Zero Call / Interview + Fears and Dreams of Living Machines
As soon as you hear the opening bars of “Others Will Follow,” which serves as an intro track for Zero Call’s latest outing, you know you’re in for something special…something grand. I am going to stop you right there though. Why? Because you’re not ready. What lies within Fears and Dreams of Living Machines is nothing short of electronic pop perfection. The fusion of modern aesthetics of synthwave with an Italo Disco heartbeat is done so well that it creates a universe of its own.
So what now? My first bit of advice would be to sit down. Put on your best headphones and then devote yourself to these 10 tracks. While you could certainly listen to this album and enjoy it during any of your daily activities, the first listen should be experienced. Just you and the music. You’re going to find yourself in awe of what you hear, and that’s no small feat, especially when recycled tunes are the norm. Pulling something fresh out of combining the past with the present has always been the main crux of synthwave, but Zero Call has shown a true mastery of the art with Fears and Dreams of Living Machines.
Now that I have your interest piqued, let’s talk to the band that created this masterpiece!
First things first, welcome to your long overdue debut on Echosynthetic! How have you been?
Very well, let's say we took a big weight off our shoulders by releasing this new album and especially seeing how it's going and the feedback we get we're super happy.
You’ve got new music out and the buzz around Fears and Dreams of Living Machines has been immensely positive! Are you ever nervous about how a release is going to be received?
Yes, in these 2 years we felt the pressure to grow because we worked on a lot of details on this album, from the real drums recorded in the studio, to the choice of sounds, so the most difficult moment was when we started to put together all those building bricks we had and that took a lot of effort and pressure.
How did you approach the writing of the record, and beyond that, how do the songs come about? How do you breathe your ideas into life?
Most of the songs were born from improvising live with my Roland and a Ob6. Then Andrea, the second half of Zero Call who is very present in the first part of the album production and live shows started improvising with a 12 string acoustic guitar, mandolin and bass. However it depends a lot on what we listen to during specific periods of time and initially the tracks were very different from now. They were much more organic, with inspiration drawn by The Sound, Chameleon, Mike Oldfield and Tangerine Dream. Then Leonardo, who produced a lot of sounds including drums and arrangements, introduced me to Neil Young's “Trans” and that made the whole thing click and literally take off by creating a link between all the tracks.
Last but not least, in regard to the production of lyrics and vocals Stuart O’Connor came on board and as usual he did an amazing work understanding the context of the album and putting it into words and laying down the vocal melodies. He really helped me a lot on this new album.
I’m a huge fan of Italo Disco and I’m thrilled that you infuse so much of that sound in your music. Being from Italy, was it important to you to carry that legacy into what you create?
Me too! I was born in 89 so my childhood has been full of TV programs, songs and atmospheres that refer to the culture of the ‘80s Italy. Being influenced by that era came to me so naturally it practically happened automatically and so naturally I hardly even realized it at first. Of course with time I felt I could blend those with my other influences and develop a fresh sound and I think this last album is a nice experiment in that direction.
The record has spawned a couple music videos. How important is visual side of your music and what level of involvement did you have in the creative process?
Music Videos have always been my passion and in this last decade we learned that an original video helps a lot with the promotion and popularity of a song. I also believe that video content will be the future of communication...
In both videos we released I tried to communicate to the video artists the context of the songs. Of course I had already visualized some images and scenarios in my head for each of the songs. So Giovanni Toro (Living Machines) and Achilleas Gatsopoulos from Hypnagogia (Prime Unit) tried to recreate those visuals and atmospheres based on my input and lyrics and they definitely succeeded. So you could say I had a fair amount of involvement in the whole creative process and overall artistic direction but honestly all credit should go to them because they really did an amazing job on both videos.
Our visuals are also synchronized during the new live set and have become a big part of our show now.
What inspired you to start writing music of your own? Was it a certain song, album, or life experience?
When I was 16, after listening for about 20 times ‘Crystal’ by New Order I decided to buy my first synth, a Roland Alpha Juno 2. Back then I listened to a lot of music regardless of genres. However, I could not give a specific band or artist as a favorite of mine. But if I had to, I think the album that made me fall in love with electronic music was probably ‘Discovery’ by Daft Punk. Another album which influenced me a lot and made me decide I wanted to start playing and writing my own music was ‘Eye in the Sky’ by The Alan Parson Project.
You’ve been at this for a while...what kind of advice can you give newer artists that you wish someone had told you?
Never fall into the vortex of disposable music. Stay genuine and listen to new music, looking for all the possible nuances from an entire album and doing what you feel inside. Express yourself and never follow trends or preconceptions.
That’s all we’ve got! Thanks for talking with us. Anything you’d like to say before we go?
Thanks you for taking the time to talk with me! Welcome to the future… J