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Music - Musicians - Interview | by SuccoAcido in Music - Musicians on 05/01/2006 - Comments (0)
 
 
 
Harembee

The difference between a group and an aggregate lies in the fact that the group is characterized by a certain interdependency amongst it´s components, while the aggregate is mainly a collection of individuals sometimes similar to eachother, but substantially indifferent one to another. Basically, the aggregate are the youngsters of the services of public television and of the Muccino films.

 
 

The difference between a group and an aggregate lies in the fact that the group is characterized by a certain interdependency amongst it´s components, while the aggregate is mainly a collection of individuals sometimes similar to eachother, but substantially indifferent one to another. Basically, the aggregate are the youngsters of the services of public television and of the Muccino films.
The italian independent scene is an aggregate of distinct realities, each one with it´s own story and nature. Some realities are independent beacause “politically independent”, some are independent because financially “independent” and some are independent because they are really different from everything else.
In the past these different ways of distinguishing oneself from the mainstream were totalizing, and because of that one was for example independent if you made “politics” of autoproduction, while signing with a record label meant betraying one´s own ideals. Then there was a moment where being independent meant having to make a certain kind of music rather than another (for example noise vs melody, analogic vs digital) or dressing in a certain way rather than in another (for example the various subcultures grunge, punk, dark, mods etc.). There is also a kind of “misunderstanding” in making reference to “independency”. One of the reasons for this confusion stands in the fact that the term “independent” with time overlapped with the both the one of “alternative” as well as “autonomous” and these terms have been attributed with a sometimes positive (innovation, change, progressism, liberation) and sometimes negative (hippocracy, bourgeoisie, being too fashionable) meaning to it.
Today it is difficult to distinguish and express oneself in this crossroad of realities. The only criteria of distinction, even if it´s not necessarily belonging to this or that ideological-cultural “container”, remains the capacity of representing “the spirit of the time” without evocing banal images because reality is never banal and being capable of capturing the complexity of a reality is never easy, and knowing how to tell it. So: there is who repeat and who narrate. Usually the second ones are also those who know how to listen.
Harembee hit the dot and they do it with the kind of purity of the spirit that dismantles who, like me, was nowadays convinced that good things were no longer coming out of this banana republic. Beware: many groups play really good, but they don´t say anything; others are really interesting, but emotionally cold; others fun, but not credible.
Harembee capture the spirit of our times because their is a music that isn´t within itself this or that musical scene, of this or that local context, but it crosses different places. A music in constant movement, with a past, the own, different personal and cultural references and a prospective: making good music, that convinces most of all than themselves. And, if you´ll forgive me, this is one great asset, since many want to convince the others to convince themselves.
Turin, the city of the Fiat, the coffees, the river Po. Their city, because that´s where their different experiences meet. The music of Harembee is hardly definable if not as a kind of hrpnotic indie-tri-(p/h)op, sensual and vehement that emerges in complex worlds takind there parts and reelaborating them in a way that makes emerge the lost particulars that hadn´t been taken in consideration enough before. Like in the case of other bands (Lamb, Jim O´Rourke, Blonde Redhead and Stereolab), music that exoands and fills every disposable space.
The occasion to exchange a couple of words with Alberto Garbero (guitar and programmation), Luigi de Palma (“Gigi”, bass, programmation and keyboard) and Karin Nygren (singer) occured at the concert of Offlaga Disco Pax at the Calamita of Cavriago (RE)..

SA – Harembee is a band of a lot of places..
K – Yeah, some of us are from Turin but with different origins, from Piemonte, Sicily, Calabria etc. I´m from Sweden but I live 200 km from Turin in Reggio Emilia. So we work in Turin but we´re from and we live in different cities.
A – We´re lucky. I think that the mixture of experiences, landscapes and cultures in general, brings fantasy to the project. Since a couple of years I´ve lived in different places around Italy. Sometimes I would like to remain in Turin, go back to live my life and the experience of the group in a traditional way, to go out together and see concerts all together. But these are things that you cannot choose, I think.
G - Surely we´re not privileged from a “logistic” point of view, organizing a rehearsal or registering the voices for a song always demands a lot of effort and often even sacrifices. Our girlfriends know that best of all. But this is our passion. When it comes to the results of our work you have to admit though that the distance has some positive aspects. I consider the cultural contamination a fundamental ingredient in every kind of artistic expression.

SA – Do you think that the fact that you´re not the regular group that lives and plays in the same city, and the way of working that the geographical distance between the members of the group brings with it, is in any way expressed through your music? How do you manage this “distance”?
A – In the composing phase, usually I and Gigi work alone in the studio. Karin´s voices arrive later, and usually they illuminate our sound, they permit us to arrange the songs having a clear idea of the kind of sound that we´d like to obtain. In this phase we definitely feel the influence of our origins. And that is very nteresting. We have a way of approaching the composing of our songs that is quite unusual, I think.

SA - How do you look at the relationship between the work in the studio on one hand and the dimension of playing your music live on stage on the other hand?
G – If you count the time that we spend in the studio to create and the time that we spend playing live, surely you´ll see that something doesn´t work. I think that the italian live scene is one of the most meagre ones. You´re more lucky if you´re playing in a cover band. You often have to fight to get a gig and you´re often underpaid.
A - In Harembee we spend a lot of time in the studio, because the arrangement and the programmation demand a lot of time. Autoproduction is for us a choice more or less necessary. We hide ourselves in our little studio, searching for sounds. When we get out to prepare a live set we also like to involve images, and to handle the electronical base in a way that permits us to move inside of the soundfield as freely as possible. It´s not always easy, but fun.

SA – You sing in english, a perfect english. It´s rare for an italian band. But i´m ossessed by this topic: why an italian band should express its music better in english than in italian?
A – I really don´t know. Personally I write a lot in italian, but never songs: they seem banal. Maybe one day I´ll write something in italian, that way I´ll be able to get my mother to listen to it. I listen almost exclusively to non-italian music, and I think that it´s a quite spontaneous process.
G - The choice to sing in english has two causes: the public and the record labels that we turn to are mainly not italian. But most of all the musicality of the english words renders the atmosphere and the state of mind that we express in our music better.

SA – To which musical references do you feel closer?And what about the italian indie scene?
A – We follow with interest the work of independent record labels that has a lot of courage: Morr Music, Touch and Go, 4AD, Resonant. We look at the german electronic indie scene with respect and maybe a bit of envy. In Italy there are interesting experiences such as Homesleep and UrtoVox, but I think that they still have limits that are purely cultural. There was never a true will to create a united indie scene with the intention of collaborating in Italy. I think that is basically the problem. Anyhow there are a lot of interesting groups, and maybe in a couple of years things will change.
K- I think there is also a tendency to give the group “half a hand” instead of investing their resources into new projects. The new artists may have to pay a quote for the production etc. Wich according to me is a sign of the lack of confidence that they show towards the groups with whom they chose to collaborate. That lack of confidence leeds to a situation where groups don´t have the chance to evolve and spread their music knowing that there has to be a
symbioses between the groups and the record labels and not the kind of exploiting that now takes place where the only ones who pay and take risks to be able to produce and distribute their music are the groups themselves.

SA – What does it mean being a band from Turin?
A – Turin is a vivid and elegant city. You breathe music everywhere. Even if the usical scene of the 90´s is dead and it has to slowly reinvent itself, I think that it´s a great place to create music. Above all create.

SA – Do you feel that you belong to a particular “scene”?
K - I feel like a part of many different musical scenes, not because of some particular genre that fits in with our sound but because the music that I daily live and experience can´t be generalised into one musical scene. I listen to a lot of swedish music but also to a lot of english and american music, nowadays also quite a lot of italian music. I feel close to swedish artists like Stina Nordenstam, Grand Tone Music and the solo works of Kristofer Åström (the singer of Fireside) and also to singer-songwriters such as Cat Power, Kathryn Williams and Red House Painters. I like the intimacy that they manage to create, the sensation of simplicity and intimacy and not those over-produced wrapped up products that at the end lacks of life. I think that everyone in the group has very different musical influences and that the kind of musical cocktail that comes out of this mixture could be connected with groups like Lali Puna or Blonde Redhead. Unfortunately you could say that we belong to a musical scene that doesn´t get a lot of space in Italy.

SA – Like we were in a tv show..what does it mean being young in Italy today?
A – I´ll try to respond talking about Harembee: in our later songs we often try to use talking voices, it has a more compact and reflective sound. I think that it is also a reaction to a general situation that seems static, killed by fear before even being alive..
K - Italy is a country that has to find itself some kind of financial and social salvation so that a system where taxes don´t get paid and neither does the pensions can turn into a system where people experience having some kind of social security and economical development and not the kind of stagnated misery that she now finds herself in. A society has to be formed where the socialdarwinistic attitude of “survival of the fittest” can turn into a society where the citizens feel that the money they pay don´t end up in the pockets of the politicians but in the very social system that protects them.
A - I think I´m one of the few persons who still believes that politics influences deeply everyday life, the normal things, the projects. When I think about this kind of paralysis that we´re in, I feel a kind of rageous sadness. All the strength we have seems to be to have to wait. For what?

SA – I understand you well..so: how would you define your life outside of the band?
H – Poor and happy..


© 2001, 2014 SuccoAcido - All Rights Reserved
Reg. Court of Palermo (Italy) n°21, 19.10.2001
All images, photographs and illustrations are copyright of respective authors.
Copyright in Italy and abroad is held by the publisher Edizioni De Dieux or by freelance contributors. Edizioni De Dieux does not necessarily share the views expressed from respective contributors.

Bibliography, links, notes:

Pen: Andrea Pintus

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