[Interview] Exclusive interview with Il Bacio Della Medusa

Dear readers, we are pleased to offer you in this article an interview with an Italian Progressive Rock band from Perugia, Italy. We welcome Il Bacio Della Medusa.

Hello how are you?

Simone Cecchini:
Hello everyone!!! We are doing great, we have just come back from four days of Trasimeno Prog, here in Italy, near Perugia. We met old friends and fans and made new acquaintances as well. It was a wonderful experience, and we sold many copies of our latest album IMILLA.”

Your style traces the classic sounds of Italian Progressive Rock with a personal and modern twist. How did your passion for this genre come about?

Simone Cecchini:
Our passion for progressive rock was born as an explosion of sounds and ideas! It’s a genre that revolutionized music through free experimentation, where notes blend like colors on a fiery canvas. I still remember that moment when I heard the first intricate riffs and enveloping melodies of albums like “Thick as a Brick” by Jethro Tull or “Come in un’ultima cena” by Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. It was like a journey into the unknown, a mystical experience that awakened our rebellious souls. The intricate compositions, symphonies, and profound lyrics swept us into a vortex of emotions. Since then, we’ve felt the call of this genre, as if it were an endless burning fire. We were especially drawn to the fusion of passion and innovation, the quest for new sounds that fiele our creative flame. Listening to Italian and international Prog was an excellent school. It wasn’t easy to find this music. There were no multimedia platforms like YouTube, iTunes, or Spotify. Many albums of this genre hadn’t even been reissued on CD (as they later were). We had to search for them on LPs at flea markets. All of these things together make up my first record. The search, the desire to hit the stage and sing words that made sense. To shout a message we believed in. Free
expression and making music that didn’t stop at just the music itself but was a form of Art.

The name of your band is very unique, how did the choice come about?

Simone Cecchini:
The name “Il Bacio della Medusa” was inspired by the famous painting by Michelangelo Merisi, also known as “Caravaggio.” Diego, Eva, and I have graduated in Art History, and Federico completed his secondary education at an Art Institute. At the beginning, we had thought of something more predictable like “Lo Sguardo (The Gaze) della Medusa” but to prioritize originality, we directed our choice towards “Il Bacio (the kiss) della Medusa” Eva graphically created our symbol which, along with the name, is today our trademark of origin. The rest is history!

AMS Records will release on August 25, 2023 your new album “Imilla,” how would you describe this work?

Both the music and the vocal parts are very intense, what themes do the lyrics deal with?

Simone Cecchini:
To be more precise, I would like to answer both questions together. Talking about Imilla, I need to make a premise: In January 2021, my wife Giulia and I discovered that we were expecting a child. In March, we confirmed that it was going to be a girl. During that time, I was engrossed in reading a book that captivated me greatly: “The Girl Who Avenged Che Guevara – The Story of Monika Ertl” by Jürgen Schreiber. Later, I
managed to find another text, which I believe is now hard to find, that presented the story of Monika Ertl in a fictionalized manner. The book was “La Gringa – Story of a Guerrilla” by Régis Debray. Monika Ertl is known as the girl who avenged Che. IMILLA is her name as a guerrilla. Her father, Hans Ertl, was a renowned German explorer and filmmaker who, in the early 1950s, was forced to move from Germany to Bolivia due to his involvement in producing propaganda films for the Nazi regime during the Third Reich. In Bolivia, along with his wife and three daughters, he led a life managing his estate named “La Dolorida.” Here, he maintained relations with fugitive Klaus Barbie, also known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” for his countless crimes during World War II. The relationship between the two “refugees” was so close that Hans’ daughters got into the habit of calling the former S.S. officer “Uncle Klaus.” Monika grew up under her
father’s protective wing, following in his footsteps and learning to use both the camera and weapons. As Hans’ favored daughter, she married a young German-born mining engineer. However, the marriage didn’t last, and after divorcing in 1969, Monika got involved with the National Liberation Army (ELN). Initially involved in minor actions, she went into political hiding with ELN guerrillas and began a romantic relationship with Inti Peredo, who succeeded Che but was soon killed on the orders of Colonel Roberto Quintanilla Pereira. Quintanilla, known for ordering Che Guevara’s corpse to be mutilated, became a
primary target of the National Liberation Army, and he was sent undercover to Hamburg, Germany, where he would serve as a consul. The rebels were informed of this, and Monika was identified as the armed force and ideal executor of the guerrillas’ thirst for revenge, given her German origins. At this point, the girl could complete her transformation into Imilla. On April 1, 1971, in Hamburg, Imilla fired three shots into the chest of the Bolivian consul (the bullet holes on the abdomen symbolically reproduce the “V” of Victory or Vendetta) with a Colt Cobra 38 Special, believed to have been provided by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. A note was left beside the Colonel’s body, reading “SIEG ODER TOD” (Translated from German: “Victory or Death”). Imilla managed to escape and returned to South America but was caught in an ambush and killed by Bolivian security forces on May 12, 1973, in El Alto, La Paz, possibly on the orders of “Uncle Klaus” himself. The fate of vengeance, ferocity, and mockery struck him when, during a hang-gliding flight, he saw his son crash into an Andean cliff. The indigenous people immediately prepared to cleanse the rocks tainted with the blood of that unworthy and cruel lineage, fearing some misfortune. I’ve always been fascinated by the figure of the guerrilla, the rebellious hero, and even more so in this case, facing a heroine, a true avenger. The protagonist has a significant background, considering her father Hans and his connections with the Third Reich. Naturally, the choice of Imilla as the album’s title (initially it was going to be “La Gringa”) makes Monika the lead. But is she truly? I would say that both Monika and Hans can be considered the main characters of the concept: their father-daughter relationship, in a sense, is a mental projection that I found myself producing at a particular moment in my life. So, behind the initial biographical layer that almost resembles a micro-historical-detective novel in verses and music, there is a second layer where I find myself wearing the uncomfortable attire of a controversial character like Hans Ertl, and at the same time, I make him think with my mind and experience feelings of parenthood that are ultimately mine. Given the circumstances, I consider it necessary to emphasize that I don’t feel at all connected to the “historical” Hans
and his relations with Nazism, to the extent that this game of swapping roles between him and me has scared me in some ways and, why not say it, disgusted me. The same applies to the track “Zio Klaus” (Uncle Klaus), in which I had to completely immerse myself in the personality of Klaus Barbie: I can assure you that trying to think with the mind of a Nazi criminal and looking through his eyes is a very dangerous and painful game, especially for a person with a vivid imagination like mine, who has heard firsthand accounts from grandparents and relatives who experienced the Nazi occupation here in Umbria during World War II. I repeat, it’s a frightening game that costs pain and leaves you with the stain of evil, as if you’ve been subjected to a demonic possession, forgive me for the comparison. Initially, IMILLA, or rather LA GRINGA, was supposed to be my solo album. Between March and May 2021, I recorded a version with folk and singer-songwriter hues. This was probably its initial form. I had planned to incorporate percussion and instruments typical of Andean folk music. However, as the months went by and I struggled to recruit the most suitable musicians to support me in this endeavor, I realized that there was something of Il Bacio della Medusa hovering over that work: Monika herself, her gaze fixated on me from the red and orange cover of Schreiber’s book, appeared to me like that of the Gorgon. So, I began setting aside the egocentric inclinations that would have led me to create a solo album, and one day, I invited the BDM guys for lunch. Andrea had already joined the band. After lunch, we went for a drive in the surrounding mountains and reached Rocca di Pierle, where we recorded many of our works. We listened to the demo I had recorded. The guys appreciated it and had the foresight to grasp the potential of those embryonic recordings, made entirely with a classical guitar, a kazoo, and a keyboard worth only 100 euros. Naturally, besides the
poverty of the instruments I had used, there was my voice. I believe Fede, Diego, Eva, and Andrea were mainly guided by that, evoking the lyrics that, in my opinion, were never written arbitrarily. Diego then re-arranged my songs, and the result is what you can listen to now.

The tracks are elaborate and full of ideas, how does the creative process of your music take place?

Simone Cecchini:
As I mentioned earlier, “IMILLA” is an album that started as a solo project. Initially, I recorded a demo using just a guitar, a Kazoo, my voice, and a low-value electric piano. Many of the songs spontaneously emerged from my own voice, which I recorded along with text sections on my cellphone during walks with my dogs. Later, I tried to reconstruct the tracks through home recording, setting up an impromptu studio in my home. Subsequently, Diego reworked the audio material from my demo, making it cohesive and compatible with the band’s style. Of course, this solution pertains only to the “IMILLA” album. For the other songs, we used nearly the same compositional methods: Some tracks were created in the rehearsal room with the entire band through jam sessions, and then I could write the lyrics. Other times, Diego composed musical pieces for which, again, I wrote the lyrics. In addition to these creative approaches, there’s my singer-songwriter activity, so I write songs, both lyrics and music, and propose them to the band, which then are rearranged by them.

Many of your fans and our readers wonder if there will be a chance to hear your music live, do you have any plans in this regard?

Diego Petrini:
We have many interesting situations opening up these days, and we are always open to consider interesting proposals for live shows or festivals from all over the world, especially since our band’s strong point is live performance! We are waiting for nothing else!

Italy has always been home to great artists, also and especially in Prog, how do you see the modern scene of the genre?

Eva Morelli:
In the 1970s, our country experienced the golden season of progressive rock thanks to extraordinary groups such as Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Area, Le Orme, PFM, Osanna and so many others who made great contributions to the construction of a cultured, original and varied musical universe. This was also possible thanks to the existence of enlightened managers and producers, free radio stations, festivals and venues that were open to diverse artistic expressions. Today, unfortunately, the modern scene has drastically changed: in the Prog scene there are many tribute bands (or almost) invading the even progressive music scene, often with little character and too many exercises in style at the expense of creative honesty. In addition, many live clubs are not receptive to quality original music, and there is very little investment in original productions because they do not guarantee the hyperbolic numbers of the mainstream. I hope that we can get back to a good cultural level both from those who create the music but also from those who listen to or promote it. There is a need for new energy, originality, and courage.

Since 2004 you have released 5 albums, how has the sound evolved over the years?

Diego Petrini:
Our artistic production has evolved along with our lives, which is why each album is a world apart. We started with hard prog tinged with folk influences on our first album and then moved on to a symphonic prog rock work like Discesa agl’Inferi; with Deus Lo Vult we explored the Templar theme of the crusades with an approach between medieval music, heavy prog and soundtrack, and finally to the social and more experimental rock of Seme*, where we also touched on electronic sounds. In Imilla we tackled a true story for the first time, a spystory that recovers the folk approach applied to a vast textual apparatus that musically dissects the characteristics of the characters narrated like a play. In short, BDM’s style has
always been profoundly linked to the concept we wanted to represent at that precise historical moment.

What advice would you give to young artists approaching music by proposing a more refined genre like Prog?

Eva Morelli:
Progressive rock is freedom of expression, it is an ongoing search for sounds and words that reflect our essence deep inside. I advise young artists to create music without ever giving themselves limits; I advise them to listen to a lot of music and form a broad critical taste that goes beyond the concept of genre toward absolute and honest creative freedom.

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

Simone Cecchini:
Of course!!! Besides playing and writing songs, I love riding motorcycles: I’ve had several bikes, from a Vespa Piaggio PX 125 to a Yamaha Dragstar, Harley Davidson 883, BMW R1150R (with which I’ve traveled half of Europe solo), and now a 2002 Triumph Thunderbird. I enjoy reading, cooking (I’m a good Chef) but I also like kayaking on Lake Trasimeno where I live, with my wife Giulia, my daughter Ginevra, my two dogs, and two cats. I have a dream in my drawer: one day I would like to write a novel that I’m already thinking

Diego Petrini & Eva Morelli:
As art historians, we have always loved visiting museums, cities and archaeological sites! We also love goldsmithing, studying and collecting stones and minerals, movies and LP.

I thank Il Bacio Della Medusa for the interview, wishing them the best as they continue their artistic careers.

Pre-Order the album here: https://btf.it/prodotto/il-bacio-della-medusa-imilla-lp-red-vinyl/

Il Bacio Della Medusa |Official Website|Bandcamp|Facebook Page|Instagram|Spotify|YouTube Channel|

AMS Records |Official Website|Bandcamp|Facebook Page|Instagram|YouTube Channel|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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