In order to get a better understanding of Raffaele's work, as well as to find out his own view of the world, I had a chat with him, mostly comprising a few exchanges of emails.
“I don’t have a specific favorite instrument or gear”, he tells me. “Throughout the years I changed instruments many times, from guitars to synths, or string instruments built by friends (such as Massimo Olla) or trumpet.”
When approaching the composition process, Pezzella’s favorite method is “to dream the music at night while I’m asleep and wake up in the morning to understand how the hell to make it real.” He prefers to focus his attention on how to get out what he has in mind when he’s feeling inspired by something. “Currently I’m mostly fascinated by the human voice – that is the most rich and natural instrument. And I’m also thinking of commissioning parts of compositions, under my guide, to musicians playing instruments I couldn’t play, and then arrange the recordings. It’s probably an approach closer to a composer or a sound artist than to a musician, in the strict sense of the word.”
During the Covid-19 outbreak, Raffaele, as most of the musicians and artists, spent much more time in the studio, but admits that he had a very focused work schedule before the pandemic too. “The same is for my labels; if they improve or not is due to the project's quality in the long term.”
He first held a guitar in his hands at the age of 15, while he was a fan of rock music. It was the biography of William Burroughs that stimulated Raffaele's imagination and attracted him into the vast world of experimental music. “I was extremely fascinated by his experiments around tape recordings of voices from dead people. Since that moment there was a click in my head. It was the right moment when I put aside The Dark Side Of The Moon
by Pink Floyd, and focus on the next one: Ummagumma.”
It has been argued that myths function to form and shape society and social behaviour, as well as the opportunity to provide a religious experience. By telling or reenacting myths, members of traditional societies detach themselves from the present, returning to the mythical age, thereby coming closer to the divine. Pezzella's musical universe incorporates myths, as well as many cultural movements from the past. “Of course, I can be influenced – consciously or not – by some of them, like dada movement, musique concrete or surrealism. If I should quote only a few music artists, they would be Terry Riley, Jon Hassel, Brian Eno, Pierre Henry, Philip Jeck. My music is also highly inspired by other forms of art, such as cinema, literature or painting, as well as philosophy and modern mythologies. This is an aspect that, starting from my latest album Phantoms, will be even more evident in the future.”
Pezzella admits that to him there is (almost) nothing more satisfying than finding unknown music around the world – especially music from non Western countries – and make people become aware of that. “It’s like the work of an archeologist of contemporary times. In terms of digital and/or physical ways to publish, they are just different media, and there’s not a precise prevalence of one on the other. Of course many people say that digital streaming is the future, but that is very true for commercial and entertainment music. In the experimental / avant-garde music field – a small niche compared to the mainstream one – people still like to have physical supports, such as CD, vinyl and tape, because they materialize a cultural passion through them. Actually, when we’re out of home, all of us often listen to music through headphones connected to a smartphone, and many people don’t have space in their places to store hundreds of records, or money to buy them. The way we make use of music depends on many factors; then the coexistence of both ways is a good thing for all.”