Interview #63

Federico Chiari

* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).
* Federico Chiari is currently based in Turin.

Federico Chiari (Milano 1985) studied at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera. He founded the techno hardcore label Dancehole Records. His last works are Ludwig (2018) and Monelle (2017) by Diego Marcon, What Time Is Love (2018) by Anna Franceschini, Ouroboros (2017) by Basma Alsharif, Calipso (2016) by Cleo Fariselli.

Your artistic practice is linked to sound, especially to hardcore techno. When did this interest emerge and in what context?

My discovery of hardcore, let’s say, took place around 2010, and after that it started to intrigue me and I began to dig deeper into it. At the time, like many others, I attended the Hundebiss evenings that in Milan introduced many to noise music. What was taking place in Milan thanks to the ‘Simoni’ engaged me, both in terms of sound and aesthetics. But, despite a search for spontaneity, I felt that there was a contradiction, an enormous separation between the audience and performer. And for what I was personally looking for, this was a problem. I realised that I was looking for a form in which there was no viewer/performance separation, where everything was a single experience; in a sense, what I later found in hardcore rave, or Chechen Zikr – a total experience.

Could you give us some examples of totalising experiences in Italy?

For me an important reference in Italy was Carmelo Bene. In his form of ‘theatre’ he was attempting to overcome the spectacle and theatre itself. And then, of course, Number One in Brescia! This is quite paradoxical and I do not see similarities between the two, except for the fact that both have strongly attracted me. But at Number One, the crazy music crowds, drugs and alienating context of the provincial disco, had generated over the years, a kind of ritual, that of the last album: the famous ‘human pyramid’ is a kind of micro-history of rituals, which is basically what has always interested me.

How has your artistic career developed?

Before the flash of inspiration, like many, I was conducting modest noise experiments, sort of commonplace at the time. Out of an interest in hardcore, which I then developed in a thesis, other active projects emerged: for example, the Dancehole Records label with Diego Marcon. I then started doing DJ sets, and even playing in the Brescian hardcore scene. Nevertheless, much of my activity still remains tied to sound for film and video, to the field of art and collaboration with artists.

In regard to collaborations with artists, you have worked on several projects with Diego Marcon and Anna Franceschini. Editions of soundtracks, musical scores, how did you start working together?

Yes, I have worked both in a trio, as Piccolo Artigianato Digitale, and individually with Diego and Anna. I have also worked with Basma Alsharif, Francesco Bertocco and Marco Belfiore. This has involved making audio installations, soundtracks of films, motion pictures or simple mixing. While I was undertaking my first musical experiments, I think it was 2006, Diego Marcon was working on his short film; I found myself composing the soundtrack and it was my first work of this kind. From that point I began making the soundtracks for Diego’s works and doing audio recordings. Together we bought a Sennheiser 416 microphone and I started working on his films and later on the films of others. I always end up working between recording and music composition, and sometimes I let the two planes overlap. An example of a work by Anna on which I collaborated, Il giocatore non può cambiare posizione a suo piacimento – shot inside Idroscalo’s luna park – contains sequences that I developed so that the recorded sounds become compositions. This is also the case in Litania by Diego Marcon, where I somehow found myself using sounds in a musical manner, trying to superimpose these planes.

Whereas with Inland Empire? What have you accomplished?

I have often played for Inland Empire, but I have generally been invited at the last moment and therefore not been in the lineup. I have been dubbed Lo Sfollagente (the ‘truncheon’ e.d.) partly because (musically speaking) I played hard, and partly because, within 10 minutes this would cause everybody to slip out. But lately I have a large following of fans, and I can’t complain!

As you already know, this publication also focuses on the city of Milan. In what area have you placed yourself?

I would like to provoke parochial rivalries but I do not know if my area would receive enough critical support! I have placed myself at Maciachini square, in North Milan. Alessandro Augudio and Beatrice Marchi used to live nearby. Among other things, when I first went to visit them, I had a strong feeling of déjà vu. Later, I realised that I had already been to the building in which they lived when I was five years old because my parents had a print shop in one of the basements leading onto the courtyard. Today the factories have disappeared; the area has been redeveloped and the service sector has arrived, together with photography studios and fashion.