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An Italian Spirit: An Interview with Hidden Place

From the short-lived Neofolk project Lupi Gladius comes Hidden Place, an alternative electronic new wave band born in Italy in 2004 and formed by siblings SaraLux and Fabio V., Giampiero Di B., Antonio L. We sat down with them (albeit virtually) to discuss their upcoming release on Calembour Records called ‘Novecento’ (due out on December 10th), what inspires them to create, art and philosophy, and their views on Italia.

Heathen Harvest: How long has the band been active in playing music? Do you all have a musical background?

Hidden Place: Hidden Place was born in 2004 when SaraLux joined the band. Before that, there were three members (Fabio, Giampiero and Antonio), and we were playing in a neofolk band called Lupi Gladius. With this project we released a demo called “Lucania”, but apart from this, we have always been record collectors so music has always been in our blood.

HH: Why did Lupi Gladius come to an end?

HP: Lupi Gladius was a project that lasted little more than a year. Ours was only a small tribute to the sounds that we have always loved. Acoustic sounds, martial and apocalyptic. We also always listened to bands like Death in June and Sol Invictus. We have always shown our sources of inspiration, and have distinguished ourselves from groups who claim to be original but in the end are just copies of copies of the fathers of the genre. Perhaps it is finished because everything, or almost everything, has already been said in this scene. Excluding some original bands, today’s bands just feel bad imitations of old bands.

HH: The music of Hidden Place has a very different sound than Lupi Gladius, there has been a shift from Neofolk to New Wave. Why the change in direction?

HP: There’s been the change but perhaps the basic idea remains the same. That is, the instinct, the melancholy and a certain atmosphere that characterizes our songs. With electronics, perhaps, is more evident a certain cold sound that is purely mittleuropeo. In addition to the basic HP, there is also a certain idea of ​​avant-garde and revolutionary also typical of punk. We have never been interested in being good musicians technically. Our points of reference could be for example Nevermind the Bollocks of the Sex Pistols and Radioactivity by Kraftwerk. Examples where the technique is canceled, but the creativity has reached a very high level.

HH: What are some of the band members’ favorite bands?

HP: We listen to a lot of music. We love Joy Division, Kraftwerk, early Clan of Xymox, Death in June, Sol Invictus, Current 93, Ultravox, Slowdive, Chameleons, etc

HH: Where does the inspiration to create music come from, what situations inspire the band to make music?

HP: The inspirations and situations that affect us in creating our music are many. First, we do not deny that we have always had as a point of reference for bands that always been part of our musical background (Kraftwek, Kirlian Camera 80/90, Clan of Xymox, This Mortal Coil, Death in June, etc). During the composition there isn’t a definite program. Some thinking ‘on some ideas, but we let ourselves be inspired also from our state of soul. From the conceptual point of view we treat different topics in a way that is romantic and decadent, such as reflections on life, on philosophical concepts, existentialism, etc.. Our work shares a love for the artistic avant-gardes of the early twentieth century. A topic that we consider fundamental as it is the basis of all contemporary art forms up to even our music and our daily listeners.

HH: The band’s interest in philosophy and art is apparent; are there any art movements or philosophers, or film makers that you find particularly interesting? For instance, Futurism, etc?

HP: Our interest in Futurism  is reflected, in a certain sense, in the way we think about music. This typically Italian art movement was a “revolutionary” idea. The genius of artists such as MarinettiBalla, and Russolo has led to a sharp break with the past. At the base of their art was the creative instinct.

HH: The lyrics for Hidden Place songs are in English, why?

HP: Not all of the texts are in English. Some are also in Italian, and on the album Weather Station – Early Works there is is an alternate version of a Lupi Gladius song where the text is in German. The first album, for example, is much more “European”, not only from the point of view of the lyrics in Italian, German and English, but also from the point of view of the atmosphere. The choice of English concerns us in a sense for its immediacy and the fact that most people may understand it. On the new album there are more songs with lyrics in Italian. These may make even more obvious, accompanied by melancholic atmospheres, an inner state of mind typical of a certain Italian spirit, today maybe gone.

HH: Has the band had the opportunity to perform live?

HP: We have done a few gigs, and we must say that the audience reaction was very positive. Although we all live in different cities, we can organize and play live. We strive to create an atmosphere in our concerts even more exciting with the addition of particular scenes. Last concert we made in August we realized this idea maybe by the screening of some films of the early twentieth century. We hope to play around after the release of our forthcoming album.

HH: What is the ‘scene’ like in Italy? Are you familiar with Recondita Stirpe, and Egida Aurea?

HP: The Italian scene is really interesting and we are proud to take part in it. We are great friends with Egida Aurea and there is such a great relationship between us. Diego from Egida helped us also for mastering, etc.

HH: You have a new release coming out, would you care to share the details about it? What will it sound like? Will it be released on Twilight Records?

HP: Our new  album is called Novecento and this time it will come out on Calembour Records on December 10th, 2012. Calmbour Records is a label run by Froxeanne from The Frozen Autumn. The title is a tribute to the twentieth century, The Twentieth Century, a century rather special. It is the century of avant-garde (Futurism, Dadaism, Constructivism, Suprematism), the revolutions of decadence, of beauty which was characterized by a climate of continuous experimentation from strong cultural and artistic impulses. The various avant-gardes were total including theater, poetry, music, literature, painting and sculpture. Their function was to “shock” and seduce coming out of the nostalgia and the usual conformism. This concept was the basis of some musical movements of the 70’s/80’s. At the beginning of the 1900’s there were the first forms of experimental music, concrete and electronic. We can recall the Futurist Luigi Russolo who invented The Noisemakers. This lesson, in our opinion, is the basis of the electronic music of the 70’s and also of a certain industrial sound that has always developed from those years.

HH: To reference an earlier response “an inner state of mind typical of a certain Italian spirit, today maybe gone.”, could you go into more detail about the significance of this statement?

HP: Our country, the father of a strong artistic culture, literature, philosophy, music and even film, has now become a mess. A spirit that has driven great minds such as Dante Alighieri, Leonardo Da Vinci, Giacomo Leopardi, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Filippo Marinetti and many others, no longer exists, and with the passage of time this will only get worse. All this perhaps could be solved with a radical change that upsets the current system not only political and social, but also moral. We are living in perhaps one of the darkest ages that we can remember. Apparently it seems to run fine, but in the end this current system is depriving us by making us all slaves. Remember Nietzsche’s theory of  “wage slaves”!

Hidden Place
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Interview conducted by Paddy