Sunday, April 11, 2021

Interview with Elle Noir by Dave Wolff

Interview with Elle Noir by Dave Wolff

How has the response to your latest EP “Like a Black Doll” been since its release last November?
"Like A Black Doll" is my second EP, and to be honest I'm really happy with the result.
It received a very positive response with a lot of very good reviews. This made me realize that I'm on the right way, the path that totally belongs to me.
The first EP "SIN" was an experiment born in my studio, I was alone after years of Metal and I decided to abandon the band sounds and make it more electronic. It's a good EP, but I felt the lack of drum and distorted guitars, so I decided to insert the human element again in the second EP.
This is the path I'm following also in my first full-length album, on which I'm working on this period.
Why did you decide to release it exclusively in digital format? Has it gotten more of a response from listeners who surf the internet for new goth music?
It's related to today's music market.
Unfortunately, the world of CDs is in decline more and more, and for my audience, it is much easier to listen to my music in digital format. It seemed like the right choice now. With my former bands, I made several LPs in physical format, but people asked us for digital.
I would definitely like to make a vinyl, it's something I've been thinking about for a while and I hope to make it with the new LP.

Were you always in gothic and dark alternative bands before Elle Noir? Or did your former bands play other genres?
I have had several symphonic metal bands. I have an opera-singing background, which I have been doing for several years. I also specialized in the 20-30s Cabaret world studying in Berlin. For years I have been performing as a singer and performer in London thanks to my shows. I worked in the Netherlands in contemporary musical theater. Music is my job, not just my great passion. I love to experiment, create and expand my boundaries, although I can say that the goth side is what most represents me.

In what ways were singing opera and cabaret fulfilling? Were your backgrounds in opera and cabaret helpful to you as a symphonic metal vocalist?
Everything I have studied in depth has helped me because it has taught me something. Opera singing is the most difficult vocal school and has taught me to control my voice, to enhance it, to use it to my maximum. Cabaret helped me to move on stage, to relate to the audience, to use my body to express music and words.

Where did you study opera and how long? How similar or different do you find vocal techniques for opera and symphonic metal, having worked in both genres?
I started studying opera singing at the age of eighteen when I went to live in Milan to devote myself to music. I started with a good private teacher, Elisa Turlà, who brought from America to Italy the "Voicecraft" method, a very famous singing method, based on phoniatrics. After three years with her, I entered the Conservatory where I graduated in Opera Singing after five years studying with different singing teachers. In the meantime I graduated in musicology at the University of Bologna and once I graduated I enrolled in Composition at the Conservatory. During these years and for many years after I studied privately with a fantastic teacher to whom I owe a lot, the strict Serbian Jasmina Radanovick. I stopped taking opera singing lessons, but not studying, two years ago. I have been studying singing opera for almost 20 years and believe me, we never stop improving. Now I'm a singing teacher, but still, I'm studying to become a singing therapist and I'm attending a Master's in phoniatrics. Yes, I really love studying.
The Opera technique was very useful for metal because being used to working to the maximum with the voice, metal sung with a classical vocality was for me the comfort zone. The big difference is that in opera you have to stick strictly to the vocal technique, in metal you don't. And that's what I've always liked: being free to express myself with my voice.

Is there anywhere, in particular, you teach opera singing or have you visited a number of locations to teach?
I currently teach in four different music academies in my city, I also teach online and in my studio. I don't only deal with opera but also with modern singing.

How do you find the time to teach in so many locations as well as teaching online? Are a lot of students coming in despite the Covid pandemic?
I have an intense schedule, it's a matter of organization. Let's say that during this period I am working anyway, also because the academies have organized themselves with online lessons.

As a metal vocalist were you familiar with the techniques of vocal fry, fry screams, or false cord? How much more expressive was singing in metal bands?
Singing in a metal band, as well as in my Goth Elle Noir project, is from a stylistic point of view a personal choice and not bound by rules. I can do exactly what I want. Obviously, this is not possible in opera. I studied vocal Fry, but I only used it on one particular occasion, in the Netherlands in a contemporary music festival, in a very different project from metal. Anyway, I haven't been singing metal for several years.

Why did you choose to express yourself through gothic music? How well known and supported is dark and gothic music in Italy?
I don't think I have chosen the musical genre to express myself with. I believe that different genres of music express different sides of me, but that the moment I sat down to write my songs, which are about me, this was the natural result. The goth world is the most intimate and intense world I have inside. Unfortunately, the situation in Italy does not support the underground dark-goth scene very much.

What formats was “SIN” released on? Being that this EP was your debut, how much promotion was needed to let people know it was available?
Both of my EPs are in digital format, so it will certainly be for my next album as well. My first EP was an experiment born in my studio and honestly, it was not promoted except on my social channels. The second EP, in which I feel I have found my identity, was instead sent to radio, DJs, and blogs to be reviewed.

Are DJs airing your new EP on their programs? How many reviews has it gotten since its release?
The DJs have helped me and are helping me. I have had great reviews, about twenty all over the world, countries like Holland, Germany, the UK, up to the US.

List some of the publications in which you got favorable reviews. Are they mostly local fanzines, larger underground zines, or webzines people can access worldwide?
Here are some links you can check:

Do you see the advantages of reaching more listeners through digital format? How many contacts have you made through digital and streaming formats?
I cannot establish the exact amount, what is certain is that it has allowed me to reach fans all over the world. And, most importantly, my audience is much targeted, goth and dark. Targeting is one of the tasks of social media, on which a lot of my self-promotion has been done. In Italy and especially in my city, there is no support for dark alternative music, so there is no point in trying to build a fan base here, so for me, the digital format in the best solution.

What countries outside Italy have fans of dark and gothic music who appreciate your work as a goth vocalist?
I can honestly say that thanks to social media it is quite easy to reach the whole world. The gothic world is still alive, everywhere. I have fans in Australia, Romania, USA, and South America, Germany.... and I could go on. It's a targeted audience, and very selective and I like that.

Do you work with other musicians while recording or do you compose and record your work solo? How do you define what you call the human element in your work?
This is a project that comes from me, from my need to write music. So I create melodies, harmonies, structures, lyrics. I'm lucky because I have a partner who helps me with the arrangement and production.
Sebastiano is a very good producer and multi-instrumentalist and in the second EP. He is the human element that I decided to add. In the first EP I was alone, I practically did everything in my studio. I have experimented a lot with electronics. But I have a long history with bands, and honestly, I find the sound of the second EP more mine.
Also the members of my former metal band are ready to play live with me on this project as soon as the pandemic allows it. We remained friends and it's a great team. This for me is the way to make music that makes me happy, the human element: relationships and friendships, sharing experiences. Something that belongs to me deep down.

Which of your former bands wants to perform with you? Going by how long you’ve worked with that band, will they have a fairly easy transition adjusting their musicianship to fit your songwriting?
The band I have the pleasure of playing my songs with is After Apocalypse, a band I worked with for five years. I love these guys, we broke up three years ago as a band, but we have remained very close friends. So I'm really happy that they want to be part of this project. As I said I love to work and play with others rather than alone, and with them, it's really always funny. As for the music, they are good musicians who are not having problems, plus there is a lot of alchemy between us.

How long had you worked with After Apocalypse while you were active? In what ways did working with them give you alchemy?
We played together for four years, we always had a lot of fun together. As I said, we remained friends even after, which hasn't happened with the bands I've played with previously. We see each other regularly and even did a concert after two years of breaking up, just for fun.
Alchemy in a band is spontaneous, either it is there or it is not there. Between us there is and I can't wait to play live with them with my project.

How many electronic effects did you experiment with on your EPs? How much of a process was it to combine them with the human elements of your music, and how helpful was Sebastiano?
I absolutely cannot say how many effects I experienced, certainly a lot... until I was satisfied with the result. Sebastiano helped me in the process, but since we collaborate on several musical projects together, we don't quantify the amount of help we give each other. We both know what we want from the various projects, we help each other and above all we complement each other.
I believe that quantifying an artistic process in any sense is outside the logic of art itself.

Is there anything you are considering experimenting with on future releases?
I'm working on it right now and I'm doing a music genre that totally mirrors me right now. I have come a long way from my first EP and am always looking for something interesting. I've used different instruments, different synths ... but you'll see.

Besides experimenting with different instruments, how much of an emotional range do you want to achieve with Elle Noir?
My goal is to say what I feel. The songs I write are my way of expressing sides of myself that would otherwise be suppressed, hidden. My songs have no goals other than to tell something about me, which is something universally felt anyway. I can say that they are all really lived and felt.

-Dave Wolff

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