THE DEPARTURE ESSAY
A shake from within, more or less from the chest, a tiny explosion that branches out. For a split second, something falls into pieces and detaches with unprecedented violence from the body. Technically
a moment, soulfully forever. Lips lay down in an act of warm affection, greeting, peace, wish.
Silence. Thunderous, thick, and so solid that one cannot flow away. A huge block that fills body and mind, does not let you think nor act, and leaves everything suspended, still, paused. The density of such block prevents the body from unloading, tears from flowing, sounds from being emitted. Not even a single word comes out. A sharp gelid moment that freezes everything. Probably it’s physiological, like the Time Heals monotone. Flashing images arise, followed by bad, frightful, and tremendous thoughts. Thoughts that no one should ever have. Time Heals. It’s dreams turn now, along with nightmares, sought meanings, and ill-timed flashing visions. Time Heals.
Something slowly turns on and heats up the block. All the frozen tears begin to pour down. Minutes and minutes of a continuous dripping that is at the same time liberating, loud, and necessary. From that moment on, everything changes. Everyday routine has a new meaning, people and so called problems gain a new specific weight. Joy and happiness are savoured with more consciousness, perhaps more than before. It’s more frequent to be moved, but above all peace has been made. I’ve asked myself how one lets another go and what that means. I truly hope it meant this. I hope said violent explosion to be the opening of a new section of the heart,
The most beautiful thing about making peace with oneself is the comprehension of everyone’s freedom. Absolute does not exist. Objective error does, but only when love delight is deprived. To hold oneself back, to let unspoken words, ego, and fear become overwhelming, it only brings a storm at sea ready to rough up waves in the darkest moments and frighten with its heavy thunders. It all becomes anger of habit, resent- ment, and coldness that will oxidise as time goes by, but won’t follow as the moment for departure arrives. Unfortunately it will all stay behind, buried deep into the earth, because it won’t find any answer. Everyone has the right to live freely, to make mistakes, and even to coexist with a perpetual mistake. It’s up to the others to sever the knot or tighten it in order to continue their journey without letting someone else’s choices spoiling their personal freedom. Perhaps having the courage of accept- ing our own authenticity - for better or for worse - is the secret to going on. Perhaps recognising our lacks and succeeding in not feeling that way is the key. Perhaps never giving up trying to know and understand the unalike, the new, the distant, and the disagreement too is the solution.
I don’t know where the people that leave us go, I like to think of it as a departure. Maybe, after a lifetime of preparations, trial trips, acquaintances of people near and far, adventures, boring nights, responsibilities, careless behaviours, and disappoint- ments the time to think about themselves comes and so they leave without a declared destination. I like to think that it is possible to wake up on a white sunny beach, have lunch on a mountain, and fall asleep under a starry night sky in a desert. I like to think that where to stay can be a daily choice and that flying from a place to another can be nobody else’s business but one’s own. I like to think that everything is possi- ble and that it’s a big holiday before a new journey begins. I like to think that it’s easy to observe, think, and take one’s time. I like to think that one day can be spent with a distant friend and another with an old lover. I like to think that singing out loud whenever and wherever one wants is allowed and that new and bizarre rules are to be made up. I like to think that one can live in a tree house as long as one wants and only jump down to ride horses. I like to think that even for the ones who depart it is possible to make peace and get a second chance to do better.
Lee Wood is a kind soul. He’s one of those people who face life with truth. His pragmatism goes hand in hand with his smile and dreams. Ten years ago, he put roots down in Milan, and today he is the creative director of Dirk Bikkembergs. His aim is to pay homage to the brand early days and its solid heritage. Lee’s touch is something precious that comes from his awareness of the system and his keen attitude towards work. Lee has spontaneously brought his universe within from the moment he left his hometown up until today, whilst paying attention to every single detail, good or bad, that life has offered to him. It is said that you have to step out of your comfort zone in order to understand who you really are: well, it might actually work.
You were born in the UK, what do you miss about it?
I definitely miss movies in their original language (He laughs, Ed.)
I know that it’s something that belongs to the Italian culture and the history of cinema, I’m also aware that there are several great and interesting dubbers, but it’s still something that I struggle with. However, I go to the cinema and watch dubbed movies too. Some of my Ita- lian friends are astonished when they hear some actors’ original voices. The weird thing is that, as it so often hap- pens, they prefer the dubbed voice. After twenty years the reason why is still somewhat obscure to me.
What would you bring from Italy to the UK and vice versa?
Although I do not pay attention to it anymore because I’ve adjusted myself, I must say that when I arrived in Italy I discovered a lack of organisation in the general set-up. I used to act like a militant and often argue about the issue. Things have evolved a lot in the past twenty years, the city itself has changed so much. I love Milan, I recognise the improvements, but at the beginning it was a struggle. Since I’ve Italianised myself I’m even more in love with this country, its nature, and its habits. English people can sometimes be too detached and reserved, they could sure- ly benefit from a touch of Mediterranean culture.
Departure doesn’t have to be something literal. When did you leave for the most important journey of your life so far?
11th of October 1998. It was a Sunday. I left England with- out knowing how it would’ve been like to work in Italy. It was a challenge. I had an opportunity, a six months con- tract, and I took it. I would have been a fool not to. Than those six months became other six months, than one year, and as time went by, my consultancy for Versace lasted ten years. When I first arrived in Italy, I was still a bit unaware of the world. Being in an unknown city and trying to speak a language that I didn’t know strengthened myself. I became a man in Italy, I had no other choice but to survive. I remember that even going to the supermarket was quite a feat at first. My whole path here in Italy has always been intense and somehow consistent. Everything has happened because of my hard work, I’m sure of that. I have always welcomed tasks and I have never been scared of changes. And so I basically gave my self a new challenge.
Is it possible to leave something behind for good?
In my opinion, everything remains. Our mind is a giant archive, nothing can’t be delete for good. Emotionally too, we can’t leave anything behind, there’s a trace of everything within us. Physically speaking, we obviously can. For instance, I don’t think that I will move back to England, Milan is my home now. It doesn’t mean that I am against the UK, although they’ve played a prank on me with Brexit. (He laughs, Ed.) Emotionally you are not going to leave anything behind, memories are something that belongs to you, whether they are good or bad. I love my thoughts, my recollections, I love my dark memories too, they are part of everyone’s life. Memories are useful to grow up, to become a better person. Technically I left a place, its people, my friends have changed, but I don’t think of it as something extraordinary, it belongs to the path of life.
Bikkembergs body type has been somehow linked with statues and heroes of a sort. We could even say Olympian. Leaving the brand aside for a second, do you believe in heroes?
I definitely believe in myth and heroes. It is like having a dream, if you don’t have one, you might not have a precise goal. These are things that push you and motivate you to do better, be better, and get better. Everyone looks at Superman with a certain eye. Having a landmark in life is a child’s dream. It’s something fundamental both in my work and private life.
Do you have someone specific in mind?
It is something that comes from my imagination. There is a man that I’ve built up in my mind, made of several characters. Speaking of mythology, that certain classic moment in literature is so important. Also that chapter has remained in our archive and evolved through sports, we still have the Olympics, don’t we? In the end I do think about my personal landmark. I don’t think about it every- day obviously, but I get back to it in certain moments, like my days off when my head spins because of all the think- ing about new projects that I do, both work related and personal.
You said that you want to go back to the origin of Dirk Bikkembergs. You want to be more realistic, closer to an everyday body type. As if you wanted to take a moment from the classic Bikkembergs statue, and give it a human touch. Which image or piece best represents this intention?
I’ve worked a lot on outerwear, especially for the first line. It’s like an armour in a way, a protection. Proportions are at the same time fundamental and precise to me, because there is a direct approach towards men and masculinity. There are several codes and symbols, whether it’s boots or knitwear, that stands as signature for the brand. But out- erwear remains something essential to me. At the debut of my first collection here at Bikkembergs, I opened the show with a solid black leather trench that weighted probably around ten kilos. It was an homage to the brand roots when pieces used to be tough, made in sharp thick stitched leather. There was a solid approach towards men style, so this idea of armour as a protection, as a shell, is something precious to me.
Where does your pragmatism come from?
I just don’t like excesses and unnecessary things. If I have to spend money, if I have to buy something, it is going
to be an investment. I stick to the same vision when my team and I work on the next Bikkembergs collection. Being pragmatical and having nothing to do with disposable fashion is my objective. If every season you throw away something from the previous one, you are not only sending out the wrong message to the market, but you are also kind of playing with people’s money. You can’t buy something that you are going to throw away in six months. I have always thought so. My mother has taught me the value of money, she used to scold me because I wouldn’t save any. Now that I am an adult and I obviously better understand the pressure of bills and so on, I adopt and respect this vision in my work too. We all have a life with similar needs and requests, so you have to be real and con- crete when it comes to customers. I am extremely lucky to do something that I love, to play a role that I wanted and that I am passioned about, but this is a company, so crea- tivity and passion have to go hand in hand with business. It is a philosophy that is probably closer to interior design, but I have always strongly believed that those two dimensions could coexist with no problems.
Nowadays talking about simplicity seems to be outdated. We have the possibility to simultaneously live in different dimensions with all this digital and social, we can travel and buy nearly everything, low cost, and with an expiring date already on it. Regarding clothes, we can buy any- thing in different formulas: marked down, copied, or undersold. Have you ever lost your hope, your way, or your dream about fashion?
Of course I did, but it is something common. I am a living and thinking person and can’t deny the influence that some news has on me. We are constantly made aware of bad or tragic events, it would be impossible not to think about it. Creative people are frequently called kind souls, a definition that absolutely fits if you ask me. It is under- standable to have a lack of confidence due to the system. What is difficult is to carry on with a precise vision, but it must be done. I try to stay up to date with world news, but I also put a filter in between to protect myself from panicking or being overwhelmed with anxiety.
Within the business of fashion, what is being highly misunderstood today?
The word commercial is a big one nowadays. There are several interpretation though, it can be a beautiful word if applied in the right way, or a dangerous one if used in the wrong context. Everything labelled as commercial is not a certain sale. This is the real gap between fashion and fast fashion. It is yet again a matter of being aware. We need to be respectful of money and to know the value of whatever we are producing. Of course on the other side you have to be aware of what you are buying. I feel at the same time influenced and stimulated by this. I mean I have to, other- wise it would be too simple.
In this atmosphere, what is the importance of having independent projects?
It depends on the situation. For instance, I paused my project L72 to completely dedicate myself to Bikkembergs and Dirk Bikkembergs. No one asked me to, but I morally felt the need to do so. I accepted a huge amount of work,
a huge responsibility, and I wanted to do it in the best way possible. This is a start up, it is a relaunch, and we don’t have an enormous team yet. We are a small group of people who work day and night in order to improve many aspects of the brand. If I were in another situation, I would feel more free to work on other projects too. I have always believed in creative people having more than one project, but not too many, otherwise it would become a copy and paste. We have one brain, one life, and if we don’t have time to feed our mind with new ideas or stimulus, it is useless and wrong to have so many things going on.
You are an optimist and a keen worker. You said you are fascinated by the Fifties because of the renascence of style. Picturing yourself as a young emerging designer back in those days, were would you have sent your portfolio for an internship?
Dior, sure thing! Proportions, volumes, I love working in the tridimensional phase of my work, when the piece is on the mannequin you get to play with measures and cuts. You can draw whatever you want, but it is going to remain a sensation until you bring it to life. The atelier, the real couture, and the great side of this craft starts in that period, in Paris, with Dior. High fashion was already a thing, but the Fifties had something unique. The War was over, everything was new and thrilling. The furniture was being revolutionised, the industrial and economical boom was changing history. There is something strong and magical about that decade. I experienced the Seventies, even though I was really young, so I do not have the charm of that period. In order to explore the Fifties I have to read books, watch movies and documentaries, I find it so romantic. Women and men were so beautiful, so refined, they were a dream.
What does remain the same between upcoming designer Lee and creative director Lee?
In the end I am just a child really, I didn’t grew up that much. I feel very much like my eighteen years old self. Obviously I made some steps, I bought a house — I have a mortgage — I mean there are some elements that prove my growth and my deep change, but sometimes I ask myself what has changed and just smile. I don’t stare at my reflection in the mirror and remind myself my age. Wait, actually I did, a few days ago, and I said, ‘You are forty-five and you are not bad at all!’, after a few seconds I grabbed my smartphone and took a selfie. (He laughs, Ed.) There are times when I realised my age but I live my life and I do what I want to do. What didn’t change is probably my spontaneity.
When one is given the chance to see the beautiful, that which moves one and makes one forget about the rest, it is undoubtedly sheer luck. These little sensations have to be jealously kept in one’s mind, in association with the images immortalised by one’s eyes. A unique flat, a magic place, rich and balanced in its symphony of colours, materials, and shapes. Everything makes sense, everything is perfectly combined in a unique style, irreproducible and bold. I have sensed courage and authenticity stepping into the Dimore Studio Gallery. Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran, the curators and creators of this gigantic wonder, have spoken about what surrounds them with irony and without any particular filter. Their job has them playing with two realities: Dimore Studio and Dimore Gallery, both indissolubly tied with their minds, their cultural baggage, and their aesthetic flair. On one side, there is a consultancy and design studio among the most brilliant on the scene.
On the other, there is the exhibition gallery, displaying works of art and objects, as well as new talents. A Dimora on many levels, with a peculiar great atmosphere that makes you move on different spaces, alternating tastes, scents, and sensations elicited by Emiliano and Britt’s eyes. Eyes that scrutinise everything that surrounds them with kindness, attentiveness, and a smile.
Looking back is a way of putting pieces back together and realising the true beginning of things. Memories might seem futile at first, without any apparent depth, but sometimes they are the real moment of enlight- enment. Regarding your journey in creating spaces and your passion for objects, in short the instinct of vision, when did it start?
Emiliano: From time immemorial, when I was very little, practically a baby.
Britt: Yes, I remember. When I was a child, my mother subscribed to seven design magazines in the United States. I used to leaf through them, and ask her to write to the editor for things like the planimetry of a house. I was very curious, I wanted to understand how the space was divided, and I was trying to do that by looking at the pictures.
Emiliano: I use to do worse than that. When my parents were out, perhaps visiting my grandparents or my aunt on Sunday afternoon, I use to take my room apart. I also used to try to move the furniture, obviously scraping the floor. Then if I couldn’t move the heaviest ones, I would still find a way to turn it upside-down. The thing that I really liked to do after that was taking pictures of these still life I had created.
Speaking about journey in a more literal sense, every person has mem- ories of experiences that have somehow left their mark. It can happen thanks to details, people, as well as an environment. What is the place or experience of a journey that made you dream the most?
Britt: Perhaps Edinburgh during my Erasmus. I was twen- ty and living in a very crowded international house. In this mansion in the city centre everyone had their own room, and we lived in this small utopia made of kids coming from all over the world for a year. I was overwhelmed by so many different cultures and languages. Besides I was by myself, at twenty years old, in another country. It was crazy.
Emiliano: Definitely New York, I had just turned eighteen on my first time there. The outbound flight was a night- mare because smoking was still allowed. I didn’t smoke, I had a cold, and I couldn’t breathe because the lady sitting next to me kept lighting up one cigarette after the other. When I landed, I followed the usual path that leads to Manhattan, it was full of these never ending white tiled tunnels, and I thought it was all kind of sad. The I sudden- ly saw this huge poster of Donna Karen and Kim Wilde with the city in the background. It was late, all the lights were on, and I saw New York for the first time in its full glory. My blood ran cold, it was magnificent. That was my first memorable trip.
It appears to me that somehow something changed or some sort of fuse was lit thanks to these journeys. Did your way of looking at things change after New York and Edinburgh?
Emiliano: Absolutely and for the better. I was a boy and thanks to New York I discovered that there were cities that were always holding exhibitions of contemporary
art, and at eighteen years old I didn’t think it was possible to experience that kind of ferment. I had always admired Donald Judd and I couldn’t believe that there were huge spaces dedicated exclusively to his works of art. He is the first contemporary artist who gave rise to my desire to do my job. Back then I didn’t even know the size of his works, I had only seen them in books. When I first saw his famous steel cubes in person, I was enraptured. Moreover, I loved his house museum. I must say that it has been kept as he left it, the pencils he used to use are still scattered on his work bench, and his half full tube of toothpaste is still in the bathroom. It looked like he was still there too, and that moved me.
Britt: That famous Erasmus in Edinburgh was the chance for me to change the way I used to see the world for the better as well. This kind of experience makes you want to get increasingly in touch with what surrounds you. The United States are a wonderful country, and even though it’s a huge one, in the end it is like being on a big island. You travel for days, and you are always in the same place. Instead, when I was in Edinburgh, during school breaks, I had the chance to travel across Europe and see many dif- ferent things. It was like living in different worlds, some- thing that fascinates me to this day.
Emiliano: I experienced this aspect of diversity myself in Japan. I remember my first time in Tokyo, it was incredi- ble. I visited Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto and what I noticed was this coexistence of totally opposite realities in such a small place, so I understand and agree with what Britt is saying. It’s wonderful.
Just by looking around I realise that you both have a very rich visual and cultural baggage. It is all very personal, yours. Now that the importance of traveling and getting to know something different from what we see everyday has been established, I ask myself, is there a particular culture that fascinates you or that has deeply marked your path?
Emiliano: We are fascinated by everything actually. We are known for our contaminations, last year for instance showed influences of the Sixties and Seventies, Art Deco references as well as Ettore Sottsass’ and Giacometti’s. I don’t believe it is possible for us to be monothematic. We like the moroccan world, but we also like the Norwegian one. We like the links between various styles and worlds.
We could say that curiosity is something fundamental in your work, isn’t it?
Emiliano: I am very curious, I sometimes endanger my own life for the sake of curiosity. I am always traveling. Once I was in Argentina and we ended up in some quite dodgy areas. I also happened to get close and inside some motels because I was fascinated by the entrance hall, I could see the bar suffused lighting, and I was attracted by the aesthetic. I have to say that I always got away with it.
So is it something even more emotional, like a transport of a sort?
Emiliano: Of course. Let’s just say that I’m so curious that I sometimes forget about the environment.
Britt: I wish I had more time to read. Through books
one can learn so many things, things that get fixed firmly in one’s mind. I am currently reading a biography, and I got to the point where the story of these two people’s art collection is being told, so I went looking for the painting they bought, and so on. We are so lucky because thanks to our job we are always in contact with many people of a certain level, and we learn a lot from them, it is a huge stimulus. With the chance to travel a lot also comes the occasion to see and know so much.
Fashion links itself and is indissolubly tied with many other fields and for various aspects. It is fascinating when a designer succeeds in repre- senting not only his aesthetic, but also his belief, his attitude, somehow his dream inside a shop. I’m thinking about the repelling ones like Seditionaries by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, or the icy ones by Martin Margiela. Biba and Fiorucci also come to mind, and so does Mr Freedom and the desire to tell the story of a lifestyle, to create a meeting place. Does it still make sense to try and create similar spaces in 2018, or is there less interest in said aspect?
Britt: I believe it to still be very important. There are so many shops, all alike, especially when it comes to certain brands with certain aesthetic. One can be in Milan or Moscow without realising it because every store is the same. The idea that there are still shops worth traveling for around the world is very interesting even today.
Emiliano: The mechanism may have changed at a greater speed, but the concept is still there. Everything can be achieved even with a different pace. Today traveling is faster than before, but the experience stays the same.
The same applies to retail stores. We can say that the geni- us behind the brands you named might create a little bit of nostalgia today. Fashion has always mattered a lot to me. I lived the golden age of Romeo Gigli and that was fantastic, just like when Martin Margiela was really pushing boundaries and so I tried to grab those iconic pieces; I had the luck to witness the core years of Ms Jil Sander, Helmut Lang, and many others, it was so exciting. Let’s just say that I do miss this characters, of course there are some genius today too, but maybe not as many.
Britt: Times have also changed. Technically there is not even time to think anymore. Carlo Scarpa used to say to his buyers that he would have seen them after five, six, or seven years, once the project was ready. If we were to say something like this today we wouldn’t be working at all. You are lucky if you get five days to come up with a concept.
Emiliano: That is true, but let’s also say, much to my regret, that new generations know only so much about what once, there is no real will to know, they might know something about Gio Ponti because that’s in, but that’s it. There are chunks of history missing, huge gaps. What you can find out about the Eighties and Nineties on the Internet is not even close to enough, while there is plenty to satisfactory understanding what was going on in the twentieth century and at the beginning of the last centu- ry. The Eighties and Nineties have yet to be properly deepened, and this cultural gap is strongly perceived. I was lucky enough to live them firsthand, my dad owned a furniture shop. I was laying the foundation of my cultural baggage, letting my- self be fascinated by beautiful things, discovering the new, I could tell you stories for hours. I used to look at items by Cassina, Mario Bellini, Pesce, and so on. If you go looking for these things and really start digging, there is no big information archive to be found. There is a lack of culture somehow.
Despite this, I believe it is funda- mental to support the new minds and encourage them. How important is it to educate and sponsor new talents nowadays, and what is your approach?
Britt: If we want someone to continue our work it becomes paramount. I don’t know how easy doing it can be. Italy is a country that I love, but it is definitely not an easy reality. It is very hard for the good ones to stay here, and this is a shame. The system is a bit irksome, the bureaucracy doesn’t really help sometimes, especially when it comes to young people. There is a need for either greater means or easier access. The procedure itself is discouraging enough sometimes.
Emiliano: Bureaucracy sometimes kills the world. On one hand there is this enormous speed, distances have been shortened, one can order a suit from the Dover Street Market in London and get it delivered to his house the next day. The same can be said of production times, it is incredible how they have been shortened. On the other hand though I notice a slowness and a complexity in bureaucracy that is disarming.
Britt: I believe the system to be simply a little obsolete, archaic for the times we live in.
Emiliano: Exactly! And the same affects the new minds. There are so many enthusiastic young people working in our studio, we try to spur them as much as possible, and we are absolutely satisfied. My wish for them is to set off with their own idea, to commit and stick to it; they often get discouraged and change way. For example, we are looking for new talents for the Gallery, but everything that is shown to us has an undertone of fear. They worry too much about being able to sell or making something extraordinary. Besides, I see too many references to others, I would like to see some authenticity, a glare. I don’t know why, perhaps it is the bureaucracy, the fear of not being able to face certain procedures and limitations. Or perhaps, it is trivially the fear of bringing forward some projects rather than others because the outcome is unknown, like using ceramic or marble when you can go for wood without any doubt since it has already been done. I want to see them daring, of course they are going to need the help of an artisan, to experiment, and to try differ- ent combinations. Courage and a dash of stubbornness, that’s what is lacking.
There is a sentence that happens to be said a lot in the creation world, ‘it cannot be done.’ How do you deal with rejections, more or less debatable, in the production field?
Emiliano: Luckily for us, it doesn’t happen that often. When it does though we give it time. We try to show things from a different point of view, we offer seemingly alternative solutions that in truth lead to the same outcome. There is a certain kind of patience of course, you have to be willing to reason, talk, and even modify things in order to reach the final result. Or perhaps you can find another artisan.
Deep values can be hidden behind a ‘no’. You have to learn how to say no, sometimes much to your regret, sometimes to follow your principles, other times for the conditions. In which occasions do you feel like you have to say a sound ‘no’?
Brit: When something is too complex, it is not for us. We like laborious things, we like investing the time, but only when there is someone as willing as us and with clear ideas on the other side.
Emiliano: I say no when something doesn’t add up, when everything is taken for granted. When there are too many heads with too many different desires and a compromise cannot be reached. Basically I say no when there is too little seriousness and when things are not crystal clear.
Lucio Corsi is a musician, singer-songwriter of his worlds and his eyes.
He tells, describes, and creates unique images, pure fantasy at first, but deeply real in the end. His universe is closely connected to a panorama he is viscerally bound to, the Tuscan Maremma. An unparalleled territory, made of soft and colourful landscapes full of animals, trees, and hills. His songs sarcastically sing of our metropolitan world. The performers though are hares, porcupines, boars, wolves, and owls wearing human thoughts and living the forest to the fullest. His lyrics persistently bounce off the notes, accompanying a free lifestyle, personal and open to different interpretations. Lucio builds his journey between Milan and the Maremma observing even what is far from him, contemplating the beautiful, and welcoming everything that his life between nature and the city is willing to give.
First of all what seems to be a mandatory question, when and why did you move to the city?
Right after high school, I decided to come to Milan for the opportunities it could offer in the music field.
The Maremma is my favourite land, but it’s lacking in this aspect. There aren’t many pubs so yes, I’d say there are little opportunities for a musician. That’s why I moved to Milan.
My story is somewhat similar. I wasn’t born in the middle of nature, I come from Rome, and I’ve been also living in Milan for seven years now due to a matter of opportunities. Milan is an odd place. Speaking of stere- otypes, it’s one of the less Italian of this country, for its folklore, colours, people, and so on. Or perhaps it’s the most Italian of all thanks to the mix of people that live here. I believe I know three authentic Milanese. In Italy, Milan is the city of escape, the city of hope, but also the city of loneliness. How are you doing here?
I’ve always noticed and smiled at the rareness of the Milanese born and bread. I used to blame Milan for the loneliness and for its subtle detachment towards human beings. The aesthetic, the palaces, the greyness, I was basically blaming it for being a city. Then I realised that it’s something that all the metropolis have in common. I prefer a place that has more breathtaking landscapes than events to offer. I speak ill of it, I know that, but I’m still profoundly grateful to Milan, even though I run away from it every time I can.
The twenties are an age of transformation. It’s a time when one has to find or build something both in the professional and the private sphere; it’s when one begins to become his or her own person beyond the foun- dation. I’m on my way out of this decade and I still don’t get if that is or isn’t the case. There’s one very important thing that often happens, even though the frequency might be higher during one’s youth, and that’s making mistakes. How important is that to you?
Making mistakes is always important, one gets to under- stand a lot of things. Sometimes it is fun and absolutely necessary for some obstacles to lie on one’s path, and truth be told, the opposite would be quite unrealistic. It would be weird never to make mistakes at any decade, it is a part of the life and growth of every human being after all. Making mistakes matters to me, it is something of un- doubted relevance.
Are you able to acknowledge your mistakes?
Honestly, I don’t know, maybe I acknowledge some and not others. Delicacy is one of the first sensations one expe- riences when listening to your works. Complexity comes after that, every word, every figure and image you shape must be more felt than heard. Personally, it’s an invita- tion to look and see more carefully. Still, I believe I sense
a rebellion of a sort, of the highest sort in a world where everyone is good at shouting words and imposing figures without a substantial content.
Your "Movimento punk della foresta" — from L’Upupa // Album Bestiario Musicale — represents it all. At times is seems to be sung by Peter Pan’s Lost Boys, and all of a sudden it’s a boy living in 2018 who’s singing, a boy who is disenchanted, aware of what surrounds him, but also a little bit uncaring and smiling while doing it. Would you be able to tell me about your movement, your belief towards the world?
I believe freedom to be fundamental nowadays and per- haps that’s the most beautiful thing about making music or art in general. To express myself like this through a song, a painting, a book is important to me. To talk about personal issues, but also fridges in summer, everything re- ally, it’s the most exciting thing for me. We are indeed free, but sometimes we tend to talk about the same things, in the same ways, choosing the same words, and that brings me such sadness. People should care less and go straight on their way. Today the world is full of so many things that live all together. It’s a very colourful reality, many things make sense and many others don’t, as it should be in the end. It’s impossible to find meaning and depth at all costs in everything made in times like these. And that perhaps is beautiful too. For example, there are things that fascinate me, things that I find more profound and poetic, and these are the things that leave something inside of me. When something remains, leaves a mark, then it is something that I want to be surrounded by, nurtured by, and I don’t mean just music. Other things, the ones that leave me undisturbed, come and go, and I soon forget about them because they can’t find their way within me.
n your works I see a lot of psychedelia, images full of colours running fast. Every word begins with a shape and then turns into something else, riding or caressing the sounds. In conclusion your work is definitely full but also light. Beyond the more than deducible effort that goes into it, how much awareness is there? And how much is instinct?
When I was younger it was undoubtedly more instinctive. Little by little it all comes out in a more reasoned way.
It goes with the age, growth, and formation process that builds the personal journey of an individual day after day. The beautiful thing about lyrics is the words and images that come out of it. Everyone can find a unique meaning when a song meets one’s own world and past. This is the best way to get the most out of the enormous freedom, in this case interpretative, that lies within the lyrics. You speak of nature of course, of animals, plants, but somehow I also feel the coarseness of concrete.
I don’t see your work as naive, I’d say it’s rather brilliant, sarcastic, and at times provocative. You have found a key of your own to talk about today. Would you like to escape from this world made of people and objects or is it good to be here in the end?
I wouldn’t want to escape. I’m having fun. It all comes down to how we look at things. Even the most annoying ones for instance can be turned upside-down. Everyone can choose where to live and as far as I’m concerned, I try to live as much as possible in a place that is dear to me, the Maremma. The solution for me lies in being able to let myself get excited by the things that I like. Today we are used to looking at certain things with an accustomed eye, there is no more astonishment. If only we tried to look at things with a different attitude, a purer one, we could see the world with different eyes and thoughts, and the same would therefore apply to our lives.
You seem to be quite the observer. I’ve always thought that there are animal-like people, people who somehow fascinate, attract, and perhaps scare us just like some animals do, people who are beautiful even just to look at. Do you look at people the same way you look at animals?
I wouldn’t know. Some people charm me and I dwell on them. Even when I’m singing about trees, animals, and nature, it amuses me to add some thoughts that belong to the human mind. Whatever I take away from looking at people, I try to apply it to a tree for instance, just to see what happens. Mine is undoubtedly a set of various observations.
This set of yours, what are the connections that make it?
I try to let myself be inspired by images, paintings. Lyrics wise, I like and I’m very passionate about a certain kind of writing, one that’s not only narrative, but also made by images. I find this attitude to be the case in the writ- ing evolution of Paolo Conte. At some point he started describing images without the need to tell a story. I see a strong bond with painting there. You can totally read a story in a picture, but it has to come from you, from your interpretation. This kind of connections, influences, these are the ones that inspire me the most.
Speaking of images you also kind of speak of presentation. How impor- tant is the visual side of your work to you?
It matters a lot, but it depends on the album. For instance, with Bestiario Musicale instead of the music video, we decided to illustrate each song only through animal paintings. They were more than enough, and they fit my willingness to defend the interpretative freedom of the listener. Perhaps I could’ve used one or more music video to push the meaning in one direction only, but I’m satis- fied with what I’ve chosen to do with this album. We’ll see about the future ones.
The presentation of your work though cannot be limited to a booklet, a cover, or a music video. You definitely have a style of your own and an imaginary that somehow closes the circle with your music. How do you feel about your clothes and appearance?
It amuses me and I believe it to be very important. Speak- ing of a record, I like to picture myself and work on it as
a whole, it’s not only lyrics and music, everything about
it equally matters to me. I concentrate on how the songs will be presented regarding the cover, but also how they are going to be delivered on stage, and therefore how I’m going to present myself, wearing what. I like to match each work with an outfit that goes well with it. The approach that perhaps best describes me, going back to Paolo Conte and his song Alle prese con una verde Milonga, is the description of Atahualpa, a guitarist of Milonga. He used to say that when a musician steps on stage, he meets the song, the music. A sort of date happens and therefore one has to be at his best. That’s why he polishes his shoes and is all dressed up. I try to do the same for my date.