Still Leven- I remember I met some of them one life ago, near Genoa, during a music festival. They were pretty young then. Actually I am not that sure to remember any specific chat with them, and with who, actually, and frankly I'm not even sure if I really met Giacomo or Matteo. One life ago, I told You. I just remember Greta. And some random chat with her. Okay. Frankly I don't even remember if I have really talked to Greta. That night I was kinda drunk and I've been talking with lot of people, that's it. But I remember people were friendly, faces were friendly - that happens when beers are good - and they were among those people, - we ended up having dinner somewhere all together in a pub, and with a few of them we spent some time at the beach watching in the dark some fools bathing in the sea after midnight.A good blurry memory.
Still Levenhave changed line-up and sound style along the years. Their latest Cases of Bluntness is simply a cool surprise You didn't expect. I mean, they were already good, but not this good. While the record sounds pretty post punk, watching their live set it is like they are on the hip-hop side of indie. I'm pleased to have an interview with them.Some of them, actually. Not sure who of them, - just like that night near Genoa.
komakino: Ciao Still Leven, so, finally a full length record and now you are trio; also Greta leads vocals, besides Giacomo.. you've jumped from Genoa to Manchester and return, from Marsiglia to Pronoia rec.. so, what is your short story of facts?
Still Leven: Well, trying to keep it as short as possible, for a couple of years we were a 5-piece post-punk band, we released an ep and played gigs in Genoa & surroundings. Although we never had our tunes
published by Marsiglia rec, the guys at Disorderdrama helped a lot, starting from our very first gig in 2008, and have been highly supportive ever since. The making of Cases of Bluntness took us almost two years, and by the time we were done it became clear to us that we'd gone far beyond our usual thing, in terms of musical influences. So we kept on experimenting on the electronic side of the songs and this led to quite a lot of changes, since we decided to go on as a trio. At that time we were sending promos to labels all across Europe, and Pronoia Records happened to be interested in our thing, so we put the album out and will be doing a couple of gigs in the UK to promote it... and that's about it!
komakino: Where do you live now? Is it exactly where you would like to?
Still Leven: Right now we're living in Genoa, which is our hometown and a beautiful city. West coast, yo.
But still, electronic music is not really the big thing here, so at some point we'll move out, maybe head to Berlin; the three of us studied the german language and culture for many years at school and are very fond of that particular city, which these days it's kind of a melting pot of all artistic/creative/innovative experiences, the good and the bad ones. Could be very interesting, but who knows, Australia and Brasil are also on the list of to-go places, I guess time will tell...
komakino: Cases of Bluntness is indubitably full of detail and ideas, who writes the songs? Where and when did you record it?
Still Leven: As said earlier, it took almost two years to finish the album (2010- late 2011), and it's kind of representative of our sound's evolution, from a more guitar based post punk to a hybrid between electronics and our early style. A lot of things changed in the process, songs were cut out, others were included, rearranged and re-recorded with different gear we could get out hands on. We recorded it at the studio of Martino Sarolli, former Blown Paper Bags drummer, who did also the producing.
Basically, everything that entered the studio went through so much work that in the end got radically changed, and it's kind of a collective work really; everyone kept on adding little bits, so you couldn't tell whose tune is that, whose lyrics, ecc...
komakino: More than Bluntness, along these tracks there are cases of new wave, goth, post-punk, but, watching footage of your live shows, you are definitely not into the goth-thing, aesthetically. That's something I personal appreciate, I mean, the being unshackled from the clichés of genre. You're freaks, guys.
Still Leven: Well, thanks. We surely are influenced by a lot of things but still haven't figured out our esthetic... we have a couple of ideas but we're talking about very expensive shit that we can't afford... yet.
Like in many cases, the music often goes beyond the personalities of the ones who conceive it, building up its own world to live in. So it's up to us learning to be part of that world and not the other way around.
For example, yesterday I was watching an interview with roman horror-rap master Metal Carter, and by hearing him talk you could tell that as a person he's the opposite of what you expect him to be watching
his videos, a very chilled out guy instead of a satanic trash guru.
With our music very different opposed to before, we still haven't completely fit in the characters that match our sound's attitude. But maybe we'll change everything again before managing to do that, we are a little schizophrenic to be honest... personally I think it's the basil of our hometown. Could it have narcotic properties?
komakino: Is there any particular song of these, you are more fond with and that you feel more representative of your current sound?
Still Leven: I guess if we had to name a song it would be Lost in Texture, it's also the last song we worked on, so it's the one we're closer to, in terms of sounds, and it's kind of a little manifesto showing the mix between our different tendencies: eighties synth pop epic and funky grooves. We did some changes for the live version and right now it's standing more on the 80's side. But more generally, we feel that the second part of the album is way more our thing, and also the starting point for the new stuff we're
komakino: Cases of Bluntness is exactly what it had to be, or you have any regret?
Still Leven: No regrets, really. At some point we felt that either we would have to change everything and start over from the beginning or release it as was, and that we did. It's not, like, a concept album: it's more
a photograph of what we've been doing for those couple of years. That's the reason why we split the tracks in two groups, the more post-punky first and the electronic ones later; we felt it would be better not to blend together different styles but instead go for the a-side/b-side logic. Of course, on vinyl the distinction would have been clearer...so maybe that's the only regret, but who knows, hopefully we'll get some money out of the cds and maybe we'll do a lp version. We'd love that.
komakino: Is there any other band that you feel similar?
Still Leven: Last time we were in Manchester, around may I think, we went to a New Order gig and Factory Floor did the opening act. They're a great band, we love the single and enjoyed the concert very much. They sound much darker and experimental than us, and of course they got big gigs and we don't. But we still got something in common, and that would be being a three-piece boy-boy-girl formation and sharing the love for
komakino: How much does Still Leven weigh in your daily life? Do you work? Are you students?
Still Leven: Greta took her diploma in flute at the conservatory and is now both working and finishing her studies at the university (but don't think she's the serious one of the band), while Giacomo and Matteo study
electronic music at the conservatory. We've been good friends for a long time now and we've been making music together for the past 7-8 years, so Still Leven is indubitably an important part of our routine. Even so, it's not a full-time commitment, we pretty much alternate periods of rehearsals and studio work with others that we would call of “inspiration”.
That means, basically, fucking around, but the italian expression “non fare un cazzo” is way more appropriate.
Watching tv series is also very important to us, Breaking Bad's new season just started so we'll have to focus on that for a while. You gotta have priorities in life, you know.
komakino: Do you buy records? Is there anything recently, criminally underrated, you want to cite?
Still Leven: We do buy records, not the many we would like to, though. Even if we love the physical aspect of the record, we're also very fond of the Bandcamp-style ethic, being the digital download directly from the producer to the consumer a very simple and yet efficient way for the circulation of good (and bad) music that would otherwise find more difficulties in being brought to the attention of the public. If the downside for that is having a lot of crappy music coming out from the dark corners of the web I guess
it's a manageable price to pay.
Loved Boxcutter's new album as The Host, out on Planet Mu. Wouldn't say his music is that underrated, but still, I think he always did great stuff and should be put on the front line with the likes of Four Tet and Burial, instead of having to dig deeper to find his music.
Another great release is the self-titled album by Survive, an ambient - synth wave outfit from Texas. They're being released by Mannequin, which I'm sure you know about, since it's from your city. These days we're listening to a lot of dope analogue synth music, you know. It's very inspiring, plus it's great for chilling.
Then, shit, I just found out about Buraka Som Sistema's Komba, it's been out for a year and I'm listening to it only now. Their tunes really kick ass, plus Portuguese is a very cool language for electronic music (and it sounds a little bit like Genoese, too).
komakino: Do you also have side projects or are involved in other art projects?
Still Leven: Right now it's all about the music and Still Leven is the main output for that.
Giacomo and Matteo are involved in different projects of the conservatory focused on electroacoustic music, but since they're students there they ain't gettin any money out of it.
komakino: So, what are your plans to promote this record? Are you touring?
Still Leven: We're gonna be in the UK starting from the 25 of July, check our blog stillleven.wordpress.com/ for tour dates. We hope to get some more gigs across Europe in winter, and of course, playing in Italy would be nice, too. We're getting a couple of good reviews (and a bad one that compares us to Fleetwood Mac, too) and we're eager to see how people are gonna take the album. Of course, our music is for our own pleasure, but still, since having put so much effort in it we hope others will enjoy it, too.
komakino: Are you already writing a new record? Hopefully. Do you see (or think to see) Still Leven in between 10 years?
Still Leven: We have already been rearranging the songs of the album for the live set, and while we were at it we recorded some new stuff, but still don't know how and when it's gonna see the light. We're not short on ideas, and that's good, but that's the easy part. The hard one is putting them in facts, and on that, we still have a wide range of improvement to go through. But with a little bit of shaolin discipline we'll manage to pull out results, sooner or later. Gotta have faith..
In ten years we can only figure out two options: either we're living in Beverly Hills, right next to Giorgio Moroder, or we're no more.
____________________________ July 2012
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Previously, on komakino fanzine, about 'Still Leven':