Chain D.L.K.: Ages ago I remember I saw you live in Turin’s El Paso squat with Daniele Brusaschetto, at the time you were barely known. Today you organize events/gigs like the Throbbing Gristle reunion in Turin, Larsen have collaborated with Michael Gira, Jarboe, Xiu Xiu, and hell knows who else; you have played with Paul Beauchamp, Bill Horist and many others. It looks like you guys have won the first prize at the lottery!?
Larsen: Actually I do not think I’ve won any kind of lottery. On the other hand, since I got into music scene more than 15 years ago I worked very hard to set up a network with the artists and musicians I like and respect. Daniele Brusaschetto and Genesis P. Orridge are important to me at the same level and I’m really proud and happy to have them in my life now as collaborators and friends.I’m totally devoted to my own music as well and, of course, the fact that since I’ve started I worked with such amazing people is proof, for me, that what I’m doing is pretty good and interesting, as I think it is.
Chain D.L.K.: I know you’re still down to earth since you’re also playing with “small” bands/projects such as Northgate (right?) and with the “rising star” of the post-industrial scene Mariae Nascenti. About the last of the two projects I’ve mentioned, Mariae Nascenti in his live set pushes a lot on the death-trip thing, on oddness and on the gay imagination: how do you feel about that all?
Larsen: I’ve never played with Northgate, Bue (Larsen’s drummer) does. But yes, I work a lot with Mariae Nascenti: I’ve “sung” and played on several of his tracks, I’m co-producing his forthcoming EP, often I play live with him, I’m his booking agent and now Ango (Mariae Nascenti) is a member of the ( r ) (this is Fabrizio’s “solo” project) live band. We are very close friends and he’s an artist with a unique aesthetic sense (you should see his drawings!), which is a quality I look for in all of my collaborators.
Mariae Nascenti Ango puts onstage all of his personal obsessions and fetishes, and the visuals he has done for the Mariae Nascenti live set with his collaborator Tora+ (a performing artist that has worked with Hanin Elias of Atari Teenage Riot too) are astonishing; Ango uses them to force the audience into a dark corner where there’s no choice but to get introspective, which is always a very good thing. Not only am I totally fine with this, but, even if I use different imagery, my goal as ( r ) is almost the same. I used to play my solo shows in total darkness to get to that point, and now that ( r ) has become a band (at least when I play live) I do exactly the opposite trying to be as glamorous as possible so as to create a strong contrast between what peoplesee and what people hear. Larsen uses same kind of strategy but with a different “language”, making the tension grow and not letting it explode. To explore these limits, these borders, these “unknown” areas, is what I’m interested in.
Chain D.L.K.: Here’s another good point: I think nobody has to be Freud to see there’s a dark “trait d’union” that links most of the projects in which you’ve been involved so far. Why? …I mean have you had such a painful childhood? Or is it just a matter of age? (For example, I was a kid during the ’80s and I love a lot of that “Eighties pop garbage”.)
Larsen: It depends what your idea of “dark” is. I do not consider my music to be dark but as I said before–introspective. A lot of people are really scared by that but that’s their problem and not mine. On the other hand I consider focusing on oneself a very positive thing to do. Even if I have a pretty dark (and apocalyptic) vision of life, I’m a pretty well-balanced person (with a very nice childhood) and I’m really energetic and active, so exactly the opposite of “dark”; of course I had and I still have my periods of depression but I think my music is more a tool for me to fight that kind of state than merely be a picture of it. Time and aging are among my obsessions (and they are more and more now that I’m almost 40), and the only way I have to fight a battle, that just like everybody else I’m doomed to lose, is to use my time in the best possible way, which is for me doing what I like to do, that being a musician is music, with the (few) persons I respect and love. That’s why I consider my music, as well as every form of art, a very positive thing even when it sounds or look really obscure.
Chain D.L.K.: In an interview you were candidly saying how weird it may sound that you have been successful outside of Italy (I think it was about the same period in which you’d been interviewed by The Wire), while in your homeland things were a little bit harder. Let’s just say for argument’s sake that you got what you deserved at the moment and also in Turin you personally have a sort of status as a musician-producer-organizer-etc. But don’t you think things are still moving slowly for Larsen and you in the rest of Italy?
Larsen: Actually I really do not mind, for me Italy is just like Japan or New Zealand. I mean, of course I’m happy when I have good feedback about my music but I really do not pay any kind of attention where it is coming from. Actually, anyway I do not think things are so bad for us even here; we are really respected and, especially in the last two years, we have always played very nice shows in very good venues for decent fees and usually a very good audience; Italy is still one of the countries where we sell less, but anyway it is proportionate to the market for underground/experimental music in our country.Music and music-related activities are how I earn my living, and even if sometimes it gets to be a pretty hard job, I consider myself pretty lucky and successful doing what I like, the way I like it and with the people I like and being able to pay for a pretty good lifestyle out of it. So there’s not much I could honestly complain about.
Chain D.L.K.: Can you remember when you realized that you could earn a living by music-related activities? I don’t think you started with that goal or did you?
Larsen: It has not really been a matter of when I decided to, because I’ve always wanted to do just what I like most to do, but when I had the chance to, since that moment I’ve put all of my effort into my “job” and that was when it started to really work.
Chain D.L.K.: Just a matter of chance? Or you think with both Larsen and your solo/other projects reduced your “luck” factor to its minimum?
Larsen: …Well from an artistic point of view we would never have done anything to impose ourselves on the market if it weren’t for just playing the music we like to play. I think that has been exactly what has drawn some attention to us, that we don’t sound like genre-oriented music but that we sound just like Larsen or ( r ).Anyway at a certain point in my life I had to make a decision because I realized that music was taking most of my time so I really had not any time left to get involved with a regular job, which anyway has been something that I’ve never had and never wanted. Also I’ve realized I was too old to not try to just be what I always wanted to and go on wasting my time and my life with other pointless activities. Let’s say that to get this goal has just been the logical result of a process that took something like 20 years of my life.
Chain D.L.K.: ZZZ.produzioni is a part of the “20 years of your life”. It was the label with which you and some friends of yours have put out several incredible CDs like Anatrofobia’s “Ruote che girano a vuoto” or like the “Related project – sampler”. Can you tell us more, and why did you stop?
Larsen: Very simple, we were pretty naive and we were not able to survive in the market, we didn’t sell enough records to keep the label alive. Now I’m part of the newborn label PREcordings, and we have pretty interesting projects going on and really good artists we are working with such as Matt Howden, Tony Wakeford, Current 93, Hafler Trio. We are much older and more “business-oriented” (in a good way) too.
Chain D.L.K.: It sounds really interesting. You collaborated with a lot of people (lately you’ve been also working with Xiu Xiu as XXL). Who else would you like to work with in the future? Or is there anybody you’d have liked to play with in the past?
Larsen: We have already lots of collaborations in the pipeline: a new Larsen EP will be out in November and will feature our Viking mates Origami Galaktika and Deathprod. Lustmord has produced and remixed one of the tracks of the next Larsen album (which will be out in February). We are in touch with Ken Thomas (producer of David Bowie, Psychic TV, Sigur Ros…) and Boris Wilsdorf(Einsturzende Neubauten) and we will probably work together with them whenever our schedules match. Also we are really looking forward to having Baby Dee record and play harp for us for a future release. Paolo (accordion and electronics) and I will appear on the forthcoming Spiritual Front album, and I’ve recorded some electric viola for Subterranean Sources….
Chain D.L.K.: Great. Somebody would say “hyper-working people”, by the way! This would be the last question: is there anything you regret? I don’t mean necessarily music-wise, but is there anything you regret in general?
Larsen: I should have probably started to do music before instead wasting time experimenting with pointless things like university and part time jobs, but it takes time in life to understand what we really want, so I can’t blame myself too much for the experiences and choices that have led me here.
Visit Larsen on the web at:
[interviewed by Andrea Ferraris] [proofreading by Benjamin Pike]