Nicolas Jaar-Endorsed Producer Vaghe Stelle Shares Experimental ‘Tempo’
From the Italian sound collagist's forthcoming "mini-LP"
Torino-based producer Vaghe Stelle, a.k.a. Daniele Mana, thinks of his electronic sound collages rather intellectually. In addition to sculpting a sort-of physical soundtrack for his home city, his latest “mini-LP,” Abstract Speed + Sound, takes its name from artist Giacomo Balla’s 1913-1914 painting and is inspired by the Italian Futurist movement. Besides pricking the ears of storied UK label Hyperdub founder Kode9, Stelle’s work also caught the attention of musique concrete student Nicolas Jaar, who will release Speed + Sound on his Other People label. “Tempo,” the second listen off the forthcoming seven-track effort, is a barking yet soothing track that snags on itself in a hypnotically jolting wave. Check it out here, and then read our Q&A with Stelle about art history, punching people, and cypherpunks.
How did you link up with Nicolas Jaar? What is it about Other People that you think is a good fit for you?
I met Nicolas once here in Turin a year ago when he had a gig at Teatro Carignano with Darkside. It was a brief chat and we didn’t talk about music at all if I remember well; I think I didn’t even tell him that I was making music. We started talking about my music only after several months, and then only when we decided to release something. I think Other People has an amazing and pretty unique approach: as a label it’s releasing tons of great and various music that don’t seem to be connected to any particular scene or genre. From my desk I always had the perception that who was running it has always more care of his own tastes than trends and hype.
Where did your interest in the Italian Futurist movement come from? Do other parts of your lifestyle conform to their aesthetic?
I first fell in love with their aesthetic when I was in school and I was studying the whole movement in art history and Italian history. Of course they had some weird and crazy ideas about war, which I don’t support at all, but I always felt a similar need of breaking up with the old canons and move forward. I can’t say I feel like a revolutionist, like Marinetti & Co, but I try to transpose their Manifesto into my own reality, approaching music in my own way leaving canons behind.
You’ve spoken about the Futurist’s fascination with the automobile industry as an analogy for your own fascination with digital networks — can you tell me some more about the digital networks that you’re interested in? How do you feel about institutions like the NSA, issues like internet privacy, and hackers?
I’m completely amazed by the magnitude of the internet. It’s as dangerous and unexplored as the South Pole or an ocean floor. I could spend hours discussing about NSA, Google, Apple, and my own privacy, but I have a Gmail account and right now I’m writing on MacBook; meanwhile, the Facebook newsfeed in moving in the background. I’m not an activist, I’m deeply interested in hackers, crackers, cypherpunks, and whoever is providing me with the right knowledge of what is going on behind my laptop screen.
You were involved in “Torino: A Great Symphony.” How do you feel like spatial representation of sound affects the music you make?
I think that creating the right space between sounds is the key to make a good song. I like to think of a track as a proper and unique room where you can stand meanwhile drums are softly punching your belly, surrounded by synthesizers that are moving all around your body.
The concept of a “mini-LP” isn’t utilized by many musicians. Why did you decide to put that out, as opposed to an EP, LP, or 12-inch?
Yes, it sounds a bit weird, but it’s the perfect formula for what I’m doing right now. All the songs included in Abstract Speed + Sound are quite short, and they have their own personality that stands out of the idea of an usual album, where the music is meant to be an homogeneous sound flow. On the other hand, I think that the EP or the 12-inch is too short to give listeners the idea behind my music.