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According to the fountain of knowledge that is TikTok, the average male thinks about the Roman Empire at least once a week. While the veracity of this revelation may be contentious at best, any male drawn to the ancient echoes of Imperium Romanum are sure to find themselves captivated by the fashions of Roman renaissance orchestrated by Salò in their avant-garde symposium of opulence.

Salò, a multidisciplinary project ventures into uncharted territories with their latest audial opus. Drawing inspiration from Pasolini’s harrowing exploration of fascism, Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, Salò crafts an auditory experience reminiscent of a hallucinatory reverie, taking the listener upon a mesmerising journey of history, mythology, and contemporary commentary. Predicated upon the maxim ‘All’s good if it’s excessive’, the album is an avant-prog symphony of surrealism, presenting through sonic contradictions and highly evocative lyricism a uniquely immersive Theatre of the Absurd.

Produced at the legendary Abbey Rocchi Studios in Rome, Salò reflects the rich historical tapestry of the city, where past and present coexist in eccentric harmony. Commedia dell’Arte, a centuries-old theatrical tradition, weaves its rich legacy into Salò’s artistic fabric, creating characters that comment on social hierarchies in a manner akin to the tradition itself. Salò itself is more than just a musical endeavour; it's a shape-shifting collective where the creative process flows with a unique sense of fluidity, each member contributing their distinct vision. Their distinguishing baroque-style pink costumes, an integral part of their artistry, symbolise the suppressed layers of the self, embracing the grotesque and carnivalesque.

Terraforma festival bore witness to Salò’s captivating installation and live performance, offering a glimpse into the immersive world they create. This inaugural release on Kuboraum’s music platform signifies a groundbreaking chapter in their artistic journey, reflecting a relationship founded on freedom and trust. Salò’s artistic intention finds catharsis in the absurd, pushing the boundaries of conventionality and celebrating the Dionysian chaos antithetical to the constraints of contemporary society. In this interview, Salò unravels the intricacies of their multidisciplinary artistry, offering a comprehensive examination of the surrealist world they have crafted.

A massive congratulations on this herculean odyssey of an album you’ve created. Salò draws inspiration from Pasolini’s disturbing film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, itself an exploration of fascism, sadism, and political corruption. How does your music serve as a satirical indictment of these themes, shaping an auditory experience that engages listeners with these socio-political issues?
We try to engage in politics and address this type of issue through our music and our art, communicating our imagination which is obviously part of a socio-political vision: we could define it to remain in our imagination as The politics of the Witches or The Society of Anarchist Demons. We move in a dark Rome, among brigands, heretics and witches, a context also populated by an inquisition that seeks to make a clean sweep of the outsiders, who are sometimes the bearers of the harshest truth.
The Salòs are nothing more than outcasts who take up their voice in this environment. If you wish, you can find references to today, but ours is an imaginary that is more artistic than political, which we try to recreate in a dreamlike atmosphere and not fixed in a particular time or space. 
As a multi-hyphenate artist engaged in illustration, fashion design, sculpture, performance art, and music, you embody a true multidisciplinary approach. I am interested to know how you manage to compartmentalise and synthesise all these creative realms, and how your experiences in other artistic projects have informed the world of Salò?
Working with different practices and media complete and elevate the artistic research with a full knowledge and vision.
The album was produced at the Abbey Rocchi Studios in Rome. As pioneering alchemists of Roman renaissance, how has the history and mythologies of Roman antiquity fused with the modern setting of Rome influenced Salò’s creative process and aesthetic identity?
Rome is strictly important for every one of us. The relation with history is something more physical and spontaneous than intellectual because, in Rome, you literally walk inside history, like a movie set, so you feel it everywhere. Rome has a dreamlike and visionary beauty it maintains between different eras that overlap and collide, in conflict and in harmony. One finds the grandeur of the past and its decadence at the same time. It is a deeply inspiring city.
How do you thread the rich historical tableau of Commedia dell’Arte into the fabric of Salò’s art? How do you utilise the tortured characters you portray throughout the album to comment on social statuses in the manner of Commedia dell’Arte tradition?
I guess you mean that Commedia dell’Arte was satyrical in a political way, and maybe every popular and folk tradition tends to have a dialectical approach with political institution, maybe Salò are more satirical in another way, the original one. Satiro in pagan age was a Dionisiacal entity who lived in the woods.
Salò seems to be a shape-shifting collective. How does this flexibility impact your creative process and performances? How important has your working relationships with each other been in actualising the Salò vision?
Salò’s creative process is very fluid, this is certainly influenced by the synergy that has developed over the years of working together. Since Salò is a project that leaves a lot of room for different ways of expressing themselves, everyone uses what is most congenial to them to make a significant contribution to the project, which is facilitated by the heterogeneity that characterises us: we are very different people and artists and musicians, with different backgrounds and visions. The way we managed to mix these diversities has created something truly unique that amazed us too, making us proud and satisfied.
We believe that one of the most important things in this relationship is having faith in what others are proposing even when you are not perfectly aligned initially. The beauty of tackling a project with other people is just not having full control over it.
Salò debuted to the world via a striking performance at the Nomas Foundation in 2019, featuring your distinctive baroque-style pink costumes. The costume has since become the central element of your album and artwork. Could you elaborate on the symbolic message or artistic statement that these costumes embody and how they resonate with your creative journey?
The costumes of Salò are the frame of the ‘other,’ part of the self that is ordinarily suppressed or ignored, focusing on how the conspicuous layering of the self of the performer and the other of the costumes engages comedy in order to embody a political position. The way a costume is able to expose a complex and conflicted human nature through performance. We are grotesque and carnivalesque, we are fools, loudly and visibly declaring, we are expressions of a popular culture. We are some kind of wild creature who emerged from an upside-down world and became the Arlecchino of Commedia dell’Arte, where the ambiguous identities, the shapes of the costumes and masks extend, exaggerate, enlarge, and empower the body.
Terraforma festival in June witnessed your unique installation Ubiquitous Baronato Quattro Bellezze with your live performance at the Alpha Stage. How far did this performance embody your vision? Are there any elements of the album that attendees of this performance may have missed out on?
Terraforma festival this year was really inspiring for us. We brought two different shows. One in the Ubiquitous Baronato installation: the Baronato Quattro Bellezze is our place in Rome, our studio, our rehearsal room, our meeting place, our bar. We transported it to Terraforma by building a tent in which we performed and improvised together with guests during the days of the festival. In addition to this installation, we had the honour of closing the Alpha stage with the last concert on Sunday evening –interrupted by the rain, which created a dreamlike atmosphere worthy of one of our performances, between black clouds, rain and lightning, which looked perfect during our live, unique experience (even if we had to interrupt the live [set])–.
What we do on the stage remains very different from the album and the studio work. The first is a show, theatre, performance, concert, even if we do play the songs from the album and the sound is obviously similar. The second was a long process of composition and meetings between us that led to composing this long soundtrack for our world.
Salò is the inaugural release on label Kuboraum’s new music platform, which in itself is huge. You had a Digital Sound Residency with Kuboraum back in Feburary of 2022. Did your experiences with this residency and working with Kuboraum have any impact on your artistic journey leading up to the completion of the LP?
The first artistic residence done with Kuboraum led us to make La Ballata delle Mosche and its music video –this was the first step in the relationship that we then forged and that led us to release our first album together–. A relationship based on visions that are sometimes similar and sometimes different, but capable of intersecting to create something special. The first characteristic on which it is based is the freedom that is given to us and the trust in our creations and in the way we interpret and manifest our imagination. Our relationship is based on this, and this first album of ours is certainly a reflection of how stimulating and productive it was.

Talk about your fourteen-minute magnus opus Denti Neri, the ever-evolving single leading up to your debut; guide us through the track’s labyrinthine metamorphosis. What spectral voyage awaits the listener?
Quando piu’ vivi d’amore
Tremano gli occhi di me
Brucia la pelle e il cuore
Amo solo me
Avrei dovuto capire
Ho anche imparato lo so
Lacrime e occhi nel cuore
Amo soltanto me
Dovrei partire ma non so perche’

Chi lo dovrebbe sapere
Non piango piu’ ormai
Mi innamoro di me
Quando piu’ altro e’ l’amore
Tornano gli occhi di me
Brucia la pelle e il cuore
Amo solo me
Avrei dovuto morire
Lo dissi
Imparato lo so
Lacrime e gli occhi nel cuore
Amo solo me

Then in the night
I met you
The Man with the Black Teeth
He got into my bed
And he made love to me
It made me feel good
Under the belly
Black teeth
Take me to have fun
Going to the Sabbath is not difficult
We arrive at night
I have seen many rich ladies dance
Adorned with coral jewels
Lots of people from the village
Sometimes Black Teeth
He appears in the form of a peasant boy
Dancing alone all around
In a circle and then returns among the guests
Let's make love with Black Teeth
I kiss and hug him
I come back to him every night
I learned love
Black teeth

Denti Neri tells the story of a possession, the experience, the encounter of a girl with the Devil. A fantastic episode of possession, a delirious dream through hybrid forms and surreal contents; dreaming of love and our fears, questioning our personal limits.
Salò’s music throughout stands as a modern chiaroscuro. A duality of aria’s throughout of auto-tuned murmurations juxtapose against disquiet and unsettling electronics. The transition from Pompei to Capra lo Vedo Capra lo Sono particularly illustrates this duality. How far does the album use dualities to reject the mores of existential mundanity?
More than duality we can speak of a colourful multiplicity. Certainly, the fact that each piece is substantially different from the other takes us out of the scheme of having to re-propose the same formula to meet or be recognisable having to please the needs of someone or the listener. In general, I believe that this is essential to free ourselves from the commercial and existential dynamic of having to be somehow necessarily represented in a scheme. We try to paint our imagination through the pieces of the disc, it’s a story, it’s a vision: and like any representation of a world it's obviously multifaceted and shapeshifting.
Your album embraces maximalist textures and instrumentation, a panthodic symphony of extravagance and excess. How does this audial opulence intertwine with your aphorism: All’s good if it’s excessive encapsulating the essence of your artistic vision? How does this impact the listeners experience?
Let’s wait for the album to be out and see how people and listeners will react and enjoy it!
Frank Zappa once said, “To me absurdity is the only reality.” Salò certainly evokes the sonic absurdity replete in the repertoires of artists such as Zappa and Mr Bungle, particularly within tracks such as Streghe E Briganti Diavoli e Santi and Indiavolata Innamorata. How far does this concept of absurdity inspire your artistic intentions?
Never like in this historical period there is a need to spread madness. The Dionysian, chaos and oblivion are missing; there is a lack of giving vent to the impulse to do something just to do it and not because it is useful for something. In contemporary society, there is no room for the absurd, and I think it is our precise duty to push in that direction. Zappa and Patton are two enormous artists. We feel quite different in terms of grotesque; we are totally ironic people, but in our music, there is a dark deepness come from ritualistic ambient and psychedelic music not so connected with Zappa’s music.
What’s next in store for Salò? What can we expect from the collective in the future?
Right now, we are focused on and excited about the release of the album and our energies flow into making it run as much as possible and on the next scheduled live shows. However, we have something in the pot: we have recorded a collaboration with a fantastic and inspiring artist from Rome called Uomo Uccello –news about it shortly–.

Jonathan Davis

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