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Progressive Rock Interviews

Armonite

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Paolo Fosso of Armonite from 2016
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?

I studied Composition at the Conservatory of Milan and Computer Science at the University of Milan. Since I was a child, I've had a major nerd love for technology. I would pretend to program music in Basic on Commodore-64 with a list of POKE instructions. Then I went on to editing mod files with samples on a 4-channel basis. That was geological eras ago. Recently, I had been working in music administration for quite a while and realized that I was really missing being a part of the creative process. Every day I would work with these talented musicians and it was like this constant source of stimuli. Next thing I knew I decided to get back to my lifelong first vocation: composition and songwriting. So in 2015, we formed a new band while borrowing the name of our old one.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Film director or game designer - movies and video games have been my daily bread since I was a child. And I think they have much in common with music. They share a creative and artistic view, have a formal structure, develop in time, follow a rhythm. It's a kind of expression I feel very close to.
MSJ: How did the name of the group originate?
Armonite, like anthracite, is a material. Only it’s invented, because it’s made of harmony.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
The Beatles, Deep Purple, Yes, Rush, ELP, Jethro Tull, Queen, Metallica, Pantera, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Dream Theater, Queensryche, Spock’s Beard, Porcupine Tree, Yanni, Vangelis, Andrew Lloyd Weber - just to name a few that spring to mind, plus classical and world music as well. Now we also like djent. This is the most of our dictionary.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
We’re going to tour with The Soundtrack is New each Day show, one soundtrack cover in violin rock after each original song from our album. Then we’ll get back to writing for a new album. Keep listening - further updates are on the way...
MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Violin rock with electronics, classical, and world music, topping of progressive metal and a pinch of pop culture.
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Maybe with a guitar soloist like Steve Vai, but we don’t know if he’s okay with rehearsals of eight hours a day with us! (laughter)
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

In 2003, Steve Jobs said to Rolling Stones magazine piracy won’t ever be stopped, all you have to do is compete with it. Long before being involved with BitTorrent, Matt Mason said piracy would help you instantly spread your content. Sure, piracy hurts the digital distribution model, but this is not the point, because emerging artists get too little money from digital sales (not to mention Spotify and the like). So it seemed appropriate for us to give away our music for free in return for maximum exposure. And monetize live gigs only.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
Internet and the social media are a great chance for independent artists to promote their work. You can't complain because you don't get enough exposure, and then want to remove a video taken by a fan... There is absolutely no need to curl up like a hedgehog to defend the old media. A tool isn't good or bad, that depends on how you use it.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
(laughter) No arch nemesis. You'd expect me to say that Billboard Hot 100 is the evil along with all those singers and producers, but it's not exclusively black or white. We live in a middle ground. You can find great songs and arrangements in the mainstream segment and the worst mediocrity in the niches.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Our favorite music is not about the performers, it's about the composition. So first of all, I would include Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman or Danny Elfman. Then, well, there are so many great performers to choose from that I'm spoiled with choice!
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Our ultimate Festival would be so diverse across all genres that we'd better split it into three or four for marketing purpose!
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Recomposed By Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons by composer Max Richter released on Deutsche Grammophon. It's a complete recomposition and reinterpretation of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons – a subtle and often moving piece of work.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Right now I'm re-reading the history of philosophy. It's a fundamental reading for everyone wanting to pierce the veil of dogma and see beyond.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Dream Theater in Milan - great concert, but I prefer them before A Change of Seasons, when Kevin Moore contributed with his great songwriting skills.
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Dubstep! I like heavy music. Metal and dubstep share the same strength. They're more comparable than we think. Listen to Kill the Noise. He's a great producer.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
In a town near Milan, the stage was mounted on a dozen wine casks, two meters high (six feet). We ate and drank all sorts of goodies, and barely remember how we played!
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
At my table would sit an author like Michael Ende or Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a composer like Béla Bartók (or a film composer?), and a director like Stanley Kubrick or Christopher Nolan. Unless entrepreneur Walt Disney accepts my invitation...
MSJ: What would be on the menu?

Sushi!

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
We released our album for free on armonite.com. Please show your support by liking us on Facebook. Thanks!
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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