Nero Kane & Samantha Stella// Interview

Nero Kane is an Italian psych dark folk songwriter with an intimate, minimal and decadent path.

Both in his vocals and guitar style, his European roots intertwine with America’s desert rocksound in a project full of emotional vision. With an eye open to blues and classic songwriting, his music is particularly concerned with death, religion and love. References in Nero Kane’s style, and therefore in the relative films’ aesthetics shot to promote his music, can be found in the sick sound of Nick Cave, in the melancholy of Johnny Cash, in the insanity of Nico, in the darkness of Béla Tarr’s “The Turin Horse”, in the desert territories of Wim Wenders’ “Paris, Texas”, in the shamanic spirit of Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man” and in the visionary border landscapes of Cormac McCarthy. A romantic and tormented soul that struggles to find a balance in this path called life. This aspect is what gives the purpose and the lifeblood to his music. Quoting William Blake:Some are born to endless night.”

Samantha Stella is a visual artist, performer and filmmaker.

She started working with Art in 2005 under the name “Corpicrudi” (raw-bodies) featuring a lot of international premières and events in over a decade, and in 2015 she ended up this project to start a new solo career and a collaboration with songwriter Nero Kane. With him she first shot some music videos, then they made a performance together in Milan and Los Angeles (“Hell23”), then she shot an experimental film in the desert landscapes of California that was used to launch Kane’s debut album (“Love In A Dying World”).

They started to play concerts together on stage (Kane’s guitar/vocals plus Stella keyboards/vocals) in Italian and European venues, including theaters, churches, art galleries, finally they recorded Kane’s second album together (“Tales of Faith and Lunacy”). She is quite an eclectic woman, thinking Art is a fundamental element of our life in all its different languages. She also run her own column about Art and Music with Artribune, an Italian art magazine, and over one year she has interviewed many international musicians. She has two children, whose names are Serse, the male cat, and Sitre, the female cat, plus a fantasy family of bunnies that she shares with Nero.

Why are you so fond of the dark and dramatic side of spirituality?

NK – Probably because for me life is a difficult and erratic trip to nothingness. We all struggle to achieve something, but everything has a bright side and a dark one. And to me the second one is always more interesting. It’s something that could be connected to my influences coming from literature and painting and, in the end, from my inner nature.

SS – It’s all about Life and Death, which are two sides of the same aspect really connected with spirituality, drama and mystery. I think human philosophy and literature have always been investigating this balance. You can see it under white light or under black and darkness, but all belongs to the same seed.

Do you think it is better to have more Faith or Lunacy in life?

NK – Probably Faith, but also Lunacy is, in a sort of way, important. I could say I need both because the balance between these two aspects is what defines myself and feeds my visions. Lunacy is something that buries under my skin but it’s when you are almost done that Faith appears and takes you back on the track. It is the engine for everything in life because we have to believe in something to go on. No matter of what kind this Faith could be. You just have to push it, struggle and don’t forget to find a way. Your way. So yes, Faith is the answer.

SS – I think Faith in ourselves is a primary element to live a satisfactory life and achieve our goals. When you miss it and your fears and insecurities take over your life, all becomes more difficult. At the same time, Faith could be intended (as in “Tales of Faith and Lunacy” concept album) as a need of abandonment into something or somebody, to find warmth and help when you are not so strong. Lunacy intended in a romantic meaning is a kind of non-programmable element of human nature when you try to define and catalog what’s right and wrong, the good and the evil.

But who can really tell what is “normal” and what is not? Everybody has his own “lunacy”.

Who’s Mary of Silence?

NK – Mary of Silence is the Virgin Maria called also “Mater Dolorosa” and represented on the cover
of the album with the seven swords or “seven sorrows” fixed in her heart. She is the Holy Mother who embraces our tired souls. The final vision and the last hug to comfort our restless heart. She is the End. Sought, desired and finally achieved.

Californian ghost towns have an incredible charm, why did you choose American western landscape to “visualize” your sound?

NK – Honestly I don’t know why I started to play a music that is so strictly connected to these landscapes. Before I used to play garage rock. But somehow all my influences led me to create this mix of genres that suits very well to the American western landscape. My music often has been described as a soundtrack but nothing was conceived in this particular way. I just followed my visions. I can say that my musical influences are most of all American, that I love these endless landscapes and their wilderness but I’m also really connected to my European roots and their huge artistic heritage. When I went to record in Los Angeles those places were simply the best to represent my music and let it speaks. I don’t know if in the future it will be the same.

SS – Well, the American western landscape is a visual aspect connected with Nero Kane’s lyrics and music style and also the landscape where Kane’s music was developed, as the first album was recorded in Los Angeles, and the full related film was developed in the desert landscape of California. The lyrics narrate of a desert landscape – a world that is dying – and some lyrics where inspired by two old hymns of the American western period.

The second album is strictly connected to the first one, but the European roots are more evident, so in the “visual” part you can always find that western mood, but also a Central European religious and music mood. That’s the reason you see a wooden church of an American western ghost town, and when you go inside you find yourself in a European Renaissance church, to go deeper into the religious concept of the album. Tales of Faith and Lunacy is accompanied by a short film which was divided into three episodes,
the three videos to launch the three tracks (“Lord Won’t Come”, “Mechthild” and “Mary of Silence”). The american landscape is deliberately the same of the first movie, but the vivid colors of the blue sky and the yellow sand have left the place to a darker black and white. Also, very important, it is the connection of the American western landscape with Nero Kane’s music style developed in a strange mix between American and European goth-folk.

While listening to your music I feel calm, is it a wanted effect, or maybe it’s just me?

NK – You are not the first person who tells me this thing. Honestly it isn’t a wanted effect and I don’t know why you feel like this but it could be a beautiful reaction because my songs are fullfilled with loss and death but also with belief and research of something good. Maybe my type of monotonic voice or the repetitive riffs that permeate my songwriting could resonate like a sort of lullaby which cradle your thoughts. When I write music I don’t tend to imagine a reaction of an hypotetic listener, I just follow the tide and let it flows.

SS – Calm? Well, I don’t think it is a wanted effect. On the contrary many people say this music makes them reflect about their life and especially the more difficult and darker part of it. It’s like reflecting in their own ghosts, maybe not so calm…

Are you religious?

NK – I am not a religous person but I tend more and more to investigate this aspect of life. Often I
sit down in a church just to breathe the silence and try to forget everything that is outside. I love to visit churches and cemeteries and I’m really attracted by the figurative aspects of religion. Sometimes I pray but I definitely don’t think that there is only one religion.

Everything could be your religion. I just think that in these dark times we need something to believe in and for someone religion could be an answer.

SS – I am very doubtful and at the same time curious about that thin balance between Life and Death. I’ve probably put this investigation into all my artistic projects. And I’m quite obsessed by the religious aesthetics of our Christian religion, which is the one I’ve been growning into. Some titles of my previous visual art and performance projects “Lux Aeterna”, “The Heavenly Moment Before the Apocalypse”, “Aeternitas”, “God Loves You”, “Death Speaks” can give you an idea of my visions.

Nero Kane & Samantha Stella
IG: @nerokane 
Fb: @nerokanemusic
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