Interview by Arianna G.
The universe and its wonders. This is a topic that we’ve started to get in touch with since the dawn of time by Niccolò Copernico and Galileo Galilei and that is now brought to light by Nebulae, a stoner metal band from Italy who introduces us in details the magic and the vastness of this amazing topic in its EP, “Etere”. On the occasion of the show that has taken place in Bologna on Oct 14th we’ve got the chance to know this band deeper. The singer Miriam Granatello is our spokeswoman, a girl with a tough temperament that is also very introspective, and in this in-depth interview she illustrates Nebulae, also revealing what has gone on behind the scenes and some interesting future plans for the band. This interview wasn’t possible without the help of the Alchemica Club, in particular to Fausto, Niccolò, Michele and Francesco for their greatest availability and the highest professionalism shown to us.
Hi Miriam and welcome to Femme Metal. It’s a great pleasure hosting you today.
Hi Arianna, thanks!
Today we’re here at the Alchemica Club in Bologna, this is a venue that is proving itself to be one of the best in the Italian music scene. How do you feel being here?
Indeed for me it’s an honor, this is the first time, thinking that I’ve pursued this “career”, even if I don’t pay my bills with it, a long time ago. Coming to Bologna for the first time ever is a beautiful thing and the Alchemica Club gave me this chance. That’s it! Furthermore, this is not only a music club! It is a recording studio, I’ve seen something like 4 or 5 rehearsal rooms, it is a high quality venue! I can only say: “Damn, this is so cool!”. I’ve never seen something like this in my whole life in any other part of the world. It’s really unique in its style!
I’d like to start off our chat talking about Nebulae, a stoner metal band who has just one EP released. The first question is a very basic one: would you mind giving us a short biography of the band for those people who still had no chance to get to know you?
Nebulae was born with the release of the EP, “Etere”, that has been released on October 14th 2014. At the beginning the band was formed mainly by girls, I met Laura 5 years ago and I’ve fallen in love with her way of playing music, yeah! I’m not only a singer, I play – or so I try – the drums, I’ve studied to play piano, I strum away on guitars and bass. I met her, I’ve listened how she played and I liked her. I’ve started playing the drums, at the beginning I’ve played drums and at the same time I sang just in order to share this experience with her, because, I swear, I’ve never listened to somebody like her with such a different approach. It’s not the typical approach, it’s not the standard music I’ve listened to. I’ve listened to a lot music, I’ve started my journey with blues, jazz, fusion, funky, I’ve never heard something like that, her music, before! So I’ve started to play, in order to understand her approach, to understand this personal groove of hers, very particular, with these crazy tempos and these crazy bpms. One day we’ve been contacted by a girl, a drummer and she asked Laura if we felt like playing together, out of the blue! This is magic, isn’t it? Magic exists, especially in these cases! This girl is Giulia and we’ve started off with drums, vocals and bass, with me being the singer only. After a jamming session, we’ve composed some tracks starting from scratch, just jamming. This is a peculiar thing of Nebulae. All the songs you can hear on our EP and that you’ll also listen in the new record (some of them will be introduced exclusively tonight) are songs that will be included in our next record. It will come out in April 2017 and it will have the new lineup of course. Ok let’s not waste further time! In the end, Giulia offered me to recruit another girl, since we were looking for a guitar player and then I’ve wondered myself if we did feel like doing something together, creating a band. I remember about this girl who had a band, she is very humble, a beautiful person. I met her while I’ve been introduced to the live singing in my music journey, I had a Guano Apes cover band, I met when I was more or less 18. I do remember her still, she’s Feffa, Enza D’Ambrosio, well known as “Feffa” D’Ambrosio. Everything started from there, we met at the bar for a coffee, then we started playing for two or three hours but it was more like talking about ourselves, digging into our souls without revealing anything. It was way better than a session with a psychologist! So Nebulae has started. Of course, as you know, life leads you to changes and the first girl who abandoned us, due to work, was Feffa. Later on I recorded a cover with Edoardo, I met him over the Internet, I offered him to see each other via webcam and to play a cover by Gojira, so everything started from there. When the EP was about to be released, Feffa told me that she wanted to leave due to her moving to Turin and I told her that I would have found a solution for the band. I’ve checked on my Facebook profile and I’ve seen that Edoardo published the video we’ve filmed. I asked him his phone number, I gave him a call and after a first rehearsal I knew he was the right one. Can you see? This is how life goes and it’s a philosophy that we embrace a lot, because Nebulae, or rather “nebula”, scientifically is the death of a star that becomes later an agglomeration of gas and dust that gives life to a million stars, a million uterus. It’s the artistic and scientific form, the most humanistic figure that I could ever approach to my music and to what I perceive from it, of course. Edoardo has this same sensitivity. I don’t know how this could have been possible, but it happened and I’m really happy about it, because this was the way it was supposed to be. After a few gigs Giulia also decided to leave to her work, at first Alfonso was supposed to be part of the band but he was busy, so we’ve opted to grab a guy who lives in my hometown, Caserta, in order to replace Giulia for a few shows and, after four months, Alfonso Mocerino, our current drummer, gets back on the track and he starts his music path with us, Nebulae’s path. This is Nebulae. It’s been a year with him and we’re complete with this new lineup.
In 2014 you’ve released your first EP, “Etere”. A very particular name for an album title, since it is a concept and it deals with the universe and nebulas. Where did the idea of creating a concept album like this come from?
We are part of this, it may sound like a set phrase, but it’s not, we’re made of the same material of which stars are composed by. I’ve always been fascinated by the universe and by everything that is involved in it, by the mystery, by its immensity. In short, we’re a little universe, ok? Everything has its own universe and, except for this, I’m very fascinated by it also on a scientific basis, I’m fascinated by colors, gas, the name of the planets; in fact, the single we’ve released, “Ogle-TR-56B”, is the planet that contains iron. Let’s say that this is an allegory of the personality of a person who struggles in order to not feel unsuitable in this world and who fights saying: “I’m like this, period. I’m tougher than you. I’m like iron”. This is “Ogle-TR-56B”. It deals with this, more or less, when the album will be released we’ll leave everything we need to leave, as the explanation of any other thing. “Etere” is everything that surrounds us, it is also the brightest part of a thought! The universe reconnects everything and I’m feel like being a part of it! I don’t feel like being a fly’s shit, can you understand? If I think: “Wow, how big the universe is!”, I feel as big as it, at first it was difficult to reach to such an awareness, because in the moment you’ve started to join this path you know it is also related to the philosophies, the American native thought and the quantum physic especially, because that’s the biggest truth ever. It’s the same thing that American native people say, everything is clever! Everything is a balance in the chaos and each of us is a miracle, let’s not make fun of ourselves! This is Nebulae in its complete purity and sensitivity. I have my own temperament and I’ve accepted everything of myself, I’ve accepted my way of being a human being. I see emotions and frames of mind in every genre: I’ve accepted my jazz, my new jazz, my rnb, my soul. I’ve accepted my funky, my fusion, my metal! Metal is indeed the only thing that gives me a right to be here.
Usually when you deal with a concept album, you have to pay attention to a lot of details. How did this record come to life? What has been the toughest part that required a more care in its composition?
The toughest part was to make it possible because, as I said, at first the girls were the band. I would never say the opposite, but they worked and I had to do everything by my own while I was at the university or at work. I’m also a graphic designer, I film and edit music videos, especially the direction, the editing, I manage everything of the brand that could be the visual communication of a band, a company or whatever it is. It’s the subject I’m still studying at the university and I like so much to translate it in music. It’s a sort of psychology of the form, the color, of everything it could be and it’s amazing! I’m also attracted to the sound engineering! This was the most difficult thing, I had to pay attention to everything. The guys told me: “Miriam, you have carte blanche! You know what you want! We are here, we are playing, we’ve thrown up together, we’ve cleaned everything, we’ve been given our space. I say my own thing for what it concerns the composition, you do the same and so on, this is a great mix, so you have carte blanche!”. This was the most difficult thing, starting from the scratch and doing everything by my own.
Recently you’ve released a video for the song “Ogle-TR-56B”. I assume that this track is going to be included in a full length record. Is that right?
Yes, it will be included in the new album of course. We’ve decided to release it now and we made the mixing, the mastering, we’ve recorded and edited the video in 2 weeks. Meanwhile, I went to the university, I worked, I had a medical examination because I suffer from Helictobater Pylori in my stomache, so every now and then I have to make a gastroscopy test and now we’re here! We’re here! We have done all this because of this tour, well… “tour”. It’s a 3 dates tour with some people who kicked their asses in two months, we’ve been friends for 2 years now, so this is a big honor for us!
Tonight you’re going to support Infected Rain here in Bologna. You’ve already had the chance to support this band during the previous gigs this week. How has it been? Did you know already the band?
For us this will be the last date with them. There has been a commitment for our drummer, he is going to play with Gallo, the bass player of Vasco Rossi, and I have to work, so… We’ve played with Infected Rain last year in Naples and, of course, since we knew them we wondered: “Why don’t we play together next year if you’ll come to Italy again?”. Why not? The same thing happened with Jinjer but it didn’t concern Nebulae. It was more something concerning my personal path, the one I had with Midian. The album was released on May 4th, the album who saw the partecipation of Mike Terrana has been left in a corner for 4 years and finally it came out the same day that Jinjer came in Italy, in Naples.
I’d like to ask you the following question, since you are one of the two girls of the band. In the past a lot of people criticized some bands because of the choice of having a female element in the line up. As you know, people tend to say that the band is interested to their appearance, the beauty and they don’t care about the sound and the music. What is your thought about it? Do you think that this is a useless prejudice that can be a bit sexist?
For me it’s very easy. There are millions and millions of different points of view concerning this matter. I think that I want to sing and if there’s a bass player who touches my soul, I want him/her by my side, period! I don’t care if it’s a man or a woman, it’s a human being! For me everybody is a human being, the guys have both a feminine and male sensitivity and they are people! For me Edoardo, my guitar player, has his own sensitivity and what counts is that he manages to touch my soul. For me the guys don’t have sex, I don’t see a sex genre in it, can you see? It could be a strange thing, people could easily ask: “Are you on drugs?”. I’m not, unfortunately I’m not, I don’t have fun and I have no friends! Of course I’m just kidding! We feed from what we are, without any goal, without saying “Ok, you’re a man and I’m a woman!”. Who cares! If you kick ass and you show me that you can do that, well, let’s help each other, right?
Even if Nebulae is a small band, you had another previous music experience with Midian. In your opinion, how much the current music panorama has changed?
I have to be honest, when I’ve started playing metal with Midian and back in the days “Screaming Demon” was released on 2011 when I was 21 and I had no idea of how the music scene was. Of course I saw something before with my cover band because I was used to play in community centers, I played just for fun. Punk and metal didn’t give me any emotion, these genres are very enclosed. When I joined Midian, I’ve understood some things about me and I’ve started living the scene. Since then, I’ve noticed that this music was reaching out so many people and I’ve started asking myself: “But is it due to my female presence?”. I mean, I’m not a model and I wouldn’t love to be one, even if I would love making magic with my fingers, I’m trying… just kidding! I’ve started living the scene and I’ve seen that, however, it was getting bigger, it wasn’t that small as I was used to think before, but maybe this is just an impression of mine, because, being a part of it, I’ve seen it wasn’t really like that. They are two different perspective, both on the inside and the outside, and little by little a year made of live shows became devastating for me, because of course I’ve lived in its full. I only wanted to do this! I lived and I feed myself with music! After the release of “Screaming Demon” we’ve decided to put aside the live shows for a while and to get focus on the record and I’ve started noticing that in my region the scene was decreasing. Now I don’t wanna blame anyone, but maybe it was about time to be the moment to realize what’s been wrong. Let’s try for a moment to step back to understand the reason why outside my country there’s a culture of this and we can’t reach the same results. I wanna see it this way, but not because I want something in particular, I don’t make a living from music, I don’t book gigs, I try to have a confrontation with people who make a living from it. Let’s talk for example about Jinjer: these guys play every day, if not every day they play mostly, they’ve been in the best stages ever. I am here, I wanna get feed, I wanna understand, I want to get a confrontation. The first year, or rather last year, Jinjer came in Caserta for the very first time in Italy, both me and Tatiana had a confrontation and indeed we found out that we had the same musical path. We try to reach those feelings, those vibes in order to feed ourselves in order to feed our emotions. This is what I need, I don’t get all the other things, if you know what I mean. To me the scene is living this, in order to understand the reason why the other countries do this and we don’t. What could I give? I have given a very little contribution when I’ve discovered that Jinjer was about to play in Italy, since I’ve known these guys for 5 years on the Internet. Eugene wrote me telling me that the band would have been in Italy and he asked me the chance to play together. We’ve kicked our ass, we had no money, we allowed them to play, they had their cachet. They felt good, nothing was missed, even medicines were there. We brought the guys to Naples, they had pizza and we did this in three days, everything! To me this is the scene. I did my best, I’ve tried to make people understand that there’s something more beyond cover bands! I respect cover bands, since it’s music played for fun, but who tries to make its own music tries also to embark on a very personal path and this is what I’m trying to do with the guys from Infected Rain who managed to play two tours in a year and these tours are 2 months long each. They aren’t home so much, while Jinjer has a three month tour, then the guys go home and they embark on tour again. Eugene has a baby and once he said: “This is a boat. If somebody jumps on the top of it, the other guys will feel bad about it”, so we’re on the same boat. Let’s help each other! These two families need to get along: his family, with his wife and kid, and the band, and this applies to everyone! Everyone struggles with his own war, can you see? It’s a matter of living, it’s a matter of need, because, damn, it’s the only thing that makes sense to this fucking life, because it allows you to make your own connections, it gives you truth, it enlightens you, it makes you feel good! It makes you realize what you’re trampling on, about the reason why you’re doing it and so many other personal thing! This is what I think about it, under a very humanistic profile! If a scene drops off, I feel sorry for it, it’s like it is as if I feel in the air, it is as if something was missing, it is as if you didn’t know where to hold on yourself and this is really sad.
Why do you think that it is so hard for both small and big bands to stand out in such an overflowing and strict panorama?
Because the education of living it is missing, we’ve talked about it a few minutes ago. The education lacks, let’s measure my ball (Miriam is trying to explain her opinion using some metaphors, ed). Is my ball big 9 inches? It has to enter in a hole that is as big as the same measure. If my ball should enter a 26 inches hole, it will start leaping everywhere and you don’t know where your place is! That’s why the market leaps! I am not against the slot, I’m not against these things, they are part of the game. If a new born band starts – this is an opinion of mine, of course – paying over and over again, increasing more, you start asking where these guys take all that money. They ruin themselves this way. Who is accommodating you with a loan? The family? Ok, sounds good, but please enjoy the journey! Maybe this is a personal thought of mine but this explains you that I’m not against this kind of things. It is a part of the game, your own path, I know that there are bands who played with big acts and they never paid! This is called meritocracy, this is the 9 inches ball that enters the right hole, this is what we’ve talked about! Does your ball want to become bigger? Ok, there you’ll have a bigger hole!
Do you think that social medias like Bandcamp, Spotify and Soundcloud really help bands, even if it’s relative, to promote their job and to become part of this music scene somehow?
I’m going to tell you this maybe because of the lack of time, perhaps I’ve been educated in another way but unfortunately I can’t stay on a social platform like Soundcloud or Spotify or even iTunes or any other social platforms all day long. The reason why is: 1) if I used the mobile phone, I would risk of losing the charge and then I would be unable to work; 2) Ok, it’s more pratical, indeed, but if I’m working on my PC I wouldn’t be able to work and edit a video, for example, because I would be unable to listen to some other music. I’m more into the physical copy, for YouTube! YouTube is “legal video”, I know people who stay there and use Spotify all day long. Ok, it’s pratical, it’s useful, because I see it is useful, but personally I’ve never experienced it. I haven’t experienced it yet, I missed the chance but, as I said, I have no time due to a lot of things I have to do, that’s why! There are people and friends of mine who often use Spotify. This platform helps people to know bands, unfortunately Soundcloud is something more clean, very easy, you put your music there and if you have the chance to offer your music to a venue or somebody you have your music already there! Bandcamp is useful too and, to me, it perfectly replaced MySpace.
Concerning your future goals, is there any schedule plan? What’s brewing?
I’d like to point out one little thing: since this have been written in a live review of the gig we played in Naples, I want to tell that the album title of the first full length record will be “Carbon” and, as you know, everything is made of carbon: us, everything that surrounds us, the universe… This will be the concept, just to stay in the topic! I’d like to also say that we will re-record and offer “Orbit in the Air” and there will be a surprise for it around January or February. We’ll tell the story of the concept, we will tell its story.
We’ll stay tuned indeed, because I’m really into this topic. Ok, I was 21, thank you for this chat. You can conclude the interview as you wish and… we will see you in a bit on stage!
I wanna thank Femme Metal Webzine. I’m really honored and so are the guys. Thanks to the Alchemica Club and thanks to this chance for living the reality of this music scene, of course!