Interview to André Savetier – Northern Italy New Wave Journey Part 1

Published by Alessandro Violante on October 22, 2016

andre-savetier-interviewIt often happens that best results are born far from the spotlights, above all when talking about darkwave and post-punk, and in fact the work of the director André Savetier has been there until some time before its release date. A rather interesting documentary, also considering that it can be enjoyed for free. A much professional film focused on modern Northern Italian wave music, moving through Bologna, Ravenna, Parma and Gradara, talking with some of its notable artists. The result is an interesting portrait of groups and local scenes able to spread their message abroad too. That’s the reason why we felt that it was important to directly talk with André to write down how important his work is.

1) Hi André! First of all, congratulations for the documentary you’ve shot. It’s been a very beautiful idea and I hope that you’ll also visit the southern area of our country to talk with its artists, it would be interesting!

Thank you very much! But the credits should be equally distributed to Cyrene, a music-devouring Slovenian vampire lady who accompanied and assisted me during the journey. A road-trip alone would be quite boring, don’t you think? Her presence was crucial, as she contributed a lot of ideas to improve the film.

I would love to make a similar project with other regions of Italy, but also other countries, like Poland, Portugal, Slovenia or Ukraine. These countries have interesting scenes as well!

2) How was this project born? We’re very curious to know more about it. How have you put yourself in contact with the artists?

At one point I realized that many of the musicians I am writing about are from Italy. Of course, this made me curious. What’s going on there? The idea for this road-movie I already had for some years, but due to lack of time I could only do it this summer. I contacted the musicians I already knew, like Schonwald, Temple of Venus, Tetrolugosi or Dade City Days or and through the latter I got in contact with the others. In the end there were 12 bands that wanted to participate.

In the documentary ten bands were featured – because of some problems we could only depart one day later than planed, so we missed the chance to include Der Himmel über Berlin (Trieste) and the confirmation of another band, We are not Pop Music (Bologna), landed in my spam-folder, for which I am very sorry.

3) Which feedback have you gained? You were telling me about several positive feedbacks you got.   

The reaction was generally very positive. The featured musicians were delighted and they really liked the idea and the result. Also other musicians, several webzines and publishers showed appreciation for my effort and lauded the way it was done.

4) You’ve visited several cities. Which differences have you found, for example, between Bologna-based artists and acts such as Schonwald and Tetrolugosi, if you have found them?   

I have never thought about it from this perspective. If I would be pressed to say, maybe the general musical mood in Bologna is post-punk based. The three bands who are not from Bologna – Schonwald, Tetrolugosi and Modern Blossom – focus more on the synthesizer. Which can also be a co-incidence.

5) You’ve interviewed acts sometimes quite different from each other. What’s the common element that links them? Is it possible to talk about an Italian scene or, rather, there are several scenes sharing some elements?  

The common element between these musicians is of course a faible for dark aesthetics and the music from the late 70s/early 80s – post-punk, darkwave, synthpop, industrial – the list is long. These genres are very diverse and so are the bands we met.

That with the scene is a hard question to answer. Some of the Bologna-based musicians doubted the existence of a local scene, called it rather a “family”. They all know each other, some play together in more than one band.

I think the three bands that are not from Bologna are not part of any local scene, they are entities on their own, as well as Temple of Venus.

For the whole country I could not say. Before I came here I thought the Northern Italian scene is decentralised, but now it seems like Bologna is its capital, or at least one of the bigger centres.

6) After having interviewed these artists, do you now feel satisfied about their replies to your questions? 

As an anthropologist I have a different approach to interviews: Nothing was scripted. We let the musicians just talk. Only sometimes Cyrene and me were asking something to keep the talk going. I think this gives the audience a more human insight on how the bands they like are.

Schonwald, for example, told us about their love story and their connection to Ravenna, while Piero Lonardo from Temple of Venus explained us the history of Italian wave music, only to give us later an eleborate analysis of nowadays’ music.

7) Could you talk about your local scene?

That depends on where my local scene is. I was living in Graz, Austria, and Ljubljana, Slovenia, for many years, spent longer periods of times in Poland and Ukraine, and now I am living in Košice, Slovakia. In Austria surprisingly few is going on, but in Slovenia and in Poland a lot.

In Slovakia most of events and concerts take place in Bratislava, but some friends and me are trying to organise more in Košice. In three weeks we will have our second Kaschau Industrial Gathering, where amongst local bands also Australian post-punk group Ascetic: will be playing. Košice seems to be quite remote, but only at the first glance: A beautiful city between Budapest and Cracow has quite some potential. Some of the bands from the documentary are also interested in playing in Košice.

8) You’ve spent several days in Bologna, a city having a quite developed scene. There is also someone who, as European Ghost, has gained also a contract with a label such as the French Unknown Pleasures Records. What do you think about these artists? Do you think they’ll have a good career?

First, I am very happy for European Ghost and I wish them good luck! They were for sure the band with the darkest music from those we met.

All of these bands are good musicians and have their individual sound. To live FROM music is hard, but to live FOR music is easy. As long as they continue to make music with passion, independently from the idea of gaining a lot of money or becoming big rock stars, I see great possibilities for them.

9) You consider yourself being a music anthropologist. Could you, please, explain what exactly you are doing?

As music anthropologist I am dealing of course with music, but even more with what is socially and sociologically connected to it – intentions of music making, fandom, subcultures, scenes, … – and with the    human beings behind music.

10) Differently from other music documentary movies, you are often shot listening to the musicians. Have you thought about this particular thing? It seems to me that this makes the movie more “human”, more real, rather than being too much programmed.

As first we only planned to appear on the frame story of the film, the road-trip, doing some (stereo)typical Italian things like eating a gelato or pizza or drinking coffee. Some of the bands asked me if I could be with them on camera, that’s why I am there. If that makes is, as you said, more human, more real, I am very glad I did it.

11) Was there anything unexpected or surprising for you, when you were here making the documentary?

Indeed, there were several things! First of all, I was surprised that three of the bands we met – The Black Veils, BeStrass and Modern Blossom – claimed to make pop music. For The Black Veils it could be, they are the most accessible of them all, but I would never consider BeStrass and Modern Blossom pop music.

The second thing was that, you know, outside Italy we might have heard about some bands in the field of dark music: The Frozen Autumn, Kirlian Camera, Carillon del Dolore, Il Giardino Violetto, Chromagain. Our visit in Italy revealed that they are not as broadly known as we thought.

And third, we thought Modern Blossom would be more known in Italy. They are in my opinion very under-estimated.

Thanks for the time you’ve dedicated us. Greet our readers and invite them to enjoy your documentary! 

Thank you!