Artist/ Band: Giancarlo Erra (Nosound)

Offical Artist/ Band Link

The Interview:

Welcome to the! Thank you for taking time out of your busy recording, touring and creating schedule to chat with us about all things Nosound.

Prof – Briefly tell us a little about your start as a musician and the formation of Nosound?

Giancarlo - Hello to all Prognaut readers! Well I think the start of Nosound is like the start of many other bands. From a bedroom studio and fueled with dreams of a young musician wishing to make the album he’d call the ‘perfect one’ as a listener! I started playing (literally) when I was a child, but I started properly ‘playing’ (a guitar!) when I was 14. I always had music in my house as my dad and my uncle both introduced me to a lot of 70s rock (Beatles, Genesis, King Crimson). So I always listened to music and learned appreciating it. It was a short step wanting to play myself on guitar some of the things I was listening to. After years of playing and studio experiments (on cassettes, old Amiga, then a PC etc..) I eventually decided to focus on a ‘proper’ project/band, and so the idea behind Nosound started..

Prof – To begin we’ll discuss your first major album, Sol29, from the perspective of the new deluxe re-mixed version. Was the fact that many fans could not get this first album, because it was out of print, something that helped you decide to re – master the album before you re – issued it?

Giancarlo - Well the story of Sol29 is quite long as it lasts 5 years and about three different releases! Interesting enough, all the reasons you gave where reasons that pushed me to think at a ‘definitive’ release of Sol29. The first edition of 2005 was printed on my own label and independently distributed, but ran soon out of print for the unexpected positive response. In 2008 I decided to reprint it with a couple of extra tracks (originally included in a limited DVDR called ‘The World Is Outside’), and already remastered, even if at the same studio I was working for the original release.

Moving to Kscope was something that changed lots of things, for example also Lightdark was initially released on my own label and then released again by Kscope with the actual double cd and deluxe package edition.

After releasing ASOL last year, changing to new studio and moving to UK, I already knew that this year I had no plans for another album (but it’s to be out in 2011!). So we started talking with Kscope and thinking about releasing a proper definitive version of Sol29, with the usual Kscope deluxe/expanded format. The first and second editions were out of print since a couple of years and more and more fans were asking to buy the first album, and so the new release of Sol29 was born. And I decided to access the original high resolution master and make a remaster, knowing that the new studio would give me access to some more sophisticated stuff and better sound overall.

To make it the definitive version we also decided to include into it all the extra tracks released on DVD and in studio from that period, plus the DVD video material, a new video for Sol29 track, the original album mixes, and also revised graphics. So yes it’s a true ‘new’ definitive Kscope version and I’m really happy to have now all our discography available on Kscope.

Prof – “In the White Air” is one of my favorite Nosound songs. That mono instrumental interlude at the beginning followed by that perfect marriage of drums and piano. Where did the inspiration for that this song begin?

Giancarlo - I think that instead of inspiration was a will to introduce the quite ‘big’ sound of “In The White Air” with something sounding old and warm, and actually that initial ‘song’ is just composed on the fly using some mellotron tapes played in a sequence to resemble an old jazzy band playing. It was a quite interesting experiment for the opening track.

Prof – “Wearing Lies on Your Lips” is probably my second favorite song on the album. What special features have you added to this song or the others on the album?

Giancarlo - Being just remastered instead of remixed, I added ‘nothing’ to the original song, but the remaster process was quite long so if compared to the original version I think drums and bass are much more prominent in the mix, and lots of the instruments ‘panned’ are now coming out clearly, so the result is that sometimes you can hear things that were always there but ‘lost’ somehow in the mix! Overall, in this song like the others, I had a different approach to the remaster than the one I used in 2008, trying to be now as near as possible to the original colour and dynamics, pushing out at the same time things that I know were there but were lost. Obviously a remix was also another choice, but to be honest I never liked remixed albums that much. I think you can always do better, but the album is that one, with all its defects. A remaster is the attempt I like more to ‘freshen’ it without ‘altering’ the original form.

Prof – Was the “Child’s Game” something inspired from early practice from your childhood?

Giancarlo - Yes it was indeed! When I was child I had a piano of my grandmother, and my dad had an old 80’s keyboard at home, and I can clearly remember myself trying to play notes when he was listening to some music. You know trying to hit the right notes or ‘play’ the melodic line. That’s how the idea of the song came out. Hitting ‘partially random’ notes and making the overall thing more dissonant and sounding ‘distorted’ more and more during the song. A nice experiment that I think worked out in the album.

Prof – Sol29, the epic song is another song which is brilliant in its ability to deliver so much sound without really trying. That ability in all of your music to reach for and deliver emotion is incredible. How do you do that so well?

Giancarlo - Thanks for the kinds words, really appreciated. I’m obviously glad to know that songs can deliver such emotions, for me is the only thing music is about. For me music (as any other art) is to be called art only if it can transmit emotions, and I mean feelings. The art that is there just to shows off (or to create just the ‘emotion’ of admiring) is not art anymore, is just a good artistic exercise. I think there’s no magic formula to deliver emotions, and I don’t know how do I do it (if I do it!), I just try to put in music the feelings I have inside coming from real life and situations. I think the only magic formula is the chemist between a kind of music and a kind of listener. When they’re ‘synchronized’ there’s the magic, that is at the end a ‘subjective’ matter depending on music and listener sensitivity and taste.

Prof – Is there anything else off of Sol29, or the re-mastering of the disc that you would like to add to the interview?

Giancarlo - I think everything was already included in the description I made of the release a few questions above (remaster, DVD, packaging, extra tracks, video, new/improved graphics etc..).

Prof – Now let’s switch to a discussion of Lightdark. “From Silence to Noise” is my favorite song off Lightdark. The sound effect at the end of the song reminds me of the sound of the ocean. How did you create that sound?

Giancarlo - I usually like to mix several different types of synths, starting from analog to digital, and possibly cross feeding one into effects of the other when possible. I think that sound in particular was some not so particular digital lead filtered through a moog or something like that. don’t know I should check on the original project paper and settings!

Prof – “Kites” and “About Butterflies and Children” are also excellent tracks off a spectacular album. What was your inspiration for those two or other songs you would like to discuss off Lightdark?

Giancarlo - In terms of theme, Lightdark was most of all a discussion about time passing, both from childhood and from the start of a relationship. This is a topic I always feel a lot, most of all the contrast between expectations and reality, and how things change even if you struggle to keep them always good. It’s something no one can stop, and sometimes it’s really hard to look forward without thinking if it was better before, why it went this way and how could you recover at least a part of it. I think both songs you cited are a quite clear reference to childhood themes, butterflies and kites are both things every child love, keeping them with their noses up to the sky. There are lots of meanings behind the child always looking high and chasing a butterfly, a kite, or their dreams without knowing they could somehow fall down.

Prof – What inspired you and Nosound to work with Tim Bowness on Lightdark?

Giancarlo - I knew Tim when Sol29 was out, and since then there was a constant contact with him due to Burning Shed and the fact he always like my music. It all started by the idea of trying to work on something together, and I was in the process of writing Lightdark. I had this song, the one that would become then “Someone Starts to Fade Away“, awaiting for a great warm voice to go with that piano. And Tim just happened to fit incredibly well! We were both quite surprised by final result, so we decided to go on with something dedicated and outside our own projects. And now we have an album ready to be released early next year!

Prof – Congratulations on winning the award for album cover of the year in Italy for Lightdark. I understand you are the photographer for most of Nosound’s album covers. How does photography play a role in the themes you develop musically?

Giancarlo - Photography was always my other passion since I was a child with my dad’s reflex, as well as it was video in most recent times. Musically speaking Nosound music is quite ‘visual’, it continuously tries to inspire images, like a midway between a soundtrack and a song. I always had a passion for soundtracks, and I quite often imagine something when writing some music, so I really love to ‘illustrate’ the music…I think it helps creating the mood, it make the overall thing more complete to me.

Sometimes I go to take photographs specifically for some song, sometimes I just love to listen to some new demo and browse my photographs collection until I arrive to the ‘right’ combination. It’s really a process of the things mutually influencing. Most of the times I’m really surprised how many links there are between photographs and music. It’s the main reason I still love the real, physical format over download. You can get cover and artwork on pdf, but it’s not the same. I still need to have paper in my hands instead of looking at a monitor. it’s a bit distracting to me.

Prof – Is there anything else off of Lightdark that you would like to add to the interview?

Giancarlo - Considering its placement between Sol29 and A Sense Of Loss, I always considered Lightdark as the ‘band’ take over Sol29 that was more my own personal work and collection of songs. I still like a lot both Sol29 and Lightdark, most of all playing the songs live with the band, but probably the more ‘Nosound’ direction is the one we took with ASOL..

Prof – What was different about the process of creating A Sense of Loss compared to Lightdark?

Giancarlo - It was actually a really different process in several terms. For songwriting the main difference was that ASOL was ‘thought’ even before it was written. I just had a very focused idea of what to put out, the main theme, the sounds and arrangements, even pictures. So all the tracks were written with a specific overall result in mind, thinking at the surround sound as well as at the string quartet. I really enjoyed this way of writing as it helped making the album much more focused and coherent, helping the whole band entering gradually ‘into it’ instead of ‘waiting’ for it to grow..

Prof – A Sense of Loss and Lightdark deal with some very heavy emotions and subjects. You have the ability of being able to produce the feeling of that raw emotion with your vocals and the band’s supporting music. Where do you find the inspiration to convey these emotions?

Giancarlo - Thank you for the kind words, I really think this should be the real meaning of music, regardless of type of emotions (it can be happiness, anger, anything but always ‘true’). About me almost often the inspiration is just real life, things happening, things I feel or see around me and my relationships with other people. Most of the times for me music is just the best way to talk to myself, or to someone else, trying to sort out a problem or pain that I cannot handle in any other way apart writing it down in music. Sometimes music has the unique power to transform melancholy or sadness into something so beautiful. Only when you succeed pushing it out of yourself you can, in a sense, enjoy the beauty and power of such emotions. They are for me the strongest ones (even if this is not always a positive thing obviously..)

Prof – Was A Sense of Loss a concept album, or was it something written to help others overcome their own sense of loss?

Giancarlo - It was in a way a concept album, but as I always do with music it was not to help anyone but me. But we’re never alone, in particular when feeling down, so it usually means you’ll reach a lot of other people in your situation, or that maybe experienced something similar. It’s when something like this happens that music really express its power. It’s all about someone telling something and someone else listening to it...It would be impossible without both parts actively involved.

Prof – Does singing about loss help you recover from the effects? In the song “Constant Contrast” the lyrics state: “but I’m leaving you now, departing from here, to avoid admitting that pain, is writing and singing your name…”

Giancarlo - Not really, music can really do lots of things but I think it cannot resolve problems or helping recovery, at least not directly. The help from music is in terms of allowing you to speak with yourself, or to someone else if you cannot do it. In that album I really tried writing down everything I felt, even the inner ones. And even now sometimes I’m surprised by what I tried to hide or I avoided to understand. You understand and you know that sometimes you simply have to do something, even if you know that this will lead to suffering. It’s a rule we all know, and it’s something I tried writing down for my own particular case.

Prof – “Fading Silently” is the first single and was the first song I heard off Sense of Loss. It has some of the same effects and sounds as Lightdark. Was that the reason you chose it as the first single?

Giancarlo - I think it best represents the essence of the album, and it’s a real Nosound ‘extended’ song, still keeping a quite expressive chorus. What I love of that song is the real song feeling of the first half, and the second/final section with the string quartet coda. It’s again a contrast I really love, the expression of two sides of the same thing.

Prof – “Winter Will Come” is a very deep emotional song which will feel so much different a few months from now, but you are able to convey the power and feeling of winter so well. What goes into the process of putting these feelings to music?

Giancarlo - I always loved the winter feeling. Since when I was a boy I loved staring at the window, in a warm house, looking at rain or snow outside. It’s so relaxing and at the same time helps feeling nearer yourself I think. It’s why usually winter and autumn are for me the most ‘musical’ seasons. Even if oddly enough it seems I write more during the summer…but thinking at winter!

Prof – Is there anything else off of Sense of Loss that you would like to add to the interview?

Giancarlo - By the point of view of lyrics, I could speak for hours about all the things that I put into that album. It really is something I consider still ‘too deep’ even for me. It includes some of the most important things of my life in the last few years, and since its release there were more happening but still not touching the importance and central role of what I said in that album. I know for sure I’ll do something different after that album, I think still is by far the best thing I ever made musically speaking, but for this same reason it was ‘enough’ and for the new album I’m now. Moving along the line. There’s something else to say and think about when you go through a so deep sense of loss. And it’s what I’m working on for the new album.

Prof – Tell us about some of your recent and successful trips and tours, for example the show in Inowroclaw, Poland supporting Steve Hackett at the Ino - Rock Festival, or your recent trip to England to support the release of the Sol29 re-master.

Giancarlo - It was a fantastic one, for sure one of the best we ever had! I have to say that Polish fans were amazing, lots of unexpected support and a very warm audience. In some way Poland and Italy share a common field in terms of music feelings and tastes, I was really surprised by audience reaction. We’re still looking forward to have hopefully soon another one.

Prof – What are the band’s future tour plans?

Giancarlo - As I told about Poland, we are working closely with our manager to organize a few more gigs in Europe within the year. For now we’ll play in Rome on Friday 7th January, the same fantastic place where we played last year live with Wooden String Quartet. We have then a possible date in Poland before summer, and we’ll play in Zoetermeer for IO Pages on 17th of April. Hopefully something more will come soon..

Prof – Do you plan to come to North America in the near future? I hope the West Coast will make it on that tour schedule.

Giancarlo - I’d really like to, but situation nowadays is really not easy for smaller bands like us to play over US. We’re in contact with some festivals possibly next year, it probably is the only situation at the moment we can hope to come and play in US. I’d really like as I always receive emails from US fans asking for us. Let’s hope it will happen sooner than later.

Prof – If you had to pick, which is your favorite Nosound album and why?

Giancarlo - For sure A Sense of Loss, for all the reasons I already explained. Musically speaking is just the direction I always intended to take with the band, is the most original of our three albums. In terms of lyrics is absolutely the deeper of the three albums, and nearest to my actual life, so yes ASOL is my choice.

Prof – Which is your favorite Nosound song and why?

Giancarlo - That’s a very hard question. I think I don’t have a favorite song. Probably if I have to choose one, I’d say Kites. Because it was always a song that virtually connected the ‘style’ of the three albums. I think in Kites there are traces of all Nosound faces, and I’m also very tied to the lyrics and video. So yes I’d say Kites!

Prof – Can you tell us a little more about your new project with Tim Bowness, Memories of Machines?

Giancarlo - After our collaboration with Someone Starts to Fade Away, we continued working with Tim over four years writing new material. At the end we found we the music was just taking its own direction, and what came out was something obviously connected with our main projects, but at the same time going toward things we don’t approach in these. Actually the album is finished, it has some very important guests like Peter Hammill, Colin Edwin, Robert Fripp, Steven Wilson (who also mixed it). Release date should be early next year, and there will be soon some official news about album and a possible promotional mini tour!

Prof – Are there other musicians you would like to work with in the future?

Giancarlo - Don’t know really…at the moment I’m more in the mood of coming back to my own world after ASOL, I actually started working on some new music for Nosound, and also the forthcoming reissue of Sol29 helped a lot…I had the chance to listen to a lot of early Nosound material, giving a different perspective to the new album and all the influences and things that changed in these 5 years.

Prof – Is there a concept or event in life you would like to write and sing about someday?

Giancarlo - There’s one I still did not covered in my lyrics and that always had a strong influence in own life…but it seems it will be the center of next Nosound work, so for now I’ll keep it hidden and developing in the lyrics of next album

Prof - Thank you for your time and effort and good luck with all of your future releases and tours. I look forward to talking with you for the next project and maybe Memories of Machines if you are interested. Thanks.

Interviewed by Prof on December 8th, 2010

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