Interview with Winter Severity Index

Interview with Winter Severity IndexWinter Severity Index is a band formed in Italy in 2009 by four young women. After two remarkable EPs in 2010 and 2013, and several changes in its line-up, the band is now a duo of Simona Ferrucci and Alessandra Romeo. Their first full-length album Slanting Ray is one of the best Post-Punk / Coldwave albums of 2014. Here is their interview:

First of all thanks for answering our questions. We love your album at Gothic Rock Magazine, so it’s a real pleasure for us to have you interviewed. The name Winter Severity Index is a great one. Can you tell us about the name of the band? Where did it come from?

Simona – I was searching for a general impression of coldness and moreover a name that recalled a scientific registration of a certain situation, as our music is a sort of brutal report of an emotional state in a certain period. So a meteorological term helped me to outline this general purpose.

WSI has experienced a few line-up changes since the release of the first EP. How did that influence your music?

Simona – It surely influenced our music. In fact, even if I was the main composer since the beginning, all the members of the previous line up generated a significant and peculiar mark on the tracks. So, different people, different music.

In the current line-up, Simona is taking a lot of responsibilities, as she’s singing, playing guitar, bass guitar, programming drums, and also writing the lyrics and composing the music, except for the synths parts, which is left to Alessandra. How did Alessandra fit in such a controlled project?

Alessandra – When we started working on Slanting Ray, she told me that she would produce a full length with her songs, she had written but not yet released, so my task would be helping her give them life. When I listened for the first time to the tracks i had to arrange, I was so fascinated by their mood, melody and sound that I didn’t really feel limited in a controlled project, instead i felt as a part of a meticulous and accurate work. She gives me total freedom about my instrument.

The Post-Punk and Gothic audience is supposedly an open-minded one, but when coming to real facts, has being a girls band been an obstacle or an advantage at any point in the WSI’s career?

Simona – I can’t answer unequivocally to this question, because I think being girls is both an obstacle and an advantage. It’s an obstacle if you always have to face with the sexist position of some stupid guys and dealing with the poor but hard to die cliché of the sexy toy acting on stage. It’s an advantage because being a woman means having deeper relationships, more than usually happens in all-male bands and not fearing to freely express our emotional side. We are in some ways braver than men, from this point of view. Furthermore, according to my personal experience, women are more accurate and always care a lot about details. So working with women musicians is always both challenging and interesting.

What strikes me the most in Slanting Ray, apart from the quality of the composition, is the production. The album sounds, and I will cite my earlier review here, “homogeneous, a real album with a recognizable sound, an own atmosphere and depth”. What were your guidelines for production work? What did you want to communicate to your audience and how did the production happen?

Simona – We recorded the album in a few weeks at the Subsound Studio in Rome, after an arranging work and a sound research of several months. So when we came to the studio we already had a general idea of what we wanted and how to achieve it. Luciano Lamanna from Der Noir, our great friend on the mix, helped us to reach the goal with his technical support . And the final result was even better that we expected.

Your lyrics strike me as interesting and original, down to earth but emotionally charged, as if mundane occurrences could reveal deep feelings. Examples of that are “Ordinary Love” and “No Will”. What inspires you when writing lyrics?

Simona – You mentioned the most “down to earth” lyrics I wrote in the LP. My inspiration always comes from personal considerations about real life. Life experience is something very unique but also very common, indeed. So it’s very simple to talk to everyone just talking about ourselves. I must admit I’m not so clever at effectively expressing my feelings, this is the only way I really know to open my inner being to other people and share something valuable (if we admit there’s something valuable in this kind of things) with them.

Which bands of the current Goth/Post-Punk/Coldwave scene are your favorite ones?

I love a lot of current projects, I can mention some names that are in heavy rotation on my i-pod right now: Schonwald, M!R!M!, Leave the Planet, Der Noir, Geometric Vision, Keluar, Soror Dolorosa, Luminance, People of Nothing, Avgvst, L’Avenir, Future, Screen Vinyl Image, hØrd, Déficit Budgétaire, Martial Canterel, Ascetic:, Minuit Machine

With which band would you like to coincide at a show/festival?

Simona – We already played with some of the bands I mentioned: Der Noir, Geometric Vison, Keluar, Soror Dolorosa, Luminance…all the bands are really great and it would be a great pleasure to share the stage with them. Of course we would love to share the stage also with bands we listen to since we were teen-ager. We already had the pleasure to do that in some festivals ( in particular we would like to mention Rosa+Crux last month in Angoulême) and in the opening act for The Chameleons Vox in Rome, it’s always a remarkable experience.WINTER SEVERITY INDEX LOGO

Are you planning a collaboration with another band?

Simona – During the last month I made a collaboration with Hjördis-Britt Åström, a very cleaver synth musician from Sweden. We recorded three tracks together and have a lot of fun. Last winter I made a collaboration with Last Movement, a great shoe-gaze/ noise band from Rome, recording two tracks with them for a 7” release. Other things are up to come but I don’t want to reveal in advance further projects…we’ll see:)

How do you explain the quantity and quality of bands emerging in the Italian dark scene in the past years?

Simona – Italy has always offered an incredible amount of good projects. But they aren’t known abroad since a few years ago, maybe thanks to the spread of social networks. This is the main reason why now lots of foreign people seem to be surprised by a sort of Italian boom: in fact there are no surprises. For example, only a few persons know and appreciate the Italian Wave music of the Eighties, even if there should be hundreds of amazing bands to mention. Also italian people hardly recognize the value of our production, maybe for our bad tendency in not considering our qualities while paying attention only on foreign things.

Out of these Italian bands, very few dare to sing in Italian. Der Noir is an example of it, although their style is closer to dark pop, and lighter than yours. Would you consider this exercise or is it something inconceivable for your music?

Simona – Italian has its own musicality, of course, but it’s very hard to conciliate its sound with the attention for the meaning of the lyrics. Most of the times Italian has syllables formed by a single consonant and a single vowel, the result is something very rhythmic and I don’t like it very much. Writing in Italian is very hard for me. Manuele from Der Noir is cleaver that me in writing in Italian. I did it in the past, I made some experiments, maybe I will do it again, but only for a few tracks, because I want to communicate to people from all over the world, and English allows me to do that. I mean, I love my language, I love my culture, obviously I think in Italian. But Italian doesn’t help me to musically express myself in the right way.

It can be debated whether your style is Post-Punk, Coldwave (on Discogs you are defined as a New Wave project), but do you identify yourself with the Gothic subculture?

Simona – I don’t care that much about names and classifications. I define my music as Cold Wave but we received a good feedback also from people that generally don’t listen to this kind of music and this is a very positive thing for us. I don’t want to be compulsory linked to a defined subculture. Even when I was younger I hadn’t the necessity to join “the scene” as I never felt as a part of a community. I don’t like too much to join communities and groups, it seems to me a little childish, a sort of illusion of being part of a “good family”. In my opinion we are all alone and all together in this life. Of course I appreciate the general mood that leads the Gothic subculture, but I don’t think it belongs only to this world. I knew lots of melancholic people wearing colored clothes:D

Name a record that you own and that I wouldn’t have expected to find in your collection. Any guilty pleasure record you’d like to confess?

Simona – Well, maybe you would be surprised but maybe you wouldn’t. I think there’s a general melancholic mood that links my fave music. So, I don’t know what do you expect but I really find a good coherence in my tastes. So in my collection you would find Massive Attack, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf, Luigi Tenco, Popol Vuh, Eric Satie, Bach, but also Pet Shop Boys, why not?:) No guilty on it.

Would you like to add anything for Gothic Rock readers?

Simona – I would like to thank all the people showing passion and enthusiasm for music and every kind of human expression, following their own path and their choices, despite the brainwashing daily provided by all the stupid stuff surrounding us. There’s still a chance of sharing a valuable message if you want to recognize it in the white-noise storm. by Guillaume Renard.


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