|Interview with Mac of BIOnighT (February 2010)||By: Phil Derby for Electroambient Space|
man who mysteriously goes only by Mac is not that mysterious in other
ways. In fact, I would say Mac is one of the
most open, transparent individuals
I’ve met in EM circles. He is very easy to get to know, and we have talked about many
things over the years via email. I know him to be a very warm, caring, compassionate individual who cares deeply about
many things. He is one of the few EM musicians that I know well enough to consider a personal friend, even though we’ve
never met face to face.
When Mac asked if I’d be willing to do an interview, I had actually forgotten that we had never done one before. I just sort of
assumed I must have at some point. Having not was certainly an oversight on my part, which will now be rectified.
Please be sure to check out Mac’s home page, which includes more information
about him, lots of FREE music for download (several albums worth), and displays
of his photography, which is quite good.
According to your webpage, you started playing at the age of 16, mostly with self-built instruments. How did that come about? What sort of things did you build?
Well, I always had this thing about sounds; when I was a small child, I spent whole afternoons in my bedroom experimenting with a cheap reel-to-reel recorder, recording sounds and changing their pitch, stuff like that. One of my favorite pastimes was what I called "counting the instruments," that is to say, I put on a record and focused on a single instrument and followed it throughout the track, then I listened to the song again focusing on another instrument and so on, till I knew exactly how many instruments were playing in that track and what each of them did. In 1972 - I was about seven or eight - two songs hit the radios and record stores: one was a version of the brilliant song Pop Corn by an Italian band (La Strana Società - here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQGDeZdGsOc ); the other one a version of Amazing Grace performed on a Moog by another Italian artist (Il Guardiano del Faro - here it is, slaughtered by Youtube's sound quality http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b40RYoiSy6g ). For the first time I realized I was listening to electronic instruments and I was totally fascinated and baffled at the same time. I drove my mum nuts keeping on asking her how it was possible to make music with a machine! I've been hooked to electronic sounds ever after. Fast forward to when I was about 16 and started making noise that was a bit more organized and could almost be called music, if you were very generous. I didn't have any real acoustic instrument, let alone electronic ones, but the strong need to make sounds was there, so I started building weird, raw, kinds of ridiculous devices with anything I could get my hands on. One was a toy tennis racket string attached to the head of a record player - a sort of odd electric guitar - another one was a part of a home stereo amplifier that I short circuited to get some fascinating electronic rhythms - it wasn't long before it blew up, of course - and many more, all equally odd. My percussion instruments were made of inflatable balloons stretched on top of tin cans, broken kitchen tools, old couch cushions, lawnmower blades, etc. Some toy guitars, cheap plastic flutes, an orange and white plastic organ, and some more garbage completed the set of my not-exactly-instruments. And now, you lucky readers, here's an amazing EAS exclusive: a compilation of brief snippets from that long-gone era - I was somewhere between 16 and 18 - in their full tape-deck-to-tape-deck-multiple-overdubbing glory: www.macvibes.com/TEMPORSOUNDS/EAS_Mac_of_BIOnighT-early_snippets.mp3 and this is just about the most embarrassing thing I've ever made public #>___>#
Please, nobody remind me Mike Oldfield recorded Tubular Bells at around that same age...
In addition to your background in building instruments, do you have formal music training?
No, I don't; my parents never encouraged any of my artistic inclinations and were especially against my music. Sure, after listening to the excerpts above, it's kind of hard to blame them ;-) but that's not the point. I must regretfully admit that whatever skill I acquired in my life, I did in spite of them, and never thanks to them. I don't bear any grudge against my parents, mind you, the time I did is buried in the distant past. They were human beings, they made mistakes. I think growing up also means letting bygones be bygones and getting rid of those emotional burdens that can only block your evolution as a person and often even destroy your every chance for happiness. Forgiving yourself and those who shaped your past to start anew with a clearer soul is the first, fundamental step towards a life without torments.
How did you meet the other half of BIOnighT, Sbrizzi FaBIO?
I've always only told part of the story, because the premise is kind of odd and some people may think it's just a freak coincidence (and maybe it is) or something I made up to draw attention (which it is not). Allow me tell it in its entirety for the first time.
Many years ago, I used to take my car in the middle of the night (I normally go to bed at around 6.00 am and get up at 2.00 pm), drive like five minutes to a place where I could park it and take a long walk in the peace and quiet of nearby villages. One night I felt compelled to take a short downhill private road that led to a group of houses, all identical to one another. I found myself walking in front of them till I got to one that looked precisely like the others, and still I just couldn't help staring at it for a while, feeling attracted to it for some reason I couldn't find. For a couple of years, this weird thing happened again during most of my night walks, and I just didn't know why.
It was a late afternoon in December 1998 when FaBIO gave a ride to my nephew Abraham, who was hitchhiking. They started talking about music and Abraham discovered that FaBIO, just like me, loved Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and all those musicians most people over here don't even know exist, and that he was an electronic musician to boot. He got us in contact (we had never met before), and FaBIO invited me to his house. Now, as far as I know, we're the only Italians who make this kind of music, so discovering that we lived 5 minutes from each other was weird enough, but it was even weirder to discover that he lived in that house I found myself standing in front of so often for two years without knowing why...
There, now I've told the whole story, you decide if it is coincidence or something else - personally, I have no idea.
There was a string of BIOnighT albums for a while, then nothing, and now they seem to have resumed. What happened, or can you talk about that?
First off, personal lives inevitably interfere with any creative activity – day job, family (he has a wife and two kids) and all life is made of take up a lot of time. Second, FaBIO and I are totally different, in every possible way. As a result of this, we recurrently have stormy periods that we are only able to overcome thanks to our friendship, but it's never easy. Consequently, we do have some non-creative (and non-friendly) spells, which is not necessarily bad, as it allows us to grow and develop new ideas to put into our music when we finally get back to working on it.
Your extensive liner notes in your albums and on your webpage are quite personal. It sounds like you really pour your heart and soul into your music. Describe how your life and your music are intertwined, how each affects the other.
My music (I'm referring to my solo albums) is simply the result and the reflection of all I feel, think, need, fear - basically, every aspect of all I experience as a human being. Which also explains my abundant production ;-) Sometimes it's a confused sensation that drives the creative process, but most of the time it's a precise concept or feeling that I just need to turn into music to get it out of myself and turn it into sounds.
It may be just a mood stimulated by the outside world, like this track about the end of summer's atmosphere www.macvibes.com/TEMPORSOUNDS/END_OF_SUMMER---Mac_of_BIOnighT.mp3 or the need to describe what is going on in my inner world, as in this piece about the silent seas of lonely agitation and pain I had inside when I recorded it www.macvibes.com/TEMPORSOUNDS/SILENT_SEAS---Mac_of_BIOnighT.mp3.
However, it's not necessarily a deep emotion that becomes music, it may simply be a part of my child-like fantasies like the Space Adventures series of albums ( http://www.macvibes.com/spaceadventures/ ) or a funny little track like this one www.macvibes.com/TEMPORSOUNDS/THE_NEXT_SUMMER_HIT---by_Mac_of_BIOnighT.mp3, which I created as a sort of joke for one of my nieces.
In any case, whatever I record, my life and my music are definitely one and the same.
By the way: my apologies to you, Phil, and to the readers for turning this interview into a multimedia mess, but music is my words...
As to BIOnighT, the process is quite different, as FaBIO's musical soul works without any pre-existing concepts to express and is just stimulated by sounds or notes that set his creativity in motion. This difference is yet another thing that makes our working together so difficult, but - in the end - rewarding.
You had quite a serious accident a couple of years ago. Tell us about that specific incident and how it has impacted your life and your music.
2004 - and the previous few years - had been pretty difficult for me, in many ways. The most painful thing was that my friend/brother-in-law Eros had been fighting cancer for quite a while and the first signs of his losing the battle were beginning to appear. A new year was about to start and I was hoping - and needed to believe - that 2005 would be the year when things were going to look up. Yeah, sure.
On January 3rd I was cutting some logs for my stove with a chainsaw. To this day, I'm not sure what happened: maybe it was a nail in the wood, maybe something else, but whatever it was, the chainsaw (a nasty, powerful one) bounced back violently and hit my face, splitting it in two. I was lucky, three or four inches below and I would have cut my head off, an inch to the right and it would have destroyed my nose and one of my eyes, and I probably wouldn't have survived. As it was, it severed everything from right below my left eye to the tip of my chin, diagonally, leaving nothing at all to connect the two halves and smashing my cheekbone into pieces (I'm still missing a bit of my eye socket), plus a tooth and some other stuff. The operation, fortunately performed by a fantastic ER surgeon, was over four hours long and for some weeks I lived at one of my sisters' (once again, let me thank my sisters for all the help they've been to me throughout my life!). I lost some facial nerves and muscles, and part of my face's and lips' sensitivity. It took me months to learn to eat and to speak properly again, training the remaining muscles to compensate for the lost ones. And, of course, I looked like the Frankenstein creature.
Often we say, "I can imagine what it's like..." or "I understand...". No. It's not true. Just like I didn't understand what it's like to lose somebody to cancer before losing Eros, I just thought I did. Don't ever say "I can imagine...," because some things you can't imagine unless you experience them yourself, believe me.
I am extremely grateful for the chainsaw accident, as I didn't know and didn't understand what it's like to have a physical handicap and having to relate to people everyday. Children were scared and hid behind their mothers, who tried to calm them down without me noticing too much - and in those conditions you notice everything, all is amplified. Adults talked to me concentrating their eyes on my eyebrows, hoping I didn't notice they were just trying hard not to hurt me by looking at my face, and hurting me even more in doing so. Now I look almost normal, but I'm am grateful for those long months, because now I can really imagine what it's like to be on a wheelchair, or without an arm, or anything else that makes one "different" while having to be among people, when every look and every non-look can pierce right through your heart. I consider having been given the chance to understand that a real gift.
As to my music, the result of what I had inside was my album "Black Light," and it's probably no coincidence that it's still one of my most intense and tortured ones. Here's a track from it www.macvibes.com/TEMPORSOUNDS/IF_I_HAVE_TO---Mac_of_BIOnighT.mp3
You've mentioned to me on several occasions the importance of friends and family. Are you close with your family, do they all live in Italy nearby?
Except for one of my nephews, who lives in Scotland, all the people I consider my family - though I don't necessarily share their blood - live in Italy, in the same area as I do. And I'm a very lucky person regarding both my friends and my family. If I am a reasonably happy person, it's also thanks to them, especially those who are closer to my soul.
You and Sbrizzi have a new BIOnighT album, Resonance of the Spirit. What was the inspiration for the album?
This album pivots on FaBIO's zither, basically. He was introduced to this instrument in 2006 during a visit to a monastery, where a monk was playing it. That particular kind of zither is only made by a couple of artisans in Italy. FaBIO contacted the closest one and had one built for him. He was very excited and started learning to play as soon as he got it. He suggested that we used it on the new album, and so we did. It took us over two years to complete this record, so he's actually a much better player now compared to what you can hear on the album, but I think he did a good job nonetheless :)
This is a more spiritual work than the previous ones, though not in a religious sense, and it is more soothing for the spirit, though not in a new age sense.
This has a different sound from the Berlin school style that BIOnighT usually creates, including some acoustic instruments and wordless vocals. Did you intentionally set about to do something different, or did that just sort of happen?
We try not to repeat ourselves, though that unavoidably happens to everybody and we're no exception. However, we do strive to make each album a little different. After "Back to Orion" we experimented with several things, such as an (aborted) album inspired by "20000 leagues under the sea". At one point I suggested an album vaguely inspired by middle-eastern rhythms and atmospheres, which I find deeply fascinating. The track with the vocals and bamboo flute (Narem) was actually the demo track I recorded to let FaBIO hear what I had in mind, but - as usual - he rejected the idea... Finally we just settled for the zither+synths concept as the main one, though we also kept the bamboo flute and vocal parts I had already recorded.
Anyway, in spite of my initial doubts, the mixture of acoustic and electronics turned out to be kind of interesting, as in this track http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpT-8Mneqa0 in which we used the zither (by FaBIO) and two Mellotron emulations (by me), so we're quite happy with this album :)
You use a lot of soft synths. How does that work when you are collaborating with someone in the studio? How do you and Sbrizzi create the music together?
Actually, since 2006 we've only used soft synths - or better, free soft synths and effects that a bunch of brilliant and generous developers make available to everybody through the net (a huge THANK YOU to all of them once again!).
FaBIO and I take turns in front of the keyboard and the computer screen to record what we play, sometimes directing each other in real time, and later work on the recorded material together, so most of the time each part is the result of the work of both of us. In fact, it is sometimes difficult for us to tell who did what on a given track after a few years O___O
It is quite another world compared to the typical guitar/bass/drums band where each member has a defined role; here the blending of musical souls and techniques is much deeper, as we both intervene on everything. Alas, sometimes one is oil and the other is water, so the blending just doesn't work ;-) That accounts for the occasional hiatus between albums, too.
As to the less technical aspects, it takes a lot of patience from both of us because of the very different methods we use and the different emotional paths we would like to follow as soon as a track starts to emerge. I guess the most difficult thing is trusting the other person and helping him shape his vision, while letting go of your own, but in the end it's worth it and so far we haven't regretted it that often.
Are you ever going to tell us your real name?
Nope ;-) But I'm gonna tell the story behind my name publicly for the first time (hey, lots of exclusive scoops here ;-)
A name is much more powerful than one may think. That's why I believe that everybody should be free to do what some Native American tribes did (as far as I know: when a kid became an adult, he could choose his adult name that would represent him).
In my case, it's not just that I never liked the name I was given at birth, and it's not just that it doesn't represent me as an adult, but it also prevents me from getting rid of a past full of deep unhappiness, disease, and loneliness. Mind you, I'm well aware of the fact that there are people who had some truly horrible experiences in their life and I was pretty lucky after all. Still, it's a part of life I wish I could leave behind me. When, in my late twenties (when the kidney condition that had made me an invalid for around fourteen years disappeared mysteriously, among other weird occurrences) I decided that I finally wanted a life worth living instead of that blur of dull emotional pain it had been until then. To strengthen this decision, I also chose a name for myself I could finally feel comfortable with. This name is me, the person I shaped myself into, the other one is what I never wanted to be and I'm not anymore anyway. Every time somebody uses it, it's as if they slapped my past hard on my face. It doesn't feel good, no sir and not at all.
So, as a German dixieland musician I once knew used to say, "first name is Mac, last name is BIOnighT". And that just about sums it all up ;-)
|Interview with Mac of BIOnighT (October 2006)||By: Sylvain Lupari for Guts of Darkness|
Black Light is one of the top 10 cds this year. So far, the reviews have been
good. How do you feel about it?
Well, of course that's very flattering and I'm totally happy about it. I just hope this won't generate too many expectations regarding my future releases and/or that I will not find myself trapped in one genre or one kind of EM only… However, I am very glad Black Light has been appreciated by EM lovers!
Black light is a black cd - no pun intended. An obscure atmosphere surrounds the listener with a dark spirit. Am I right? What is hiding behind this darker spirit of Black Light?
I was going through several painful episodes of my life when I recorded it. The year had started with a very nasty accident I had with a chainsaw while I was cutting some wood. The chainsaw bounced back and split one side of my face in half causing a lot of bad damage. I had to learn to talk, to eat, to use facial expressions again… While I was recovering, though, there were other personal things - please allow me to keep them to myself - that were going very bad, much more important than what had happened to my face. The result was a lot of emotional pain that just came out as music.
It is a cd of a rare intensity. There are few atmospheric moments, and sequences are very aggressive. Was Mac suffocating in BIOnighT's lighter style?
BIOnighT have always been for me the opportunity to do things that I couldn't/wouldn't do by myself. Actually, I'm fairly optimistic by nature, so I make a lot of lighter music for my solo projects, too :)
The sequences on Black Light are very heavy. Has Mac developed a new sequencing mania? A bit like Mark Shreeve, or it was only for the purpose of Black Light?
I always loved sequences, when I listened to Ricochet by Tangerine Dream for the first time I was 19 and I just never recovered from my mad love for sequences since then! I use them almost everywhere, no matter what kind of music I'm making, but obviously they play a main role in my Berlin School productions - after all they are what makes this genre what it is, aren't they? :)
Why a title like Black Light, if you consider that a light, by definition, is bright? Is there a paradoxical side to this title? The ying vs the yang? The eternal conflict between night and day?
The thing is, the appearance and the meaning of anything you perceive depend on how you perceive it… Light is not necessarily bright and positive; it depends on how you are feeling. If you feel bad enough, then even light can feel black and negative. Reality may be objective, but your interpretation of it is influenced by your own emotional condition.
Are you satisfied with the result?
When I make music there are only two things I'm interested in: the first is that music must depict perfectly the feelings, the concepts, the emotions, the experiences I need to turn into music. That's the most important thing of all. The second thing is communication, meaning that a person who listens to it should be able to feel what I felt, or to understand it, or at least to be touched by it in some way. With Black Light I think I have obtained both decently enough, so yes, I'm satisfied :)
Who's the real Mac? The one of Black Light or the romantic and melancholic one we discover with Egoheart?
There are people with no personality at all that could be represented by a grey wall, but I think that most people have different sides and facets - some have a lot of them, others only a few. I guess my real self is just the combination of all of my various facets, just like everybody else.
Your partner released a solo project, too. Is this the answer to our questions regarding the end of BIOnighT? Can we expect new BIOnighT material, or will you both pursue a solo career?
BIOnighT are alive and well, fortunately. It's been almost eight years since we met and we're still full of projects and enthusiasm :) There will be some news regarding BIOnighT soon, as we're going through a fairly active period. To begin with, SynGate will probably release the album we finished in 2005 called "The Art of Friendship," while we have already finished a new album called "The Rain is Over," and we are currently working on yet another album…
Is it more difficult to team up or to work solo?
Just as it is in life, being your own man is generally easier, as you don't have to make compromises, discuss, give up, stand your ground etc. However, I was lucky enough to find FaBIO, who is a great guy and a fantastic friend, so things always get accomplished somehow :)
Why did both of you feel the need to do solo projects?
I always worked on my solo stuff, both before and during the BIOnighT experience. Probably not many knew about it because SynGate has only just started releasing my solo albums, but it's something I've really always done. FaBIO's solo project, though, was something I wanted badly! He never felt the need to work on a solo album (he always says that something - no matter what - you do alone can't be good…), but I had heard some ideas he had put down and they were just fantastic, so I started pushing him till I finally convinced him to record "Comunicare," his first solo CD. And I'm glad I did, as I think it is just great!
Are you working on a new project? If so, what will be the musical orientation?
I always work on a number of albums simultaneously - from five up to ten or more - all belonging to various types of music. To have an idea of the different genres I play just visit my website at www.macvibes.com where the albums are divided into "series" according to the kind of music or project. My music moves from Berlin School, to danceable, to techno, to film-soundtrack-like music, to sci-fi and horror music. There's a bit for everybody there :)
Yes, I saw you create several different kinds of music when I visited your website, which is very well made, by the way.Thanks. Well, I do not have a regular job because I'd just go crazy if I had to do the same thing every day... I don't have a family because I could never live with the same people every day... Maybe some day all this will change and I'll find comfort in repetition, but for now the same thing over and over just drives me nuts! I need change, evolution, movement. That's why I could never play the same kind of music every day. Besides, there are so many aspects of life, so many diverse experiences, so many different emotions that I need to turn into music that I could never do it with only one genre!!
What is the popularity of Mac, BIOnighT and EM in Italia?Zero, zippo, rien, nada! Italy is moving backwards in many ways, people are only interested in having the latest model of cell phone, a luxury car, and smart designer clothes… Everybody here is turning into a stupid puppet in the hands of the masters of marketing - no brain, no personality… Nothing is important to them except appearing fashionable and richer than they really are. It's the victory of "having" over "being". Nobody worries about what they have inside, only the outside is important to them. EM is not fashionable, it's not what you have to listen to be "cool," so nobody listens to it… That goes for any other thing - films, books... even relationships! The sad thing is that the whole world is going in the same direction, and that involves things much more important than music...
When did your interest in EM start?
I was around seven when I heard a few songs made with Moog synthesizers etc. I drove my mom mad keeping on asking her how it was possible that a machine could be used to make music! I guess it all started from there... So I spent a lot of my childhood in my bedroom experimenting with a reel-to-reel recorder, even if I only started making what could be called music when I was around 16.
Out of curiosity; can you name your 5 top cds, movies and books?
It's been so long since I had time for books and films that mentioning five of them would mean mentioning stuff I loved when I was another person, way back in the past... The one story I've happened to re-read several times along the years is a short story by Stephen King called "My Pretty Pony." I think Ricochet by Tangerine Dream is the best album ever, but it's difficult to mention only four more albums, as there are so many I love... I'll just list some albums randomly to represent all of the others, too:
- Oxygene - Jean Michel Jarre (absolute masterpiece!!)
- Tango - Matia Bazar (one of the best synth-pop albums ever!)
- Discovery - Mike Oldfield
- Atlas Ufo Robot - Actarus (Any fan of Goldorak/Grendizer out there? ;-)
- Breva e Tivan - Davide van de Sfroos
Which was your principal source of inspiration?
All of them and just about every note of every song I've heard in my life...
Did you have any other musical preferences before discovering EM?
I've always loved music in general, regardless of its genre :)
Some say those who make EM are not true musicians or composers, but rather studio geniuses. Do you agree with that?
I think there's a lot of confusion about what music is. The vast majority of people still confuse "performance" with "music". For example, Mozart didn't perform the music he wrote - how could he have? It took an orchestra and he was one man. Shall we therefore assume he was an idiot? I don't think so. Likewise, a modern EM artist composes music that is made of thirty, forty different tracks. It'd take thirty or forty people to perform them in real time! Instead, he creates each track himself. Besides, he does the mixing, applies the effects... again, the job of a score of technicians! But he is scorned and laughed at because he doesn't "perform" his music in real time... just like Mozart didn't! Making electronic music is pretty much like painting or drawing: no real time performance, but real emotions. If EM is worth nothing, then all paintings and drawings in history are worth nothing. And let's not forget that a musician is a person who uses an instrument... Now, what is a studio if not an instrument (and a very complicated one, too)?
Will EM always have its place, or will it be dislodged by techno, the electronica?
Thanks to the Internet, I think all kinds of music will always find a group of people who support it... EM will never be mainstream, however.
What do you think of new technologies towards musical evolution?
Just like any other technology, it depends on how you use it... And humanity has a knack for using them all bad!
What is your opinion towards MP3?Bad bad bad...
Does it help EM or, like with other musical styles, it's stopped the sales?
It's stopped the sales and it's going to stop music, too, eventually...
On behalf of GOD readers, thank you for your time and your music.
Thank you for the interview and thanks to all those who listen to my music - I really appreciate it!
|Interview with BIOnighT (April 2004)||By: Artemi Pugachov for E-dition magazine|
1. Did you have any musical experience before
BIOnighT was formed?
FaBIO: No, personally I never had any particularly meaningful experience.
Mac: Well, when I was five or six I used to spend the afternoons in my bedroom experimenting with an old reel-to-reel tape recorder trying to get weird sounds out of it by changing the speed of the tape and stuff like that, as sounds have always deeply fascinated me. Later on, when I started organizing noise into something that could almost be called music, I played with odd "instruments" that I built out of any object I could find; for example, one of them was made with the pick up of an old turntable connected to a tennis racket string - a very weird sounding kind of electric guitar with no body - while another was made out of coffee cans with inflatable balloons stretched on top of them, and then there was a pretty strange drum machine that I got by short circuiting an old home stereo amplifier; this gadget sounded like something Kraftwerk would have been enthused about, but needless to say it wasn't very long before the whole thing blew up! Anyway, I've been making music since I was 16, but before the BIOnighT project my only "releases" were a few tapes for my friends. Besides, I had never played with anybody, as music is for me very private and personal. FaBIO is the only person I've ever shared that very intimate part of myself with, and probably the only one I would ever share it with. So I guess we could say I never had any serious musical experience before BIOnighT was formed.
2. How would you describe the process of working together? Do you usually create in perfect harmony between each other, or is it sometimes like a musical dispute or even a fight?
BIOnighT: Apart from the "Afterpost" period - during which everything turned into some kind of fight - you could describe our creative process as "harmony," but the most important part of it all is probably trust and faith in each other. You see, when you begin to write a piece and it is still there unformed and almost shapeless, your brain and soul suggest a certain direction that you feel the song should take, but that is sometimes very different from the way another musician would develop the same idea. When that happens to us, we very often do what basically comes down to a regular leap of faith: one of us decides that maybe the other one has a clearer vision of the potentialities of the track, and let him lead the way in spite of all his perplexities. Other times it becomes evident that one of us is emotionally involved in a song much more than the other is, so the other one gives up his own vision; after all we can always make a remix of the track to make both of us happy!
3. What are your primary musical influences?
FaBIO: In the beginning I only listened to classic music, medieval ballads, Celtic music, and Italian singers and songwriters; then one day at a friend's I "met" electronic music - Phaedra by Tangerine Dream, to be precise. I understood that the emotions generated by that kind of music were unique, and they've been growing on me more and more.
Mac: Every kind of music, really; as BIOnighT we are obviously influenced by the Berlin School, but personally I blend bits of everything into what I do and I try hard to listen to all kinds of music carefully, as I always find interesting things and ideas to learn from in all genres.
4. What instruments do you usually play and which instruments were used in "Egoheart", "Afterpost" and "Daybreak", in particular?
BIOnighT: Believe it or not, we only used a GEM S3 turbo workstation and some sounds from a Soundblaster Live. We think that there are a lot of musicians out there that have the most awesome instruments, but they use only 15% of what their machines can really generate in terms of musical power. An instrument is a tool you can express yourself through, and the more you know it, the better results you can achieve. Think of what a musician can get out of a violin, for example: it's just a piece of wood, still there's an amazing range of things you can do with it if you really master it! So it's kinda depressing that most people only get to know their electronic instruments enough to get the most basic and obvious functions out of them...
5. What do you think about people believing Electronic Music to be fully automated?
FaBIO: I think people are superficially right, but only when you try to create music with machines you can understand that that is not the case, because if you have nothing to express whatever instrument you use is useless.
Mac: Unfortunately, I think that's unavoidable. Today there are so many gadgets that do some wonderful things entirely by themselves that people think anything that's electronic works in the same way. It's a matter of ignorance, lack of information, or even misinformation on part of journalists, TV, and magazines. When in 1978 the first Japanese cartoon landed on the Italian TV screens, the idiots who worked for the Italian press wrote lots of articles saying that series was made by a computer. Mind: they didn't write it was made WITH a computer, but BY a computer! They wrote that somebody in Japan just tossed some information about the story, the characters, and the colors into this mysterious machine, and this amazing computer produced the whole episode completely by itself... and everybody believed it!! Actually, no computer whatsoever was used by the Japanese studios back then (it was 1978, for crying out loud!) and those series were created in the traditional way, that is, drawn and colored entirely by hand. Almost 30 years have passed and you would expect people to have reached a different level of information, but actually it's even worse than it was before, because now people think they know it all and refuse to even listen to you when you say that electronic music is NOT that thing that kids do with samples and some toy software or something that machines do by themselves. It's sad, but now that information is available to everybody, there's more ignorance than ever before, and that is not only true about electronic music...
6. How do you see the relation of Electronic Music and science fiction or space exploration?
FaBIO: Both are infinite.
Mac: Well, there's a very strong connection, but it's hard to pinpoint the real reason behind this. Maybe it's because space is still a mysterious place, something we're part of but that we will never really see nevertheless, and so the unearthly sounds that electronic instruments can create are the sounds that better than any other can describe the unknown territories beyond our atmosphere. They are strange and impossible to identify with a terrestrial object - for example, a flute is made of wood, which comes from a tree, which is in turn a very terrestrial and understandable thing, but listen to a Moog: no terrestrial object can be directly connected to it, while it's relatively easy to imagine a galaxy or a distant planet while listening to it. These are things that exist, but because of the limits of human beings they basically only live in our imagination, with no direct connection with the world we can see around us, just like the sounds of electronic instruments.
7. Please, speak about "Songswell", the album that differs from other BIOnighT works stylistically. How did it come about?
BIOnighT: Even if the Berlin School is the main source of inspiration for our music, we like other genres, too. So in the four years we have been playing together it was inevitable for us to write some songs belonging to other kinds of music. In 2002 we had put aside enough material, so we gave those tracks a definitive shape and compiled them into a complete album. Three of the tracks that appear in Songswell were actually included in the first edition of Afterpost, but later on we understood that album would have sounded much better without the contrast those tracks created with the "krautrock" pieces Afterpost was mainly made of, so we decided to move them to Songswell, and turn Afterpost in a purely "cosmic" album. I think we will do the same thing in the future, as in the past few months we have already written a few songs that could be defined more or less celtic or medieval, so there will probably be another album like Songswell in a few years.
8. Have you released any solo albums?
Mac: Yes, we have released two retrospective solo albums from before BIOnighT existed: Naif Music by FaBIO and Human Electricity by me, both very electronic. Then there are two solo albums by me featuring songs of all genres, from jazz to dance, from medieval to fusion, from techno to melodic, from electronic to experimental, and more; they also include some tracks by BIOnighT that were discarded because FaBIO did not like them, while I did love them and didn't want them to be left unheard. The titles of the two albums are Aphasia (2001), and Dining Room (2002). Finally, FaBIO is now working on a new solo album, very hypnotic and fascinating, excellent material indeed!
9. Any plans for the future?
FaBIO: To keep on spending time together in harmony, and hopefully generate more musical emotions.
Mac: We are going to change our instruments, in order to find new stimuli and get more flexibility, and of course we will keep trying to make as many people as possible get acquainted with our works. No big plans to speak of, really, partly because we have to maintain a balance between our private lives and BIOnighT, and any bigger plans would inevitably alter that balance.
10. And finally: if you were allowed to do concerts in five cities of the world, which ones would you go for?
Mac: Dunno, I'm not very fond of playing live, don't think that our kind of music meets the requirements of a live concert. I mean, some of our songs are made of over 30 tracks, it goes without saying that we could never play live all of them - there are only two of us! - and what sense does it make to play live only a couple of tracks on a recorded base? Besides, FaBIO has a wife and children, I have a pretty complex life myself, and therefore travelling to give concerts would be too complicated to be worth it. So I never really thought about it, but if I had to make a list of the places I'd love to visit I'd certainly say Tokyo and other Japanese cities and towns; I'm a fan of anime - Japanese cartoons, that is - and I've always only seen that country thru those series, so I'd love to visit it using concerts as an excuse!
FaBIO: Well, since dreaming is free... The Duomo in Milan (Italy), Reims Cathedral in France, the Coliseum in Rome (Italy), Machu Picchu, Giza in Egypt.