman
06 - Tangerine Dream - Midnight In Tula
07 - Theoretical Girls - Lovin' In The Red
08 - The Jesus Lizard - Nub
09 - Einsturzende Neubauten - Headcleaner
10 - Whitehouse - Cruise
11 - Swans - God Damn The Sun
12 - Christoph De Babalon - Brilliance

Download : Lifetracks 03 - Antoni Maoivvi
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Ffi: Antoni Maiovvi Website