Zero Portrait is an Italian, Rome-based producer and DJ. Pulp is the debut EP which is out now via Antistandard Records. His sound is a mix of bass music textures combined with hip-hop lines and Jamaican and afrofuturist influences. Today we have the pleasure to premiere the official video for the track “Fauna” which features Agronomist (Smania Uagliuns). It was directed by Chiara Incecchi.
Watch it below and read our talk with him about the debut EP, these strange times we’re living, his roots and much more.
Pulp is your first EP. What about the idea, the inspiration and the creative process of the EP?
I’ve been thinking about the idea of this EP one year and half ago. I was watching noir and pulp movies from the 40s to the early 90s and I fell in love with the atmosphere. The darkness of the locations, the irony of the characters and the soundtrack inspired me in the project. That influences was mixed with my guilty passion for the Funk music of the early 70s and the Italian police movies from the late 70s and the early 80s, that was generally based in a specific cities.
In the same time I started to study the situation of the immigration in Europe, and I start to get more information about the “Windrush Generation” in the UK and in general the immigrations from Africa, Jamaica and Maghreb Area who came in Europe. I would to know more about the music that the traditions of that people brought with them, the music of their roots and how they have got spaces in a new country. Maybe I have the curiosity cause I’ve felt the same emotional things about my migration form my hometown in the southern Italy to Rome.
So I started to reprise calypso, dub, reggae, African rhythm records from a distributor who sell records from Jamaica and Africa and I started to buy a lot of records. Many of that was damaged or unplayable, but that’s inspired me a lot. In the all EP there are some of unrecognizable sample of that records. I love sampling like a quote in a book, reworked with a personal taste. I don’t’ like use others music for stealing the atmosphere without any attentions. In the same time I would to put in the dramatic atmosphere of that noir movie with the consciousness of giving my “portrait” of the present where I live.
Today we share the official video of the track “Fauna”. Tell us more about the idea of the clip.
Fauna is the manifesto of my EP’s intention, in fact Agronomist (the singer) talks about how in our lives the authenticity of being ourselves is mined from the narcissist culture of overexposure. We don’t like that way of life. The clip was shot by Chiara Incecchi, an artist who comes from the Italian punk scene and we want to have that taste, was shot in east Rome, the part of the city where there is the greatest presence of artists, immigrants and freaks. In that neighborhoods there are the most underground and influential music scene of the city. In particular the video shows an airstrip, it came from the first Italian airport. it went into disuse in the 1950s and was later redeveloped as a park. It is a very relaxing place, on Sunday there are families with children who fly airplane models or skaters in search of spots.
In the clip there is a man who carries a cart and inside of it there is a creature half man and half duck. It represents the dark side of that man, in fact it does embarrassing and inexplicable things. They are the same thing, but we try to put our authenticity in a “cart” like if it was a shame. In the end of the clip the man and the creature fight when music grows in a climax. In the end we find out that they are the same person, but the question is who was wearing the mask? the creature or the man?
“W. A. N. F. A.”, the opening track, is a criticism of “fake” friendships on social newtworks. Can you explain better the meaning of this track? How is your relationship whith social networks?
The idea behind Wanfa is that there comes a time in life where everyone understands that certain friendships are tied to moments and not to authentic relationships. Just as the concept of friendship has overlapped with that of follower, perhaps the moment has come for everyone to take that extra step in which we say “we are no longer friends” but perhaps we never have been.
I try to use social media less I can, I don’t like it very much, but I’m forced to use them, the criticism is not to fuck them all, but to interrogate ourselves I really need to share my personal things to others? Even if, from my impression, the current social networks are dying, they are saturated as if everyone wanted to enter the same mall for buying stuff but there is no more space.
You are from Rome. What can you tell us about the current local music scene? What are the venues you like the most? And how the city where you live has an impact on the way you think music?
I come from a small town in southern Italy close to the sea and surrounded by mountains, I have been based in Rome for several years now. Not having sea and mountains as reference points in the horizontality of Rome has been complex. The particularity that Rome has, more than any other city in Italy, is architectural, environmental and social diversification. You can go from areas with tall buildings to ancient areas to small villages inside the city itself, it also has a huge amount of greenery that you just have to go into and you can’t hear the noises of the city. Even socially, being a city where there are and there have been many immigrations over the years, the image of a Rome linked to the “Romans” (who no longer exist) and to a stereotyped visionary seen in the movies is very dissimilar from reality.
Even socially everything is very jagged and horizontal, it is not a compact city at all. In fact, many neighborhood residents do not move from their area, also because it may be expensive to move to central areas that are more expensive and with a more touristy and catchy artistic programming. So the most interesting things happen in ex-redeveloped industrial areas or in the suburbs. This irregularity of the city has conditioned the creation of the EP, in fact each track seems apparently “different” rhythmically from the others, but the matrix is the same.
The alternative and undergorund scene in Rome is very strong, all that is a generalist and commercial cultural and artistic offer remains in the city center, which is beautiful to live in but which is not very interesting compared to the creativity of the suburbs.
I really appreciate the neighborhoods in the east of Rome. Everything beyond Porta Maggiore. One of my favorite neighborhoods is Centocelle or Torpigna, with a large community from India or Bangladesh, where many artists and creatives of the city reside here as the rents are cheaper. interesting places are hidden with an independent programming, such as the Teatro Studio Uno, Ex Snia or Fanfulla and many bars with a selection of avant-garde music and entertainment. With Agronomist we created parties made in a basement of a Peruvian bar. To create a party in unusual places is our mission, with my collective RDSNT we have created parties in laundries or at minimarkets. And all this thanks to the responsiveness of the people of Eastern Rome, there is a great hype there.
One of my favorite spot in Rome is Il Mangiadischi located in the San Lorenzo district, it is a record shop specializing in all the music that derives from black music, that is a place where I go, whenever I have some time, there is it’s a nice environment full of musicians, collectors and producers. Attending that record store has strongly influenced Pulp’s making.
The main problem of Rome is that there are several interesting realities, but disconnected, you have no idea how many people prefer to stay in their neighborhood without exploring and opening up to the new. My intention is to intrigue them and create connections between interesting but still underestimated realities.
How are you living these strange times and what are the main concerns as an artist?
My concerns of this period are related to our society. It was born from the culture of “ASAP” and now we must focus on proposing a more human and less concentrated lifestyle to consumerism and re-evaluate the concept of wealth, which is not only financial. As an artist I can only work towards achieving greater contact with humanity and with one’s authenticity. many have lost their jobs especially in entertainment and creativity, and I suffer from the idea of clubbing forced by new rules. But the priority is to use this crisis as a resource.
Ritual question. What are the best releases you recently appreciated?
Jamie XX – Idontkonw; Future Jazz Ensemble – The Mankind’s place; The brand new stuff made by Agronomist (It is coming soon, I’ve already listened to it but I don’t know if the listeners deserve it) and everything that comes from bass.