The sky looks like it's about to rain, I only know because I cannot see the stars. You can actually see them most of the time, because Berlin has no lights, which concerns me as a photographer, because I have to shoot Perdurabo at night. It has to be night. It has to be dark. It has to be analogue.
We meet outside, we browse a little bit, we talk, eventually it starts raining and we head back to Arianna's place, a woman who in the future will connect me more to “Miss You More” than I imagine.
In fact, I don't have much light to use, it's a dark place and my film is not sensitive enough. I decide to risk, because this is what we do, this is what Perdurabo is about, too.
I just want him to go through all of that again and I want to feel it too, I want to channel my confusion into his determination, I want all this to go through my lens and hit the viewer in the middle of the night, when despair leaves no space for second thoughts. It's when we less expect it, it's when we think we healed. That's why I ask Arianna to be in the frames, but lightly, vanishing from our lives on the silver salts of my 35mm.
This is what these pictures are about, the rest is in Perdurabo's answers to my true deep curiosity.
Nina: It is really weird for me to be here in front of you, perfectly knowing who you are and where you've been, without having the possibility to reveal your identity to the readers. Tell me, why so much secrecy? Why don't you want to show your face, or your past?
Perdurabo: Well, there are two main reasons behind my hidden identity. The first is that I don’t want the listeners to be influenced by what I did in the past; nothing I have to be ashamed of, rather I should be proud of it, but I want people to approach Perdurabo in a totally free perception and to be able to listen to my music with a fresh perspective and not comparing it to anything else I did before.
Secondly is that - considering that today we are being bombarded with so much information, and we know everything about everyone (or we have the illusion to know everything) - I like the idea of some mystery, in this way the listener can let the imagination flow in a different way and shape a personal dimension. There is something sensual in the pleasure of discovery.
N: So you think that our past determines where we are going? Who would you be without your past and the triggering element that started the idea of Perdurabo?
P: I actually believe that the deepest part of each personality is being formed during the three first years of life, and our direction is the sum of our experiences. But we can modify this direction, we can embrace our experience to gain more consciousness and to understand better where we are going - this is exactly what my first album will talk about. Not for everyone is this way smooth since the beginning. I have no idea who I would be without my past, this is not known, but what I know for sure is that creating sounds has always been my main way to express creativity, even if not the only one, and Perdurabo sort of brings all these elements together: music, aesthetic, inner feelings.
N: The name “Perdurabo” is defined by nature as something that lasts. What is that you want to last in your life and in your music?
P: Perdurabo is a powerful word, a Latin motto that was perfectly representing my idea at the moment I started making music on my own. My vision was to give birth to something that, no matter what, will last till the end. The end is seen as death, and what thrills me is that what you create has the power to go beyond your life and to start its own life; so while as human beings we are born with a finite nature, art can move this limit over. I don’t desire something material to last but I rather consider the possibility to let people think over, understand and amplify their emotions.
N: Do you think you would have started something as intense without the same elements in your life? Like love, pain, broken trust... How do you think your music would sound without those emotions?
P: Perdurabo starts as a reaction to something, a kickback to pain and broken trust and it transforms the energy of those gained and lost-again elements. Since I was a child I preferred to go deeper into my emotions, even when they were so painful, rather than hiding myself behind a fake positive facade; music has always been my way to understand those emotions, to bring everything out and make it clear in front of my eyes. Not all of the music I produced has been composed with this kind of process, but often these strong feelings are the catalyst and main generator for a different level of the creative process, some of my most powerful compositions were born as a reaction to something so extreme, no matter if joy or pain.
N: And why do you make music all by yourself? Except for the collaborations, of course. It's like a strong base defined by your own style, but every song presents something fresh through different singers and producers. Why do you work this way instead of having solid elements involved?
P: I’ve been writing music on my own since the early beginning, but there’s a time for everything - only with Perdurabo I felt I was able to start something completely by myself. I was used to play in bands my whole life and there you get a specific role, there’s a different energy, a chemical made by the encounter of different minds, but this time I had to express something extremely personal and to be alone was the only way. I also know how difficult it is to form a band, to find the right equilibrium, to come toward the different needs and opinions and that’s why I love to collaborate with artists I respect, still keeping my own view on the production side though.
By the way I find it extremely vital to play with other musicians, to make the music alive, and that’s why I keep collaborating with a close bunch of talented people around me.
N: How does it feel to bring a song to life and then see it transforming through the musicians you collaborate with? Don't you ever get the fear that somebody may change the direction too much?
P: This is exactly why I love to play with other musicians, to break the wall that you can build so easily working all by yourself; I want to gain other perspectives, even if with Perdurabo I can still have the possibility to shape it and, if the direction is not right in my point of view, I can always take the last decision. It’s not about power, but more about having a straight idea on the path to take. When you are a multi-instrumentalist as I am, you feel like you can do everything by yourself, but it can be very interesting to see how other people can influence and enrich your own music. I am actually collaborating with Jörg Wähner, producer as well and drummer of Apparat, and I feel he can give a lot to my music. After playing live together a few times, we decided to work on this first album together, I’m honestly excited about it.
N: I know you travel between Italy and Germany, Berlin seems to you like the place to be. I found it fundamental to shoot you in that city, to bring out what it really means to you. I think the pictures talk for themselves, but I want you to express your feelings about it, especially connected to your music.
P: Moving to Berlin has been one of the main decisions of my whole life. It's like I've found something more personal there. When you leave your comfort zone you need to deal with your limits, you are forced to think and to act in a different way, this makes your brain work in an unusual mode, opening yourself to new scenery. Berlin represents my awareness about those limits and a big push to overtake them. It’s the place to be since it can be the place where your dreams come true, where you can meet extremely interesting artists and open minded people, where you can be yourself and experience new tendencies, but at the same time is the place that can easily highlight your fears. When I need to think about something I often take a lonely walk, exploring unknown corners, or I just sit in the Ringbahn taking the whole round and see the city passing in front of my eyes. Berlin is full of contrasts, a city with an uncommon past, but also with a unique strong inspiring energy, something that you can’t see, but you can nearly touch.
I had to face some intense experiences over the last few years, both connected to my first two singles “Leads Me Outside” and “Miss You More”, and while shooting with you in Berlin I had the feeling you have been able to capture some intimate deep parts of them. I am sure without Berlin, without its people and architecture, today my music wouldn’t be the same.
N: What is your perfect moment to compose? What atmosphere do you need? Do you fantasize or you need to get inspired by your actual life only?
P: Let’s say it’s a mix in between the two aspects. When you are in the studio you don’t have a marvelous panorama in front of you and year after year rooms just get similar one to the other, so in that case I let my imagination flow. A powerful image that comes often back to my mind is a beach in front of an ocean, I love water, it gives me a powerful imaginative strength. But the bigger part of my inspiration comes from what I am emotively living at that moment and in some cases the vibes of a place. Since a few years I work in some studios at Funkhaus, former radio broadcasting organization for the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The atmosphere is creepy, you can physically feel the energy there, history, people, music that have passed through it and it’s like a huge hollow from where you can take ideas and inspiration. You feel out of time, it’s so far one of the best places I have been working in. In autumn you can see the fog over the Spree with those amazing red walls and white old windows, and during the night there’s a surreal silence along the long dark corridors.
N: Let's get into something more tangible. Who did you collaborate with so far and how did it feel? How did you get in contact with these people? What made you think “this is the right artist to conclude a song”?
P: My main collaboration at the moment is with Jörg and this is also the reason why I moved to Berlin in the beginning. I met him while he was touring with Apparat and we were spontaneously joking about our similar haircuts, it was fun. One year later we both had some free time out of our bands and we decided to create some music together. Without knowing anything of Berlin, the first room I rented was exactly above his hairstylist - that for me was a sign like “oh man, you are in the right place”. It was March, I still remember, late evening in Kreuzberg, temperature below zero, nobody on the street and me and Jörg astonished because of the hairstylist fact that we discovered after him getting me there from the airport.
Some months later I was with Giovanni Nicoletta in his studio in Neukölln producing my first single and one of the owners of that studio happened to be Cherie, the singer of Warren Suicide, but I still didn’t know anyone there. One day we were just searching for the right voice to sing on that track and we both had the impression she could be the right one. When I proposed her to collaborate on my song, she told me that she was kinda hoping for me to ask that since the first moment she heard the song out of the studio, because she got the melody in her mind.
Then I met Roman, the leader of the British band Breton, in similar circumstances. I was looking for a new flat and due to an unreal series of connections, I arrived to know by a common friend, since they were staying in front of my new apartment, that they were recording their new album. I didn’t know them, but listening to some of their songs I suddenly loved his approach to music and his vocals. We met after one of their sessions for War Room Stories, in the middle of the night in Funkhaus, out of Berlin in the deep East, there was some magic there.
The same happened meeting Jochen Arbeit of Einstürzende Neubauten or Chloe Charles, in such a natural way, and I can say we are good friends now; they recorded a few full session days at Funkhaus K1, some guitars and vocals for the new album. It’s all about energy.
N: The kind of music you make has a really specific sound in the studio, but once brought on stage it could be really boring or way too different from the original idea. How do you manage your arrangements? I'm thinking of “Miss You More”, that has different versions, but they all sound epic, there is a connecting sound in all of them, but the overall effect is different. Let's talk about it.
P: I’m excited you noticed it, because that’s the heart of Miss You More. The connecting sound you can hear all over the three versions is a Op-1 sequence that is the first element I recorded that night, when I needed to express my feelings. I was just improvising, it was not meant to be released, just something for me as a pure emotional moment. Months later when I was in London to work with Roman on other music, I don’t know how, this sketch jumped out of my hard disk and he was so surprised by this track and its story, that he wrote down the lyrics and recorded them for me as a gift in a few minutes. I felt then that it was something to release, so I just kept the original version as it was, I produced the song and I did a rework of it. That's how it goes.
N: And what is the single “Miss You More” about? And why “more”?
P: “Miss You More” is a talk to someone you've lost, but you can’t suffer to have lost. It was the clearest way to figure out the pain in front of myself. There are a few images inside, a bunch of questions standing there with no answer and a piano crying on a mess of sounds - quite simple but strong enough. “More” because “Miss You” was not sufficient, but it’s also a wordplay, I read “More” but I pronounce “Mohr”, the name of the girl this music talks to and about. Something personal that became something universal.
N: Thank you for your time and your honesty, at least as far as I know you would rather stay silent than say bullshit, unless you're drunk. When are you going to delight us with the first album?
P: [Sits in silence]