Milan based dream-gazing electronica outfit ‘Novanta’ AKA Manfredi Lamartina creates a wide range of stunningly beautiful and elegant alternative electronic soundscapes that paint a shimmering picture of a band who are fully pledged to their art form. Their sound swims within an electronic sea whilst being battered by shimmering shoegazing flurries & stunning swathes of blissful dream pop. Novanta are on the verge of releasing their latest full length album entitled ‘Hello We’re Not Enemies’ via the Palermo based independent record label ‘Seashell Records’ and we caught up with Manfredi and asked him a few questions about his musical influences, his latest album, the obligatory tech question and future plans. Check it out:
PM: Hello Manfredi! Many thanks for allowing us to pepper you with questions for Primal Music. We’ve been following your musical trajectory for a while now and we’re big fans of your work. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? Where you are from? Your musical background?
ML: Hey there! I’m an italian musician. I’m from Palermo, Sicily, but I’ve been living in Milan for almost a decade. I played with a lot of different bands. In 1997 (oh my god) I started my first band, called 2Young2Die (in my previous album, “Best-Selling Dreams”, there’s a song dedicated to that period of my life, called “2Young2Die”). At that time I was a big fan of the alternative scene: Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Bush. I loved My Blood Valentine too, thanks to the Pumpkins, but “Loveless” was too difficult to play for me! Nirvana songs are easier – you just have to play them louder and louder, telling everyone you hate the world. I started as a singer – not a good one, indeed, it was like I was screaming my lungs out – then I started playing bass and guitar. I started as a Gibson fan, with fat distortions: I played noise, stoner, post-metal. Then I moved to Fender, with a band called Moque. Our album, “Luna appesa con lo scotch”, was released in 2007: radio-friendly pop songs with bastard noise rock arrangements. Finally I went to Milan, where I started my solo project Novanta. “Hello We’re Not Enemies” is my new album.
ML: Novanta pays a huge debit to the Nineties shoegaze, slowcore and post rock bands, like Slowdive, Red House Painters and Mogwai, to name a few. German indietronica (especially Lali Puna and Notwist) represents another big influence, as well as artists like Nathan Fake, The Radio Dept, Giardini di Mirò, M83 and The Album Leaf.
ML: Two different experiences. It’s amazing to see how your songs grow up in a studio, while it’s amazing to change the structure of the songs and give them a brand new life on stage.
PM: Your new album ‘Hello We’re Not Enemies’ is just about to be released via Seashell Records. With the popularity of ‘Best Selling Dreams’ swirling in the ether was this album harder to write or did it just come naturally easy to you?
ML: The very first song I wrote was a crazy electronic track with fat synths and fatter drum machines: something like Prodigy, Nine Inch Nails and Lali Puna, all together. Pretty awkward. Then I went to Iceland, where I spent time traveling all around the country. I recorded some rough ideas with my iPad, ambient music mostly. Back to Italy I started to work very hard on that music and I tried to push further towards those Icelandic sounds. An example? That awkward song I told you before has become “Melted Eyes”. I think this album is a little less dark than “Best-Selling Dreams”. And I think it’s an evolution, thanks to the collaboration of these talented artists: In Every Dream A Nightmare Waits, Claudio Cataldi, Bialogard, Il ragazzo del Novantanove, Raniero Federico Neri (singer of the italian band Albedo) and Haas. You should listen to them: they’re all awesome.
PM: You seem to be at one with your music nowadays. This new album leans more into experimental synth pop territory at times. Was this a preconceived idea or did you just fly by the seat of your pants and go what what felt right rather than stick to your electronic dreampop roots?
ML: Well, it’s not easy to answer. The direction of this album was not planned, it has been a natural consequence of my experiences. Basically I was trying to follow a path that drove me one or two steps forward “Best-Selling Dreams”. But I didn’t plan to use more synths or more guitars. I just was looking for some good songs: a new album means that you have something more to say, otherwise no one would bother listening to you. It’s all about evolution: don’t forget about your musical roots, but let’s see what’s going next. By the way, Claudio Cataldi thinks “Hello We’re Not Enemies” is a perfect summer album: well, maybe a rainy summer album!
ML: I knew a beautiful sicilian homemade label called Woolshop Productions. Claudio Cataldi and Giampiero Riggio (aka Haas) were two of the artists of the roster. I loved their music, so it was been very easy to get in touch with them. Our first collaboration has been the Pluviôse compilation, released in 2014. I like the Seashell discography: in my opinion “Between the surface and the sun” by In Every Dream A Nightmare Waits is one of the best album I’ve ever heard.
PM: Your support of the Italian shoegazing scene is immense. Wether you are writing about the scene via online publications or spreading the love of Italogaze via the medium of social media. We commend you for that. Can you give us your top 5 (must hear) Italian based Shoegaze & Dreampop bands?
ML: Wow, only five bands? ….. I will try!
1) Stella Diana (“Nitocris” is one of the best album of the year),
2) Felpa (you should listen to the album called “Paura”: dark, soothing melodies),
3) Rev Rev Rev (the latest album, “Des fleurs magiques bourdonnaient”, is simply breathtaking, their best record so far),
4) Good Morning Finch (“Gemini” is a little jewelbox of shoegazing bliss),
5) Clustersun (because “Out of your Ego” is cool).
PM: You’ve recently come on board with Shameless Promotion for your PR needs. This modern day worldwide shoegazing scene has the potential to last for sometime yet. As an underground artist, releasing music within this scene, do you feel that we need the brilliant support and strength of folks like those at shameless promotion PR to help with its longevity this time around?
ML: Shameless Promotion is helping me a lot, thanks to Shauna McLarnon (the ultra-talented Ummagma singer). She knows everything about this new shoegazing scene, and she loves to create connections between bands from all over the world. And I think this is the true strength of the new dream pop wave: it’s a strong community, with a beautiful taste in music. And people like McLarnon can really help the whole scene to increase its popularity.
ML: Well, the 99% of these synths… are my iPad. I play a lot of weird apps with weird sounds, like GarageBand, Animoog, Figure, Korg iMS-20, Auxy.
ML: I’m still planning an Italian tour this fall. I’m working on a new live set, with a more shoegazing impact and a lot of distortions. We’ll make your ears bleed!
PM: Thank you so much for the kind words Manfredi. We wish you all the best with the forthcoming release. RESPECT!