interview / 06 Nov 23
Contra Maerorem
When did you start producing?
As a child, my first instrument was a toy keyboard that I was provided with in 1990 / 1991 if I remember correctly. I never really wanted to learn (or cared about learning) to play an instrument, by the way. I know almost nothing about music theory and I’m fine with that; my relation to sound, noise and music has always been a spiritual and magical one, so to speak. Between 1994 and 1999 I started “producing” some Dungeon Synth / Dark Ambient-oriented stuff and then I did almost nothing in this field until 2011 / 2012 when I started making waves of sound that, as far as I can say, range between Harsh / Rhythmic Noise (Wall) and Minimal Soundscapes. I’ve been pretty intense between 2017 and 2022; at present (fall 2023) I’m re-chewing and enjoying the material I jotted down in that period while making it “cleaner”, perhaps in view of future reissues.
Where are you based?
Born and bred in Liguria, mostly based in mid-northern Italy and nomadic occasionally; when possible.
What's the music scene like in your area?
I don’t know anything about the music scene in my area, but I doubt there’s one and my time to check things out is very limited. In the Nineties, I was mostly close to the Black Metal environment, then, in my undergraduate life, I got into Underground Rap and Techno territories, while still remaining interested in all kinds of extreme sonorities. I’ve been out of everything for more than ten years now, so I really don’t know.
What was your journey into music/production?
I’ve always used what I had at hand to do something that I felt the necessity to do at that moment. No other choice. In the Nineties I had a toy keyboard and a tape recorder, now I have a laptop and a pair of headphones. My journey has obviously always been one with my life; still today, sound and sound meditation make my life more bearable during hard times, and more fulfilling during good times.
Tell us about your creative and production process and studio setup
When “something” (thoughts, sensations, emotions, feelings, perceptions, memories, whatever), get stuck in my head for some time, I turn on my laptop (an Asus Vivobook S510U right now); then I open either [a] Hydrogen 1.1.1 or [b] Audacity 2.4.2, and wear my headphones (Sony MDR-7506 right now). If I open [a], I’m almost certainly going to lay down rhythmic textures and patterns that, after being mixed and mastered with [b], end up being Techno / Rhythmic Noise-oriented tracks. If I directly open [b], I’m almost certainly going to generate sounds, tones, and noises that, after being mixed and mastered with [b], end up being Harsh Noise / (Dark) Ambient-oriented tracks. That depends on my mood exclusively. Cover artworks are made with Gimp 2.10.32. I just try to translate that “something” I was talking about into sounds, images, and words (the titles I bind to tracks and albums). But, the main thing about my creative and production process is, I think I’m just a vessel, I have no illusions of creation; if anything, I’m the one that is created.
What's your favourite of your own tracks and how did it come about, is there a story behind it?
I’m actually tempted to be banal and shy away from the question by saying that I love them all. Anyway, I recently remixed, remastered and digitally reissued the “Encrypted Inception” album, so I’ll pick the opening track off that one, “Sole Survivor”; we are all “sole survivors”, as we are the result of the one and only sperm that made it to the egg. Another one could be “Silenic Wisdom”, off the “Veterans of Void” album; see below for a piece of story about this track title. Almost all my tracks have no lyrics, thus their titles are all they have to say on the verbal level; at the end of the day, conceptually speaking everything I come up with in this field relates to events that I’ve personally experienced myself, but I try my best to make it possible for those interested to relate to them on a deeper level, hence in my formulas you can find references to any kind of human knowledge and wisdom, as well as to art and folklore.
How have you released your music so far?
At present, everything I make in the world of sound is digitally released under the banner of CoMa Recordings, which is always me.
Which label would you most like to release on?
I don’t cherish any big dreams, it’s too late for that. I consider specific offers exclusively. Of course, when it comes to marketing art, only two things matter: integrity and money.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
With anyone who is on my same wavelength when it comes to what really matters. The result should necessarily be something like a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.
If you could choose any location/venue in the world to play a gig, where would you perform?
Who has inspired you?
The list would be too long, and would not necessarily include only musicians and noise-makers. However, my major influences and inspirations have one thing in common: at some point in my life they happened to cease having a mere entertaining or formative value (assuming they ever had one) in order to become driving forces and instruments of my personal growth. In extremely rare cases, I had the good fortune and honour to meet some of them personally, and hang out for longer or shorter periods; most of the time, they’ve died before I could meet them, or even before I was born; some I haven’t met yet, and, I’d like to believe, some are yet to be born. Then, there are non-human sources of inspiration as well.
Who are you enjoying listening to lately?
To tell you the truth, lately I listen a lot to my stuff. The latest electronic music albums I’ve been listening to recently happened to be Suicide’s eponymous album (1977) and Plasma Pool’s “I” (1996), and for some mysterious reason I really liked the last Metallica album, so I’ve been digging into their back catalogue as well.
Who would you love to go to dinner with?
I don’t go out to dinner, I’m a takeaway guy.
If you were a food, what food would you be?
You should ask someone that knows me, but I can tell you that right now I’d really like some smoked salmon with garlic sauce, and slices of black bread, and a big pomegranate juice.
Random Fact
If it’s really broken, you can’t fix it. (If you can fix it, it’s not really broken).
What made you start your label?
I thought that it was cool to have my own label to release my own works, at least digitally, and I had in mind this “acronym pun”, you know, between the two starting letters of the name Contra Maerorem’s words and the word “coma”, hence CoMa Recordings...
Who would you like to have on your label?
Anyone who is on my same wavelength when it comes to what really matters.
Do you DJ?
I don’t DJ. It’s definitely not my cup of tea.
What question would you ask yourself and what would be your answer?
«An ancient legend recounts how King Midas hunted long in the forest for the wise Silenus, companion of Dionysos, but failed to catch him.
When Silenus has finally fallen into his hands, the King asks what is the best and most excellent thing for human beings. Stiff and unmoving, the daemon remains silent until, forced by the King to speak, he finally breaks out in shrill laughter and says: ‘Wretched, ephemeral race, children of chance and tribulation, why do you force me to tell you the very thing which it would be most profitable for you not to hear? The very best thing is utterly beyond your reach: not to have been born, not to be, to be nothing. However, the second best thing for you is: to die soon.’» (F. W. Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings, Cambridge University Press, 1999, p. 22-23)