I have interviewed a few artists from Italy…
but none have the same ingredients and components as Fernweher. I have been speaking with him about his new track, Frozen Beauty. It has a stunning video – and one I was eager to know more about – and prefaces the E.P., The Son of the Black Ocean. I ask Fernweher about the E.P. and what we can expect from it; whether there are gigs coming up; how he feels being settled in the U.K. (he is in Belfast at the moment) – which new artists are worth exploring.
I find out which musicians/albums have been most important to Fernweher; why comparisons to James Blake are not exaggerations; advice he would give to new artists of the moment; whether he has any downtime away from music – and whether he made any resolutions this year.
Hi, Fernweher. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello there! As you can imagine, this week, for me, is very exciting. My debut single has been released (on Friday) and, in five days, I've reached around twenty-thousand views on YouTube - and I am receiving many lovely messages from people that are enjoying my project.
This makes me feel very happy.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a twenty-three-year-old guy from Italy, living in the U.K., and am an aspiring music producer.
I started studying Classical and Jazz music in Italy when I was eleven - focusing on piano and singing lessons. Then, I developed a passion for songwriting and Electronic music. Nowadays; I’m studying Music Production because, in the future, I’d like to work as a composer for movies and T.V. In the last two years, I have been working on my first solo project called The Son of the Black Ocean - which is anticipated by the single Frozen Beauty.
This is going to be a conceptual E.P. containing five songs - which I self-produced. It is inspired by the work of my favourite artists: James Blake and Björk.
Frozen Beauty is your latest single. Can you tell me about the song’s origins?
I wrote the first-draft of this song in my hometown of Bari (in Southern Italy). International artists don’t have real opportunities to grow - and I felt stuck in a paralysing mud where each day was exactly the same as the one before. I was surrounded by people who were forced to (pretend to) be happy…but, I have never managed to integrate myself into this ‘fiction’.
Frozen Beauty is my melancholic chant: like the howl of a wolf who feels lonely and afraid of the future.
The video is very striking and dramatic! Was it fun filming it? Who came up with the storyline?
First of all; thank you so much! I’m really sensitive about it because, for me, it’s not just about the song but the whole project itself...
It took three days to shoot the video and it has been a very fun and constructive experience. The video was shot in two of the most beautiful places in Apulia (Cisternino and the Salento coast) - which was elected most beautiful region in the world by National Geographic. I wrote the storyline myself together with the song - because it’s a visual project and, in the video for the second single, the Frozen Beauty story will continue.
In the video, I tell the story of two lovers – metaphorically, ‘The Ocean and his Shore’ - who run to each other to meet. (‘His’ instead of ‘its’ to represent the personification.). Their race represents the path of our lives hindered by demons. Each of these fantastic creatures embodies future fears, failures; different directions, changes (the growing waves) and even death itself.
It is not our daily race that scares us but what will happen next: “This is a new day how does it feel?” “Our love is immortal/we are frozen beauty in this world” is the hymn that the Ocean is singing to his Lover - referring to a love which is locked-frozen in time and consequently immortal. When they finally meet, filled with hope pictured by the lantern’s light; the demons are half-way-ready to take their lives. The multiple finales refer to the possibility of choosing different directions in life: will they meet or will they let their choices possess them?
It’s up to you to decide (until the next video will be released).
The E.P., The Son of the Black Ocean, is out later this year. What kind of themes do you explore on that E.P.?
It’s an E.P. containing five songs and they are all connected by the same themes: the connection between the self and the universe; the importance of water.
Each one of us, from birth, establishes a physical and spiritual connection with all that surrounds him - and the answers can be found only in this personal connection with the great black ocean: the universe. However; the universe is too complex and mysterious to be understood.
(The flow of things is hidden from our gaze).
Water, on the other hand, shows us that nothing is stable: that time and the evolution of events always win; so we must prepare ourselves for an endless transformation. It is exactly here that ‘The Son of the Black Ocean’ is born. He surrenders himself, passively, in the black water-uterus. The currents will carry him away deciding his path. Dipped in water for a long time, he ends up losing weight; leaving a part of his energy to the ocean. He was trying to learn how to perceive energy (for how) it flows directly into the universe; aspiring to reach a level of pure energy in an empty place without the influences of the world - a personal spot where he was able to focus only on sensitivity and reality.
Cultivating this sensibility was his mission.
Will there be any more singles between now and the E.P.’s release? What do you have planned?
The answer is ‘yes’ - but I don’t want to anticipate anything honestly. It’s a story and it needs to be followed to be understood...
Your work involves building layer after layer with instruments – before you remove everything to the bone. What was the reason behind taking this approach?
To start; I’d like to point out that I’m working a lot on sounds and (on how) to recreate dark atmosphere. I was told that the intro is too long and that the vibe is a little too slow and atmospheric - or that the voice processing detracts from the richness of the voice. The thing is that my goal was to recreate a minimal and ethereal dimension to focus on simple feelings - and give to the listener the chance to paint his own image. The main melody is not more important than the background voices.
Each sound has its function; just like the British artist James Blake did with Dubstep: with stronger sounds, major changes and an ABAB scheme For me; it would have been just another Electropop song (and this is not the case).
You hail from Italy – but you are based in London now. What was the reason for coming here? What are the main differences between Italy and London?
To be honest, I've always preferred to write songs in English - since all the music I listen to comes from the U.K. or U.S.A. I moved here to follow all the incredible artists that are realising new music in the U.K. - and creating new trends and to study music production. At this very moment, I’m based in Belfast.
I’ll be back in the U.K. very soon.
I hear shades of James Blake in your work. Which other modern artists are you inspired by? What music did you listen to growing up?
I’m so honoured hearing that. Really!
James Blake and Björk are my biggest inspiration but Bon Iver, Sigur Rós; Radiohead and FKA twigs are also among my favourite artists.
IN THIS PHOTO: Sampha
If you had the chance to select the three albums that mean the most to you – which would they be and why?
I like to create lists of my favourite albums every once in a while…and I know exactly which are the most important ones for me:
The Colour in Anything - James Blake; Homogenic – Bjork; 22, A Million - Bon Iver
I don’t like to explain why; because these kinds of things are personal - but I can say that each song in The Colour in Anything is perfect. Everything is connected and it’s not just Electronic music - but a reinvention of the Soul genre itself. Moreover; its poetic writing leaves me confused and fascinated every time I listen to it.
As for Homogenic; this album is a masterpiece and it’s the perfect combination of Classic and Electronic music. The main theme is the wish to rush headlong into a life lived to the fullest; an unbridled yearning for the sublime (“State of emergency/is where I want to be” she sings on Joga).
22, A Million, instead, reflects, exactly, the alienation of our time - and it is a great reinterpretation of Folk music in this contemporary era.
Is there any advice you would give to fellow artists coming through right now?
My only advice is: don’t follow any trend or record-label-rules. Music is magic and you should make it your own.
What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we catch you play?
For the moment; only the first single has been released - and I’m not playing anywhere until the whole project is born.
Do you have any ambitions of resolutions for this year at all?
My goal for this year is to introduce The Son of the Black Ocean and the story behind it to as many people as possible…especially here in the U.K. My ambition, instead, is to have one song of mine placed in a movie or a T.V. show.
That would be a dream.
Will you get any downtime at all? How do you spend your time away from music?
I’m not even thinking about this…
Now that Frozen Beauty is out; I’m only thinking of doing my best to create something beautiful. When I’m not producing any music, it’s because I’m travelling, studying or working to finance my music projects.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
I Need a Forest Fire - James Blake (ft. Bon Iver)