ANDREA VISAGGIO and FRANCESCO ZAMBON of Talk to Her talk to Nick Awde
Alhambra Live Magazine #013
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Talk to Her are Andrea Visaggio (vocals, synthesizers), Stefano Murrone (guitars), Riccardo Massaro (bass) & Francesco Zambon (drums)
Main photo of the band by Carlotta Bianco
Andrea and Francesco were interviewed after appearing at Alhambra Live’s goth festival Bats in the Attic 2022
ALHAMBRA LIVE is one of the biggest grassroots music venues in the North West. Based in Morecambe on the sea Promenade, its adaptable spaces (and unique Lake District views) make it a vibrant hub for all-dayers and weekend festivals (Goth, Mod, Ska, Northern Soul…). It is also a home and hub for gothic music with Corrosion club night and the CorrosionFest & Bats in the Attic festivals. For more info, contact Fiona +44 (0)7771 200 873 / firstname.lastname@example.org
—Alhambra Live’s next goth festival is Bats in the Attic, September 8-9
Nick Awde: The band was formed in Padova in 2015 – what do you remember about that?
Francesco Zambon: I remember a number of material difficulties… For example, the room where we started playing together was a very cold room. [laughs] Andrea and I also had other projects, so getting Talk to Her going wasn’t such a simple process. We had spent four or five years of making mistakes with our other projects but we had also made some good sounds and songs. We learned from those mistakes, so the first thing that we all said to each other, when we decided to start this new project that became Talk to Her, was that we now know what not to do in the future.
Andrea Visaggio: We also knew that getting the right people together is the most important thing – so we have to be the right people – and also to make good music. And then you have to work on everything else.
Francesco: As I was growing up – and I think it was the same for Andrea – there was a point in my life when I realised that music wasn’t just a passion but it had become something necessary for me. It was a sort of before-and-after moment where the music was necessary for me, for us, to speak about a part of us that in in other contexts we couldn’t explain.
Andrea: When we released our first EP, Home , we had already been working on our music for a year and a half. It has four songs on it – ‘Zodiac’, ‘Forest’, ‘Nightfall’ and ‘Burning’ – but we had done ten songs before that to determine our sound and who we are. We didn’t decide on any target, our idea was to make the music that we want to do without any decision – to do what we want using whatever we had inside of us. So every song comes from all four of us, the music comes from all of us playing together, 25 per cent of every song is each of us. That’s a very important idea for us and you can see it when we are on stage and in our photos, we are always together because we do these things together. Unfortunately in this interview there’s just two of us, but we also think that our interviews have be done by no more than two members because it gets confusing. [laughs]
Nick: You’re listed everywhere as electro-wave rock, but what label do you actually give yourselves?
Francesco: It hasn’t been so simple to decide. Especially after Home we had to decide on a genre because it seems that everyone today has to have the label of a specific genre. For example, on Spotify where do you put yourself?
Nick: It’s the horror of those bland American-centric tickboxes.
Francesco: Obviously we can say new wave and post punk, and the word rock has also been associated with us sometimes, but honestly we see rock as a smaller part of what we do. We’re more electronic than rock. So Talk to Her is something that lies between new wave, post punk with an important use of electronica.
Nick: But then the word goth rears its head.
Francesco: Interestingly, I’ve never heard our label talk about goth during our meetings or whenever they mentionour songs. For example, the first time they heard our first album they didn’t come up with goth or dark wave.
Andrea: In any case, the status of our genre wasn’t decided before we formed but came after. Every one of us has influences, every one of us can express himself and the result is our music. So I think a lot of the goth component comes from the lyrics, for example.
Nick: Which happen to be in English.
Andrea: Yes, because I don’t find it easy to write in Italian.
Nick: Why is that?
Andrea: It’s like my singing style – when I sing in Italian I don’t like it as much as I do in English, it feels weird somehow. If I sing in Italian I feel I need to change my vocal technique because I don’t like the sound. That also affects my use of words.
Nick: So what language or languages were the songs in, that sparked your first realisation that music was important?
Andrea: In English. I fell in love with music when I was twelve with Queen.
Nick: And very British in terms of English too.
Francesco: The first songs that really got me were in Italian. Like Lucio Battisti, Pino Daniele, all the 80s artists. My father listened to lots of Italian artists but they were independent artists, absolutely no one commercial. And then my second approach to music came through English, especially the 90s punk scene. Then I came to grunge and then metal – first Italian and then English.
Nick: Well you’ve given me your rock trajectory. But you can go in many directions from Queen.
Andrea: I have a somewhat strange trail from there. I started playing as a bassist and listening to hard rock, and the first bands that made an impression on me were Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.
Nick: More Brits…
Andrea: And then like Francesco, I then turned to metal – bands like System of a Down and Tool. But this was when I was playing bass. Then about ten years ago, I went through some strange changes my life and I found myself listening to Interpol, the Smiths, electronic music and all the French scene like Daft Punk. I started singing – in both Italian and English – and then I started playing with Francesco in Padova. During the first few years of Talk to Her I listened to a lot of rap and hip hop, and now it’s mainly wave and electronic music. When I was singing in Italian and writing Italian lyrics, the result was very sad. [laughs] There was a lot of sadness. When I write in English, the lyrics are much darker but less sad. Maybe it’s because in Italian I can’t be as direct emotionally. It’s interesting that if I translate my Italian lyrics into English, I feel they don’t work. And vice versa, if I translate my English lyrics into Italian, that doesn’t work either.
Francesco: There is something special about Andrea’s voice for our band. I say this not because he is our singer but because I think it’s an objective opinion… honestly! [laughs] His voice is another instrument within the way we make music, so I think his idea of voice and lyrics makes sense. Words and their meaning through the voice are obviously important to the final result, but the first step is is to use the voice’s musicality to create an ambience. And then you need to find the correct words to fit that musicality, which I think comes from our Italian background even if the words are English.
Nick: And the words are also dependent on Talk to Her’s song themes.
Andrea: That’s right. Home was a concept in four steps, as an allegory talking mainly about the club culture. For our album Love Will Come Again , we had ideas for a concept that followed on from it, but to be honest when I wrote up the lyrics, the concept fucked up and I had to say, guys, in these songs I talk about love and emotional troubles and I’m really sorry this came up… [laughs] So the album became a concept about love and relationship problems. Not only, but mainly…
Nick: Live-wise, how do you fit into the scene in Italy?
Francesco: In Italy we have a great goth scene and we fit into it well. That’s because there are a lot of young bands and great projects and we have a good following in terms of of live gigs. In general there’s a good scene in the north of Italy. We know that there is a good scene too in Naples but we haven’t had the chance to play there yet. Outside of Italy, particularly the year after Covid, we have a great response from audiences and venues. We love playing outside of Italy, I even think that we prefer it.
Nick: Why would that be?
Andrea: It’s hard to say why. There isn’t such a big concert circuit in Italy for us and the goth scene here is small so that creates a lot of competition for the bands. When we play outside Italy, we get a lot more exposure. For example, it was so important to play at Bats in the Attic in Morecambe in front of a British audience. It also helps of course that our songs are in English – that’s a little important thing.
Francesco: Also, in other countries we can see how important the live experience is. If I go out at night to see a band here, it’s something that’s more confined to the scene. In Italy people will go out to see bands or artists, but the important thing for them is usually the lyrics, not the experience of the live set. For us the live set is absolutely the most important thing, perhaps more important than the EP, the CD, the album. So when we come out of Italy we connect with people who love the live experience more than the way people do in Italy.
Nick: How you see the band developing within the post-Covid era?
Francesco: It is linked to a couple of things. Concerts are doing great numbers. I see a lot of sold-out gigs not only in the small venues but also the big venues. This is a really good thing but I think it is bound to the fact that a lot of venues closed during the Covid period and didn’t open again, so there are a lot of places that don’t exist anymore. This is sad and complicated too because when venues die, the scenes die. Talk to Her was born in the Padova scene, it was a good scene then and it is good today. However in the summer people go to a lot of big and small outdoor festivals here, and I think that any scene is born in the clubs not in the summer sunshine. It’s the magic that comes up in the night in confined venues, not at the festivals. You have entertainment and fun at the festivals, but not the magic that happens in the dark clubs, where you can be something that you can’t be in your normal life in your everyday life. When you go to a festival it’s always you, but when you enter a club at night you change. We go to experience live electronic music in clubs and this has been fundamental to giving birth to the band. If the venues are closed, it’s difficult to make that happen.
Nick: So on the surface underground music is looking healthy in Italy for 2023, but if the venues don’t revive, music will gradually start to suffer as the scenes become diluted.
Andrea: Diluted in terms of of of richness, definitely. And also because Covid killed the smaller realities for us. For example, many small bands and small projects are dead due due to Covid, only the big ones remain and a lot of the medium ones are still facing difficulties. [laughs] As a band, we are lucky to be here.
Nick: So what’s next for Talk to Her? You’re overdue for a new album.
Francesco: We have two answers to that. The first is not connected with the moment but to us in general – that we will grow as artists, as a band. We want to create new experiences with our music and play bigger stages. It has been always our vision to grow bigger and gain more experience. But big is not the right word, it’s in the sense of growing as musicians like we did at Alhambra Live in Morecambe. Secondly, we are finally working on the next album. We can see this happening now because we have a lot of material and we can start to focus on the selection, working out which songs to choose and what is the most important message that we want to share.
Andrea: It has not been a straightforward process because Covid came in. Like everyone, we went through it and we changed over the past three years. Love Will Come Again was a consequence of Home as we looked to develop the music and lyrics of Home. So for the new album we first discussed everything and started to work along the same path, but we found it difficult, especially with the pressure of Covid. About a year ago we just said, okay we need to do what we do best, let’s do whatever we want to do. That gave us a new freedom and the new songs quickly took form because the very first thing is that you have to enjoy your music. I think that a lot of artists sometimes forget this and instead they pursue things like the sales and the critics. But you have to be honest with yourself first of all about your music and to enjoy your music. If you put up too many boundaries, you can’t really make good music. I don’t think it’s possible.
Nick: Is there anything you might want to add on behalf of all the band members?
Francesco: I think we have found our point of equilibrium, because being a band means to have a relationship. One of the best things about Talk to Her is that we are four different souls that communicate with each other, and we now recognise ourselves in the music that we’re making. That’s the reason that we have decided to start to work on the new album for 2023.
Andrea: But no one should worry – my lyrics will still talk about pain, suffering and frustration. [laughs] That’s 100 per cent certain.
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