Monday, October 26, 2015

A Ripple Conversation with Virginia Monti of Psychedelic Witchcraft

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.What have been your musical epiphany moments? 

My first musical epiphany moment was when I was 8 years old and I grabbed my father's album "Led Zeppelin II". I listened to the album the whole day, it completely blew my mind and changed the way I perceived music. Shortly after the same thing happened with Janis Joplin's "I got dem ol' kozmic blues" and Jimi Hendrix' "Are you experienced". These have mostly been my musical epiphany moments.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

The first thing to come is usually the riff, right after it's the melody turn ; after that the lyrics take place, it depends by a lot of stuff : I'm pretty much inspired by movies and human nature : I like to observe what happens either to me or to the people around me, then I try to get these things into lyrics, with a lot of metaphors (especially occult ones). After I build up all the structure of the song, I discuss it with my bandmates and here comes the time of the song's arrangement. The song takes shape in a really fast way, in the sense that I have a kind of vision of how I want the song to sound and the song's arrangement is a really natural process.

Who has influenced you the most?

This is a difficult question, because I've been influenced by a lot of stuff since I was a child. As said before, 70s music (as Led Zeppelin or Jefferson Airplane) has influenced me a lot but I think that the most important influence is the cinema : cinema it's been a huge part of my life. I graduated in a cinema school, I acted for a long time and I've always been interested in 70s movie (like Hammer ones or Italian ones : movies directed by Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci). When I started Psychedelic Witchcraft, I wanted the band to sound as a modern soundtrack of those movies.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

As I said before, it comes from everyday's life and from what surrounds me so it's not a planned thing. Most of the time I find the inspiration in my occult readings (I've been reading occult books since I was a child) like ancient spells or ancient grimories that I chase all around Italy. Since I was studying philosophy in university I'm inspired by a lot of philosophers and by the way They perceive life, i.e. Kant, Schopenhauer. But again, it's not planned. I'm inspired by everything that is around me.

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

We all come from different places of Italy, and we come from different music backgrounds at the same time. I.e. I've been singing Jazz music for a lot of years, as Dinah Washington, Billy Holiday etc. because even though I loved rock music, I thought that I was unable to sing rock music, since I started the band of course. Daniele (Drummer) is influenced by a lot of hard rock stuff, instead Jacopo and Riccardo (Guitars, Bass) are more influenced by classic rock (with a little tip of metal). For what concerns the environment, growing up in Italy (where the rock scene it's never been that big, and where modern music has never been considered that much by the folks) takes us to push ourselves further, to create something really personal and as original as possible.

Where'd the band name come from?

The band name actually came by night. I was writing Angela and I was thinking about the band name ;  I was chilling out in my room listening to Jefferson Airplane and thinking about what horror movie to watch lately that night. I thought that the words Psychedelic and Witchcraft described very well my vision because I wanted to create a sound that was occult but not doomy, instead it was energic and powerful, like in an Alice in Wonderland witchy kind of trip.

Tell us about witchcraft, what it means to you and your life?

I never talk so openly about witchcraft. I think it's a very intimate dimension for me. What I can say it's that witchcraft it's been an important part of my life since I was a child. I also think that magic is a way to express freedom and avoid to follow blindly someone because somebody told You it is a God. Magic expresses the power to believe in yourself, to make decisions and to change your life in the way You want it.

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

This is a VERY difficult question, I could mention thousand movies. Even though I'm a huge 70s and old movies fan, there's one particular movie I loved and watched back in 1999, when it came out. It's Polanski's "The Ninth Gate". I would love to make a soundtrack for that movie.

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?). You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

It would be Yesterday from Beatles because Beatles has opened the doors for basically rock music and also because it's been the first song that I ever sung in my life, so it has a huge emotional impact on me and also because Beatles (i.m.o.) has been one of the most important rock bands in the whole history.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

I just wanted to sing for myself. I've never planned to sing for someone or to have an audience, I started because I wanted to prove something to myself, then it all came so fast that I didn't even realize what was happening. What can I say, my goal is to make honest music and to make people feel this honesty.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

My kind of Spinal Tap (embarrassing?) moments are basically two : When I hit the microphone with my teeth and I hope that nobody notices this and, when it happens to be a little bit too drunk at concerts.

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

We didn't play as many gigs as we wanted but we can say that we prefer playing live gigs rather than recording songs. The live atmosphere is something magical that cannot be described in words. About my fans, well, You just have to ask 'em what They think. In my opinion They're the best maniacs in the world, haha.

What makes a great song?

A great melody of course, a great beat and simply pure honesty. If you listen to most of the 70s music, You can actually feel all the honest vibe which I'm talking about, that is what creates great songs. Simply singing for yourself and singing truly from your heart. At last but not least, it has to stick in your mind.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

The first song I ever wrote was an acoustic ballad called "The Reason". I mean, I still was a kid and I was singing about my little inner desperation and I was wondering about the reason why everyone was feeling so happy even if They were so blue inside, because I couldn't make the same. It's a simple ballad, it's just D, E, and G chords. It's been important to me because it made me realize that I could write songs. Up to that moment, I never knew I could write songs with the guitar, so it's been a huge step forward for me.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

All the songs I've created are my "babies", I'm proud of any single song. My favourite song from "Black Magic Man" EP is "Slave Of Grief" because it was built around a theme that I really liked, the tarot's reading. I was proud to be able to express a tarot reading within a song and without being too cheesy about it.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

Orchid. I always say this band because for me, even though They're clearly inspired by Black Sabbath and a lot of 70s music, They really create their own sound and I really like the way They express themselves within the lyrics. Again, not to sound too snob but I'm not a huge fan of modern music, I have hard times finding good bands nowadays.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

Vinyl it's my favourite one, not only for the music itself (You get to listen the whole album, from the beginning straight to the end), but also for the way it presents aesthetically. When you buy a vinyl it's like buying a piece of art, and I really love that feeling.

Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice

Beer, You drink more, You spend less money on it, haha.

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

My hometown it's Florence. The best record store (Actually the only important one in town I guess) it's the vinyl store near Santa Croce's church (DataRecords93). If You come in town You definitely have to check it out.

What's next for the band?

We're about to record our debut LP and We're very excited about it. We hope to go on tour as soon as possible after its release, that's our schedule at the moment.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

I'd like to thank every single person that follow the band since the beginning because (I tell this every time) I'm doing all of this for them, and They make this little dream kind of real to me. Thank You a lot and well, rock on!

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