Marika and Simone got listeners thinking about the future, on their recent contribution to the 10th instalment of Secret Weapons, the highly-acclaimed annual compilation from Berlin-based label, Innervisions. But really, this dynamic duo from Southern Italy, who have released on labels such as Mule and Optimo, have plenty to say about the past and present, too. Torture the Artist found Underspreche sitting seaside near their home in Cavallino, and talked about music, special moments in their career, balancing and enjoying life and work as a duo, their past, present, and future, as well as all things that keep them inspired and musically efficient. Catch a glimpse of South Italy and hear a few wise words for a better sleep from Marika’s grandmother in this up-close and often very personal interview with Underspreche.
Torture the Artist: Hello Marika and Simone, can you tell us about where exactly you are at the moment and what do you have in store for the next couple of days?
Underspreche: Hello guys! In this moment, we are in front of the sea in the south of Italy, close to our home in Cavallino, answering your interesting questions. For the next couple of days, we’ll be in the studio working on new stuff. We’re preparing our live DJ set for the first gig of the year in April which will open the dance for all the other fantastic events we’ll be taking part in this summer.
We translate Underspreche into ‘Under the words’ and the meaning behind is that we really want to communicate ‘Underspreche’ with the music.
Torture the Artist: Kindly share with us how Underspreche came about. How did you two meet and how long did it take for you to start considering a collaboration? What is the story behind your moniker?
Underspreche: We met at two mutual friends’ wedding, nine years ago in September. Then, we start chatting about music, and nine years later we’re not bored yet.
‘Underspreche’ is a name born from a song I, Marika, was writing about seven years ago. Usually, I write songs while jamming about. Sometimes, it comes through singing melodies, most of all in English, but I often use a made-up language just to record the first melody. And that particular day, I had a mantra looping in my head that I couldn’t stop: ‘Make it underspreche… Don’t say loud…’. When trying to translate meaning into it, we realized we could separate the words into Under-Spreche, and the result was something created almost unconsciously. Since we loved the sound of that, we then constructed the concept around it. So, in the end, we translate Underspreche into ‘Under the words’ and the meaning behind is that we really want to communicate ‘Underspreche’ with the music.
We have two very different personalities and at first, it was difficult to understand how to properly become a team.
Torture the Artist: Was it challenging to convince the other half to jump on board?
Underspreche: We were not in sync at the beginning. Honestly, we have two very different personalities and at first, it was difficult to understand how to properly become a team. But slowly, and with a lot of patience and passion, we started to believe it was possible to be a couple that lives and works together.
Torture the Artist: Can you describe your hometown(s) or city in a bit more details? We have seen a dynamic surge of talent from Italy progressively, and more so, recently. Is there an emerging trend, if not a solid electronic music scene where you are from?
Underspreche: Our hometown Cavallino is little and close to the countryside in the South of Italy. We can buy healthy, fresh, organic fruits and vegetables here, cultivated 200 meters away from us. We are close to Lecce, a bigger city with an active cultural centre, good projects and festivals going on in the area. Italy is a country full of really talented people, who drive inspiration from our rich background of history and arts. Unfortunately, the political and cultural institutions here don’t support the artists very much.
Torture the Artist: What is the best meal we could have in your hometown?
Underspreche: There are so many goodies here! ‘Sagne cannulate con il pomodoro fresco’ is probably one of the best Sunday meals you can taste here. It’s a homemade rolled up pasta seasoned with a fresh tomato sauce.
Torture the Artist: Any artists you are especially close to, whether on a personal or professional level or even both?
Underspreche: We are in contact with a lot of great artist from all over, but we’d say we’re very good friends with Donato Epiro, who is known for his great experimental works. We live close to his home and often get together to talk about music and compare our opinions. Even though we don’t belong to the same musical circuit, we feel really close to his artistic vision and his works are definitely an inspiration to us. We haven’t worked together yet, but we’ll certainly do it in the future.
In the past few months, we’ve also had the chance to work with and personally get to know Dodi Palese, who is receiving a lot of positive feedback as Odd1 and for his labels. We’ll be releasing a remix on Dodi and Musumeci‘s label Engrave Ltd in the next few months. We also joined his booking agency, Twelve Notes, this year and started working with our agent Bianca Baumberger, who is not only really nice but also very determined and focused on the work. We’re so happy about this collaboration.
Further, we got in touch with Lorenzo Esposito aka Lehar who is already known as one of the best names in the Dynamic label and we found real support in him. He is such a good person. We felt in sync with his open artistic vision, and very soon after we became part of the Multinotes-family that he built up with and around his friends and partners Olderic and Musumeci. We’ve already programmed a release on their fresh new label Multinotes coming out after the summer and we really hope you’ll enjoy it!
Torture the Artist: Name three artists that had the greatest influence on your careers.
Underspreche: We share a lot of these influences and studies but here it goes:
Simone: Beethoven and his math, Messiaen and Indian Tala, and Daft Punk.
Marika: Brian Eno, Marina Abramovich, Jocelyn Pook.
When we are happier we boost up the kick drum.
Torture the Artist: All three tracks from your recent release on Endless Flight were set in minor keys, does this reflect a particular state of mind or musical approach at that given time?
Marika: Nostalgia is my personal inner feeling, I can’t live without it and, quite honestly, I hate happy music.
Simone: When we are happier we boost up the kick drum. <smiles>
The belief in our project has induced a mood which aims to achieve a higher goal: music!
Torture the Artist: A successful duo relies on balance and compromise; how do you manage this relationship so gracefully? Any tips on your creative process with two talented minds producing as one?
Underspreche: Thank you for ‘gracefully’. We will always remember this nice adjective every time we’re debating the choice of a certain rhythm or sound in the studio, haha.
Jokes aside, we’ve been through some tough times when it was almost difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But the belief in our project has induced a mood which aims to achieve a higher goal: music! Maybe the other fact is that inadvertently, we developed a unique, shared style which is not something we have premeditated. It happened, and then we decided to converge the force creating a sort of a team.
Torture the Artist: You have worked with some forward-thinking labels, in which project did you feel the most freedom of expressing your artistic voice?
Underspreche: The freest and most complex work, one we have developed in just two or three months, is ‘Invito Alla Danza‘. It’s our first album and every time we think back to this work it’s just like: ‘Wow! How could we have developed it so quickly?’ We were not so sure Optimo would release it, and honestly, we didn’t carry this anxiety while working. We had a special desire to make the music we wanted, therefore freeing our voice… without thinking about the future. We hope that flame within us will never go out.
Torture the Artist: Your track ‘From Exotism to the Future’ came out on the 10th instalment of Innervisions’ annual compilation, Secret Weapons. How did you feel when you found out that your production made it into this well-respected roster?
Underspreche: Innervisions is an institution! We felt happy and proud to release a track that truly represents our vision of music on this great label.
If necessary, we’ll be more aggressive, like wearing some tight black latex!
Torture the Artist: Does this achievement somehow affect your approach to future projects; do you foresee a higher level of confidence and/or a more aggressive game plan?
Underspreche: We want to reach as many people as possible with our music, so we’ll do our best trying to do new stuff and, if necessary, we’ll be more aggressive, like wearing some tight black latex! <smiles>
Torture the Artist: Your discography certainly alludes to some form of exotism, with unique multi-cultural elements. Does the title pertain a particular fork in the road? Can you impart a little bit about this journey to the ‘Future’?
Underspreche: Our approach to rhythm definitely comes from the exotic vision of music and follows different rules than occidental theories, but our creative thoughts are always projected into the future. In this case, ‘Future‘ is a reference to the sample we use. We are spontaneous in productions, we make music and just see what happens. If we have an idea or a concept we try to develop it. And for all these reasons yes, probably, we’ll stumble on a fork in the road. Maybe not tomorrow, but we are working on a new, more experimental project. We can’t say when it will come out, perhaps never… we’ll see.
Torture the Artist: In your SoundCloud, you share some unreleased remixes showcasing a diverse, and quite eclectic, taste in music. Which one is your favourite? Are there any remixes you are working on which you plan to release in the near future?
Underspreche: Thank you for your nice words, we consider them all our children and we have a lot of fun doing this kind of experiments, mixing different style and worlds. Probably the most representative work is ‘Young Salgash Madre‘ but we also did an unofficial remix of ‘Nana‘ by Acid Pauli which we like so much. Anyway, as mentioned above, we will be releasing a Phunkadelica remix in May on Engrave Ltd. So happy about it!
Torture the Artist: At this point in your career, how much more/less do you enjoy DJing vs production?
Underspreche: We think they are both essentials for our careers to feel fulfilled. Nowadays, we release a lot of music and while we love doing this, we would also like to play our live DJ set more than we did in the last couple of years.
Torture the Artist: Think about your travels and DJ gigs. Can you name a particular venue, city and crowd that reacted in a way that patted you in the back and assured you are on the right path in your career?
Underspreche: Last year, July, we played in Panorama Bar and it was amazing! The audience was beautiful, they paid attention to everything we did. It was then that we really felt the desire to live in that moment forever.
Torture the Artist: Where and when did you first hear your music play on loudspeakers? How did you react?
Underspreche: The first time we heard one of our tracks on the radio was epic. We discovered on social media that our track ‘Flowers from the Lake‘ was played on BBC, and we couldn’t believe it was true!
Torture the Artist: Simone, name a track that best reminds you of Marika and another track that characterizes your relationship as a duo. Likewise, Marika.
Simone: The track that best reminds me of Marika is ‘Romeo and Juliet‘ by Jocelyn Pook and for our relationship, it’s ‘For the Entire Life’ by Marika Underspreche. She says that it was written and dedicated to me… but really, who knows? <winks>
Torture the Artist: What has been the longest period you have gone without talking to each other? Do you chat daily?
Underspreche: In the first year we met, it was not simple to find a balance, but the longest period we have broke from our relationship was for a month because of a bad argument. It’s been normal for nine years and now everything is different in a very good way. We live together in our home/studio so it is impossible not to chat.
My grandmother used to say: ‘You can bicker, but don’t go to sleep angry.’
Torture the Artist: Do you find yourselves arguing more on or off production?
Marika: My grandmother used to say: ‘You can bicker, but don’t go to sleep angry.‘ What she wanted to say, is that we need to get to know each other through any arguments, but we also have to talk and reach a compromise early on. In the end, we do argue, but we try to always get something constructive out of it, during or off production.
Simone: I totally agree hahaha.
I love to read a book – about music and its relationship with math!
Torture the Artist: Besides music, name a few things you are passionate about.
Marika: Cats, creative work like building furniture for cats, video editing and a brand for fashion and accessories – pretty much everything related to creating.
Simone: Music for me is an all-encompassing passion and when we’re not in the studio, I love to read a book – about music and its relationship with math! Anyway, I’m fascinated in discovering new creative processes through different artists, not exclusively musicians.
Torture the Artist: Name five tracks each of you have on repeat the past few days.
- Culture Clash – Never Take a Wrong Turn When You’re in the Jungle
- Neana – Jawbreaker
- Lehar – Leonida
- Pional – Tempest
- Tv Totem – TV Totem 2
- Philip Glass – Opening (From Glassworks)
- Aera – Old Lighthouse
- Shackleton – Mountains of Ashes
- Taraval – Stan’s Loon
- CultureClash – Sultan Groove