Interview with Giancarlo Erra (Nosound) – Exclusive

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Welcome to Psychedelia Music e-Zine. Thank you for dedicating your time to me and the readers

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Yazdan : Please tell us a little about yourself and tell us how did you become a musician and form the “Nosound”

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Giancarlo : I don’t remember when I ‘became’ a musician, but I remember for sure I wanted to be one since I was a kid! My dad often played vinyls from Beatles, Pink Floyd, or soundtracks and he had a small keyboard in our living room. I still remember me ‘playing’ that keyboard and trying to replicate the notes of the music, when I was barely tall enough to actually see the keyboard! When I was 13 years old my parents bought me my first electric guitar, a white cheap Yamaha, with a Korg multieffect pedal and a small amp…and I think everything started from there! I was learning my first songs, and at the same time trying to record myself over some instrumental music using a double deck cassette recorder. I always liked the idea of doing music myself, first tapes, then with a tracker on an old Amiga, then with modern studio based on Logic or Pro Tools systems. The idea of forming Nosound came after a few self-named demoes I made (two of them released for short time). I wanted an identity for the music I had in my mind, and after lots of experiments in my first home studio I started creating a cycle of songs that were somehow ‘connected’, using also vocals and not only instruments. Everything started from there…it took a while to finish and release Sol29, and after the success of critics and sales of that first album I decided to go on…and the rest is more recent history, with the project that became eventually a band, and now is about to release the fourth studio album!

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Yazdan : Why “Nosound”

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Giancarlo : That’s a question I receive quite often…all started from a domain name I recorded years and years ago, that is ‘nosound.net’ (I was always a very active internet user since the first times it came out). I always liked that name to be used for some music project, and what I always liked is the contrast in the term most of all considering that I usually like rich music in textures and instruments. The contrast worked very well with the music, and I like that is a short easy name, and wrote in a way that is like a new word (even if sometimes I have to struggle to have it correctly written and to avoid ‘No Sound’ or ‘No-sound’ etc.)

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Yazdan : Which bands influenced you so far?

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Giancarlo : Mmmm not easy to list all of them…it started with soundtracks, electronic music, Pink Floyd and Beatles, moved then to the early Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson production, it moved then to Bark Psychosis, Sigur Ros, the shoegaze and more influenced post-rock, arriving today to some even more different and influenced bands going from metal to folk influenced rock…I’m generally a big fan of everything coming from northern Europe (where I live now since three years). I think nowadays there is a huge amount of music, not all of it is good quality, and obviously not all of it fits my own taste, but I think it’s generally speaking a good time for music with a lot of cross influences. The negative side that I can see is that more and more it happens I don’t like maybe a full album, but I can often find single song that really move something in me. I’m also an avid user of services like Pandora, Last.fm, Spotify, and I always love to discover new bands and new music this way.

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Yazdan : How do you describe your music?

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Giancarlo : I don’t know honestly how to describe my own music…I can say what I want with my music, and it’s to ‘move’ people, to cause feelings, to share the emotions I put when writing music. I usually put in music the melancholic and obscure side of me, always talking about real things in my life even if not always easy to decode. I’m a self-taught producer and player, I always choose to avoid any ‘theory pattern’ or teaching, going on my way in a completely free way…as I always say, music is only a way to deliver emotions for me. Musically (technically?) speaking I can say that for sure I never liked listening (and so I don’t like writing) any ‘happy’ or ‘uplifting’ or ‘light’ music…when there are such positive feelings I enjoy living life, going out for a walk or talking with a friend. But in every life there are melancholic, obscure, sometimes hidden shadows and sad thoughts, and is these feelings that I think can be transformed, with music, from being something ‘negative’ to something ‘beautiful’…that’s the power and magic of music for me.

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Yazdan : You’ve talked about getting influenced by early Porcupine Tree and you’ve admired Steven Wilson’s solo albums. Steven Wilson has often said “I always find the saddest music is also the most beautiful” .Do you agree?

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Giancarlo : In a way I think I just replied to this question! I reckon it’s a matter of personal taste, sensitivity, character, but I never liked ‘light’ music in general, and I think as well that the best and more ‘moving’ music is the sad and melancholic one. I think human beings feel ‘more’ these feelings than the positive ones (that are usually more volatile and short), so in the same way I think that ‘sad’ music is for sure the more powerful one. Than obviously lots of people, probably the majority, likes more to listen to some ‘light’ or uplifting music as well, but personally I think that even on my iPod and in thousands of songs and albums you’ll struggle finding something that is not melancholic, sad or generally away from positive feelings…and personally this is the music that even in low moments can uplift me with the power of emotions (shared or not) that can create in me.

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Yazdan : Which “New” musicians do you like and admire?

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Giancarlo : I don’t have many names at the moment…I can think at Efterklang, Under Byen, recent years Ulver production, and a lot of minor acts as well!

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Yazdan : What music genres are you listening to now?

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Giancarlo : I’m not a big fan of genres…I understand sometimes they are needed to communicate to the reader a more precise idea of the music we’re talking about, but generally speaking I don’t know what kind of music I listen to more often…for sure I’m always fascinated by the more influenced music, everything crossing post-rock, shoegaze, northern Europe folk, some rock, but I don’t dislike listening to harder things like Opeth or Tool, as well as more electronic influenced like Radiohead…I don’t know the list is very long and always changing and expanding!

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Yazdan : You are one of post-rock fans. How would you describe Post-rock and what do you think about the place of this genre in the present and future ?

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Giancarlo : I think the idea itself is very difficult to embrace…because we should put in the same genre Sigur Ros or Bark Psychosis or Mogwai, and I can’t think at more different bands! I personally think that the ‘minimal’ post rock intended with guitar arpeggios repeated infinitely, maybe with some walls of sound of distorted guitars and dynamic, is a bit limited. When it came out it seemed very interesting, but too soon too many bands started producing music like that (maybe because is very easy on instruments and is without vocals), and so the genre itself I think became boring soon after the start. When strings and other classic instruments (like trumpets) enter the game, together with vocals and a general superior attention to melodic content (not only harmonic), lyrics, and generally more complex arrangements, that is the way I really like it…because is still post rock but is also something else new. Today I think there’s on one side that remained on the classic post-rock roots, and on the other side there are all the bands that started from the post-rock and put into it so many things that more often than not is very hard to define what genre that band is playing!

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Yazdan : If you had to pick, which is your favorite Nosound album and why?

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Giancarlo : Considering that we have a new album out for the end of the year I’d say that the new album is my favorite so far, but this is a bit the classic reply of every band! Limiting the list to the albums already released, ma favorite one is still A Sense Of Loss. Musically speaking is the one more far away from early influences is the more ‘Nosound’ of all the studio albums, and in terms of arrangements the idea of using a string quartet really created a lush and rich sound. In terms of lyrics and emotions is for sure the more ‘sad’ and melancholic, is sometimes really ‘heavy’ also for me to sing it because I’m very bounded to that period of my life and all the things I sang in that album…but for this reason is the most powerful and so far the best Nosound for sure for me!

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Yazdan : If you had to pick, which is your favorite Nosound song and why?

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Giancarlo : I think I have a couple of them. Looking at Nosound from ‘outside’ of my personal emotions and stories, I think that In The White Air, opening track of the debut album Sol29, is the best because it was the first but contained already the kind of ‘Nosound’ music that was more clear with following albums, like also Kites (from Lightdark) did as well. Both songs are on more ‘rock’ albums but already contained the roots of what Nosound became. But if I have to put into the selection also my own personal emotions, I think that My Apology (from  A Sense Of Loss) remains one of the most powerful Nosound songs for me and so is my best…I still have today some problems singing it on stage, most of the times my voice breaks for the emotions.

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Yazdan : It seems the song “Places Remained” has the most listeners. Tell us about this song and in your opinion what makes this song so special?

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Giancarlo : I think there a couple of elements about this song. First of all it was used as free single promoting Lightdark, so it had a huge amount of listening on Last.fm and other networks. For sure it contains a good chorus melody and nice double vocals arrangement, and is a short (sort of!) more classic rock song, with a big guitar final solo. It’s not among my favorites from Lightdark, but I have to say is always a joy to play it on stage with the band!

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Yazdan : You’re about to record a new album this year. Tell us more about your new work.

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Giancarlo : I don’t love talking about the music I’m working on, most of all because I use to change and re-change things very often! I think that is more ‘bold’ step for Nosound, away from the lush ambience of A Sense Of Loss, but still maintaining the ‘Nosound’ signature. I think about it like the first full step for Nosound, after three studio albums in which I experimented with different things, I think the new album really presents what is Nosound, why and how arrived till here and what’s the unique ‘colour’ of this music. It contains all the elements that I like of music (and so that people would probably like to hear from a Nosound album), but in a more varied and mixed style. I also worked a lot on the message so is going to be something ‘different’ also in the lyrics.

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Yazdan : Who are the musicians you like to work with?

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Giancarlo : I honestly think that I worked with almost all the musicians I wanted to work with, and to be honest the musicians I enjoy working with are just in Nosound! I admire a lot of musicians and I’m always open to possibilities for collaborating, but the moments I really enjoy the most is with my own band, when we are all in sync and we are able to inflate life into these emotions that maybe were born in my home studio and we put out loud and powerful during our gigs. I feel very lucky because is not easy at all to find valid musicians (and most of all good friends) able to play this kind of music in the proper way and with the proper feeling.

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Yazdan : Tell us about Memories of Machines and your collaboration with Tim Bowness

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Giancarlo : The collaboration with Tim started when I was working on Lightdark. He received a copy of Sol29 and really liked it, so we started an exchange of emails and the idea of collaboration came out. The first song we made was ‘Someone Starts to Fade Away’, that was written for Nosound and so was published on Lightdark. We were so pleased with Tim that we continued working on more material, and last year after four years of working our own project Memories Of Machines was released! I really like the final result of Warm Winter, and I liked working on alone but co-producing with someone else this time, I think sometimes is harder than working alone, but it also helps. And we were lucky to have very important guest musicians with us (Robert Fripp, Peter Hammill), and the final mix of Steven Wilson for sure added that ‘something’ on top of the album. I really look forward to the next MoM album, for me is a way to release my more ‘singer-songwriter’ material, that is usually not fitting in the more complex and deep music of Nosound, and is also a way to keep working on new music in different ways.

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Yazdan : The highlight of your music is delivering the emotions to listeners in the highest level. Your music can actually stun the listener. Why do you think this is?

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Giancarlo : Well this is for me what music is all about. I never enjoy listen to music just for the music itself, for me music is just the best way of delivering emotions, so I love spending hours listening (or in the studio creating) music only if it can move in me deep feelings. When I read about listeners that can feel and share the same deep emotions, for me is just the perfect circle closing, it’s when I feel that I made that music for a good reason. Even when writing new music, or listening again back to what I did, I need to be moved as a listener…whatever I write is always 100% what I’d like to listen to as a listener…so I’ll always want and try to deliver emotions at the highest level.

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Yazdan : To wrap up this interview, is there anything you want to add to this interview?

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Giancarlo : The most important thing is to say again who are the other fantastic musicians and friends that are and make what Nosound is today: Paolo Martellacci (keyboards, vocals), Paolo Vigliarolo (guitars), Alessandro Luci (bass), Gigi Zito (drums, vocals). The relationship with them, on and off stage, is always more and more important for Nosound and for me. We have all a common ground of taste, but then we all come from different backgrounds and we have different tastes and ideas of what music should be, and the more precious thing is to have these different minds all tuned in what Nosound is. During sessions in studio or on stage I can often feel this ‘alchemy’ and is one of the most powerful feelings for a musician I think.

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Yazdan : Thank you so much for participating in this interview. On behalf of the readers whom  are mostly Iranians I thank you deeply , hope the best for you and waiting for your new works

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Giancarlo : Thank you for the interview, and even if it’s not easy for us to plan any soon a gig in Iran, we know we have a good following in your country and we look forward to meet, in a way or another, some of you very soon!

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Read this interview in Persian

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