How many artists can claim to have single-handedly originated a musical genre? Italian quintet BELLADONNA are amongst that rare breed of bands whose absolute uniqueness has enraptured and inspired countless fans, followers and imitators all over the world. BELLADONNA are Luana Caraffa – vox, Dani Macchi – guitar, Alice Pelle – piano, Tam Scacciati – bass, Alex Giuliani – drums.
But let’s find out more… some days ago I had a sympathetic chat with Luana Caraffa, Belladonna‘s singer.
Hi Luana, Belladonna, in all senses! I’m Tarja from Metal Shock! Please be welcome! What was your first thought of this morning? Lol
*Ciao beautiful Tarja!!! my first thought this morning was that i had to answer your questions! lol*
Your band was formed in 2005 in Rome, quite a lot has happened in these 6 years! But please tell me first about the beginning…
*When we first joined myspace, immediately we believed that it could offer a great opportunity for independent artists all over the world. MySpace made it possible for indie artists to share – without filters of any kind — their music with the whole world. Personally we were amazed to go within weeks from being basically a local band only known to a few hundred people in our neighborhood to witnessing thousands of people for all over the world fallin’ in love with our songs and tellin’ about our little band to all their friends!!!*
Please, present us Belladonna’s members, and their roles in the band…
*We love to think of our band as a family first of all!! Each member is a crucially important ingredient in our specially concocted Belladonna’s potion… ;-)*
Which bands have influenced you the most?
*Well, we’ve always been more influenced by artists belonging to non-musical fields – say, Caravaggio, Federico Fellini, Edgar Allan Poe, William Blake – and we’ve always had the impression that our music did not belong to any particular genre but its own. Having said that, we have always felt a very strong emotional connection with almost any music recorded before 1980 and almost no connection with any music recorded after wards. We then discovered this is a very common feeling amongst music fans that like us perceive the vast majority of popular music of the last 30 years as stemming more from the artists’ vain desire of attaining commercial or critical recognition then from the artists’ need to create Beauty, Power and Depth in music.*
You’ve “invented” a completely new genre “Rock Noir”, how you came up to this sound? and if possible, give us the detailed description about what does it mean?
*When we started to write our songs it was clear to us that they had a lot to do with suspense and mystery (like in David Lynch or Alfred Hitchcock films) and nothing to do with the grotesque or demonic atmospheres of Goth music. That’s why we decided to coin a brand new definition for it and I guess that was the birth of “Rock Noir”!*
Luana, you and Dani, are the band’s songwriters. Would you like to tell us how a new song sees the daylight?
*It’s truly a mystery for us too!! It’s all probably down to some kind of alchemical connection between us… literally every time we start to do music together we can feel a new song rising …we like to think that all we do is to simply capture with our “emotional amtennaes” some of the millions of melodies that are already floating somewhere in the air surrounding us…*
What about the lyrics? where you take the ideas for them?
*Again, it’s a process for us very similar to “writing” music… something very very similar to Automatic Writing*
You’ve done also a couple of short-films, tell us about this experience…
*we’ve done a short film titled “Black Swan”…it’s a noir thriller and we really enjoyed working on it. We completed it just before we embarked in our crazy “MySpace Odissey”, and it was a very visual way to introduce our music to people*
You released your self-produced debut “Metaphysical Attraction” in 2006, and your second album “The Noir Album” came out in 2009… and we can say that your celebrity status grew enormously in the whole world. How it changed your everyday-life at that time?
*Nothing has changed in our life, we’ve just kept doing what we’ve always done: writing and playing our music and doing our utmost to stay always connected to all the awesome people we’ve met thanks to our music during these years.*
In 2009 and 2010 you toured a lot, and you played with many great bands and artists. Which act has remained in your mind, as the most important one? and why?
*There’s so much to learn from playing with all the bands we’ve been so lucky to share the stage with (like NIN, Mars Volta, Korn, Staind, Scars On Broadway etc) but we have to say that the genuine support that we received from Duff McKagan in the couple of shows we did with his band is probably our most treasured memory: Duff is a true gentleman, a bona-fide rock’n'roll fan, the most down-to.earth guy you could imagine and of course a kick ass musician: a real Star.*
Then in November 2010 you entered the studio in L.A. to record your third Album, how was it to work in that environment, and with a Grammy-nominated producer Alex Elena and Metallica’s engineer Mike Tacci?
*It was a really inspiring experience, and we also felt totally at home because Alex Elena – beside being a super-talented multi-instrumentalist – has been a very close friend of ours for many years and having him co-produce the L.A. sessions was truly a gift: his positive energy has to be experienced to be believed. And of course Mike Tacci’s skill, talent and vision as an engineer are totally world-class, as you can imagine. We recorded the album basically live, all playing at the same time without click tracks and the way he aurally photographed our band with his microphones left us truly speechless, he’s a real artist.*
And now I say only one name: Michael Nyman, the international music legend and composer… tell us about this collaboration… how everything started?
*Everything started on Facebook actually!…we kept writing this lenghty emails to each other about music, politics, revolution, and then he came to see one of our shows in London and that already was an immense honor for us! After that we discussed about writing a song together…just as an experiment between ourselves – and it was an unbelievable surprise when he actually proposed us to release it!!*
Then in December 2010 you released “Let There Be Light”, a single written in collaboration with Michael Nyman… what would you like to share with us about this experience?
*We think that this experience is yet another proof that when you do music with total disregard for any commercial considerations you are bound to find a very strong, almost ancestral connection with like-minded individuals, and Michael Nyman definitely is an extremely independent thinking person, beside being of course a musical genius and a living legend.
Talking about the last 6 years… how your sound has changed in general? and how you see it after 5 years from now?
*Our musical philosophy has always been the same and we cannot imagine changing it… we’ve always tried to give voice to our most inner, most secret emotions through music and that’s what we’ll always do, it would not make sense for us to do otherwise, and if we did otherwise it wouldn’t even be Music anymore, in our opinion.
And what next, what are your plans? I guess your calendar is quite busy for 2011…
*In mid-May our next album will see the light, and we cannot wait!! Then we’ll have lots of shows all over Europe that we are currently booking and hopefully we’ll also go back to the USA very soon*
Now I’d like to ask your opinion about Italian music scenes, comparing it to the international ones… and why, many times, a band has to go abroad first to gain the success that it deserves, before it’s noted in the home country?
*Well in Italy there’s never been a true, original, authentic rock’n'roll scene, just many bands that – sometimes without even realizing it – try to imitate whatever International bands that they loved. There are a few exceptions of course, the most notable of which is Lacuna Coil, a band that we LOVE and totally admire!!! Rock’n'roll is just totally at odds with Italy’s social fabric (where boys and girls typically live with their parents until well into their thirties and even beyond!) so it’s always been just a sort of superficial fashion for musicians, but never a real underground culture. Yet very bizarrely Italy’s rock fans are the best in the world, as most international bands discover when they come and play here!! A strange paradox.
You’re not signed on any label, why this choice? I mean how you see the role of labels in the music business, and how, to your opinion, it’s gonna change in the coming years?
*We definitely are not experts in the music business so we wouldn’t know how to answer that question. We’ve been offered many. many deals through the years, but never one we felt comfortable even discussing. Our musical independence is too important for us to give it away for money. Let’s put it this way: when the right person we’ll come along we’ll happily get married, but for now we totally enjoy being single!!!
Ok, now the last question… what are your greetings to your fans and to our readers?
*Thanks so much to you all for having read this far, and please get in touch with us on www.facebook.com/belladonnaband and drop us a line anytime, we always answer to everybody!!
Thanks Luana for this pleasant chat! Good Vibes and Stay… Rock Noir! \m/ see you on the road…
*Thanks to YOU, Tarja!!!”
Interview by Tarja Virmakari
BELLADONNA & MICHAEL NYMAN “Let There Be Light” OFFICIAL VIDEO!!