Soul Island is the project of Italian London-based producer and singer-songwriter Daniele De Matteis. He recently released the first full-length titled Shards. It is out now via British label Loyal To Your Dreams. We have the pleasure to premiere the official video for “Neon Vision“, a track which shows pusling rhythms, warm vocals and well-built electronic lines with different “shades” which reveals different influeces. It was directed by himself and Stefano Tramacere. Check it below and read our talk with him after the video.
“Shards” is your debut album who was released a few days ago. Nine tracks which shows “different styles from different times”. How it was born and what about the concept (if there’s a concept)?
“Shards” is a collection of chants and soundscapes about feelings protection and growth. Each is a fragment of my story and inner speech on intimate stuff but also on what’s out there, from subcultures to global issues. It’s a modern, electronic album but I’m very attached to 80-90s street and DIY, post-punk subcultures, so a lot of material has influences from those decades, with a few tracks focusing on my feeling of detachment from those as time kills or transforms them in millennial or social media food (Bleed, Soul Drain). Some tracks are very personal, dealing with difficult roots (Loser Rev), others are on wider topics that touch me deeply like the environment or ethics (Ocean, Perlin Time). The writing happened across a few years, whereas production took about a year and a half.
Today we premiere the official video of “Neon Vision”. What about the track and what role the visual part (will) have in your project?
The song is on long-distance relationships and the screen glows of endless video calls. I would get lost in thoughts of affection and detachment as I’d walk under the night lights of high street venues and shops in London. No one is real enough at a distance, and any link can easily be killed with a keypress on the laptop or phone.
I wanted the video to be about this, so the whole setup is a remote call. On one side is a dancer, talking through body movement. On the other the partner, relying on a stream of text to shy away from physical contact. Communication is never real, adulterated by the medium’s colourful interface. Feelings and thoughts cross over if only incomplete and half-broken. The two halves look at each other, never sure of actually seeing.
You worked with Matilde Davoli for the album (she also features on the track “Soul Drain”). What about this collaboration?
Matilde made this record possible and guided me through a lot of production choices when I was working on it, the final lead synth on Soul Drain is her making. She’s the mixer behind the knobs and an additional pair of ears at any stage up to the vinyl pressing. She’s wonderful, both as a musician/sound engineer and as a person. We’ve collaborated in many projects and ways across the years from her own Matilde Davoli to Echopark, or the less recent Girl With The Gun.
I have interest to know more about the relationship between artists and their places and how they affected their art. What is your relationship with your born place (related to music) and what are your favorite places that had an influence on your way to think music?
I have a conflicting relationship with my birthplace and roots. I was born in Lecce, south of Italy, a ‘wrong’ province in many ways, but also comforting as a mother’s womb in others. The whole of my adolescence I’ve spent trying to change it and build everything I needed from skate ramps to gig venues or audio recording studios. All of this while dreaming big cities and stimulus, fervent arts.
Eventually I moved to Bologna which is a very rich city culturally. That had a huge impact on me and my band Thousands Millions back in the days, left a piece of heart there. Same applies to London where I lived many years and love deeply. After much travelling and getting to know New York as well, I think that big cities are very good for exposure to arts but are often exhausting, making me crave for quieter places when it comes to creating. Being emotionally thirsty helps me in writing, so I always end up going back to Lecce, to get some energy back I guess.
Are you planning live shows?
Yes I am, but I still have no news I can disclose I’m afraid!
Are there any recent releases wich you appreciated?
Many! The most recent albums in my playlist are from Daniel Avery, Bodega, Jon Hopkins, Louis Cole, Sunflower Bean but I also listen to a lot of Italian acts and friends like Matilde Davoli, Echopark, Indian Wells, Populous, Makai, Lucia Manca, Giorgio Tuma, Machweo, or stuff produced by Loyal To Your Dreams (the label I’m part of) like Edisonnoside or Deltaclub.