„Music can tell about the hidden parts of me.“

Foto: Emanuele Riccobono

Vor zwei Jahren haben Mohabitat ihr Debütalbum herausgebracht – eine Klangreise aus warmer Elektronik und zurückhaltenden Post-Rock-Echos.  Crisalide  hat uns so gut gefallen, dass wir euch das audiovisuelle Elektro-Projekt aus Italien als unsere Band der Woche (hier) vorgestellt haben. Elektronische Klänge voller Feinheiten und Bilder sind in den Live-Auftritten von Mohabitat – oft an ganz besonderen Orten – in einem Dialog aus Licht und Schatten eng miteinander verwoben.
In einigen Tagen erscheint die großartige EP „Prima Luce“ bei Us & Them, das erste Album, das Francesco als Solo-Projekt veröffentlicht. Nach sieben Jahren  kreativer Zusammenarbeit im Mohabitat-Projekt gehen Francesco und Hamaranta jeweils eigene Wege.

In unserem Interview blickt Francesco auf die letzten beiden Jahre zurück und spricht über den Sound von Mohabitat, die neue EP „Prima Luce“ und über seine aktuelle Situation als Künstler.

How have you been since our last interview? What have you been working on?
So much has happened since our last interview. I have decided to focus on sound and sound research in order to place music at the center of my journey. It’s for this reason that the collaboration with Hamaranta has been limited to certain projects. From now on Mohabitat is my solo project. I have been working on sound, my sound and creating a signature that sets me apart from others, using a series of instruments that have become my sound trademark. These instruments are an inspiration that allow me to express my mood with sound. Throughout various projects, I have stayed in contact with my public even with social distancing.

We would like to ask you about your present moment. How do you handle this time – in the midst of the pandemic?
Music saved me. It always has. I have managed to live through these months of the pandemic and the present months only through music. More so now than ever, having a passion can be a lifeline, especially during our present day situation. It helps you to establish goals, maintain your focus until your objective has been reached. Our passions give sense to our daily routine, encourage us to maintain contact and in my case, discover new possibilities of musical compositions. In addition, due to the resulting positive for Covid, I had to remain in total isolation for a month. Thankfully, I was asymptomatic. It was during my isolation that I composed the EP Prima Luce.

Foto: Serena Hamaranta Lombardi

What do you love so much about music? What are the boundaries that you look to explore with music?
What I love most about music is the sensation you get every time you compose something that resonates with you, when you find the right vibration or sequence of notes and in the end you feel something. At that point, it’s possible to build bridges that connect you with people on the other side of the planet, creating a dialogue without words, an incredibly emotional and valuable experience. It makes me feel fortunate and privileged to know that somewhere my music is the soundtrack to someone’s day. Succeeding in giving an emotion is the payoff for a musician. Without a doubt, crossing cultural and language boundaries with your music in a club or an art gallery is something not even words can describe. Every time I set up my instruments to perform, I am full of energy, ready to share musical vibrations. In a world where walls are constructed to divide us, music is one way we can build bridges over these walls.

Are there any particular surroundings you prefer when composing your music?
For practical reasons, my tracks are finalized in my studio because I often work on analog instruments from the 80’s which run on electricity and are very delicate. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with other composing methods, non-electrical instruments. At times I can stop to compose in the middle of nature as well as on a public bench in my home city. When I came to Berlin I wrote a few sketches in the room where I was staying, just like in Amsterdam. I guess where you are is not as important as how you manage to broadcast yourself.

Foto: Emanuele Riccobono

Your music often takes on a dark or melancholy tone. Do you feel the way your music sounds?
My music has always had that tone even when I played electric guitar in a grunge band. Let’s say that it comes naturally to me to express certain moods and maybe that’s the beauty of it. When I play I’m happy, I feel good. But, probably the music can tell about the hidden parts of me, the parts my smile can mask … honestly, I don’t know. Lately, however, my “musical darkness” has become stronger due to lack of human contact, social restrictions but, above all, the lack of liberty. I’m a person who values their freedom and respects the freedom of others. I detest feeling limited in my personal choices …

How did the writing of the new work happen? What is the main concept behind the EP and its title and the way these relate to the music featured within?
As I mentioned before, “Prima Luce” came from the need to find something uplifting during lockdown. I wasn’t looking to use music as the vehicle to complain and mirror my bad moods. I dedicated myself to the project, which came about almost by accident. On a day like any other, from morning until night, I composed the tracks all in one day, in real time and by using sound I wanted to reflect the period of the day. Because of this specific time sequence, these tracks can also refer to the different periods in our lifetime.

“Prima Luce” would be the morning or better yet, dawn and also birth. “Ombra Bianca” is early afternoon, when the sky is bright but there are growing shadows, like adolescence. “Crepuscolo” is that brief period just before dark and it is in that pause we experience a self-reflection, similar to adulthood when we realize suddenly that we are grown and maybe we have or we haven’t reached our own expectations. Finally, “Ultimo Quarto“, which also indicates the final lunar phase before a new moon. I imagined that with every ending, there is also a beginning, similar to night and the period in our life where we are elderly. Both of which leave space for a new dawn, another Prima Luce.

If you look back to your beginnings … how do you feel your sound has changed on „Prima Luce“?
Now, I have a clearer sense of the instruments that represent me. I create my sounds on analog instruments, without presets, and I can choose the perfect sound without trying a lot of presets on computer or DAW. I found in analog instruments a perfect dimension to compose because I found my sounds for arps, pads, leads, basses, drums. I turn on my instruments and construct sounds starting from the traditional sound waves and build on that, enriching it. They say that “less is more”. This idea has helped me to have a well-defined setup for composing tracks. I feel that I have matured and have developed my own “personality”, which may be farther from what the mainstream wants, but it’s definitely closer to who I am.

What is in the pipeline for you at the moment? What do you wish for?
For the near future I have other albums in the works and I hope to be able to perform live because I miss that part a lot. Doing a live set makes direct contact with the public possible. Hopefully, I’ll be able to reschedule past events outside of Italy so that I can continue to live out my passion with the same intensity. It would be great to visit Germany, to meet you in person. Who knows? Maybe after I’ve just finished a live set.

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