Chain D.L.K.: First of all, the classic question, why did you decide to form Degada Saf and what were your first steps?
Degada Saf: I started off with a punk-rock band playing songs by Lou Reed, Patti Smith, David Bowie, Sex Pistols, Ramones and others, but after a couple of years of concerts, towards the end of 1982, I got tired of cover songs and bought a mono-synth and a 4-track Tascam recorder. Istarted experimenting at home with some ideas and little later the guitarist from the old band Fabio Basso joined in. We started writing some songs and shortly after also the bassist Luigi Campalani decided to join us on synths. In 1984, soon after the publication of “No Inzro”, we were joined in by Michele Piovesan on keyboards and Fabio Semprini on drums, while Fabio Basso left.
Chain D.L.K.: How was the local music scene back then? Were you in contact orworked with anyone?
Degada Saf: Back then we didn’t know much of the new-wave musical scene locally or worldwide, we just wanted to be original. It was only after the publication of “No Inzro” that we started going out to clubs mostly in the area of Bassano del Grappa (Vicenza) and discovered to be somewhat in tune with the people and bands that had come to our first concerts.
Chain D.L.K.: Your first and only album released in the ’80s is entitled “No Inzro” (it will be reissued this year by Mannequin) and its particularity is that it seems to be sung in an invented language. Is that really invented or is that dialect?
Degada Saf: Trying to be original back then, we thought it was worth it to escape the spell of English and even Italian and use phonemes and puns on words from different languages when writing lyrics.
Chain D.L.K.: Back then your sound was really based on electronic gear. Can you tell us something about the synths you used and about the difficulties of using them along with old sequencers?
Degada Saf: When we recorded “No Inzro” we were using Roland and Korg mono-phonic synths and a Roland sequencer. You couldn’t find, or at least we couldn’t afford, synchronizing systems for synths, sequencers and recorders and so the parts from the sequencers would be triggeredmanually with all the setbacks due to slight delays or even anticipated starts. Sometimes this was even fun, as it gave ideas for some rhythmic overlaps. We used a lot, even live, a Tascam 4-track recorder, and some sequencer parts were launched over pre-recorded loops.
Chain D.L.K.: The eight tracks of “No Inzro” were influenced by new wave and they sounded fresh and personal. What kind of sound were you looking for and what were your influences?
Degada Saf: Back then we would usually be filed under the new-wave category and that was fine with us, but initially we were not in fact influenced by that genre of music. The only band that we really cared about was Talking Heads and Brian Eno was kind of a legend to us.
Chain D.L.K.: How was the audience feedback? Did RockGarage support you and your album properly?
Degada Saf: The album was mostly welcomed in the underground music circles, and I do remember having read some good reviews in musical magazines back then. I believe RockGarage did a pretty good job in having people come around to the album. Even today, after more than 20 years, I still find people who are very fond of that work.
Chain D.L.K.: Did you do gigs? Do you have any interesting stories?
Degada Saf: A pretty funny story that I remember was when we once played at a Festa dell’UnitÃ and I remember this gentleman asking if we were Russian as I was singing in some kind of strange language.
Chain D.L.K.: Did you get any feedback from other countries?
Degada Saf: No, at least not that we knew of back then. I did notice though while surfing the net that even recently we were featured in the playlist of an American radio station with songs from “No Inzro”, and I still don’t know how the album got overseas.
Chain D.L.K.: After “No Inzro” I read that you met Giusto Pio (Franco Battiato’s friend and collaborator) and then you released a 7” and got a deal with PolyGram. Did that lead to anything good? What happened?
Degada Saf: Giusto Pio came across our way when back in 1985 he came back to live in Castelfranco, his hometown. He got interested in us after having heard a demo, and he eventually handed it over to Angelo Carrara, back then Battiato’s manager and later Ligabue’s. We managed to sign a contract with PolyGram for a couple of disco songs, and we had a couple of gigs on RAI, national television, and Canale 5.
Chain D.L.K.: What made you decide to disband?
Degada Saf: We got easily carried away with the pop tendencies of those day which definitely didn’t satisfy our musical expectations, let alone those of the record company. Everything led to differing views amongst us, and soon after we broke up.
Chain D.L.K.: At the end of 2005 you and Michele met, and then?
Degada Saf: It had been quite a long time that I was wanting to get back into making music in a steady fashion mostly with better sound quality compared to what I had been making at home for exhibits and soundtracks. I got together with Michele back in 2005 and understood we shared the same determination in wanting to start a musical project. We started using his professional studio, and in fact, the first two songs were born that way, which then led to the making of avideo in 2006. At that point we thought about digging up the old name Degada Saf and started doing some gigs. After a couple of years, we managed to write some 10 songs and find a label in 2009, DiscoDadaRecords, and the record company IRMA, interested in making”Without Religions”.
Chain D.L.K.: Your new album “Without Religions” features Degada Saf with a new powerful electro sound with a bit of dance influence. What is the process that brought you to this formula?
Degada Saf: Back in the ’90s I deejayed in some clubs, and I was rather surprised by the flow of energy from bands like Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Underworld and other bands like them. So when we started writing songs, we wanted to at least tap into that same energy which for surehad revved us up after many years of inactivity.
Chain D.L.K.: Titles like “Born to Criticize”, “Without Religions” or “No More Reasons” seem to show a different side of Degada Saf, something more political. Was this aspect present in the ’80s as well? What is that about?
Degada Saf: It’s that sense of annoyance you can feel every single day when you take a look at what’s going on in the world, the hypocrisy of politicians, the interference of religions in the life of even those who in fact don’t believe, still in this day and age. Back in the ’80s, we were more Dadaists leaving aside rationality and giving in to uncontrolled expressions of our personalities.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s next for the revamped Degada Saf?
Degada Saf: To keep on hammering away with musical research, trying to keep up a powerful energetic musical flow. To us the key word is evolution, looking on to new musical horizons, exploring uncharted territory. I’m sorry if some of our fans were waiting for some kind of remake ofour style from the ’80s, but we really don’t sit well with that, what counts for us is to just be on the move artistically, that was true for us then and it is true for us now.
Visit Degada Saf on the web at:
[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz] [proofreading by Marc Urselli]