Vasco Brondi continues to find treasures in the rubble

Vasco Brondi: “Making songs is an esoteric art”

In “A sign of life”, Vasco Brondi's new album, you can see many fires, which have the power to destroy or illuminate, burn or heat. But above all they break through the dark times. It is a project full of light, which marks a human and artistic turning point for the founder of Le Luci della Centrale Elettrica, a name that he consciously abandoned in 2019 to evolve. The songs that compose it are made of refrains sung loudly, inside there are encounters and pieces of existence that have been translated into music. To accompany the listening of the album, which will be presented on a club tour starting from next April 5th in Livorno, the artist has written the “Little manual of unpopular pop”, published with the album in limited editions, a sort of geographical map and feelings useful for understanding and understanding the signs and traces left along the way.

Where did the making of this album come from?
On this record I enjoyed the process. I have always enjoyed the initial writing phase, the moment in which something materializes out of nothing, the moments in which songs are born, but in this work I opened up even more even at this juncture, I shared it. The same goes for the recording phase, which has never been my favorite. On the contrary. I'm not a nerd, I don't know how to use programs well. Furthermore, working from morning to night, to record, at a tight pace, is not for me. Even when I worked at the bar I didn't spend a whole day at work, from day to night in one place.

So how do you approach writing new music?
For me making music is not fun, it fills me up, but it has never been fun. This time around I tried to break a few rules. The turning point was setting up a studio in Paolo Cognetti's mountain refuge, in Valle d'Aosta, with Federico Dragogna and other musicians, loading the instruments and equipment as if we were Sherpas. And that changed everything. They walked towards the lake, we recorded, in the evening we made a fire. We worked hard, but in a different way, with breathing space.

Vista mare” is a song you wrote on an island, on the ocean, then recorded in the mountains. Do the songs reflect the places where they were born?
The songs are transparent, they have an air inside, they absorb everything. For me, making songs is more and more an esoteric art. I am very rational. Yoga and meditation, which I practice, are super rational, there is no magic. The songs, however, hold a mystery. There is something inexplicable about them, how they are perceived, how they arrive. Sometimes mine don't even feel like mine. I am me, but also something beyond me. They go beyond the self. Even when you record them, perhaps in a different place from where you wrote them, they retain the feel of the place where they were born. The trace of these journeys is inside the record's making diary, the book is really a map. The last sentence I wrote is in 'Out of town': 'with our paths we draw labyrinths seen from above'. It's not a flattering phrase. But not everything is essential to be useful, as Herzog wrote. These songs took me places. And inside there is this varied geography.

“Landscape after the battle”, your previous work, was a walk on rubble. In this album you look for “signs of life”. Are they somehow connected?
After fifteen years of making records I still have no control over what I do. I did it, but while I was doing it I didn't think about what this new album would represent. From the 'Landscape after the battle', in fact, 'signs of life' have arrived. This is a reaction album to the previous one, which was full of ballads, dark and also heavy in some respects, the result of a very hard period for me, not only due to the pandemic, also on a personal level. I wasn't clear. This project instead has movement and clearer pieces, the voice is direct. I needed to distance myself from 'Landscape after the battle', for me it was important to do 'else'.

How important is the light that we also find on the cover?
Yes, there is a reaction to that dark landscape. That is, it is important to illuminate, to enter into the darkness. For me it is essential to shine a light in the darkness. Calvino in 'Invisible Cities' says that 'you can search in hell, what is not hell, heal and give space'. I feel like my songs are like fires in the night. The cover is also red, it has a strong color. And there's me turning on a light. The fire 'inside' is also what allowed me to have curiosity, to go beyond the province. It was a fire that didn't burn me, but guided me.

There are a lot of female protagonists on this album.
For me songs have always been a dialogue. There are many 'feminine yous', it's true. But I have also always loved dialogue between men, between friends. 'Nights bright', for example, is a male love song, between friends. One that I have always loved, which has the same vision, is 'Rubber Ocean' by Afterhours, which I also performed. On female figures: they also told Antonioni the same thing and he repeated 'I know women better, they are an unknown continent and therefore they interest me more'. Then you know, I'm also among those female figures: they pointed out to me that Sara 'Illumina tutto' looks a lot like me. In 'Fire Inside' with Nada there is the story of a woman who survives everything, protected by that fire inside that burns more than what burns around her, and even in this it is possible to see each other again, to see myself again.

In “Luminous Nights” you talk about tracks. Do the songs leave traces?
Certainly. 'Sunday of the Corpses' by De André encompasses a decade. What remains are those that intercept the spirit of the time and remain living moments.

On a production level you worked with Federico Nardelli, Matteo Cantaluppi and Federico Dragogna. Is this the poppiest record you've ever made?
Absolutely, but I've decided it. It is desires that guide us. We don't decide. We are in the hands of other forces. In fact, I purposely called the book 'Little manual of unpopular pop'. Because this is a pop record, but pop in my own way. My favorite artists are Battiato, De Gregori, Dalla who have had a popular impact. A bit like Fellini or Sorrentino in cinema today. Everyone has found their own way of expressing themselves, a way that resonates with others too.

Gino Paoli wrote that “to sing is to share one's solitude with other solitudes”. You travel a lot, you stay with yourself a lot. Are you looking for solitude?
I see myself more in the phrase 'solitude is time spent with the world'. I never feel alone, especially when I'm in the woods, not in the city. For me, that dimension is a necessity, which is not an escape from people, but a moment with myself. And think that I imagine the beginning of a new album, of a new evolution, in the opposite way, that is, in permanence. Maybe to change again and find other musical paths I should put a stop to travelling, stay fixed in one place for a long time (smiles, ed.).

“The good season” begins with data on migratory flows. Do you also try to bring light to a difficult and dark topic in this way?
What moves me most in the songs is the pietas, that way that everyone has of making do. 'The good season', specifically, is a song that begins with data on immigration as if it were a news broadcast and then ends with a sweet melody and a distorted atmosphere, with the words: 'Give me the courage to smile at a dream if it cannot be fulfilled'. In the end it's a piece of love. All my songs, in some way, have reality, the 'news', inside, but there is an intimacy that takes into account what is around.