Heimdallr web-zine, 10/2002
From an industrious part of modern-day Italy comes Siderartica, an extraordinary project headed by Kirlian Camera's Elena Fossi and complemented by Andrea Fossi and Andrea Savelli. Their debut album, "Night parade", is a journey to a world drenched in melancholy and sadness, generated by dark atmospheres and cold electronic soundscapes. Elena guides us through the snow and the frost to the icy world of Siderartica...
The most appropriate way to begin with, I think, would be with a short introduction to the band and its history. Who is Siderartica and when was it formed?
Elena - Siderartica is a night little ducks trio in search of the Kingdom-of-the-Snow, in search of glacial ways on which projecting every word and every breath. This is a pretty young group, although we did already work together on different projects, under other names, in fact today's incarnation saw its first light one year and a half ago.
Where does the name Siderartica come from and what does it mean?
Elena - The name is an absurd construction of two words: "siderurgy" and "arctica", that is a junction of "iron" - therefore a metaphor of toughness - and "snow", that finely means 'cold delicacy', something softly icy. This is in a way the musical scenery that, by using our name, we'd like to evoke.
"Night Parade", your magnificent debut album, was released a short while ago via the Italian label Shadowlab. Could you please give us some information on the recordings contained therein? How old is the material presented in it and how long did it take you to record and produce the album? Are you satisfied by the overall result? What kind of feedback have you gotten so far from the people who've already listened to it?
Elena - Recording sessions began one year ago, approximately, and have been keeping on five months, but first ideas came to mind on March 2001, then getting little by little concrete as a song-form, opening up a road to the whole project. Global work has been rather "handicraft", in fact the album is almost entirely home-made, with a common Roland MC-505 electronic box supporting us in all our journey; and, since the microphone was a bit unfit for the situation, we tried to record vocals in the bathroom, by the tub, so to get a more reverberating ambience. That, for us, has been a brand new useful experience and our bigger satisfaction is just realizing this album belongs to us so much. Looks the ones who took a listen to it seemed to realize such a sensation is right, in fact we got many comments and opinions concerning the work, in which the attention of the listeners to details comes clearly out. We don't know whether we're pleased or rather amazed by such a result.
With the only exception being the remix of "Arkhangel'sk" done by Lamachina, there are no samples used on any of the tracks of the album, which is a fact worth noticing. What are your general feelings about samples used in music? There are many artists who use samples conscientiously in order to enhance their material and create something new out of already existing sounds, but what do you think of those bands or artists who base their entire work on sampling and re-mixing other people's work? Can this still be regarded as original music or is it just a collage of sounds and musical pieces with no purpose whatsoever?
Elena - I don't consider the sampling a so negative thing, but I think it's negative doing that brainlessly! Little by little, one who makes electronic music realizes that increasing the amount of sounds and drawing on elements from several sources is pretty a must. Then, on sale, one can find CD's for sampling including copyright free sounds that contain huge sounds taken from expensive devices, not only CD's containing pre-prepared grooves and patterns. Undoubtedly, treating and re-processing even copyright free samples is more honest and satisfying, then, most of all, gives more identity to the project. Though, at the moment I don't like the idea of going by a whole activity on sampling or re-mixing the works made by others.
Included in the album is a superb cover version of Joy Division's "Atmosphere". Why did you decide to do this specific cover? Has Joy Division been an influence to you? Consequently, which other bands/musicians or artists in general do you believe to have had a direct influence in your work?
Elena - Choosing "Atmosphere" came natural to us all. It doesn't just depend on the beauty, the force and the poeticalness of such a song; we have been feeling it could belong to the album's mood, in the best possible way. We actually respect Joy Division so much, but I guess if "Atmosphere" were composed by Britney Spears we would like it anyway! This song makes me thrilling every time I am listening to it, as well as when I am singing it. I had a thought, a wish, it became mine, just a little bit. It's uneasy to say what artists our influence comes from, even though I can quote some bands as for instance Ultravox or Goldfrapp.
"Night Parade" opens with the rather noisy industrial track "Eintritt In Die Fabrik", which is certainly not representative of the general sound of the album that seems to follow the Dark/Electro Wave path. How did this track come about? Will you be experimenting with more harsh industrial forms in the future?
Elena - If in a way "Eintritt in die fabrik" cannot be a representetive track of the album, it has anyway an important function for the meaning of this project. Siderartica takes its sources from iron and steel industry (the town we were born is practically an iron-container). So we liked to introduce our album by presenting that kind of a "everyday's atmosphere". We didn't want to put a listener on the wrong track, placing this song on top position, but it represents a kind of a "sorrowful access", beyond which everything calms down. I think we'll keep on putting some "industrial" ingredient in to our sound, but I don't like so much using noise with no sense, as there is enough plenty of banal "noise-makers".
In your lyrics there is often mention of the cruelty and senselessness of the wars of humanity and the impact that they have on the individual. They also seem to reflect the people's inability and unwillingness to prevent wars from happening. Do you believe that this new worldwide turbulence that we currently experience could lead to the disastrous effects of a new global war, and if so, do you think there's any chance of avoiding it at this point?
ELENA - My lirics surely reveal my idea of the world: an ignorant, careless, unprepared, untrustworthy world. I'm not saying each human being belongs to such a dimension; I simply want to scream aloud against those - a overwhelming majority - feeling fine this way, even able to watch the news eating popcorns not being part of the events, and above all neither worried nor perturbed by them. Sometimes I have a sensation I involuntarily got into a tragic and strange time-machine, where understanding what evil is it's just impossible (war? Satan?), but it's possible being great in doing the homeworks given by the school. So, writing lyrics is for me like sending a SOS out: is there anybody who likes to fight for improving the others and him/herself? And if the weak ones are represented by useless and shallow puppets and unworthy parasites, then... let's eliminate weakness itself! In my opinion, the real problem comes from the fact that people make war without knowing the reason why they're making that.
Who takes advantage of it, couldn't get out of calling them up to fight his war, and they leave, feeling like they are already heroes. This is the worst thing. I just can't say anything else.
Even though your music is relatively dark and melancholic, your artwork is dominated by the colours of white and various shades of blue and not black, as one would expect. White is usually associated with ice and the coldness of the winter, while blue is mostly associated with the sea and the sky. Do you find these colours to fit more to the mood of your music and which are the images or thoughts that you wish to transmit to the viewer by the use of these specific colours?
ELENA - As far as I go, "dark" doesn't sound as a synonym with depression. The black is just a magic colour, always perfect, but we want to represent something more lively, more efficacious. We want to feel the impetuous cold of winter hanging about within our hearts, making itself in harmony with strenght. Simply shaping a landscape is not of any interest, for us; nature is blind, it isn't able in yielding anything, as it banally accepts itself. We're interested in the environment's character, in the passion that such an environment is able to generate, its life, which moves itself embodying force.
Back in the 80s, the Italian electronic scene had a big impact on the worldwide musical developments and played a prominent role in the formation of the whole Electro-Pop movement. On the contrary, nowadays it seems that very few bands manage to make a career outside the Italian or Southern European borders. Do you think there are still bands in Italy today that have the potential to become as big as their predecessors were two decades ago? And if yes, could you name a few of the bands that you believe deserve a wider recognition from the public?
ELENA - I have a doubt today may exist bands as powerful as it was in the 80's. These days there's a certain poverty of ideas, of fantasy, a lack of good changes, and there's a tendence to sink into putting old faded shirts out. However, in this asphyctic darkness, are floating bands it is well worth to mention. Some names? Just in casual order... Kinetix, Kebabtr„ume, Pankow, Criminal Asylum, Chirleison, Leutha and... sorry... Kirlian Camera!
There's a new Siderartica MCD coming out in December which contains unreleased material and new remixes. Could you please give us some more information on this release?
ELENA - In fact we decided to release a mini-album in December, probably titled "Atmospheres". The bands taking the trouble of re-mixing our songs are the German-Americans Y-LU-KO, another duo from the USA called Morph and Kirlian Camera's Angelo. The new songs sound a bit more dramatic and darker, in a way, just suitable for Christmastime's weeping days........................
Elena, apart from Siderartica, you are also a permanent member of the legendary Kirlian Camera, and you also maintain a side-project with Angelo Bergamini under the name of Stalingrad, whose excellent debut album "Court-Martial" was recently released via E.N.D.E.. Is there any current news from the camps of either Kirlian Camera or Stalingrad and what shall we expect from those two ostensibly different musical entities in the near future?
ELENA - As for Kirlian Camera, let's say it's a moment of innovations: new label, new musical paths, concerts in different Countries, and so on. At the moment we're working on a double album that is a bit particular, as it contains two different-sounding CD's which are anyway deeply complementary: whereas one sounds romantic-orientated, melodic and lost in reverie despite its hidden disquieting and worrying mood, set in a rainy and sychpatologically slow-motioned autumnal atmosphere, the other one is filled with energy and power, being in fact made of totally unreleased techno-styled re-works concerning KC's old tunes, plus a pair of re-mixes made for other bands, and something more. Such an album will be out on March, co-produced and distributed by Trisol, it seems. Meantime we are thinking about a possible Christmas single, a split featuring both Kirlian Camera and Stalingrad, performing one unreleased track each, globally made with orchestral sounds and vocals. We don't know what label will issue it,
yet. We'll keep on playing alive as Stalingrad as well; new year's first date is Rome, in January.
Lamachina (Ludwig Baumann & Gianluca Becuzzi) have done a remix of the track "Arkhangel'sk" that is included in the album. Have you arranged any other collaborations of this kind?
ELENA - Yes, we are actually interested in it, in fact some bands are at work on our songs, as told above.
Siderartica has already given a few live performances in Italy and Germany. Are you satisfied by your concert ventures so far and what lies next in regard to live activities?
ELENA - The gigs we held have been surely stirring and very satisfying, for us, in fact despite of the fact this is a sort of a debut, we've been feeling a warmth from the audience we really didn't expect, especially as far as live situations go. In regard to future days, I know someone's giving himself a shake to make us touring; surely, in November we play Reggio Emilia, Italy, which might be followed by another gig near Florence, but we don't know the exact dates of the events, yet. However, everytime we perform live with Kirlian Camera, uncle Angelo gives us a chance to play a couple of Sider-songs!!!!
Taken from: http://www.heimdallr.ch