Edisonnoside is Davide Cairo, a thirty-year old curious and stubborn musician, who is not scared of getting his hands dirty – or muddy, as he says – to find and express himself on very different levels.
After his amazing debut album Sadly By Your Side, he returns now with Mono No Aware, combining under the same name an album and a music app in Virtual Reality.
The starting point is always the electronic music, but this time Edisonnoside created a totally immersive experience, giving the chance to everyone “to get lost in an endless void, inhabited only by artificial noises, that guides the exploration of the space through the sounds of the album itself.”
Mono No Aware works with 3D sounds and requires the abandonment of the normal perception of space and time, in order to fully enjoy it. It’s a real “electronic escape”, a safe place where you can both forget everything and take shelter only temporarily. No need to say that jumping into this work is highly recommended, so let yourself go to the intentions of the artist. Providing this “virtual space” through the app, he also meant to share his own feeling of the surrounding reality, far away from the metaphysics, but closer to a real auditory tale.
First Sadly By Your Side, now Mono No Aware. The deep approach to your music has always been clear, almost like an expressive necessity?
Yes, I started to work like that with Sadly by your side. I always try to consider that the album and the experience must live separately but, while I’m working on an album, I start to think about how this approach can shape differently to share the experience.
So yes, as a result, at the end it becomes a necessity, a way to go beyond the sound.
When I write music I just can’t avoid to be influenced by what I see: video, photos, places, all blended together first into a specific sound, and to then become something else.
Electronic music is the easiest field to test new technologies and visual arts, perhaps because it seems to be freer. Do you agree?
Surely it’s the field of music that gives more possibilities to experiment in thousand different ways: it lets you create “mutant” music and as such, is free from structures. Making electronic music means everything and nothing at the same time, there are so many sub-genres that can be mixed, that the possibilities are really almost unlimited.
Mono No Aware was created as a multi-sensorial experience. Was it like composing a puzzle, or was the project already shaped, ideally, when you began to work on it?
No, the project absolutely wasn’t formed when I began to work on it, actually it has been a long project that has taken shape itself.
Mono No Aware started as a necessity to collect, in the only way I know, the experiences and the moments that I was living or, in a more appropriate way, that I observed. Later it started to take form and to make sense. Only toward the end of the work I realized that the tracks that I wrote were telling a very specific tale, they were in a definite space and time, and from there I started to mentally elaborate them into the concept of Mono No Aware and to develop the idea to let people live again the observation experience and sound exploration.
I really liked the concept of “safe place” as a destination for the listeners who wander through your virtual space. An escape route/way off to escape/get away from a world all too chaotic and full of incentives. Can you seek refuge in virtual reality?
My idea of safe place is related to the moment you find the escape/exit from the confusion through the music; the only think that surrounds you is the sound, both for the app user and for me when I created it.
In virtual reality you can take refuge, my fear is losing yourself easily. There are very interesting aspects of the effect of the virtual worlds on our perception of reality.
Think for example about the social media, somehow also they’re a kind of virtual reality too, a reality you can create based on what you believe or (what) you think to believe and it adjusts to you, showing only what you like and what makes you feel good, somehow a safe place even if it’s not sure that you are really safe.
You seem to have the tendency to work a lot alone and to surround yourself with few trusted collaborators. How much does it mean to be independent and how much is a contribution from the outside necessary?
Being independent is an essential thing during the creative process for me, I need to isolate myself in order to work as I want, I need the time and the space to experiment/test and to make “mistakes” without having the pressure to answer/be accountable to anybody. At one point, however, you need also to let others join you. I have the tendency to work with people I know and trust very much, the same people who show enthusiasm and passion from day one. I’m very lucky to have a group of very talented friends (the people I work with are first friends and then collaborators to me), starting from my sister who created the album cover, Stefano Ottaviano who followed the developement and the art direction of the app with me and Matilde Davoli who mastered and mixed the album.
All these people know how valuable is an album for me and their reliability and skills were a huge help to make this project possible.
So, to answer your question in a more reasonable way: it’s important to be independent to take the mud off once you’re in there (and it is very easy to get muddy) but at the same time a group of trusted people to work with is more than necessary because the best ideas always come from different points of view.
What impact had your experience at Fabrica on your jobs?
My experience at Fabrica was fundamental under many aspects of my job. Without those 3 years I would be less skilled musician, I would have a smaller group of talented people and especially I wouldn’t know all those multidisciplined work methods.
I learnt to develop my projects from the kick-off to the promotion, watching the things from all the angles, and above all I learnt to think outside the lines, so to say. The creative process mainly happens in your head, it doesn’t matter how much money or how much technical experience you have, there’s always time to study and anyway you always find a solution, the main point is that idea is solid and that all ties together in a natural way. As soon as I need to push to close the circle, I already know that project will never work as I meant. Clearly you can be as much careful and perfectionist as you want, but you’ll always make mistakes. To quote Beckett: Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
On the other hand, for this specific project, it was more useful for me to separate from Fabrica, to leave that wonderful utopia, and to challenge myself with a more difficult and complex reality, which however made me find the desire to make new things again and especially the humility to step out my comfort zone.
How do you keep up with the news about new technologies and how do you experiment?
Generally I read a lot, I have my list of Blog and Magazines that I consult weekly. If something catches my attention, I spend more time trying to understand how it works.
I experiment when I’m looking for new ideas or when I’m saturated of old ones, but we can say that I always start from a concept, never from technology itself.
Concerning Mono No Aware I’ve never thought about making a VR app because I was fond of the technology, I actually was quite reluctant at first because I was afraid it would have been labeled as a trendy project, even if 2 years ago VR was barely known. Once I figured out the concept I wanted to explore, and after finishing the first layout of the album, I wondered how to make it usable, and the virtual reality seemed the most fitting technology for that project to me.
Did you decide to move to London to have a more fertile ground to experiment?
I moved to London for working and personal reasons: particularly I felt the need of new incentives that I couldn’t find in Italy, I needed some hard work to get the best of me and have something to tell.
Who or which is your main source of inspiration?
The other people’s lives are the most inspiring thing for me, both of people that I know or people I heard about or I read about.
I take a lot from the stories that I hear and I try to observe who’s around me as much as I can. All in all, making music is like telling stories, through words for some, while for others, like me, through sounds and feelings. We always talk about stories, that I live as a soundtrack of a film that doesn’t exist, if not in my head.
What is the album that blew your mind at first listen and you listen from time to time?
It’s difficult to pick one, there are so many that we could fill pages and pages, each one from a different period of my life. I can tell you that currently I have dusted off Nick Cave from my teenage years and I listen once a day to “No More Shall We Part”, a masterpiece in its entirety.
When did you stop using the walkman?
I think it was around 2001/2002.
The last album you bought.
Tim Hecker, The Ravedeath, 1972.
The best concert you attended so far.
I think David Gilmour in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, even if Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation anniversary in Milan is a good pick too.
Your favorite hobby.
Playing with Age of Empires II.
One vice of yours that bother people.
Sometimes I want to have the final word on too many things.
The last thing that really surprised you.
My dad: he reinvented himself at 55 years old.
A synonymous of Edisonnoside.
A place where to breathe.
A place where you’d escape to.
The choice you instantly regretted but that you’d do again.
Moving to London?