Chain D.L.K.: I got the impression that Stefano Gentile from Silentes is a fan of your music: how many releases have you put out on his label?
Nimh: You’re right, it looks like Stefano Gentile is a fan of my music and he’s been into it before the first two releases of Nimh he decided to put out: “The Impossible Days” and “Whispers from the Ashes” (together with Nefelheim) which came out on Amplexus (from the ashes of which Stefano created Silentes label). Amplexus has been my favorite label when I was a listener and ambient music lover, above all in a period in which I was interested in artists like Steve Roach, Vidna Obmana, Robert Rich, Amir Baghiri, Mathias Grassow, Michal Stearns, all featured in the roster of Amplexus. That’s why when in 2004 I had the chance to see two of my own works released by them I was quite proud of what was happening. In the years following I‘ve kept sending my materials to Stefano who decided to have all of them published on Silentes. He’s put out both my solo releases and my collaborations with other artists/friends. Beside my solo releases on Amplexus the list includes “Subterranean Thoughts” (2005), “Secluded Truths” (2005) with Maurizio Bianchi/M.B, “Together’s Symphony” (2005) which is a collaboration with Maurizio Bianchi that came out as a box featuring the aforementioned titles plus the solo cd “Niddah Emmhna” by Maurizio. In the last few years he’s put out “Missing tapes” (2007) and a reworking of it done by Aube CD “Aube Reworks Nimh Vol.1” (2007) “Reflections on Black” (2007) released as Hall of Mirrors which is a collaborative project with Andrea Marutti/Amon (2007), and my last solo work “The Unkept Secrets” (out a few weeks ago). To these work I’ve mentioned you should add some releases Silentes has reprinted on cdr like “Line of Fire” and “Entities”, the last is a collaborative work with Amir Baghiri.
Chain D.L.K.: …the collaborative work with Andrea Marutti has been going on for a while now, hasn’t it? Just a matter of coincidences or you’re deeply into long collaborative relationships?
Nimh: Yes, I’ve started collaborating with Andrea Marutti a few years ago and somehow it’s still going on. In general as far as collaborations are concerned I tend to let things evolve naturally and I don’t plan anything regarding their duration. As regards that specific situation I’ve to say Andrea and I have been friends for ages and it helped a lot to evolve our teamwork; it all started by chance back in the summer of 2005. We meet once a year during the summer and we spend some weeks in the mountains of Abruzzo, it’s a nice and quite isolated place surrounded by nature and by incredible landscapes. That’s why back in 2005 we decided to bring some synths and electronic equipment with us to record some new material together. “Sator” and “Reflections on Black” came out of there (Nefelheim and my wife Daniela Gherardi are featured in it). In the summer of 2007 we did it again, and we’ve been using some pre-recorded materials fro which we asked friends of ours and we finally recorded “Forgotten Realm”. In the next future we’re going to look for some good label to realize it. This one as well as “Reflections on Black” will come out with the name Hall Of Mirrors. That’s the moniker we’ve chosen for this ongoing project where we will feature different collaborators/friends for each release.
Chain D.L.K.: I see many of your recordings,/collaborations feature some of your family members and friends: what about the recording you did in Thailand? …I know your brother lives there…
Nimh: I think it is quite natural that my collaborations involve some of my closest friends and relatives, it all makes it simpler both logistically and technically, but it’s also due to the fact that with the mutual knowledge of our musical ideas and with a relaxed interaction you can start working on a project that hopefully will blossom. Anyhow, not all of my collaborations have been involving friends, take that with Maurizio Bianchi/M. B., we didn’t know each other before, one of us proposed we could work on something together. Later we met in Milan and we’re still in contact, but at the time of our first cd (“Secluded Truths”) we were not friends yet and we didn’t know that much about the other, everything has gone really well anyway. About Thailand…well, it’s a country I have known and visited since 1987, my brother has been living there for fifteen years in Chawang (Isle of Koh Samui), where he runs an Italian restaurant together with his Thai woman he’s married twenty years ago. I love Thailand and whenever I can go there to visit my brother I spend there two or three months and yes, whenever I can I record something there. In 1996 I tried to move to Thailand for a year, I’ve also left the company where I had been employed as software engineer for about six years. My brother was already living there being a restaurant owner, I was fed up with my job, I packed up my cds, my computer, my synths and we moved to Thailand at least for a while and we don’t write off a definitive relocation. It’s been an incredible year, working at my brother’s restaurant was hectic but refreshing. I was spending at least two hours at the beach and every morning I was swimming in the clearest and warmest waters I’ve ever experienced. At the time the island was still far from being the tourist trap it has become, so the atmosphere was really relaxing and peaceful…except for the restaurant of course!. After almost one year we decided to come back to Italy for several reasons and we had to bring again with us an incredible amount of luggage since this time I had bought a bunch of traditional instruments; during my permanence there I started getting involved with ethnic music and I’ve also started using its tools in the recordings I’ve been doing during the last years.
Chain D.L.K.: Why did you come back to Italy?
Nimh: For several reasons…It was hard to get the permit to stay there for periods longer than the three average months they give to every tourist, plus some problems with the working permits. The island’s health service was not that good, particularly for our health needs, we’ve had many problems with bureaucracy (my brother has been living there for ages but he’s also married a Thai woman which makes it all much easier), we had problem with the native language and also bear in mind that neither me nor my wife are able to speak good English. Last but not least, we didn’t feel that comfortable investing all of our money there in Thailand and we would surely have been forced to take that route if we really wanted to move definitively there.
Chain D.L.K.: It looks like you’re not that happy to have come back to Italy… do you regret it also music-wise?
Nimh: Music-wise being back in Italy helped a lot. After all, these contacts I had here in my home country have been helpful; it’s been stimulating as well, being there helped me to share some mutual experiences with friends/musicians which probably wouldn’t have been that deep and intense otherwise. Surely my “Thailand-experience” enriched me above all artistically, it had an impact on my conception of music and on my way of composing/recording. Despite what I’ve said, I must confess in ‘96, when I was living in Thailand I felt really isolated, Internet was not so huge back then, therefore beside my increasing interest in local ethnic music and in traditional instruments I couldn’t be in touch with what was happening in the world of electronic and experimental music, for Thailand was still so isolated I had no one to speak about it. Generally speaking coming back to Italy meant turning my back to such an environmental beauty! I love nature and I love the sea: to live on a island like that made me experience some incredible landscapes…the sun and the beaches were incredible and still untouched, it was incredibly nourishing both for my body and for our serenity and happiness. Obviously life pushes people to make decisions and no matter how clear they are they always leave you with some regrets, that’s part of ordinary life, you can’t escape it. To be honest I also love mountains, above all during the spring/early summer and if I’ve got to plan where to spend my holidays I’m still divided between the two options and if I finally choose to spend some time in front of the sea it won’t mean I’ll get depressed to have said no to the mountains…
Chain D.L.K.: Considering both your age and several things you hinted at, I got the impression you’ve been a teenage freak, don’t you?
Nimh: Not so much a freak actually…without any doubt when I was really young my coevals were so deeply involved in the historical, cultural experiences and in the whole atmosphere of those years, that choosing this or that opposed side (above all ideologically) could bring forth different lifestyles, different friends and different situations…These two sides in some way were the product of two different political factions where you had the rightwing movement and the leftwing one. My elder brother was part of the leftwing faction, he’s five years older than me and we’ve always had a good relationship and that in some way influenced deeply my adolescence. By the way I think that I’ve been always able more or less to carefully filter the different influences thanks to my sensibility, I’ve always had my personal opinion and my own point of view on everything. Influences and strong pressures were the product of extremism and at the time radicalism was so strong you could breathe it in the air. I’ve never been that influenced by extreme political ideas and I didn’t buy prepackaged thoughts since I’ve been trying to take just the positive side of what I was experiencing in my everyday life. I’ve firmly left behind what I was feeling was far from my personality and from my own view on life. Sure I was wearing jeans and I had long hair, a guitar and I was listening to music with socio-political lyrics and yes, I used to love some legendary movies like “Easy Rider”, “Alice’s Restaurant”, “Phantom of the Paradise”, “Harold e Maude”, “Jesus Christ Superstar”…but I’m still quite sure I was more interested in the concepts rather than in the aesthetics of things and I’m also aware of the fact I’ve been never that influenced by extremism. So, going back to your specific question: I don’t deny nor hide how deep my youthful life has been influenced by some situations but it all has had a less decisive impact than you would expect.
Chain D.L.K.: Anyhow you were and still are part of a minority, above all if we speak specifically about playing music; if you take away professional musicians, in Italy there’s not that many people over thirty playing music especially if compared to other foreign countries…it’s still seen as a hobby …etc …etc.
Nimh: Honestly, I have never thought that much about the age of people playing music and in relation to this specific topic, I hardly happened to compare Italian reality to that of other countries. Probably what you say is true, but honestly I don’t know that much about it to express a well-pondered opinion…As far as I am concerned, being interested in music since my youthful days I can say I’ve never realised, at least artistically/musically, that I had become over thirty! I’ve to admit in many ways I find it difficult to think I’m even over-thirty…perhaps it has to do with the fact that despite the years going by, I still have a strong passion that usually with the coming of age and with the daily routine tends to disappear. Speaking more generally, passion for music starts growing when you’re still young (that’s why that stupid commonplace that labels it as a “youthful hobby”) and in many cases it slowly dies out or it happens more simply that people change their hobbies. I’m glad that moment is still far away for me, and that passion is stronger than ever. Without any doubt, in Italy is rare to have an over-forty guy that is dedicating the majority of his spare time to music without earning a living by it, as it’s uncommon to see that a guy is not using his time to have children or to spend it watching football matches on tv, doing some extra job to buy the new model of cell-phone, a brand new car…I think for the average Italian it all looks strange. It’s a cultural problem and it has to do with rigid role models that are hard to be destroyed….it may happen that abroad things are going better but I don’t know exactly where and how things are going better if compared to our situation……
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve heard you’re not known as the easiest of guys to deal with…even if your long-lasting collaborations would contradict that…
Nimh: It’s the first time I happen to hear something like that and I’d really like to know who’s spreading rumours like these…by the way, I know that you never have things like that coming out of the blue, that’s why I’m not that surprised. For example a couple of days ago I’ve found a thread in a forum where some guy was discussing a well-known artist in the scene (a friend of mine with whom I’ve been collaborating and I’m sure he’s a wonderful person) and they were speaking about the fact that not even the people involved in the production of his releases have his home address…they were also writing bullshit about the fact he’s been in jail after a nervous breakdown…and so on. Just false gossip…the fact is people often get a wrong idea about this or that person, there’s people coming to easy conclusions after having heard just inconsistent information, or maybe taking fake elements as real…In the musical scene I think this particular attitude is really widespread also due to the fact that envy is all around and I see there’s a lot of hypocrisy around; people that have the need to build something and some other people who feel the urge to destroy them. Talking about my personal case, it’s possible that every once in a while I’m quite against the grain if compared to the average Italian mentality common in the so-called experimental scene, the fact that I’ve clear, outspoken opinions on many things and the fact that while looking for collaborations and friends I am actually selective, trying to put more care in the choice of the partner with whom I feel I’ve more to share, because they can make me feel richer as an individual…well, I know it may also arise rumours about the fact that I’m not an easy person to deal with…By the way, if for “uneasy” human-wise and artistically you mean somebody who doesn’t easily accept everything and who’s always looking for something stimulating and new, or as somebody who never surrenders to superficiality, to prepackaged stereotypes, or somebody who has an individuality…well, then I agree with you, that I’m not an “easy person to deal with”.
Chain D.L.K.: What would you change in your life if you had the chance to go back in time, I don’t mean just about music.
Nimh: I have no doubt if I could go back in time to a night of twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have accepted a ride on a scooter driven by a guy I barely had known for a couple of days…He was a bit stoned and he also drunk a couple of beers, the consequences of that unfortunate juvenile choice were a bad crash that I’ve had to regret for the rest of my life. It could have been even worse, but it doesn’t make me happier: after two months paralyzed with my breast plastered I started having some chronic pains in my back that never let me live a normal life and that prevented me from doing many things I’d have loved to. I can’t do any activity where you have to sit for a while or for a long time, I’m talking about ordinary activities like driving, sitting in a cinema, having a long car trip, etc…If you discount that unfortunate event there’s nothing else I’d like to change, with that I don’t mean I wouldn’t change anything if I could, or that I’ve no regret or I’ve never made mistakes…but again these things were not of great importance and they’ve not had a big impact on the rest of my life, most of these things anyway were mainly related to my teenage life much more than to my recent past. Some mistakes and bitter experiences help you grow up and so, seen under this prospective, there’s not that much of my past that I’d really like to change.
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve noticed you’ve almost separated your production dividing the ethnic from the ambient one. What kind of direction will you take in the next future?
Nimh: Honestly I don’t think my ethnic works are really separated from the ambient ones and it’s not the result of a choice. Besides, even if in my works the influences of both genres are clearly distinguishable, surely my recordings can’t be classified as “ambient” or “ethnic”. My love for electronic and experimental music and for some ambient or ethnic works without any doubt influences my production in many ways and here or there this or that influence ends up prevailing on the other, there’s no rational choice behind that and there isn’t anything I’ve planned rationally… At the moment I’ve no definite idea, I’m just interested in having published all the finalized recordings (one of them is the aforementioned work with Marutti/Amon) that I’ve finished. I’m just concentrated on absorbing new stimuli and on gathering ideas to renew my sound and to explore new directions. I can’t say how my music will evolve, or whether in my next work the ambient, the electronic, the experimental or the ethnic influence will prevail …I still can’t predict if it’s going to be a solo work or a collaborative effort…I just know that sooner or later a sparkle will start the fire, maybe it will be the consequence of an unpredictable external input that will clear up my ideas suggesting to me what direction I should take, then I’ll go back to my instruments and somehow I’ll start giving shape to my music, but it’s something that at the moment I can’t predict. To those who appreciate what I’ve done so far, I can just suggest visiting from time to time my site and checking up the news section. To those who don’t know that much about my music but have had the patience to read this interview I can suggest to forget everything they’ve been reading here and to look for one of my cds, above all my most recent ones…it’s better to give a listen since words sometimes are not that important and in music that’s more than true.
Visit Nimh on the web at:
[interviewed by Andrea Ferraris] [proofreading by Marco Pustianaz]