[Interview] Exclusive interview with Aether (ITA)

Dear readers, we are pleased to offer you in this article an interview with an eclectic Italian band that mixes Jazz and Prog. We welcome Aether.

Hello, how are you?

Fine, thanks, I hope you are well too. Here in Milan we just had some showering rains that helped us breath after a crazy-hot summer.

The name of your band Aether is full of meaning, can you explain this choice?

When we started to play together, the initial aim was to rehearse some of my (Andrea Grumelli) compositions for my final exam at Piacenza Conservatory, so we did not really care about giving a name to this project. Once we decided to make a record of them and continue with the project we asked ourselves about a possible name. So the choice of the name came a little late. We wanted a name that represented very
closely the music of our compositions and also gave an idea of different attitudes within it. The choice therefore fell on Aether (even if maybe not the most original one ��) but this well represents the concept of sonic journey presented in our songs, with a reference to the alchemical process of mixing the different elements as a metaphor for the fusion of our different influences.

Your sound mixes Jazz and Progressive, where does your passion for this music come from?

Let’s say we all are big fan of progressive music, although I have to say that in addition to the classics that we obviously listened to, all four of us share a concept of progressive music as a kind of music that seeks its own personality and contains the progressive element i.e. that pushes for solutions that are not trivial although not necessarily complex. What we call Progressive today is often a genre that traces clichés and styles of the great classics of the ‘60/’70. As much as I personally love some of them I think that the risk of
linking progressive music to these clichés is losing the innovative charge that this kind of music had, trying to break barriers to create something new. So Progressive in our opinion should be an aspiration, a goal instead of a genre. The same thing can be said of jazz, as music that seeks community of languages and a
synthesis between them. Moreover, 3 of us have studied jazz in academies and conservatories, So the jazz influence and imprint is something we can hardly get rid of easily 🙂

What are your main sources of inspiration?

Let’s say that the influences are a little different among each of us, although we are quite musical-dumpsters and listen to a little bit of everything. Three of us were young metalheads, like many musicians. We still follow the metal scene though with less ardor and passion than when we were younger, and I have to admit there is a lot of interesting music mostly in extreme metal today: Liturgy and their last records would be a good example of this. But definitely the whole progressive and jazz rock scene in general, tarting from King Crimson to the Mahavisnu Orchestra, the Grateful Dead for their improvisational rock side and other bands such as Motorspycho. Of course there are jazz influences coming from the jazz tradition, with a look at the contemporary (Brad Mehldau, Shabaka Hutchings) but we’re also big fans of a good melody that sticks to your head so we also listen to a lot of pop music.

Outside the band you are also friends, I read in the press-kit, how did the band come about?

We have actually known each other for several years, hanging out in the Milan music scene, but apart from a few sporadic things (essentially jazz) we had never played together. While working on the songs for the final exam in conservatory and for the recording, we found out that we had different points of contact in our tastes and experiences, creating a very relaxed but active collaboration that in the end tightened a bond between us

Your self-titled debut album was released in June 2023, how would you describe this work?

I am personally very satisfied with the overall sound of the album, and being the first under this moniker we can confidently assert that it is our best one so far, from the next one we will see :-). I consider the album to be a synthesis of the influences and studies of the last few years, a combination of the different rock, progressive and jazz souls that belong to us, beneath a dark and melancholic surface that reflects other types of listening/experiences and readings especially from our youth. I think one can easily find the Jazz influences mostly in the harmonic structures of the compositions, whereas the sounds and grooves are mostly coming from our rock and progressive background nad the dark-ambient part from our timbric choices.

11 intense instrumental tracks between Jazz and Prog, how does the creative process of your music take place?

For both the released record and the one we have already written and will hopefully record by the end of 2023 the writing process was the same. Normally one of us comes to our studio with a theme and a harmonic structure on which we start improvising, kind of like a jazz standard on Real book. From the improvisations process we select the parts that we like the most and use them as arrangements. Let’s say that in general the composition process starts “solo”, from the thematic or harmonic idea of a single element,
to be then revised all together in the studio and sometimes transfigured or modified significantly from the initial idea.

Does your style lend itself to live performances, do you have plans for this in the near future?

We are trying to promote the record playing live, obviously with all the difficulties this involves. The band is still too young and little-known to be able to aspire to festivals where our music is proposed and, on the other hand, our proposal does not fit well with the demands of many live music venues that are looking for another type of product.

Italy has always been a country rich in quality artists, how do you see the music scene today and in the future?

The Italian music scene, despite the embarrassing quality offered by the mainstream products, is alive and well; full of very good, innovative and personal proposals. However, today they have an ever-decreasing slice of the general audience. Music in Italy is almost limited to its entertainment component, the artistic part is no longer recognized by the public. This probably has 1.000 different causes for which we could argue for years and certainly sociologists and music-history scholars will in a few years. The issue remains
that, if not directly aimed to entertainment or complementary to other events (let’s consider for instance jazz music, relegated in most cases to a pleasant background in fancy events) musical activity now remains the cry of the creativity of the individual who can economically afford it and who, in a saturated market, will surely have a lot of difficulties getting noticed, regardless of the quality or otherwise of the proposal.

How difficult is it (if at all) to succeed with a more refined musical genre such as yours?

It is for sure very complicated and of course we all do this out of a personal passion and an urge to write. That does not see much satisfaction in artistic recognition (I do not even mention economic recognition) since this genre is actually relegated to very sectoral and niche areas at the moment. I would add the fact that for bands that try to mix different genres this is even more complicated because you obviously are not inserted in a specific musical genre. The same applies to the possibility to perform live, since in the end the spaces where we can propose our music are very limited. I know it’s kind of a gray picture but I think everybody knows this and it’s very nice that there are still a lot of interesting bands proposing great music even if these are the actual conditions nowadays.

Do you have any other passions or artistic activities outside music?

We all read a lot and are movie lovers, when we take a break during rehearsals we often end up talking about movies, from old silent ones to the Marvel universe. This reflects on our music too, which can be quite cinematic at times, something that just happened without planning it.

I thank the Aether for the interview and wish them all the best for the continuation of their artistic career.

Thanks a lot for your review and interview, we are really glad you enjoyed our music and we thank you for your work in spreading news and info about the music we love. We also invite all Progressive Rock Journal readers to give Aether a chance, listening to our proposal and following us on our Social Media for new material.

Read our Review of their album here: [Review] Aether – Aether

Purchase the album on Bandcamp: https://aether5.bandcamp.com/album/aether

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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