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A Strange Weekend with Porcelain Raft
From the moment the swirling dreaminess of Drifting In And Out floated out of the office speakers we were smitten with PORCELAIN RAFT, the project of New York-based Roman Mauro Remiddi. Its glorious washes of reverb-drenched electronica fluctuate effortlessly between warm psychedelia and cold chillwave, and the LP it comes from (Strange Weekend) has been on constant rotation ever since. If you've not let its delights in to your world yet then we highly recommend you open your heart to it - you shan't be disappointed.
Imagine our excitement, then, when we heard that Signor Remiddi had been snared for a live Liverpool date... cue childish excitement. Appearing on an expertly curated Harvest Sun/Liverpool Music Week bill, with Boy Friend and our very own Faded Gold and Clean Cut Kid, this Shipping Forecast show has been inked in to our diaries with permanent marker since we saw it. Bido Lito!'s Christopher Torpey was fortunate enough to share a few words with Remiddi, the brains behind the operation, as he expands the Porcelain Raft project from a few ideas on a piece of paper to a full-blown live experience. Delve inside...
Bido Lito!: Ciao Mauro, what’s the weather like where you are? We’ve got a hail storm.
Mauro Remiddi: Right now I'm in NY, pretty sunny actually.
BL!: You're no stranger to releasing music, but what does it feel like to have a full album to your name now to go with the EPs? How long did it take for the LP Strange Weekend to come together?
MR: I recorded it in a basement, without having any songs ready. I like the idea of creating a snapshot of a moment, like a page of a diary that tells the story of you that day of that month. So I tend to compose and record a song the same day. I see the EPs as short stories, the album as a novel.
BL!: It must be more difficult to maintain a consistent feel and tone to a full-length LP than for an EP. Would that be right?
MR: As I said the album tells a story, which doesn't have to make sense or follow any timeline, but surely there's a sense of continuity. I feel the EP is more like a thought, something you can express using fewer words maybe.
BL!: Which do you prefer working on, the short stories or the novels?
MR: It's like having two points of view: one is close to the subject, so you don't see much but it can be very intense (the EP); and the second is like having a view from far, from above, there's more to the picture, there's more to tell but you need to approach it in a different way. Every detail has to emerge, an album demands more focus.
BL!: You said that you had a big piece of paper in front of you while recording, with notes and ideas about the songs on. Was this a new approach for you for this record? I imagine this approach helped you keep all the songs on the record connected in a certain way.
MR: Exactly, I feel it's very important to make notes and have them all in front of you. That's why I don't use my laptop for notes; it's true you can have more than one page open but not really, in that way it's not so easy to read. With a big piece of paper you have the luxury to have it all in front of you, without having to skip or click anything.
BL!: In a way is this where Drifting In And Out comes from? Trying to recreate that sensation by noting down all the things that relate to it, and building from there?
MR: Maybe yes, it's hard to say really. Sometimes it feels the song is not there and suddenly it's there, with no middle stage. From nothing to something.
BL!: Can this sometimes be a dangerous way to work if you’re trying to create a natural, organic feel?
MR: Danger is exactly what you need in order to create! Everything that's recorded in the same place is organic, everything you write on a piece of paper is organic. As soon as you turn the page, as soon as you change location you may lose the sight of what you are doing. That's not a bad thing, it's just not the way I make things.
BL!: You're credited with all the instrumentation on the record, but how will the music transfer to the live show? Presumably you've drafted in a band?
MR: That's been the challenge. They were born very quickly, without thinking too much about the arrangement, I want them to capture me at that time, without overthinking.
Live I play with a drummer (Michael Wallace) and that adds lots of dynamics. The more I play the songs the more they change because I start to know them better, so live we change the arrangement sometimes, trying to develop the album in a way. Like a work in progress.
BL!: Is it easy to relinquish control of these songs to other musicians to perform them live? Are you comfortable in still being able to find the right vibe?
MR: It depends who you play with. I feel very lucky that Michael joined me in this adventure. Maybe the word 'resonance' is closer than the word 'vibe' regarding what I'm looking for in other musicians. Like being made of a similar material that resonates with a specific frequency.
BL!: Strange Weekend is quite delicate in many ways. Is this delicacy hard to achieve when playing live? It must be tempting to just go for it when there is a full band there.
MR: That's the good thing in there being two of us on stage, we can create different dynamics, strong ones and very delicate ones, without having to say to the bass player or to the lead guitarist "...sorry can you not play on this one?"
BL!: So for your Liverpool show can we expect more evolution of the Porcelain Raft sound or do you think you’ve settled on a format now?
MR: Something is settled in a way, something is evolving in front of our very eyes.
Porcelain Raft play The Shipping Forecast on Tuesday 8th May, supported by Boy Friend, Faded Gold and Clean Cut Kid. Tickets for this show are £5 (bargain) and are available from the Bido Lito! Ticket Shop here.
Porcelain Raft's debut LP Strange Weekend is out now on Secretly Canadian Records.
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