Members: Stefania Pedretti, Bruno Dorella
Occupation: Sound Artists
Current Release: Miasma on Artoffact Records (Pre-Order)
Recommendations: This is the hardest one ... How can we choose? Okay, the only way is not thinking too much, so ... the photography of Joel Peter Witkin and the music of Diamanda Galas.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
We come from different backgrounds and we met through the squat/hardcore/punk movement in the late 90's. Bruno already had a sort of trained background, while Stefania started jamming in squats' practising rooms. Before OvO, Bruno played in many different bands, including a one-hit wonder Italian band called Wolfango, while Stefania's first band was a female performative collective called Allun. We've both always been interested in the darker, “off” and extreme approach to music: from crust to contemporary classical, from free jazz to breakcore. For Bruno music started as a mission: he knew he was going to be a musician since he was a child, no doubt about it. For Stefania it came a bit later, as part of a wider “experimental punk scene” attitude.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
Well, definitely not Stefania. She immediately started as a very unique and original voice, naturally finding her own style. Bruno started very young, trying to emulate U2 when he was a child or Iron Maiden when he was a teenie, but it's always been easy for him to be creative with personality. Also, whatever we do, we do it wrong. And that's where surprises arrive. Listening to OvO, whether you like it or not, we think everybody can say it's something entirely unique.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
We started as a total improv band, an open collective that other musicians could join on stage or in the studio. Nothing was agreed before the performance. Then we decided to be just a duo, and some of the improvisations worked better than others. So we started to repeat them night after night, and they became songs. So our compositional challenge was moving from total improv to composition itself.
Our live sets have always been extremely powerful, and our studio challenge was trying to bring this feeling into a recording. It took quite a while.
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
Our first real studio as OvO came on the 3rd or 4th album. Before, it was someone's garage, or a squat room, with a couple of SM57 and 58 and a young, well meaning soundguy. It took a while for us to evolve, and it happened because we were tired of people telling us that our live act was great but our records sucked. As we said, it took a while, though.
Stefania's gear is mostly focused on pedals, she's really into these Death By Audio distortions. She uses a plastic square as a pick, a cheap guitar that a friend gave her for our first tour 20 years ago (where she put a couple of bass strings and a totally made-up tuning ...), and a good Yorkville head and 8x8” cabinet. But she started with a 20 watt combo (a gift as well) that she used for ages ...
Bruno's set up is quite peculiar because he uses no kick drum, re-designing all the patterns to be played with two arms and one foot (this is only for hi hat). So the floor tom is really important, cause it has to sound like a kick drum + tom + floor tom all together. The rest can be whatever. In general, we're not gear freaks. We just have those couple of things that make our sounds special.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
We started using e-drums in 2011, for our 7th album “Abisso”. It really opened a whole new world to our music. We're still dreaming about a fully electronic album. But for the moment our knowledge is not wide enough. Stefania started to use a modular synth, and that's gonna take a while to be mastered ... It's quite obvious to say that machines help to do everything much faster, and humans help with their unpredictable touch ... But we guess the matter is much deeper than this.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
Tools influence our sound as much as we looked for the right tools to get the sound we wanted. It's a reciprocal thing. Stefania's sound wouldn't be the same without her modified cheap guitar, her 8x8 cabinet, her crazy pick and her pedals. Bruno's patterns wouldn't be the same with a kick drum. And now that he uses samples, our music changed a lot. Not even mentioning Giulio Favero's mixes, which give us the sound that we we looked for for years (finally). Co-authorship? Tools are tools, they're made to be used by authors.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
OvO started as an open band, where other musicians could join the jam. So creativity for us has always been associated with having an instrument and playing. People like Carla Bozulich were very inspiring in this matter. We don't talk much. We usually know who we collaborate with, and make sure they know us. After that, things come naturally. File sharing is something we've done too, of course. But, you know: same thing. If we know who we're dealing with, it's gonna work.