Today I’ll focus on an album “Inspired by Iceland” and that was roughly recorded in Iceland.
June 2016: Iceland’s National Day.
The new album “Hello We’re Not Enemies” by Novanta, will be released two years after “Best-Selling Dreams”. Novanta is Manfredi Lamartina, a Milano based musician originally from Palermo. His sound is a melting pot of shoegaze, postrock and electronica. The core idea of the album is the importance of empathy, and this in a period where human relationships are often based on aggression and on a division between “us” and “them”, here we find, we’re not enemies.
Manfredi travelled to Iceland last year and was so inspired he recorded rough stuff on his iPad. Back in Italy he arranged the tracks, inspired by “In A Safe Place” by The Album Leaf , by Slowdive’s “Souvlaki” and the “Gomorrah” tv series soundtrack by Mokadelic.
The seven songs were created with the kind collaboration with some talented artists such as the Australian Ian Bonnar (In Every Dream A Nightmare Waits), Claudio Cataldi, Fabrizio De Felice (Bialogard), Giuseppe Musto (Il ragazzo del Novantanove), Raniero Federico Neri (Albedo), and Giampiero Riggio (Haas).
And what’s more, ROK had the opportunity to have a talk with the man behind Novanta.
You’ve been on a trip to Iceland in 2015 and got inspired…
I’ve always been bewitched by the beauty of Iceland: this country looks to me like a place floating over the edge of the world. So I finally went to Iceland last year, in June. It was my honeymoon! I spent two weeks around the country. First stop: Reykjavík. The Hallgrímskirkja is impressive, totally different from any other church I’ve ever seen. The parliament building is beautiful and, once again, totally different from the Italian Montecitorio, in Rome, which is beautiful too (well, it’s Rome anyway). The people there are very friendly and nice. The most weird place I saw in Reykjavík was… a famous Italian pizzeria! I didn’t go there, of course: I usually like to try local food and the Icelandic one is pretty good. But no, I didn’t eat ‘kæstur hákarl’, the treated shark.
Did you stay on the ring road, or did you visit remote areas as well?
Yes, of course! We travelled all over Iceland. The Hringvegur showed us all those beautiful places around the country. Iceland is someway similar to Sicily, where I was born. Both are islands with very different landscapes along the way: there are blue skies and a lot of rain, dry regions and snowy places, stunning seas and awesome volcanos.
What where the highlights on this honeymoon trip?
Dettifoss is an incredible waterfall. We saw a wonderful rainbow there, like a real-time photoshop. It’s a kind of Icelandic magic. Another spectacular waterfall is Goðafoss, which is the title of a song of my new album “Hello We’re Not Enemies”. The story of this place is interesting: after the conversion of Iceland to christianity (around the year 1000), all the statues of the Norse gods were thrown into this waterfall. It’s a metaphor of the human nature, I think. I also did fell in love with Akureyri. It’s a jewel from another world: small, pleasant and youthful. But my absolute favourite is Blue Lagoon: maybe an Icelander will think it’s a place for tourists, but I really enjoyed this incredible volcanic water.
Please tell us your favourite Icelandic music?
I’m a big fan of the old school, like múm and Sigur Rós, and I like Samaris a lot too. But I consider ‘Icelandic artists’ people like John Grant and The Album Leaf too, because they recorded some albums in Iceland. “Hello We’re Not Enemies” has been deeply influenced by “In A Safe Place” by The Album Leaf.
“Over The Pond”, sang by Jón Þor Birgisson, is one of the most intense song I’ve ever heard, as well as the third track from Sigur Rós’s “()” and “The Boat Room” by the American band Mice Parade, sang by Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir (what a talented artist she is).
You started recording “Hello We’re Not Enemies” on an iPad in Iceland, isn’t it?
Yes, I started working on “Hello We’re Not Enemies” while I was in Iceland, with my iPad in my hands and some breath-taking landscapes around me. It seems very romantic or very stereotyped, I know. Anyway, while I was travelling around Iceland I recorded some rough electronic melodies with the iPad – ambient music mostly. Then, back to Italy I worked on the arrangements and pushed harder towards a shoegazing direction. To celebrate Iceland and its beauty, Seashell Records will release “Hello We’re Not Enemies” on Iceland’s National Day, the 17th of June. It’s a digital album and a limited edition cassette.
The first Single is “Goðafoss”, the best song of the album in our humble opinion.
Grazie. Hope you can visit Iceland again very soon, Manfredi. Ciao!
- Wim Van Hooste