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Escape Velocity

Mona Lisa Overdrive: An Interview With Shapednoise
Theo Darton-Moore , March 29th, 2016 08:50

Following the release of his excellent album Different Selves last year, Nino Pedone caught up with Theo Darton-Moore to discuss cyberpunk, William Gibson and what it's like to work with Justin K Broadrick

Nino Pedone, aka Shapednoise, seems to be a man with a lot on his plate. Having relocated to techno haven Berlin in 2011, he is responsible for the co-running of some of the best-loved noise and techno labels operating today. These include Repitch and Cosmo Rhythmatic, however his prowess as a label head is far from Pedone's sole sonic pursuit.

He also has an illustrious release history himself. Over last year for example, he contributed to a new project with leftfield grime producers Mumdance and Logos entitled The Sprawl, alongside collaborating with Miles Whittaker of Demdike Stare as Boccone Duro and releasing an EP with Ike Yard member Stuart Argabright, operating under his Black Rain moniker. Entitled 'Apophis', the record took its name from a meteor discovered in 2004, originally predicted to collide with Earth in 2029. Had the original predictions been correct, the meteor would have changed the face of the planet as we know it.

This sense of cosmic angst is something which permeates much of Pedone's work, not least his most extensive project of last year, the Type-released Different Selves LP. Covering an amalgamation of gnarled techno, off-kilter noise experiments and clattering breakbeat, the release marked a maturing of the Shapednoise sound, Pedone steering his productions even further from the conventional realms of the dancefloor. 

Different Selves came out recently – how long was the album in the works for and why did you decide to release it with Type?

Nino Pedone: Different Selves is an album that was composed during the second half of 2014, through to May 2015. The whole process took me almost a year, but I wasn't working on it steadily. When I started I didn't have it in mind to make another album. I sent four demo tracks to Type, and John [Twells, label head] really enjoyed them. Afterwards, he asked me if I could make some more material for a full-length LP. Of course I was really excited about the idea.

I decided to release on Type because it's one of my favourite ever labels. I think it is one of the greatest points of reference in the modern avant-garde electronic music scene. The label has released loads of interesting music, including amazing artists like Pete Swanson, Vatican Shadow, Porter Ricks, Pye Corner Audio and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. It is a really open-minded label and I love their attitude as well.

The LP opens with a collaboration with Justin K Broadrick, aka Godflesh – I read that the two of you met after you supported one of his shows. How did you end up working together following this meeting? Are there plans for more collaborative material?

NP: After I met Justin at his show at the Berghain for CTM festival 2015, I started to compose some material for him. More specifically I produced some background soundscapes and some atmospheric noise elements. After, we had a quick chat about what my idea for the track was. I wanted to add some jungle-ish elements to my sounds. He proposed the 'hoover'/Reese bass and the distorted 808 kick drum that made it on to the track and I think it came out really great! At the moment we don't have any proper plans for future material, but I hope it will be possible to play some shows together…

The album cover features a photo taken by Valentino Bellini. What drew you to this image for the Different Selves artwork?

NP: Valentino is a really good friend of mine and I always loved his photography and other projects, so I wanted to involve him on this record. What drew me to the image is the depth of the panoramic view of Guangzhou and the mood that it portrays. The first time I saw the photograph it really moved me.

I've been enjoying your project The Sprawl with Mumdance and Logos. Can you tell us a little bit about the influences behind that? Neuromancer, the William Gibson novel, for one, is referenced heavily in the press release. And what impact do you think rave scenes and UK music more generally have had on your productions?

NP: The main influence is sci-fi/cyberpunk culture, advanced science and technology embedded within futuristic, urban environments. The name The Sprawl comes from William Gibson's novel trilogy, so not just Neuromancer but also Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. We wanted to create a soundtrack for a dystopian city by combining all our different musical backgrounds. 

I always thought my greatest inspirations have come from the UK or the USA, and most of the people with whom I'm working with come from these countries. I was mostly influenced by UK industrial music, the 'Birmingham sound' and jungle, D&B and IDM scenes.

And what kind of music did you used to listen to growing up in Italy? Do you remember the first electronic music you heard?

NP: Regarding electronic music, I used to listen to the likes of Autechre, Squarepusher, Amon Tobin, Aphex Twin, Skam, Unit Moebius, Spiral Tribe, Photek, Scorn, Techno Animal and many others…. In Sicily I grew up with my cousin, who introduced me to classic rock and jazz. Artists like David Bowie, Lou Reed, Velvet Underground, Sun Ra, Charles Mingus, etc. After that I began to move on to more experimental music, like John Cage, Steve Reich and Philip Glass.

You co-run the Repitch label with Ascion and D. Carbone. How long have the three of you been friends for now? You also run the Cosmo Rhythmatic imprint – how does this label differ from Repitch do you think? I was a big fan of the Mika Vainio and Franck Vigroux album you put out.

NP: Ascion, D. Carbone and I have been friends for six years now. The first time I met Ascion was in Berlin during a holiday. He was in town to play a show at the Maria club that has become the new YAAM. With Davide [Carbone], the first time we met was at my house while I was studying in Milan. He came to visit me with Ascion and a few other friends.

Cosmo Rhythmatic is the experimental side of Repitch, due to my interest in abstract, rhythmic noise. They are two different labels which complement each other at the same time. I met Franck for the first time at Flussi festival in Italy in 2013, after we played a couple of shows together. I was really impressed by his work and I really wanted to involve him on the new label. The first release we did was his Centaure EP. Franck was really happy about the work we did with that EP, and proposed to me to release the collaborative album with Mika on our label. Of course I was really happy about it, and I knew that he had already been working on this record for a number of years. After a month Mika, Franck and I all met together to discuss the details of the record and we decided to release it on the label. It was definitely one of the most exciting and important moments of my career and life.

Finally what's next for yourself? What plans do you have for this year, both for yourself, Repitch and Cosmo Rhythmatic?

NP: Regarding my future projects as Shapednoise, I'm working on a new EP that will be out later this year, also on Type, and it will include some artist features. There will also be a new collaborative project and more material from The Sprawl. For Repitch, we recently announced our upcoming plans for the first half of the year. The next release will be out on April 6 – it's a new EP by Mike Parker, which will be followed by another record by ex-Warp, Iranian artist Sote. There will also be a mini LP by Ascion.

We're also working on a fifth-year anniversary release that will include some new, special guests. We're also planning a few label showcases to celebrate this important moment. Regarding Cosmo Rhythmatic, we have some exciting new releases in the works, and in the summer we will host our first ever showcase in one of the most infamous clubs in the world.

Different Selves is out now on Type