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Dmitry Vasilyev, author of epic book VIVA ITALIA: Italy has the most immense and active scene in the world!

For 15 years, Dmitry Vasilyev, the journalist and music promoter from Moscow (Russia), was working on the VIVA ITALIA book. It presents the historical overview of experimental music, it's the compilation of numerous articles about the artists and labels appeared in Italy during the recent 60 years. The author's view to their work and impact to the world of art, the first ever attempt in Russia of approach systemically to the knowledge about the cultural phenomena of experimental, industrial, noise, electroacoustic, avantgarde and other unusual music coming from Italy.

Mindaugas Peleckis
2017 m. Birželio 10 d., 16:38
Skaityta: 596 k.
Dmitry Vasilyev, author of epic book VIVA ITALIA: Italy has the most immense and active scene in the world!

According to http://vivaitalia.xyz, VIVA ITALIA book presents the historical overview of experimental music, it's the compilation of numerous articles about the artists and labels appeared in Italy during the recent 60 years. The author's view to their work and impact to the world of art, the first ever attempt in Russia of approach systemically to the knowledge about the cultural phenomena of experimental, industrial, noise, electroacoustic, avantgarde and other unusual music coming from Italy. Here you can find the information about more than 800 musicians, their photos and detailed descriptions of their albums. All the articles are grouped into five chapters: early electronic music (1955-1980), academic music, new wave and industrial scene (1980-1984), music from pre-digital stage (1985-1995) and all the contemporary scene (1996-2015). The last two chapters consists of independent labels review and the interviews with musicians, most of those were intended to be included in IEM magazine which was never published after 2003. Some artists were featured in IEM podcasts, as well as their music, with the intention to represent their creative attitudes at its best. Unfortunately, the idea of the book doesn't allow to achieve the same goal, but it's accompanied by the quadruple CD compilation of the same title, where you can find the exclusive pieces by many italian artists, provided specially for this project and never released before. The impressive book contains 785 pages of text, the size is 21х25 cm, the weight is about 2 kg. This edition is strictly limited to 700 copies. Please note: all the text is in Russian only!

Dmitry answered to some questions of radikaliai.lt (2017 06 10).

Tell us more about yourself, your background.

Well, I never was the musician, even if I have the formal musical training in my childhood. I was more interested in music listening and research, so my first writing experience was doing the reviews of some music I was into, for my friends. Then I realised that it can be interesting for more people, so I started to do the fanzines, and printed magazine called IEM (which stands for Independent Electronic Music). At that time, in early 90s, just after the fall of Soviet Union, we had a lot of freedom in the media field. Many magazines, radio programs and TV-shows appeared subsequentially, and I grew up attending everything like that. Unfortunately, the freedom period slowly died in the end of 90s: all the alternative media collapsed, and those was remained, they got totally controlled by big business or state (i.e. censored). In my magazine, which was published bi-yearly, I was telling about the noise, industrial, electroacoustic and experimental music which was interesting and important for me. I was doing everything alone, and it took much of effort. Getting more and more involved into the international scene, I founded the label Monochrome Vision in 2004, releasing music on CDs and doing some distribution, so my activity was expanded even more: organising concerts and running mailorder service. I was always concerned by the fact that in Russia we don’t have much information about contemporary music. The musical education (and probably art education in common) became very week - not so much things really changed since the soviet time, no new views and no actual updates. Internet gave us possibility to change this situation, at least a little. But still, it’s mostly unorganised information flow. So I decided to convert the printed magazine to the podcast format and did so in 2007. The podcasts are published every weekend (except for summer holidays), and each one is devoted to particular artist or label - unlike others, I don’t make just playlists, but also speak a lot, telling about the interesting facts and reviewing albums… so it’s the good alternative for the printed stuff, and more comfortable not only for young people, but also for those who don’t have time for reading.

You can find IEM podcast on mixcloud (http://mixcloud.com/iem_podcast) or elsewhere. I am speaking in Russian there, so it’s more interesting for my countrymen, but there is also some interest outside russian border. The label Monochrome Vision released over 50 albums in 10 years, and still active, even if not so seminal recently.

Recently, internet was full of good news about your unique book concerning Italian experimental music scene. Why did you write about Italy, not about, say, Russia? By the way, is there a book about Russian experimental scene?

Honestly, I am not so well informed about Russian scene. It’s a very big country, so the scene is pretty disconnected - I never visited the eastern part of Russia and have no idea what’s going on there. Even in Moscow, where I am living, the musical activity is not so vivid as in Europe. We have here just few labels and handful of enthusiasts who are trying to do something interesting, from time to time. Also the reason is the lack of education and the absence of the school - even in universities, there is almost no classes about the history of XX century art. I think it’s the serious problem for us, with no possible solution at all. As I’ve said, the government seems to be not interested in supporting actual art programs...

Speaking back about the past, in the last issue of IEM magazine, it was announced that the next issue will feature some italian musicians. But, when I started to work on it, I realised that the format of the magazine is really not enough, because I had too much of the stuff. So I came up with the idea of a book, and continued to work that way. It’s not easy to explain why I choose Italy and not other country. It was totally unconscious decision. There is no doubt that Italy has great impact to the western culture and the whole history of art in general. Since the ancient times, italians created a lot for the developement of art - not only music, but also visuals, literature, architecture, whatever. The renaissance epoque, gothic, baroque, mannerism, futurism - every kind of art direction evolved and preserved in numerous museums. And speaking about the music, which occupied a special place, it was just great in any form, from classical opera to contemporary avantgarde. It was supported by state infrastructure which has everything like conservatories, opera theaters, radiostations and television studies, musical festivals and the centers of musical research. So, the musical life in Italy is very active and has a sensational succession - even in the most radical and extreme creations you can still hear a special harmony. I think it's absolutely unique feature, I am fascinated about it for all the time.

Italian neofolk, experimental music scene is really rich - this country has many great bands and artists. Which ones are the most interesting to you?

In my book I am writing only about the music and projects I know, that's why I called it "the personal encyclopedia". Some of them are famous, some nearly unknown, and even on the interenet it was really difficult to find some information. I tried to get in touch with almost everyone in Italy who was somehow connected to this part of the scene. I can’t say really which band is more interesting than another one. To me, everything is interesting at the research stage, the further contact is something more personal and I am not going to explain that in few words. But if the few names would be fine, I can mention Lyke Wake, F:A.R., Gerstein, Giancarlo Toniutti, Tasaday, Luca Miti, Mauthausen Orchestra, Deca, Raffaele Serra, Mauro Teho Teardo, Riccardo Sinigaglia, Enrico Piva, Maurizio Bianchi, Capricorni Pneumatici, Atrax Morgue, Alio Die, Bad Sector, Runes Order, T.A.C., Teatro Satanico, Giulio Aldinucci, SEC_, Sigillum S, The Tapes, Sparkle in Grey, Stefano Pilia, Andrea Belfi, Massimo Carozzi, Fabio Orsi, Alessandro Geo, F.ormal L.ogic D.ecay, Enrico Coniglio, Ain Soph, DsorDNE, Murder Corporation, Andrea Marutti, Claudio Rocchetti, Sostrah Tinnitus, Wuornos Aileen, Nightmare Lodge, Nimh, Macelleria Mobile di Mezzanotte, Tam Quam Tabula Rasa, Nicola Frangione, Cris X, Kebabträume, Kinetix...

How long did the writing of the book/gathering of the information take? How many musicians are there in the book?

Well - the podcasts, just like the magazine, they were quite time consuming and because of that my work on the book was really slow and took almost 15 years. But what I've got in the end, exceeded my own expectations - even at the first glance, you might have the impression that Italy has the most immense and active scene in the world!

So, the book consists of the many hundreds (over 800) of articles about particular artists, bands, composers and performers, where you see the biographical notes, and the detailed reviews of their works, mostly in chronological order. It's quite subjective of course, and the only criteria for me is the connection with experimental music scene and using of electronic technology. So you see, there are so many styles of music can be covered. I grouped all the articles into 5 chapetrs, which are: early electronic music (from 1955 to 1980), academic music of 60s and 70s, industrial music and new wave (from 1981 to 1984), music from the pre-digital age (1984-1995) and all what appeared later, from 1995 to the present days. Then we have the sixth chapter with information about labels and the seventh chapter with some interviews. I have to say that many artists were already featured in my podcasts throughout the years, where I combined the information with their music. To keep the same spirit, I decided to produce the 4 CD box that comes with the book, so you have a possibility to listen the music of many authors mentioned in the book, more than 5 hours of exclusive, previously unreleased pieces.

Did you go to Italy to talk with musicians or did everything via e-mail?

No, I never visited Italy before my book was completed. But after that I did some presentation events in different Italian cities like Bologna, Rome, Naples etc. I has no goal to promote the book itself in Italy, because it would be strange to try selling the book in Russian there, where nobody can read it. It was just interesting to meet people and tell to them some facts about Russia they don’t know (just like russian people have no idea wat’s going on in Europe, as the TV and media tell us mostly lies and bullshit, like everywhere in the world). The book is in Russian only, because my idea was also to connect somehow the russian and italian audience. Recently, it became even political in some sense, because you see now is the time of the new cold war beginning, and we have to react on that somehow, so I think that it's interesting to know for people in Italy, that someone on the other end of globe did such a big job researching their own culture. While economy, politics and social relations divide people, music and art in general is something which can connect people, because it’s a kind of universal language. And it would be great if someone in Italy will write such a massive research, but about Russian music scene!

What is the resonance about the book in Italy, Russia and other countries?

I don’t follow, honestly - just no time for that. I am always busy with a lot of new projects - like for example the annual international contest for experimental music Prix Russolo, which we are running with my french friend Philippe Blanchard… There are some online reviews of the book, there is some interest from the audience - and I am fine with that. I am sure that the book is unique and especially in Russia, where we have almost no publications on contemporary music with the original content - just some translated from English or German. I even didn’t tried to find the edition company who might be interested to invest money in such project - for me it’s absolutely evident that the book can be only self-produced.

What inspires you? Writers, musicians, films…

Well, almost all of my inspiration derives from music. Even with movies, I realised at some point that if I like the particular movie, it has absolutely stunning soundtrack - like “Enter The Void”, “Clockwork Orange”, “Solaris” etc. Sometimes I found myself interested in some historical or scientific phenomena because I ran into some music album dealing or devoted to that subject. So I can’t say I was influenced a lot by some particular book or movie, there were a lot of them. I’ve read a lot of books when I was younger and had more free time. Musicians… yes, almost each every musician inspires me, on energetic or spiritual level, if we can say so. I think it’s just because I feel that we are likeminded people so we can understand each other better then people not connected with this music scene. And there is much fun. It’s always the main reason to organise a concert and invite some musicians to play in Russia - in business sense, it’s always the failure, the way to spend money without any possibility to return it. But I don’t see a big problem, because it’s a great pleasure to meet musicians, host them, show them something interesting, discuss everything. It always has sense!

What do you know about Lithuanian music scene?

Not so much as well. I invited the Lithuanian music project Pogrom last year for the shows in St.Petersburg and Moscow - he is the long time friend, and we had great time here together. He also runs label called Terror and doing the fanzine… I know other labels like Autarkeia and Dangus, and I know some interesting sound-artists like Darius Čiuta, Gintas Kraptavičius, Vytenis Eitminavičius (Skeldos) etc.

Thank You.

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