Q&A with Proust
In a small coffee shop just off the beaten track on Berwick Street, we had the opportunity to chat with Italian post-punk outfit Proust.
Made up of guitarist and vocalist Emanuele Righetti, drummer and backing vocalist Filippo Guerra – who met in London – and guitarist Sebastiano Meneghini, the band promises all the goodness and immediacy of punk, but set on a modern musical backdrop.
The trio told us all about the fashion festival they played in front of the sea, their musical muses and all about their debut EP that features a freakishly demonic portrait of two young boys…
FOR THOSE THAT HAVEN’T HEARD OF YOU BEFORE, TELL US A BIT ABOUT PROUST.
Emanuele: We formed in 2011 and it’s quite interesting because we met in London even though we are both from Verona in Italy. We met here, and when we went back to Italy, we were living in Milan – where I still live – and we are started band. We found chemistry together.
Filippo: We were a similar style so we played together.
SO YOU HAVEN’T KNOWN EACH OTHER THAT LONG?
Emanuele: Well immediately after we met we formed the band and [after] six months or so we started to compose our own original music.
WHERE DOES YOUR NAME COME FROM? IS IT TO DO WITH THE FRENCH NOVELIST?
Emanuele: It’s linked to the writer, but not directly. It comes from the Proust questionnaire…
Filippo: …where you answer lots of questions and you can tell the personality of the person.
HAVE YOU DONE IT BEFORE?
Emanuele: Nope! Not to myself nor anyone else.
Filippo: Yeah as the questions are about death…
Emanuele: Yeah they’re very direct!
AS YOU MENTIONED, YOU’RE FROM ITALY. WHAT’S THE MUSIC SCENE LIKE THERE?
Filippo: There are some interesting bands, but not a lot. Maybe more in the eighties…
Emanuele: Yeah it was more interesting in the eighties – a lot of synth. And even the nineties and two-thousands. But right now, I don’t like too much of the Italian music scene.
Filippo: Maybe in the small cities you can find strange movements of music. For example, [in the eighties] in the North and North East of Italy: Pordenone is a really small city and there was a very good movement there called Great Complotto where a lot of punk bands like Tampax, HitlerSS, Prozac+ made it. And there were some other bands from the eighties like Verdena, CCCP…
SO YOU’RE SIGNED TO IMAGINE IMAGINE IMAGINE – A RECORD LABEL FROM HONG KONG – WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE MUSIC SCENE THERE?
Emanuele: We played there a lot and had bands to support us. We were told by one of the band members that there wasn’t many great bands like us [in China] – Post Punk. It’s more commercial and indie… in the average way…
Filippo: There’s a revival of Brit Pop, Madchester…
MANCHESTER IS ONE OF THE BEST CITIES FOR MUSIC SO THAT’S VERY COOL! YOU ALSO PLAYED AT THE JUXTAPOSED FESTIVAL IN Hong Kong A MONTH AGO; WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO PLAY THAT?
Emanuele: Cool! I didn’t expect it to be like [it was]. There was a runway…
SO THE BANDS PLAYED AND THE FASHION SHOW WAS GOING ON?
Emanuele: And it was mixed because there were several fashion designers. So [there was] maybe two songs [per designer], then the last song we played was just for us. I didn’t expect it to be like that. When we arrived there to soundcheck and I saw the runway, I thought “Fuck me we are playing on a runway”, but it ended up mixing well.
WERE THERE A LOT OF PEOPLE?
Emanuele: There were quite a lot of people because the place was very big. It was in a huge park with a big screens, and inside they invited about a thousand people. But outside they had more as people were coming in the park.
Filippo: It was by invite only, but then a lot of other people came to the park.
Emanuele: And the environment was cool; it was in the middle of huge buildings.
Filippo: …we had the sea behind us!
THAT’S THE KIND OF MAGIC YOU DON’T GET IN THIS COUNTRY!
Emanuele: You don’t get it pretty much anywhere!
THE FESTIVAL SEEMED TO MIX FASHION AND MUSIC PRETTY SEAMLESSLY. HOW IMPORTANT WOULD YOU SAY FASHION IS TO YOUR MUSIC?
Emanuele: This one is for Filippo [laughs]
Filippo: For us, fashion and music are well linked. When we meet each other, we will meet for fashion as well: to talk about the style we want. Obviously first of all there is music but it is supported by a good style!
AT UNDERGROUND, WE CHAMPION SUBCULTURE AND THE REBELS AND RENEGADES WITHIN THEM. IS THERE A PARTICULAR SUBCULTURE YOU RELATE TO?
Filippo: Every kind of subculture! From Rockabilly to Punk to Skinheads…
Emanuele: But Punks and the Skins are some of the best!
Filippo: And ska-punk. Maybe our style is actually mostly from the eighties.
Emanuele: But then we are modern people so: you take something from that and mix it up!
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVE EIGHTIES BANDS?
[in unison] Joy Division
… the Cure, Billy Idol.
Emanuele: David Bowie.
EVERYONE SAYS DAVID BOWIE – NOT IN A BAD WAY BUT EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYONE LOVES HIM.
Emanuele: Well David Bowie is a musician who is very [special] because he changed a lot to do with music.
FILIPPO, YOU MOVED TO LONDON AND EMANUELE YOU ARE HERE VISITING. WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE CITY?
Emanuele: For me, you can do whatever you want and you don’t have a lot of people judging you and your movements. You can go out in pyjamas and have a drink!
Filippo: And there’s lots of things to do – art and music. Every borough has its own movement, its own kind of people…
WHAT GIGS/EVENTS HAVE YOU BEEN TO IN LONDON?
Emanuele: I went to the O2 to the Rolling Stones in 2010 or 2009. And many other small gigs…
Filippo: Yeah, like the XX, Black Lips- but I prefer to go to small spaces and see small bands. The underground of London. For example, seeing bands at the Camden Assembly, Lock Tavern and all around Brixton.
SO WOULD YOU MIND TELLING US ABOUT A BIT ABOUT YOUR EP?
Emanuele: The inspiration… all [the people and bands] we’ve said until this moment. They were inspirational for us. At some point, in some song, some rhythm… there is so much music around you cannot not be influenced!
Filippo: But the music came naturally. When we were in the studio it was very spontaneous.
Emanuele: Most of the songs on the EP – we wrote them very fast!
Filippo: For me, my inspirations come from eighties bands and maybe some contemporary electronic sound – speaking [in terms] of the beat of my drums.
Emanuele: There are five songs. Most of them are Post Punk. There is one in particular which is a little more melodic and electronic. But they all melt together in the EP. I can’t speak about one in particular!
‘PETER FILO’ – THE FIRST SONG ON THE EP – WHO IS THAT?
Emanuele: Peter Filo… what do you think?
OH! I GET IT NOW…
Emanuele: It’s a game. A guy named Peter Filo – he had some issues!
WHAT IS THE PHOTO ON THE COVER FROM?
Emanuele: It’s the Proust brothers. One is the writer, and the other is his older brother. We found the photo very interesting.
THEIR EYES ARE REALLY DEMONIC…
Emanuele: Yeah – the eyes, the haircut… it was a portrait but we bought it and made it an original by us!
IF YOU’RE STUCK FOR INSPIRATION, WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET YOUR FLOW BACK?
Emanuele: I think the first we do is find out why it’s not working. What is wrong with it? If we don’t figure that out, then we play until we do. And it we don’t figure it out in 1/2 hours, then we’ll go back to it another day. It might come back, or it might be bye bye!
Filippo: Sometimes we can improve the music the second time around.
SO WHAT ARE YOUR FAVE CURRENT SONGS OR BANDS?
Filippo: Today, my favourite song is ‘Leaders of Man’ by Division. Tomorrow, I don’t know…
Emanuele: I said earlier: when someone asks me my favourite song I will never know instantly because it’s about the mood. So I don’t have a particular favourite.
WHAT HAVE YOU LISTENED TO TODAY?
Emanuele: Billy Idol! White Wedding!
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR PROUST?
Emanuele: New music is coming in 2018. June/July we are programmed to present a new EP.
Filippo: We are going to start work on the new EP in the next few days…
Emanuele: And for the gigs in London – we will see!
IS IT GOING TO SOUND DIFFERENT?
Emanuele: I think we will try to keep it linked to the last one, but we will change some things.
Follow Proust on Instagram HERE.
Click HERE to download two tracks for FREE for their debut EP.
To purchase the full EP click HERE.