Interview - Caligula031
PURE STENCH: [What was your initial interest in music and when did you get into Industrial and Noise?]
I have started listening music when I was around 10 with a different ear. I was getting bored with toys and cartoons, quickly becoming interested in movies and music through Italy commercial channels. I started enjoying harder contents, theatrical aesthetics, so at first I shifted to metal, to then discover thrash/death/black and hardcore. At 12, I discovered that some friends of mine were lucky to have “alternative” older siblings, and they started taping me shitload of weird stuff that ranged from Oi! to early Industrial music (we were in the mid 80’s). I have been absorbed mostly in hardcore and oi! until my interests were forging a consciousness that was slightly different by the average “save the world” obsession and, although my ideas are still the same I used to have back in the days, my attitude was developing from the safe condition of belonging to a closed scene of people that were alike-minded, to more adventurous environments dealing with unsafe subjects and different conceptions of pleasure and socialization. In the meantime my tastes in music were turning always more radical although I still listen anything I have been enjoying since I was a kid and still respect people from those days that, every now and then, re-appear in my life to stay. I am thinking about the guys behind Scream of Anger, Though Guys don’t dance, Green records, By all means, Think twice, Concrete, Asociale, and many others.
PURE STENCH: [What does the name Caligula031 mean, exactly?]
Gaius Iulius Caesar Germanicus, named Caligula, was a Roman emperor who left an image of himself as a deviant lunatic with an endless sexual appetite who, in order to gain people’s favours, constantly organized massive parties, apparently devoted to debauchery and excess. He’s known for extreme cruelty and perversions, yet big part of his bad fame depends on his opposition to senators, bureaucrats that he never stopped to humiliate and attack until his death by the hands of a group of centurions. Caligula inspired a bunch of sleazy movies in the 70’s, the best of which has been partially directed by Tinto Brass; a flick that was victim of many production problems that ended up being mounted with some hardcore inserts by Penthouse editor Bob Guccione. The movie still has fantastic moments, with colossal like atmosphere, with luxurious scenography and pompous soundtrack. I wonder what Tinto Brass’ final version would have looked like.
Caligula is also the name of a notorious brothel in Berlin, this is where I reminded how nice would have been to name the project as it is now. 031 is the old phone code of my area.
Most of the subject depicted in my work are inspired by things that are happening locally, between the Northern part of Italy and Tessin, the Swiss southern region at the border with my town.
So at this stage of the project, most tracks deals with things happening in my turf.
PURE STENCH: [Caligula031 has a very rigid theme. A celebration of the human trade in the 3rd world. Why did you choose this theme? Will all Caligula031 material focus on this matter?]
I do not consider Albania and the Balkans like third world areas; Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia are definitely not as degraded and poor as Africa. They have their problems, especially after suffering the last three wars, Tito’s iron fist and, talking about Serbia, peace lovers bombings, but you can trust me that I am convinced that places like Liverpool, or some parts of Italy are more 3rd world minded. The thing that got me interested is the quite peculiar ideas regarding family and prostitution some of some gentlemen, which smuggle their siblings here in various way, especially with tourist permissions or as “artists”, to end up being forced working in the world’s oldest trade. I was reading reports about fathers selling their daughter to pimps for something like 200 Euro. And while working here I started witnessing pretty peculiar things and I think this was a good start.
PURE STENCH: [How was "Albanian Meat Market" received? I've seen varied reactions (not many, but some) and wanted to see what you thought.]
I haven’t read many reviews, yet feedback was quite good and people is asking for more. I am enthusiastic that most people understood what I was trying to describe.
PURE STENCH: [Wertham already has a name for itself. Why did you separate these two groups? And sound-wise, what differences are you aiming for with Caligula?]
Working as Wertham involves plenty of recordings, over recording, mixing, sampling, a specific way of working with text, lyrics and images. New stuff is going always more in the direction of the CD, that is more constructed and atmospheric (although definitely not soft). I wanted to keep on working on atmospheres similar to my tape SLEAZE, with less bass frequencies, no mastering and almost no digital intervention. Something constantly in your face based mostly on improvised textures and with a different use of voice. I am still fond of coherent contents, but I want C031 to be more direct.
PURE STENCH: [What were your motivations for forming Caligula? Would you say that there is an overall purpose or aesthetic that informs Caligula? How would you describe the sounds of Caligula031 to someone who has never heard it?]
As said, I needed a more instinctual way to discharge energies in sounds/visual/texts. Something more devoted to pure sound, at full impact with no mediation of post-production apart from samples, where vocals are not as important as Wertham, yet there are plenty of them. I feel the urge to get deeper on certain subjects I am witnessing first hand, especially the decay of Tessin/Northern Italy society during this crisis, with new form of fears, exploitation, etc. Switzerland in many extent reminds me what Italy used to be in the 70’s, when the economic boom backfired. You sense fear for unemployment, there is an high rate of suicide, yet brothels (that are semi-legal here) are always full.
Soundwise C031, plays minimal power electronics, based mostly on medium/high frequencies, indulging with long tracks with aggressive vocals. Nothing new I suppose, but this is the best way to paint some specific images I have in mind.
PURE STENCH: [With Caligula there is a visceral tension, or intensity, intertwining with the repetitive and sometimes unnerving electronics which makes for a lurid mixture. Dark and real. Is there anything positive that you are trying to convey with Caligula?]
The only positive thing is the same I try to reach with all my project. Pure sense satisfaction by reaching some sort of balance between the sound itself and the subjects involved. I am not trying to liberate myself. Yet I feel to share this tension with alike-minded. If you feel it even for a few instants, it means it works.
PURE STENCH: [While recording do you dream up the way you want the sounds to form before hand and work within a certain boundary, or is there room for improvisation?]
As Caligula not always. Differently by other projects I try to let the sound guide itself and develop. I would say that 70% of the result is improvised, apart from lyrics, some minor editing and samples.
PURE STENCH: [Does anyone assist your work with Caligula or is it all you?]
I am going to use some sound sources from John Murphy, who is part of all my projects, but it is 90% run by myself. I don’t know about the future.
PURE STENCH: [If you could do a collaboration with any other artist who would you choose?]
I am not planning many collaborations at the moment since, due to work, I am unreliable, slow and inconclusive. So better to work alone and avoid disappointments and breaking friendships due to inconclusiveness. I admire many people, and I think I would be keen to cooperate with any of the Finnish friends, Shift or Mania, but there are too many excellent people to mention.
PURE STENCH: [Have you played live as Caligula031? If not, do you wish to do a live show under the name?]
I have inserted some C031 tracks in the last Wertham shows. Unfortunately due to an annoying (but nothing dramatic) health condition, I can’t attend gigs, so I don’t foresee playing on stage for a while. Time will tell!
PURE STENCH: [You told me that you are in the process of creating a 7'' (I believe). Is there a title for this new work yet? Are you going to run with the same themes as you did with "Albanian Meat Market"?]
SLAVETRADE 2000 starts from where Albanian Meat Market ended. I have tried to imagine the whole idea of being convinced to move here with the heart full of illusions, and all the thoughts a person may have during the whole process of being smuggled, sold, rented, etc. I plan to finish it in a few weeks.
PURE STENCH: [You have been in the Noise/P.E. scene for a while now. How do you see the progression of the scene?]
I am not very involved in the “scene” as I used to be. Due to work my contacts are very limited since I became extremely slow with everything. I have been enthusiastic by what I have listened to during the last years since more people started using vocals and recognizable tracks in their work although keeping high standard of ultra-violence. Although I am a sucker for pure industrial atmosphere and “ambience” in general, I like this return to crude sounds with radical concepts that make you feel guilty while you listen or hold an artwork in your hands. I like things when they punch you and succeed in making you feel somehow unsafe.
At the same time there are too many uninspired projects that deals with boring subjects or perceive themselves as some form of “art”. There is nothing artistic in pain. It is just part of daily life.
PURE STENCH: [What are some records/tapes/CD's that you have been spinning lately? Reading any good books?]
Recently I have been listening a lot to Human Larvae and Shift tapes on Unrest, then the Russian/Serbian part of Vladivostok FM from the Game GTA IV, and latest Deathspell Omega. I am reading Scerbanenco’s novels. His work inspired many Italian cult movies in the ‘60’s/70s, the most famous being Milano Calibro 9. The way he describes sordid situations is priceless.
PURE STENCH: [Thanks for doing this interview. If there is anything else you want to add here is the space to do it.]
Thanks for the interview. This can be considered a baptism for C031, I really appreciate it. Keep up the great work.