From Venice With Joy (and Anxiety)

Posted by Pete DeMola on 27. Nov 2009

BEIJING, Nov 27 - Venice doesn't immediately recall thoughts of rock and roll. Most of us undoubtedly conjure up imagery of gondoliers clad in striped shirts, blown glass ornaments and those tame pigeons roosting in Piazza San Marco when asked to sound off on the famed city in Northern Italy.

But it's also referred to the Republic of Music, having been a historic cradle for both opera and brass instrumentation. It's the home of opera house La Fenice -- one of Europe's most renowned -- as well as the birthplace of violinist and baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi, who as a Venetian priest, taught at the Ospedale della Pietà, a charitable institution that gave orphans and unwanted children musical training.

With that said, it seems perfectly natural that three-hundred years later, the aquamarine wonderland has also given birth to Vermillion Sands, a "high lo-fi" quartet who emit fuzzy, lackadaisical rock that sounds as if was spawned in a smoke-filled garage in the 1960s with intercepted satellite transmissions of the Twilight Zone running on a loop in the background.

After surfing to indie blogger consciousness via a stream of well-received 7" singles ("Vermillion Sands," "Mary," "In the Woods" and a split with label mates Movie Star Junkies), they land here in Beijing (which very well could be Venice's exact polar opposite) for a gig with the Offset: Spectacles, three Hong Kong transplants who eschew conventional songwriting structures by creating deep seas of highly-textured sound -- surreal soundscapes that could very well come from some subterranean force shining unseen -- with a flotilla of vintage equipment.

The two make perfect bedfellows.

Here, guitarist and vocalist Anna Barattin fills us in on the band's love for analog recording, how they fell into their distinctive sound and their connection with English novelist J.G. Ballard, whose own experiences in China profoundly shaped and influenced his craft.

WLIB: Nice to meet you. How did your band start?

Anna Barattin: Nice to meet you too! Our band started as a joke in May 2007. I had a couple of songs and I played them once with our bass player Nene. He liked them so much, he decided to record them in his analogic studio near Venice, where we live. Suddenly, an Italian record label, Rijapow Records, asked us to put them out. At this point, Krano and Caio joined in and we started playing as a full band. And here we are right now...

WLIB: Describe Vermillion Sands in five words.

Barattin: Joy, death, stupidity, youth and anxiety.

WLIB: How did you decide to tackle such a lo-fi, vintage sound?

Barattin: We didn't decide, really. It's something very spontaneous and as far as everybody in the band likes old music, it's very natural as well. What's more, we prefer analogic sound because we think it's warmer than the digital one. Some associate the term lo-fi with bad quality, and sometimes it can be true. That's why we prefer to call our lo-fi, "high lo-fi" just to underline that what we do isn't just noise!

WLIB: What kind of equipment do you use?

Barattin: It's a secret...

WLIB: Okay. Who are your biggest sonic influences?

Barattin: Our musical background is very different, so I can just talk about the music that I love. I like old bands like the Velvet Underground and 1960s music in general. I also love pre-war country-blues. Nevertheless, I don't dislike contemporary music -- there are a lot of amazing bands nowadays, particularly the underground American scene: The Oh Sees, The Intelligence, The Strange Boys and many others. There are some good European bands, too, like our fellow mates Movie Star Junkies, Yusuf Jerusalem, The Weakends... I could keep on with it for hours.

WLIB: Tell us about the connection between the band and the short-story collection of the same name by J.G. Ballard.

Barattin: The only connection is that we love this author very much. Some believe that our music reflects the mood of his books, but I don't like to judge or review my songs, so I can't really tell if it's true or not.

WLIB: You mentioned that you're a student here in Beijing. How long have you lived here, and how has Beijing's sonic environment affected your sound?

Barattin: I think it is still to early to talk about this. I just arrived here two months ago. Anyway, this experience here in China is changing me a lot because life in Beijing is so different from my relaxed life in Venice. That's why, when I return, I will have may things to tell, at least this is what I hope.

Vermillion Sands will perform on Thurs, Dec 3 at D-22. The Offset: Spectacles will support. Click here to see who else is going.


0 Comment

Logg inn for å skrive en kommentar.

WeLiveInBeijing is a social community for people living in or traveling to Beijing.

Powered by: Bloc