Interview with: Bruno Dorella, the masculine side of OvO

OvO, yes OvO. This is not an instant messaging emoticon, but a rather bizarre duo hailing from Italy. Once hearing the two were on their way to perform here, in Israel, I immediately looked for the one album I have by them (my apologies to the band for not having more, they're just hard to find) and slipping it in my stereo in attempt to remember who and what they are. So, OvO are Bruno Dorella and Stefania Pedretti and they're about using and abusing instruments in creative ways. Some will call it Noise, Doom and Sludge cocktail. I caught up with Bruno, shortly before their first show here, and had Stefania answer a couple of question too.
The result led me to the following: "OvO? yes O_o"

Your music can be described as doom/noise/sludge, in a very raw and bare boned form, ranging the point of minimal tribal music to overloaded noise – So, first of all, how would you describe it?
I think your description is really good, there's not much to add. Playing instruments in the wrong way, creating a sound that's similar to sludge or doom… yesterday somebody said Romantic Sludge…we liked it…

Second, where do you aim at? Are you trying to achieve any specific goals or is it a sheer need to create and a free hand on the instruments?
The only goal is to make music that we like. But we also want to create feelings into the audience. They can be scared or they can laugh, they can like it or hate it, but we want to create emotions. But everything we do has a lot of irony, always remember this. We're not taking it too serious.

Do you two consider OvO as a band or a project? What do you think makes a band an actual band?
I can't see the difference. A project sounds like something which is not constant to me. In this case, we are a band. We made 4 albums, several singles and 600 concerts in 6 years. I think it's enough to be filed under: Band.

This is your first time here in Israel, right? How was this collaboration with Fish in the water booking come to be?
They just contacted us, and we're so happy it happened. It's our first time here and we're very excited. You know, this land is quite important in history…

What's you're impression of Israel so far?
We just spent one day in Tel Aviv so far. We already saw many contradictions, you know, those typical things about a modern country in the South of the world. Rich and poor, clean and dirty, white and black, freedom and oppression… it's all there, in the same city. We come from Italy, I think it's quite a similar situation. And we live in Germany now, where the society is completely different, very safe and organized, but cold at the same time. I think that INTENSE is a good description for what we've seen so far.

After pinning Israel on your "places we've preformed at" map, what's the next destination?
We'll go home for 2 days, and then we'll go to Hungary.

Ovo is, as mentioned before, is composed of two members, with Stefania handling all the vocals – so, Stefania, as a multi-ranged and varied vocalist can you tell us a bit about how you developed your unique style?
Thank you for the compliment! I think my style is unique cause I didn't get any singing lesson, I'm not trained… It comes from my instinct, by following the flood of my nature, even if, concert after concert, my style changed and I am much more conscious of the potentiality of my voice. I have more control.

At some points, Stefania's vocal style may make the lyrics not so clear, to the point where it isn't too clear what language they're sung at – so, what language do you write your lyrics in and what are they about?
That's the point. It's not a language… so maybe that's why you can't understand it…
I don't use my voice to say something, to SING… I use it as an instrument, I make sounds…

Bruno, as the other half of this duo and a multi-instrumentalist, where do you get the ideas for the non-conventional instruments and where do you get the actual beaten down instruments from?
I listen to a lot of music, and I try to find my own way to create a music that comes from what I listen to, but that I can call as MINE. Stefania uses her vocals and plays her guitar like no one else. I try to play my drums in a way that would be really hard for another drummer. The result is strange. It's still music, but you can feel that something is… WRONG…

Other than soloing, do you improvise while performing or do you stick to reenacting the recorded material?
We started as an improv band, and we keep our songs open to changes. We don't practice, everything happens on stage, including the composition. So sometimes we will say "let's play something new", and we start with an improvisation, which, night after night, show after show, will become a song.

How do you manage as just a duo on stage? Is there any rivalry?
We are together in our lives since more than 10 years, there cannot be any rivalry. Just LOVE…

Let's talk about your latest release – "Miastenia" – first of all, for those of us who aren't Neurologists, can you explain the title?
Why did you decide to call it after a neuromuscular disorder (Myasthenia in English)?

We had a dog called Tequila. She toured with us all over Europe, including Balkans, Turkey and so on… she got paralyzed when she was very young, and after a while she had Myasthenia. She was a member of our family, and before the end of her life we toured with our paralyzed dog. It was really hard for us, and I can't even imagine how hard it was for her. But we were together, and that was important. This album is also a tribute to a member of our family that is not with us anymore.

In "Miastenia" there's a 20 minute long title track, as apposed to the rest of the tracks which are rather short – was that intended or did it just happen while writing/recording the album? Have you preformed it live?
It was intentional. We wanted to have quite a fast album, and we wanted to close it with an apocalyptic doom opera. We usually perform it live too, but usually we keep it shorter.

Would you now, in retrospect, change anything about that album?
No. An album is a picture of how we were at that moment. This is it. This is how we were.

What are you currently working on? Anything we can expect to surface in the remaining year?
We have a new 10" out on Wallace records, and we're gonna record our next album soon.

What is your musical background? Are you currently active in any other bands/projects?
Wow, this is long. Stefania started in 1997 with her female band Allun and they're still active. Plus she has a solo project called ?ALOS which is a music and performance act.
I have a soundtrack band called RONIN and a songs duo called Bachi Da Pietra, but I played in many many bands before… too long and boring to explain…

What music did you grow up on?
Stefania grew up on classical music, I grew up on U2 and heavy metal. Now we both listen to everything.

What can you tell me about Bar La Muerte records?
It's my label. After I quit a pretty famous band in Italy (Wolfango) I found myself with a lot of ideas and some money, so I started it… and it also started as a birthday gift to Stefania. For her birthday in 1999 my gift was the first Allun 7", and that's how Bar La Muerte started.

Do you actually go looking for bands/artists to sign?
I only release my friends, people that constantly collaborate with me. It's a DIY label, I never made a contract. Hands shaking, that's it.

What would each of you point out as influences which lead to OvO's music?
Really: everything is a possible influence. Every kind of music, but also a painting or some food, or a plant… life…

How did OvO start anyway?
It started in order to go on tour together, and that's still the main goal with OvO.

What's the writing process for the songs? Where do you start from and where do you go from there?
I think I explained this before: no composition, we go on stage and play. After a while, an improvisation becomes a song. And when you play 100 shows every year, trust me, it's pretty fast. So what people will see in Israel will be 90% songs with a form, and 10% of improvisations that are actually becoming songs…

Continuing on the line, your music is rather stripped down and raw at time, so when do you know a certain song is "done"?
I guess when they're recorded… but even when they're recorded they change… ok, here we are: a song is "done" when we stop to play it. When it's done it's a fossil, and we don't play it anymore.

Other than answering repetitive interviews, what do you dislike regarding your band duties the most?
Crossing borders… dealing with bored policemen that don't know shit about our life and try to prove that we are dangerous and we shouldn't get into their country…
And all the music world and business is pretty depressive too… why that club doesn't want us to play, why that distributor doesn't carry our records… fuck it, it's all bullshit.

If you could choose another musician to collaborate with – who would it be?

Out of what you're listening to - pick on album to relax with, one to drive with and one to play while having dinner.
Drive: Back in Black.
Relax: the soundtrack of the movie "In The Mood For Love" or traditional Hawaiian music.
Dinner: no music while we eat.

As a duo, what can you say about the following duos?
The White Stripes-
The Dresden dolls-
Starsky and Hutch-

They're all Americans.

There are several alternative artists who releases remixed collection albums of their tracks/songs, so who would you like to remix your songs?
Yes. We love it. We made a split with KK Null where Miniwagonwheel of the band Rollerball remixes our songs, and now we're working on an album where Daniele Brusaschetto remixes some of our songs. It's a great process, it's great to hear how different people with their sensitivities can change our music.

And finally, what can we expect at your shows here?
Expect a masked duo made by a big man and a little woman sweating as much as possible. But, most of all, expect two normal persons, real people, and not rockstars…

I'd like to thank Bruno and Stefania for doing the interview with such a tight schedule, and Fish in the water booking for making it happen.

Ofer Vayner
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