Let’s resume from where we left in 2005... After the wonderful “The Saga Of Mayflower May” you seemed to be in search of a new direction for your music: you introduced some synthesizers, some electric guitars, some drum machines... Did you find acoustic folk music was becoming too restrictive?
I honestly never considered myself acoustic folk. Even on “Ballads of Living and Dying”, there are lots of synths and a lot of reverb, theramin, and atmosphere. “Saga” was probably a brief foray into that territory but I soon went back to my more atmospheric roots.
In a certain way, I think your latest two records, “The Sister” and “July”, show the two sides of your music. In “The Sister” you recovered your best melodic inspiration with simple and almost-bare arrangements, while in “July” you found the right balance between acoustic folk and electronic sounds. Do you agree? And what do you think are the main differences between them, musically and lyrically?
Well, I consider “The Sister” to be an Ep, and not a full length record. I am far far more happy with the way that “July” came out. It has mostly to do with the fact that the songs on “July” are fully fleshed out and it’s a complete album from start to finish. I was very happy with my self-titled record but I regret releasing “The Sister” and wish I had made it more clear to be an Ep. I am very happy with “July” and I think it’s my strongest album to date.
Why did you choose Randall Dunn as a producer for “July”? He worked with bands doom-metal such as Earth and Sunn O)))and seemed to be very far from you musically. Despite that, your partnership seems to work very well. What factors made you feel in tune?
He’s not very far from me musically at all. I have known the members of Earth from opening up for them years ago. I know Steven O’Malley from Sunn O))) and really admire his work. I find myself more inclined to listen to heavy music than light music. I think it made perfect sense, especially after I contributed vocals to the black metal artist Xasthur’s last album.
Randall reached out to me and told me he was interested in recording and producing my next album. I didn’t have to think about it for more than a second before I said yes. Also, to be clear, he’s worked with Jesse Sykes as well as Rose Windows, so it would be pigeonholing Randall to call him exclusively a black metal drone producer. I’m sure he would like to be thought of more broadly as a music producer.
You have always composed winter-like songs, so the album’s title “July” seems a bit strange. Why this choice?
I don’t wish to confine my music to any one season! Anyway, the songs on the album track the events of my life from one July to the next. It was also recorded in July and the title felt like the obvious choice.
“July” has been released by two important labels. How did your connections with Sacred Bones and Bella Union come about?
It’s a long story. Regardless, I’m thrilled beyond words to be working with both labels. I can truly appreciate it, having had back luck in the past, how nice things are now!
The videoclip for the record’s first single, “Dead City Emily”, is gorgeous... can you tell us about it?
It was directed by Derrick Belcham. It stars myself as well as the dancer Emily Turndrup. I think that instead of describing it, people can click on it and watch it and find their own world inside of it!
In “Was It A Dream” you talk about the end of a love story. “Drive” reminds some other gloomy memories... are there any particular events of your life that inspired you those lyrics?
Yes, my entire life and many personal events inspired this record and those songs. I choose not to reveal any more than that. For the people that take the time to listen to the lyrics, these stories will become clear to them.
Your songs have always been full of characters, nevertheless you said that many stories are autobiographical... How do you combine fiction and real life in your songs?
There is no longer any fiction in any of my songs. I am writing purely non-fiction songs now!
The genre I see you classified as most is “dream-folk”. How do you feel about that category and do you aspire to try out other genres in the future?
I’m fine with it, I guess. I prefer not to have a genre because genres can really be restricting. I don’t think of myself in terms of any small category and try not to limit my potential. I would hope the same for any artist out there.
Before making music you were a fine arts major and your work is often considered to be part of a new wave of American Gothic. Do you think that this aesthetic could apply to your music too?
Yes, I am a graduate of the Rhode Island School Of Design.
I do not consider myself part of any group or scene. Again, I wish not to label my artwork or music with genres. I think that’s dangerous and limiting. People can call it what they want to.
Last question: have you planned a tour to promote “July”? Is there a chance to see you back in Italy?
Absolutely! I plan on it.