Alessandro Cortini is everywhere. He’s touring regularly with the mythical industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails since 2004. He released two albums under the name of SONOIO, mixing electronic music and rock. He’s also the frontman of Modwheelmood and Bilndoldfreak, and he collaborated with a lot of different artists (Ladytron, Puscifer…). In short, Alessandro Cortini has various identities and plays with them. But since 2013, he’s releasing music under his actual name. These albums are his most purified and minimal projects but maybe also his most personal ones.
With his synths and his haunting melodies, Alessandro Cortini is making spiritual, meditative and powerful ambient music that speaks directly to our soul. His new album, « Avanti » that will be released on October, the 6th, is about childhood and nostalgia. Alessandro Cortini worked with his grandfather’s family home movies. But when you listen to the album, you see your own movies, full of nostalgia, joys and regrets. On this occasion, we asked a few questions to the talentuous electronic musician.
Version française : http://juste1question.fr/interview-avanti-alessandro-cortini/
Since 2013, you’re releasing albums under your « actual » name, Alessandro Cortini. That seems to reveal that these albums are your projects the most personal. The specificity of these albums is that they’re made with synths. Is it because synths are the most obvious way for you to speak about yourself within an intimate perspective?
I think for me specific synths have had the ability of providing me with the right amount of interesting sound, variables and dialogue within the machine to make me feel like in the end I am collaborating with them, as opposed to guiding or controlling them. Particularly, old ones with their idiosyncrasies seem to fit the bill even better, but not always.
Your next project, Avanti, is about your childhood. You were inspired by family home movies made by your grandfather. Is it your most introspective album?
I would say so, yes, in a way, but it wasn’t really thought in those terms. I think everyone has similar memories and I am noticing more and more people who talk to me after the shows who relate to their own versions of my memories.
You said that « just like the films, there are errors and mistakes in the music ». Your album is a lot about memory, which is full of inaccuracies too. Are these three types of inaccuracy (from the films of your grandfather, your music, and memory) linked together in this album?
This is a very good point and I didn’t think of it in these terms, but I agree. I’m sure there are more inaccuracies I haven’t discovered yet !
You recorded on an EMS Synthi AKS. This synthesizer has been used by Brian Eno, Pink Floyd, Jean-Michel Jarre… Why did you choose it? Was it obvious for you to work with this mythical synth?
I choose the synthi as I felt it was a perfect balance between unique sound, controllability and a mind of its own, portability and overall design. Certain machines are classics for a reason and I feel the synthi is one of them.
Vincere has something epic or even mystic with the use of choir. Are you influenced by religious or church music? The tracks’ names have something religious too.
This is another great question I have never thought about. I spent a lot of time in church as a catholic/Boy Scout. So I definitely sang a lot in church as a child. I have always been attracted to anthems/memorable memories that can be repeated and get better every time as opposed to tiring. This must be the only good thing that came out of religion for me.
How did you work for your videoclip (Perdonare, Vincere)? They feature home movie footage. Did you edit them by yourself ? Did you work with a director ?
The videos were edited by Sean Curtis Patrick, who I had previously worked with on my Sonno and Risveglio live visuals. He was able to edit them to the music pieces in a very natural and belonging way, in my opinion. Very talented artist.
Your tracks, especially Perdonare and Vincere, begin very simply and then step up. Do you see each track as a powerful upwising?
As I mentioned before, I’m a fan of melody reinforcement so once I find something I like, the challenge or fun is to find a way not for it to grow boring by either making it bigger or adding supporting elements to embellish it.
On the one hand, your album seems quite structured (Perdere matches with Vincere, Finire matches with Iniziare). On the other hand, you’re keeping a place for errors and mistakes. How did you find your balance between organisation and improvisation, between spontaneity and intellectualisation?
Balance comes on its own as I work on the project/album. I never consciously step back and analyze. I tend to wait and see how it feels and let it take the turns it needs to take. Every album is different but I am lucky in knowing that as long as it makes me happy, whatever it is, then someone else will enjoy it also. That releases a lot of the stress that comes with making a record in my opinion.
The album is quite nostalgic but doesn’t seem sad. Do you think that this feeling is positive in a certain way ? Is this album an ode to nostalgia and melancholia ?
I agree with you. Melancholia is not sad per se if you see it for what it is. In fact I would say it’s comforting. It’s a confirmation that events did their job and left and indelible mark on you. But yes I would also say it’s my way of saying that things that are gone are not to come back, and that whichever memory of them you have left, is all there is left.
You’re working with a lot of different artists. What is the most important for you: your solo albums or your common projects ?
I think what’s most important is the fact that I am lucky enough to be able to work in different creative environments with different people: it keeps me on the move and prevents me from getting mentally stagnant or obsessed over one single project.
Music in live seems quite important for you too. Is it for you the most important part in music ?
Live is tricky as I always struggle to find a proper way to present the music. I wouldn’t say live is a favorite of mine but I make it the best I can in order to feel it’s a good balance between making the record justice and also feeling that I am being creative every night, while entertaining a crowd.
On this matter, did your live experience with Nine Inch Nails influence your way of making music ?
100%. It was, is and will always be a priceless learning experience. I get to reinvent myself according to the production every time we go out, and I am always given carte blanche to do it in any way I seem fit. It’s a very creative and fertile environment for me, and it’s like a family.