We are excited to bring an interview with BloccoNero right at the release of this new single, the first widely available. As a cover of “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes, this is the perfect 90s nostalgia meets melancholic dark folk, our perfect neofolk formula. We talked with them about the influence of anarchism on the project, why this single, what their name even means, and why antifascism is on the tip of our tongue.
How did BloccoNero come together? Is this your first band?
BloccoNero was born from the need we felt, as a neofolk fan, to fight the political asphyxiation of a scene increasingly turning towards the far right and the continuous admiration (more or less evident) of the fascist totalitarianisms that devastated Europe during the 20th Century. In a genre that more and more in its history has abandoned the complexity of political symbolic references to adhere to sinister right sympathies, we have decided to completely overturn the point of view and re-appropriating of what is for us the music of defeated, of the people and of the rebellion. BloccoNero is more than a musical project, BloccoNero is a common political vision among those who participate in it, which derives from the personal political experiences of the musicians
We come from different experiences and everyone was part of political and musical projects before. Our previous projects came from different areas of the underground and experimental music: from improvisation (Derma) to the post industrial metal (Scum from the Sun), from alternative metal (Neurodisney) to electronic music (Filthy Generation). And as mentioned before, we all come from Antifa and squatting movements mostly operating in the North of Italy.
What does your band name mean?
BloccoNero is italian translation for Black Bloc. Considering our militancy we decided to declare our closeness to the ones actively fighting fascism and capitalism in the street. We wanted to use italian language to keep in our musical project the important history of the leftist and anarchist movements in the story of our country and the peculiarity of italian revolutionary struggles.
Tell us about this new single. Why did you choose this song in particular?
As fans of the early industrial music and experimentation, we decided to realize our first experiment with a singing voice using the tactics and tools of the first european industrial bands. So taking a mainstream song of the 90s like “What’s Up” and trying to get it out of a comfort zone and giving it a completely different mood and meaning. The original song starts with “25 years and my life is…” and we wanted to transfer it 20 years later in the life of the protagonist (so “45 years…”) and switch from what was an hymn to react and growing up to the desperation and surrendering feelings of a person in the middle of his life that understands his being completely unfit for this capitalistic society. Adding a Stieg Dagerman, swedish anarchist activist and journalist who committed suicide at 31, voice recording at the end of the song just wants to reinforce the feeling of estrangement and loneliness of being out of the society you are obliged to live in.
Your project seems to have anarchist influences, what does anarchism mean to you?
We intend anarchism in the most open way possible. Including all political ideas and experiences starting from the 18th century and arriving to squat, TAZ and rave culture. Including the communitarianism of Malatesta and Kropotkin, the anarchist individualism of Max Stirner, the political and cultural view of Situationism and other form of avantgarde art, the importance of revolutionary and insurrectionist actions from people like Buenaventura Durruti or Alfredo Maria Bonanno in a unique ideal of freedom and complete realization of the human being.
Even if not completely anarchist, we also add to our influence the experience and the internationalist view of armed struggle between the world especially in the 60s and 70s and the attitude of all the revolutionary movements in World history.
What are you hoping to achieve with this band?
Our idea of BloccoNero music is to open a breach in a scene in which what was shock tactic and a provocative way to make people thinking has become a complete leaning to far right and fascist ideas. What we would like to achieve is to offer a different interpretation of neofolk music, giving it back to the real losers and disinherited of history: revolutionary philosophers, working class people, prisoners and underclass in general.
Since the beginning the neofolk scene has been fascinated by the aesthetic of the defeated and what we want to stand against is this idea that it’s cool to glorify the dead empire, dictatorship, nazi and fascist imaginary, right and far right philosophers as the victims or to lament for the lost European glory. The real defeat is the one of the working class, of the revolutionary struggle and of the radical thinking and looking at the political situation nowaday it’s even more evident.
Why is antifascism important in the neofolk scene?
It is incredible that a music genre deriving from industrial music and culture and from the freedom of experimentation/avantgarde has ended up being just a propaganda channel for far right and fascist ideas. The origin of folk and folk music in general is to give voice to the ones who usually don’t have a voice. Since the beginning folk was the music of the oppressed against their oppressor and it’s really difficult for us to understand how possibly neofolk became the voice of false rebellion and elitist thinking. So we think that antifascism is the way to take neofolk back to it’s own origin and meaning and to use it again against the oppressor.
What other bands influenced you? What bands would you recommend to antifascist neofolk fans?
Coming from really different backgrounds and listenings, our influences are really different too. For sure one of the most important influences is the apocalyptic folk of the 80s and 90s, but also the psychedelic music and in particular folk of the 60s and 70s and going more noisy the industrial music of the beginnings. Another common influence is extreme metal in all it’s genres from doom to black metal and punk and hardcore from our youth especially for the political attitude.
Considering we started as an only instrumental act our sound has been influenced by many soundtracks and movies and in particular political movies of the 70s (fundamental directors like Elio Petri and Giuliano Montaldo). As for movies, we also were influenced by italian anarchist and lefist bands and political italian songwriters from the 70s and in general all the partisans, anarchist or communist popular songs. There’s a lot of these songs in the tradition of Italy from the Risorgimento to the 70s!
Looking specifically to Italy, we would like to recommend some of the most interesting acts (political or not) that are or were part of our listenings or really good friends or direct inspiration to BloccoNero music. Acts like OvO (extreme metal since 20 years) or Larsen (emotional music from Turin with tens of collaboration with artists all over the world) or Northgate (one of the most important goth-industrial underground act in Italy) or Sigillum S (prime mover of the Italian Industrial scene in the 80s) or the great Italian hardcore music scene from the 80s and the 90s (Kina, Negazione, The Wretched just to pick some bands). Going back to more traditional folk acts we strongly recommend Rella the Woodcutter (unluckily on hold at the moment) or Silent Carnival (his last work is really great).
What’s coming next for you?
We just included a third effective member to BloccoNero and we will share on the 7th of November our second EP inspired by the movie October (1928 – directed by Sergej Michajlovič Ėjzenštejn), about the Soviet revolution in 1917. This new album (part of a collaborative project with other bands and artists) will have a more noisy and industrial attitude than what we have produced since now.