First, could you please give our readers a short introduction on “Hexperos“? How did both of you get to know each other and when did you realise, that you wanted to create music together?
Francesco and I are from the same Italian city, Vasto in Abruzzo. We often saw each other playing in concerts. I liked his style so, after some time, I asked him to play with Gothica in some live concerts. He was keen to play music with me. Knowing each other better, we understood to have the same musical tastes and furthermore Francesco has got a lively inspiration and an infectious enthusiasm. I had the desire to create a new musical project and when Roger Karmanic, president of C.M.I., asked me to present a song for the compilation ‘Flowers made of Snow’, it was a good opportunity to realize Hexperos given that in the mean time my artistic and sentimental story with Roberto (partner in Gothica) ended.
What have been the reactions towards “The Garden of the Hesperides” until now? What feedback do you get from countries apart from Italy?
The reactions until now are great above all from foreign countries. Foreign reviews are really good and above all people who’ve bought our CD keeps writing us saying nice words like that they can’t stop listening to our music etc. This is a big reward for us.
Is there any “scene” or “fanbase” for your kind of avantgardistic, neo-classical music in Italy? What is your degree of popularity? Is there any public awareness of two musicians creating such beautiful music far away from the normal pop music crap?
Here in Italy, there is an “underground” scene. It’s not really big compared to that of commercial music. I must admit that this is not a good period for pure art, even classical music doesn’t have the spaces that it deserves here in Italy, in the homeland of Bel Canto... (and things are even worst in Abruzzo). There aren’t right places where a musician can play our kind of avantgardistic, neo-classical music and there are few alternative magazines that write about it. For this reason, in Italy Hexperos prefer to play for vernissages of art exhibitions because we love to melt visual art with music art and there we can also find listeners more open, willing to learn new things, to express themselves in their diversity. I think that in this narrow sphere we’re quite popular.
As stated on your homepage you are both classically trained in your own form of musical expression - Alessandra in singing and Francesco in playing the double bass. When listening to “The Garden of the Hesperides” it seemed quite obvious to me, that there have to be certain composers or performers of classical music that inspire you. Could you please name the most important ones and the reason for the inspiration they provide to you?
It’s difficult to choose. We like Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, Corelli, Albinoni, Pergolesi, Caccini, de Falla, Mompou, Chopin, Satie, Schubert, Shuman and all those composers that gave importance to a good melodic line and took inspiration from traditional music. We love these composers also because they often didn’t use a big orchestra, they wrote a lot for few instruments. As a matter of fact, we have chosen to write most of the songs of ‘The garden of the Hesperides’ for few instruments too: they can dialog, whisper their melodies. We love beautiful melodies that make your flesh creep. The process of inspiration is very strange and difficult but I’m sure that when we are inspired and music comes in our minds from mysterious places of our inner world, it is thanks to all the music that we love.
Another thing I noticed while listening to your album was that your music often reminds me of some kind of movie soundtrack - sometimes very slow and melancholic, yet at other times very dynamic with much suspense and dramatic atmosphere. Is this my very own interpretation or are you actually interested in classical soundtrack music? If yes, do you have any favourite composers? Could you maybe even imagine writing the soundtrack for a movie? Which genre would be your favourite?
Yes, we are truly interested in soundtracks. We think that, while in the past musicians wrote on commission by rich and noble men, nowadays classical music can survive thanks to movies. Like for the Opera, soundtracks have to underline and comment the action, exalting the climax. Our favourite composers in this field are John Williams, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, Danny Helfman, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Nicola Piovani, Nino Rota.
It would be a fantastic experience to write a soundtrack, also because in America these composers are surrounded by a team of musicians and arrangers that is formidable.
We like different kind of movies but prefer essay ones, I think that our music would fit for these. To conclude, we can not mention the beautiful movies by Tim Burton, who gives to music and musical a great importance and also the nice collaboration of Bijork with Lars Von Trier in Dancer in the Dark.
Apart from maybe other music or composers, are there any certain influences that get into your music or further aspects you draw inspiration from?
Poetries, literature, nature and visual arts are a great source of inspiration. We love also ethnic, ‘Celtic’ music, some type of jazz, bands like Nick Cave and the Bed Seeds, Portished, Dead can Dance, Vas...
Unfortunately I got no lyrics with the Promo-CD, so I’d like to ask you to explain the lyrical concept of “The Garden of the Hesperides”. What topics do your lyrics deal with? By the name of the band and your album I would guess that you draw a lot of inspiration from mythology and legends?
Yes, I do because I love legends and mythological stories which make me dream.
Mythology has ever been a deep source of inspiration in my lyrics for Gothica and now for Hexperos too. It has ever been important for many artists in various artistic fields and ages, because myths are fascinating metaphors of life.
The name Hexperos comes from Hesperides and Hesperos. Francesco and I are tied up with this star for a personal episode: every day we met under it, we saw it rise. I talk a bit about this story in the end of our song entitled Hesperos:
My life was quite, daily sadness, some joyful conquest.
I was so much tired,
But so young
My man was already cold
And life was just routine
I thought to be hopeless but then
In your eyes my past lives,
Thousands of fireflies in my heart
We spent many love hours
From sunset to sunrise
Having pizza and red wine for dinner in my small car
I remember that day on the sand
Branches as swards
We were knights of other times
Struggling for love
In your eyes my past lives,
Thousands of fireflies in my heart
You looked my eyes
You need me so much and I could not resist your touch
No, I could not resist your touch
We would live forever
Hesperos’ watching on us and I could not resist your touch
No, I could not resist your touch
As I said, the name Hexperos comes from the Hesperides too. These nymphs care of a tree with golden apples and they sing with sweet voices. I took the idea studying a nice painting on this myth by J.M.W. Turner, great English painter, who was also one of my subjects in my first thesis. I like to imagine myself as the Hesperides, since I sing in various ways (opera, Celtic, ethnic singing...), sometimes I feel that I'm not a single person. Each style is a shadow of me and I think that everyone, who loves arts, hides in his self a small garden of the Hesperides. Hexperos is music of love and mystery and I hope that the listener could feel it also thanks to our name.
When I talk about love I mean love for the arts, for the nature etc. and also romantic attraction. For this reason I decided to sing and put in music an extract from the novel ‘Woman in love’ by D. H. Lawrence, in ‘The magnificence of the night’. Here I sing an episode that talks about two lovers in the woods. There is silence and there are strong emotions, our music has to be delicate and not invasive in order to not disturb the affair. Lawrence’s view of sex was innovating for his times. For this reason, he had a profound influence on the modern novel, which was a moral influence rather than an artistic one, since he was able to add new moral dignity to such an important aspect of human life.
Our song entitled ‘Artemisia’ is dedicated to Artemisia Gentileschi, a great and mysterious female painter, who lived in the ‘600 and whose style belongs to Caravaggio school. I’ve admired her paintings in Florence since I was very young. I usually visit this city and its museums every year as my mother is from Florence. Artemisia’s life was full of troubles and sufferings caused by men and for this reason she often painted men decapitated with a strong realism.
Francesco wrote the rhythm of the song ‘Ritual’ and when I heard it, I thought about shamans or witches performing rituals, it was natural to me to compose the vocal part thinking to sing as a spirit that is evoked.
‘Nana’ is a song from the ‘Siete canciones populares Españolas’ by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, it is a sad ‘cante jondo’, a lullaby, we have proposed our version with the harp instead of the piano.
Also the Ave Maria of Caccini is a personal elaboration of this splendid song dedicated to one of the most famous women of the world.
As you can see, ‘The garden of the Hesperides’ is not strictly a concept album, but in a kind of way it is so. Each song is sung by one of these nymphs and the album talks about various women. Each song represents a different aspect of the feminine world.
Obviously, according to the pictures on your homepage, you also perform your music live in front of an audience. What is there to expect from a “Hexperos” concert? Do you have to work with playback or do you try to get live musicians for all featured instruments?
It depends always from the budget. The most of times we play live in three musicians. For example on 27th of April in Para, Breda – Netherlands - Francesco (double bass, guitar and keyboards) and me (voice and flute) are playing with Francesca, the harpist. Other times, instead of the harpist, one of the violinists comes. The other instruments are in playback but we like to join instruments of the past with modern technology for this reason we use samplers in our compositions too.
Finally, are there maybe any plans yet to come to Germany for one or another concert, maybe playing a small festival or something like that? I think it would be tremendous to get the chance of hearing your music live here in Germany!
We would love to come, we like very much your musical scene and have nice fans there, so let’s keep our finger crossed for a good proposal.
Is there anything you’d like to add? Any announcement or message to our readers?
Thanks a lot to Gorlokk, to all the staff of Metalglory for this nice interview. A warm embrace to all the readers!!
Let’s support good music buying our favourite Indie CDs!!!
I don't think there's much to add to this last statement! Thanks a lot for your time and the answers and I’d like to wish you all the best for the future with “Hexperos”!