Milan-based, but born in Albano Laziale, Simona Zamboli is a musician and post-production sound engineer, combining analog synthesis and DPC for the creation of interesting chaotic patterns orbiting around acid techno, rhythmic noise, and IDM. Her sonic freaks managed to grab the attention of Mille Plateaux, the renowned label that his founder Achim Szepanski named after the second volume of the philosophical theoretical work Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Collected in this debut titled Ethernity (and debuting on Mille Plateaux doesn’t come along often), aptly described as “a journey through trans-reality, not only as a melancholic drama but also as a travel to alien worlds, hence as a necessity of an electronic intervention”. Let’s meet this artist!
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Simona! How are you doing?
Simona Zamboli: Hey! I’m doing well, thanks!
Chain D.L.K.: Filing a release in the catalog of a prestigious label like Mille Plateaux doesn’t happen so often. How did you reach or how did they reach you?
Simona Zamboli: My experience with Mille Plateaux started in January of this year, sending the Ethernity demo to Achim. I was thinking to get in touch with this label some months before, but I was so concentrated on my concept, and only when I was very sure and proud of my idea I send them a propositive mail. So honored and glad about the gradual trust Achim gave to me. Important things need their own precious time, I mean.
Chain D.L.K.: Before focusing on “Ethernity”, can you trace back your path to this point?
Simona Zamboli: Sure! I started playing and songwriting when I was 12 while I was studying classical guitar and a little later electric. I was very drawn to minor chords and swung somewhere between the punk and grunge aesthetics.
In 2012 I started studying music and entertainment disciplines at the university in Bologna and only in 2016 I started studying as a technician and sound engineer. From here, after working experiences in this role, I decide to continue and apply my knowledge of music to electronics.
In 2017 I bought my first synthesizer and since then I began to study it, play, and compose with it. I approached techno, but my productions, from the beginning, have been heterogeneous. I’m a well of aesthetics and I think this is due to my predisposition to listen.
I will reveal that some of the tracks on “Ethernity” date back to the time when I like to say I was in the lab, even though I’m basically still in it.
Chain D.L.K.: Did you manage to make your art project and your professional services in sound engineering overlap (or adding a sort of personal imprint to them) somehow?
Simona Zamboli: Yeah, I think so! I take care of my productions from A to Z, compose them, write them, mix them, and sometimes master them. With regards to “Ethernity”, I felt the need to delegate the art of mastering to Vladislav Isaev. You know, there were too many different tracks, chronologically distant to put together and this magic had to be felt and managed by someone else from the outside.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the reason behind the choice of a title like “Ethernity”? There’s an awesome track titled so. Did you take the title from that track for the entire album as you feel it’s somehow the more representative?
Simona Zamboli: Actually, the opposite happened! I want to say that the album is what gave the title to that track which is kind of the rib from an experimental live set played last year. The sensation I felt every time I listened to it again is exactly that of persisting in an infinite loop; apparently repetitive and at times dissonant, but even though it is dismayed by high frequencies and hi-fi rhythms, it fully espouses the idea of an ambient track with nostalgic textures and “compossibility”.
Do you prefer the enveloping warmth of the pads that draw the textures or the icy patterns that mark the severe inexorability of time? For me the eternity in which we live, full of data and codes, sounds a bit like this: suspended in the ether.
Chain D.L.K.: You have a penchant for noisy, distorted, acid, and sometimes even disturbing repetitive loops. What’s the reason for such a preference? Only a kinda debordian detournement?
Simona Zamboli: Yes, in some way it is a return to the first time dropped in compositional drafts certainly more current. I grew up with raw, industrial sounds, penetrating oscillations and this range of frequencies has been my therapy as well as my private electronic music school classroom.
I believe that reuse, in general, is the order of the day in the “Society of Entertainment”.
I grew up listening carefully to a lot of music from about half a century ago – electronic and otherwise – and every fragment has been translated into mere information.
The work done on Ethernity presents at its best what I have in mind: I think that to make Avant-Garde is a bit to be aware that something already heard is applied to scenarios already probed, but repurposed because they disappeared.
De-construction: this is the suitable and recommended mood recommended to listen to it and appreciate it at its best.
Chain D.L.K.: When working on a track, which checks are in your personal checklist that lets you that track is done and ready for listening?
Simona Zamboli: Since I don’t feel the need to use pre-packaged structural schemes, my beta testing is inescapably about sound. Before considering closing out a track, I try at least three different mixes, in which each instrument I favor has a chance to take on the lead role for each version.
Often using drums as harmonies, this is interesting and sometimes it’s this weirdness that draws my sonic signature. The mix that communicates best to me has its ultimate win for the ready listening version.
Chain D.L.K.: I just saw an extract of a clip related to “Russian Galaxy”. Can you tell us something about the visual aspects of your project? How do you choose and mount photograms?
Simona Zamboli: Actually, the Russian Galaxy video was edited and produced by a video maker I was in contact with before the release of “Ethernity”. In general, I’m trying to combine my sound art with images, and I always prefer to start with abstract auto-generative and interactive control voltage mapping using effects in post-production.
Chain D.L.K.: Is there any tool in your equipment (a keyboard, a drum machine, or synth) you do really love in an almost devotional or fetishist way? If so, which one and why?
Simona Zamboli: I currently have a really comprehensive setup for my standards, but my fetish is definitely devoted to the Ableton Live software. It’s thanks to it that my sound acquires personality, I’m sick of sound processing, you know!
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the philosophical aspect of “Ethernity” (if there’s any)? Any suggestions to appreciate it better?
Simona Zamboli: Another tip for approaching “Ethernity” is to break out of patterns and prerogatives. To listen to this album you should be fluid, please.
Chain D.L.K.: Any word about the cover artwork? How did it match the concept and the sound of “Ethernity” in your own words?
Simona Zamboli: Ethernity’s cover was born from a drawing of mine. Fractals, impulses extrapolated directly from my conscientious mind: repetition and details are once again the main characters, even on the visual aspect. Here we go again! The triumph of the dichotomy, of a disagreement:
the simplicity of irregular shapes defies the complexity of the mathematics behind their embedding.
Chain D.L.K.: Just out of curiosity… do you remember the exact sparkling moment that started your affair with electronic and techno music? Any specific track or situation?
Simona Zamboli: I started by practically doing it. I like to challenge and test myself, torture myself (ahaha), stimulate myself! I played the scene of a short film produced by the Italian filmmaker Giorgio Diritti and I remember that he judged my sound suitable for that surreal scene and commercial. The track in question is called Prada Vision and can be heard on some digital portals. It was the first time I tried to produce electronic music, with many limitations. I understood that I had to work on it!
Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?
Simona Zamboli: Sure. I’m working on new sounds in conjunction with an analog live set that I want to play around. I’m looking forward to performing my music live!