Good old fashioned goth rock from Italy (hey that’s where some of us are based!), made just like Italian food: with tender love and care. Delve into the world of a very unique group, defending the old school right down to the bone and attacking McDonald’s! That I can march to!
Chain D.L.K.: So first, tell us about the group, how you all met and about the name Artica.
Artica: Well it happened 14 years ago; we met up at school… I guess you can find some significance in the “cold” atmosphere the darkwave music used to create. But I could play with thousand of different meanings that actually don’t really reach the point. The fact is simply that Artica sounded good. Today the name symbolizes only our union and our music. That’s all.
Chain D.L.K.: For us like me who speak no Italian at all, what does the title “Ombra e Luce” mean in English?
Artica: “Shadow and light”: to opposite sides of the same complex reality. A meaning that goes further than the easy appearance. “Ombra e Luce” is just a formula, the way we like looking at the world: in its developing.
Chain D.L.K.: One thing that sets the group apart is the direct, almost keyboardless (or very spare to be better worded) Goth rock sound without the glam and cheesy EBM beats being used these days. How do artists and fans react to this?
Artica: Well, consider that “Ombra e Luce” was released the first time in 1995… in those days EBM didn’t exist almost. There was Electro Goth and Gothic rock. So I guess our music didn’t sound that strange for listeners. Anyway as far as I can see when you play a good rock people don’t stop thinking if it’s enough modern or not. If they like it, they like it. This doesn’t mean that Artica’s new songs will be on the same style of “Ombra e Luce”. Every musician looks for new systems of expression and, if possible, not just those forced by the lows of the market.
Chain D.L.K.: With using Italian lyrics, do you have any fear of being localized and stuck with a strictly Italian speaking audience? The opposite has happened with bands who go that similar route, such as Das Ich, where they have reached success with non-German speaking audiences as well as their home country.
Artica: Well, for sure a specific language limits your influence area and most of all reduces the audience interest in the lyrics. Most of all if it’s not English, Spanish or Chinese, but Italian, which actually is not one the most spoken language on earth. But as we started we didn’t look that far. We were enough unknown to do whatever we liked, so we started writing lyrics in Italian it worked enough to get good responses all over the countries. Anyway today we feel the need to experiment the strength and the sound of other languages; so, in between a few Italian songs the next album will feature also many in English and also some phrases in German.
Chain D.L.K.: Who and what are some of your influences?
Artica: It would take so long to write down them all… we’re all more than 30 years old. We’ve spent 14 years together, playing around and we’re still listening really to lots of different kind of music. I just can tell we like everything from Depeche Mode to Jeff Buckley, from the Sisters to the Muse, from Killing Joke to Nirvana, from Rage Against the Machine to Massive Attack, adding all that kind of music we can call “alternative”.
Chain D.L.K.: Also I noticed with some of the live pictures you seem to have a very stripped down, raw way of playing. Do you feel that kind of influence from, say, Joy Division or Christian Death’s early period?
Artica: Joy Division…During the live concerts we try to wear simple clothes, a jeans and a T-Shirt are enough. We’re usually more concentrated in the musical performance and don’t really give a lot of importance to the appearance.
Chain D.L.K.: I’m not sure because my Italian is nonexistent, but I notice on “Ombra e Luce” a lot of titles seem to be female names. Would I be wrong in saying this? And if so, why all the female names?
Artica: “Ombra e Luce” was most of all influenced by our introspective research. Women, for us, represent the more sensual side of human being, the most mysterious one and at the same time the more fragile one. Like childhood in some cases womanhood can be an important kind of metaphoric symbol to give to our words and to our ideas a more effective and immediate power. Female presence is one of Artica’s main characteristics: you can find this metaphoric figure in all Artica’s production. In Natura (our second album) there was Lucrezia, and Angelica, and the new one also will feature songs titled with female names.
Chain D.L.K.: Where the Artica symbol come from, if anywhere?
Artica: Where the Artica symbol come from, if anywhere? Stefano, our drummer, was both the inventor of the name and of the symbol. Our cross symbolizes a sort of fractal form of an icy crystal, but also an upside-down cross…
Chain D.L.K.: You recently appeared on the Virgin Prunes tribute CD “Anyone Can Be a Virgin Prune”. How does their music influence you exactly?
Artica: The most important thing Virgin Prunes were able to give was in general the heart of going over the lines, over prejudices, over conventionality, over morality and al that a lot earlier than many other bands who saw in this a necessary fashion phenomenon… in some ways Virgin Prunes were a sort of revolutionary band and this, I think, was their bigger merit.
Chain D.L.K.: Tell us about the first time you ever heard the group.
Artica: Artica has always been our main serious project, but not the only one. When we were at the high school, in the early years, me Stefano and Michele started playing together. We entered in our “cave” studio. Stefano had a keyboard, I had an old heavy electric guitar. Michele ha just a classic one. We were something like 15 years old. In this studio there was a drum and a bass. Stefano found a pair of sticks and started playing drums, Michele’s guitar was without any sort of amplification, so he started playing bass… and
Chain D.L.K.: The translated lyrics for the song “Sarajevo” are very potent, and quite different from the rest of the CD. I’m guessing this one is about the war in Sarajevo?
Artica: that’s all. Some years later Gabriele (guitar) and Massimiliano (keyboards) joined and we decide this band would have named Artica.
Chain D.L.K.: Why that war versus say, the war in Israel or the upcoming war with Iraq (which from what I understand Rome has the highest amount of protesters to that war so far)? It is more to show the aftermath rather than the actual war itself?
Artica: Yes, the war in ex Yugoslavia was so close to Italy that we could feel to be directly involved in this idiot conflict. It was shown as a battle between opposite ethnics, but as usual, it was just a fight with clear economical aims. I think they all show how human being is still anything more than an animal that can talk. We still apply the rule of the power that nowadays is the economical one. I was so surprised to see millions of people walking down the streets worldwide just to say “peace is a value”… If there’s the need to fight for peace it means many people still don’t know what it means, and that’s really sad.
Chain D.L.K.: With your feelings on Sarajevo’s war shown on that track, what are your feelings about America’s hunger for war, particularly with Iraq?
Artica: Well I think in some ways America is like Italy: made of good people, but governed by idiots. There’s nothing really to add. It would take too long. I’m not in the position to judge, but I can tell I’m just really disappointed.
Chain D.L.K.: The lyrics also have a very poetic flow to them common only in seasoned poets. Were you writing poetry before getting into music?
Artica: Well, thanks. Actually every lyric takes his shape from the notes. In some ways we just let them talk we were not poets previously… but maybe when we’ll get older and we won’t have anymore the strength to scream and jump…
Chain D.L.K.: I noticed the song “Preghiera” is in Latin as well (you guys have tons of languages! ). Is this to show the older roots of Italian? Latin also has, from what I’ve learned of it, a much more ancient sound. Would that be a factor?
Artica: No, it’s not to show the origin of Italian culture. Latin it’s in some ways an international language and we used in this way. It was still used until 50 years ago by church during ceremonies. This created around this dead language an aura of sacredness. So we decided to use Latin in the opposite way, as a provocation against Catholic culture.
Chain D.L.K.: Now I play for you “Saian”. What visuals would you get in your head if someone else made the song exactly the same way and played it for you?
Artica: A siren driving a sailor against the rock. Pleasure and pain.
Chain D.L.K.: Any plans to bring your live shows to America and let us finally hear some real Goth rock over here?
Artica: I hope so. Maybe after the release of the album we’re recording at the moment.
Chain D.L.K.: Now for the funny questions! Ok, you go out for some food and haven’t eaten in several weeks. But low and behold Italian government has passed a new law: you must wrestle the food from a starved and raving Pavarotti, who’s in the corner drooling from the mouth with red beady eyes. How do you slay such a horrific beast?
Artica: I think we would consider him disgusting in any level of hunger…
Chain D.L.K.: I’ll tell you some things and you tell me what comes to your mind:
Artica: 1. McDonald’s – shit (can I say that)! Spaghetti is a lot better! 2. Luce e Ombra getting big and Artica becoming sex symbols – isn’t it already like that? ! 3. Lacuna Coil – Good and respectable Italian Gothic Metal band4. The Bauhaus one-up reunion – one is better than nothing5. Virgin Prunes getting back together – I’ve discovered the time machine6. Most beautiful Italian woman on earth – every unknown one
Chain D.L.K.: Anything else before we go?
Artica: Just thanks, take care and of course buy, download, copy… whatever you want, but listen to Artica!
Visit Artica on the web at:
[interviewed by Shaun Hamilton] [proofreading by Erica Breyer]