Hello Venus in Disgrace and welcome to Brutal Resonance! Let’s get started with a warm-up question. What are three of your favorite albums of all time and why?
FB: Hello Steven and Brutal Resonance's readers, thanks for the interview! Being a great record collector, extremely eclectic too, I would tell you that for me it is almost impossible to give you an absolute answer. However, staying within the confines of the music we play with Venus, I would say: The Cure's "Pornography" for encoding a sound, in addition through a series of incredibly fascinating songs, Soft Cell's "Non Stop Erotic Cabaret" because it already looks like a greatest hits and instead it is just one of the many wonderful pieces of Marc Almond's career, while my third choice is John Foxx's "The Garden" because everyone always mentions "Metamatic", his sublime solo debut, however I believe that ‘The Garden’ is even superior in terms of songwriting and interpretation as well.
MV: My favorite three albums are (in no particular order): Slayer's "Reign in Blood". Once we were metalheads. There are records you must have in your collection and "Reign in Blood" is one this record. The Chameleons' "Script of the bridge". Masterpiece! No fillers, great songs, new wave guitars, epic melodies and Mark Burgess’s voice. To play very loud. Joy Division. Both albums. No need to say more. I know, the question was about three fav albums but I love both albums and so, two albums at the price of one.
Where did you two meet? How did the project get started?
FB: As often happens in these cases, we met in a famous record shop here in Rome (that doesn’t exist anymore) in the mid-90s: I had just started university, which was very close to the store. Max worked there and so it was easy to get in touch, but in the beginning, even before the music, what brought us closer was the fact that we had the same sense of humor and the ability to make irony. An aspect that has remained unchanged, even after many years.
The embryo of Venus came in a completely random way initially, when we began to write songs at Max's house: in that period, let's say between 1997 and 1998, a lot of bands were heard around who were rediscovering the related sounds. to synth-pop and electronic darkwave, only that many of them didn't seem to have the right sounds, they played with the analog wannabe in a completely digital context. For this we began to experiment, trying to rediscover the essence of a sound without renouncing to express our personality in this regard.
Where does the title Venus In Disgrace come from? What does it mean?
FB: The classic inside joke that came up as they tried to pick a name that was credible. We liked Venus in Furs, but it was too reminiscent of VU, so we shortened to Venus. But just in that period a Belgian band with that name came out (produced in Italy, but disappeared into thin air in a short time), so as a joke I said to Max: "With the gloom of the music we make, at best we could be Venus fallen in disgrace! Later, when writing the lyrics of 'Hedda Gabler', I used the expression "Venus in Disgrace", and then the moniker also made sense.
You guys were on a twenty year hiatus. In early 2021, you made a return. What made you want to make music again?
FB: It all happened quite spontaneously, when we met after several years of not seeing each other, at a Peter Murphy concert. Some time later Max asked me if I still had copies of our 1999 demo, so we used those songs as a starting point, providing more competent arrangements or completely rewriting them from the bone. Call it a bet if you want, but basically we wrote all the songs during the lockdown, exchanging the files or inevitably rehearsing from a distance. And undoubtedly the surreal atmosphere of gloomy silence around us ended up influencing our work.
5. Let’s talk about your new album, “Dancefloor Nostalgia”. As the title might suggest, were you trying to emulate a sound from the 90s or did you want to make something new?
FB: Both ones, I would say. Surely we’ve been mostly influenced by the early 80’s synth-pop and darkwave sounds as well, in a path where the synth-pop that was Soft Cell, Twins, Talk Talk, Depeche Mode, New Order can immerse in darker broad spectrum sounds. At the same time we tried to detach ourselves from the simplicity of a very minimal synth, a genre that we love but to which we feel we are not related as a band. Minimalism is not our cup of tea, we like to joke about this, and listening to our songs you can hear both a true rediscovery of the analogue sound of that era, but also a certain complexity and evolution of that sound’
The cover art is quite endearing. It shows a couple of vinyl records up In an attic next to an old record player. Is this an actual photo from one of your houses just slightly edited, or is it made-up?
FB: When we started working on the cover, we had pretty clear ideas and we started looking for photos that depicted old records abandoned in some attic. One day Max submits this photo to me and I go crazy for it as much as I like it. We bought the rights to use the photo made by v2osk, obviously adding the band name, album title and our logo with a graphic work, so that they became an integral part of the atmosphere emanating from that picture.
You collaborated with quite a lot of people on this album. Tell me a bit about the collaborators and what they were able to bring to the album that Venus In Disgrace could not.
FB: On 'Hedda Gabler', our first single, you can hear Gianluca Di Virgilio's guitar (also as second voice during the choruses), which made us very happy being fans of his Arctic Plateau project. On the Franco Battiato’s (very famous musician here in Italy, unfortunately recently deceased) ‘Summer On a Solitary Beach’, there is a duet of mine with Simone Salvatori, leader of Spiritual Front and our dear friend. The shoegaze touch you hear in the guitars is thanks to Francesco Conte (also with Spiritual Front, and historical guitarist of Klimt 1918), which added just that touch we were looking for to the song. On 'Delacroix', our song with the most complex structure, there is the pleasant presence of Bez York (another artist under contract with Lost Generation Records), who sings the Italian part of the lyrics, taken from a poem by Antonia Pozzi. Finally, we want to underline the availability of Marco De Ritis, who played all the other guitars you can hear on the album, who added a very versatile New Wave touch with a taste of Chameleons, Cure and Psychedelic Furs.
What process do you use to write a song? What gear did you use to make this album happen?
MV: Writing a song is like magic…sometimes happens, sometimes not… Usually I’m starting to play something on the midi keybord, even one or two notes. It’s like Tetris, midi-brick by midi-brick, note by note, synth by synth. I don’t have a room full of synths, but everything I need is within my PC (God bless all VSTi / plugins and analogue-style synth plugins). When songs are finished, Playrec Studio (where “Dancefloor Nostalgia” were mixed and mastered) is the next stop.
What’s your favorite song on the album and why?
FB: Let's say we don't have a "favorite song", but we are inevitably linked to 'Watching Down The Spiral' (recently finished in a compilation in Germany thanks to the interest of Electrozombies – International Synthpop Magazine), because it was the first song we wrote together. Just as we are also very attached to 'The Wind Through The Arcades', of which we also made a video with the sand-art technique, because instead it was the last song we wrote before going to the studio to record the album.
What else does Venus In Disgrace have in store for 2021? Any other singles, EPs, remixes, etc. coming?
FB: After the release of "Dancefloor Nostalgia" on all major digital streaming platforms, in the autumn the album will see the light both on LP and in a limited edition on cassette. Meanwhile, Max has made remixes for Aborym, Spiritual Front, Klimt 1918 and Bez York.
Lastly, I would like to thank you for your time. I leave the space below for you to say anything else. Cheers!
FB: We want to bring our music and our songs to the widest possible audience, who may have the sensitivity to appreciate us without distinction of genres, be it synth-pop, darkwave, electronic or italo disco. While waiting to be able to play our music live, in the meantime we are on various social networks (Facebook and Instagram), Spotify, Youtube , follow our Bandcamp page and never forget to keep on dancing in the shadow!’
This interview was commissioned through our Ko-fi page.
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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