It is not a surprise that last Iosonouncane‘s gig in London at The Finsbury Pub organised by Strawboscopic was sold out. We met the Sardininan artist Jacopo Incani, aka Iosonouncane (literally ‘I am a dog’) to talk about Die, his last album, his music and Italy. If you still do not know him, you would be better check his music out.
How and when was the project Iosonouncane born?
It was born at the beginning of 2008, when my ‘historic’ band split up – we had played together since high school. I chose the name Iosonouncane playing with a Luigi Tenco’s sing, called Io sono uno, and my surname, Incani.
More than four years passed between your first album, La macarena su Roma (2010) and the last one, Die (2015). How did your process of writing and composing change?
I would say that it changes quite frequently. Every time I start working on a new album I have the habit to change my method. With the first album I started with what I wanted to tell and I got to the final songs through a process of finalising the messages. With Die it was the opposite. First, I started with musical sequences or songs that came out instinctively. And so I worked around this initial immediate push. Now I have started working on the new album, but it is at the very beginning, and again I am using a different method.
Die seems a controversial album: just six tracks, lots of instrumental parts, and you spent lot of time working on it. Is it your choice or just your way of working?
It just worked like that. The first album was very verbose and so the project itself turned out to be the one of a guy screaming on the stage, having so many words and writing somehow related to everyday news. But in the end that did not sound so much as a musician work. Actually, I am mostly a musician. With the first album I became less a musician, but I missed that and I wanted to go back to what I have always done, music, without depending on the contents too much. And so it was very instinctive. When I finished the tour I went back to Sardinia for one year and there I started again working on music, taking notes and collecting material. Generally I listen especially to instrumental music because this is my background – the most classic exemple are Pink Floyd. And so Die is my first true album after a record I made to set a few things up. I started drafting the first melodies singing in Italian and the words came out immediately.
You talked a lot about words. In Die there a few simple words repeating many times. How did you choose them? Did some authors inspired you?
I started drafting the first melodies singing in Italian and the words came out immediately. At the beginning it was just a bunch of disarticulated words but I had some recurring words such as sun, shores and death and they had a relationship with the melodies I was composing. I went through a long process of reading and writing that lasted about two years. I analysed different tests, among which the most important are Pavese’s cycle of poems ‘La terra e la morte’ and the poems by Manlio Massole, a 86-year-old poet and miner from my village. I also worked on other readings such a ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ by Steinbeck, ‘Germinal’ by Zola, ‘Paese d’ombre’ by Dessì, ‘Il giorno del giudizio’ by Satta, ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ by Hemingway. I underlined these tests, wrote them and then wrote them again. It was a long job.
In Die there is a plurality of instruments. Some of them are very characteristic, such as the Sardinian guitar. How did you choose the instrument and the musicians?
When I went back to Sardinia I asked my friends to play the songs I already had, giving them the freedom but at the same time supervising it. Some of them live there, some come back for the holidays. They play during their spare time as a hobby. Mariano Congia plays guitars, Francesco Paroda plays baryton (flicorno baritono) in the village’s band and he played improvising in Tanca and so I used some of his melodies for this song. Then in the studio in Bologna I called some other musicians, especially drums and wind instruments. Paolo Angeli, a Sardinian musician who lives in Barcelona, played the Sardinian guitar, an instrument he invented himself. He is probably my favourite Italian musician and I think he is the greatest Italian musician of the last decades. He was the one who offered me to collaborate in my last album and I was happy about that.
During the first stage of Die you went back to Sardinia. How much did your homeland influence on your writing and composing?
A lot, because at the time I decide to go back there for a year and I shut off everything else. I had lived ten years in Bologna and I had been touring for more than three years. So I really wanted to go back home and stay with my family and my friends. Being there and losing almost contact with my collegaues and the musical scene allowed me to be isolated. Troubled waters calmed down and so I was able to look at what was floating.
You lived many years in Bologna but you come from a village located on an island. Do you prefer city life or small town’s?
Actually, I think that Bologna is the only city in Italy that can be credited as being a city and at the same time it has the human dimension a small town (provincia); this comes from the history of people (emiliani). Both Bologna and Sardinia are two complementary spaces for me.
You worked for a couple of years in a call centre. Nowadays, there are a few musicians who play in bands but at the same time they have completely different jobs. Some of them consider this experience exhausting, for others it helps the creative process. What about you?
For me at the beginning it was very useful. I often wrote the lyrics of the first album while I was working, in between phone calls and this pushed me strongly. I experienced an hysterical situation at work and this led me to write hysterical lyrics. But after a year an half touring and working at the call centre at the same time I was fed up. I decided to play music and I hope my experience with call centre is finished forever!
You launched your music using Myspace. What kind of relationship do you have with social media?
Honestly, if I could I would not manage my social networks. It makes me tired and it’s really annoying. I always try to be telegraphic. I hate showing sentimentalism and I use social media like a war bulletin. Still, it takes lots of time. Maybe one day there will be a group of people working on that and I won’t have to think about that anymore.
In a few days you will be playing at this year’s edition of Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. You are the first Italian musician playing there, singing in Italian in front of an international audience. How did you feel about that?
Obviously I did not expect that. I did not grow up listening to Italian music and thinking that my audience would be only Italia. It is an inevitable restriction, but it sounds funny compared to my background and the music I have always listed to. The fact of playing on an international stage does not impress me. The actual Italian music scene and its market are unnatural, because they are closed and impenetrable. If you are an Italian musician you will sing for an Italian audience and this is enigmatic, I do not understand why.