Our friends at Boring Machines records are about to celebrate their tenth anniversary! That’s ten years of championing great Italian artists to audiences around the world. Founded by Onga in Treviso in 2006, the label has been responsible for some magnificent records in the decade since. Onga has collected nearly two hours worth of material from 22 records to produce this amazing mix to share with our readers.
In addition to this mix, Boring Machines has a whole lot else going on to celebrate. They’ll be re-issuing their first release, My Dear Killer‘s CD Clinical Shyness on a limited run of tapes. And throughout the year anonymous LPs pressed in 10 copies will be announced without revealing any detail on the music they contain. Onga insists that “after ten years of spreading the best music that comes from Italy, we honestly think people should just trust our tastes, it’s a one-off, grab it or lose it thing. All the releases will have the same black cover, with just the number 10 in different color screenprinted on it.” Keep an eye on their website!
And perhaps the most exciting news: Ongapalooza! That’s right, East Rome’s Thalassa Festival of Italian Occult Psychedelia will feature performances from Fabio Orsi, Squadra Omega, Father Murphy, Heroin in Tahiti, Luminance Ratio, Mai Mai Mai, and many others. If you can get to Roma for 31 March-2 April, don’t miss it. Read the full line-up and more information here. Please join us in congratulating Onga and Boring Machines, and enjoy the music. (Joseph Sannicandro)
photo: Fabio Orsi
Congratulations on 10 years of Boring Machines! Ten years of anything is no small thing, let alone an independent record label. Perhaps you can share a story about how you came to found Boring Machines?
Well, thank you! Sure 10 years seems a long time these days, when a lot of projects are born and die within few months. In 2003 I met for the first time My Dear Killer and the project who then became the first incarnation of Father Murphy. I was doing shows in a basement and I was astonished to hear Stefano’s MDK songs: so raw, uncompromising, full of anger and discomfort. Father Murphy and some other friends had a label at that time, called Madcap Collective and I was helping them with some practical stuff on design and packaging of their releases. That’s when I learnt and start loving all the processes behind the release of a record. In 2006, together with Madcap Collective and other friends from the underground scene, I decided to try my way and I planned the release of my first record: My Dear Killer’s Clinical Shyness.
Since then I released 67 records in various formats, mostly CD and LP, many of which are co-released with other fellow labels.
I’d love to hear about what was most rewarding from the last decade, as well as some of the challenges you’ve faced.
There has been some highs and lows of course, both can be summarized looking at the sales stats of the label. One of the most satisfying things is seeing that almost 50% of the sales comes from abroad, which means that the mission to promote Italian music outside our country is accomplished, counting the fact that I can’t afford to buy a lot of ads, or PRs. It’s a reward for all the nights I haven’t slept, all the holidays I haven’t done to save money for a good record.
The stats also tells that you don’t sell many records actually, much less than you could think of when you plan a release. Some releases are sold out, OK, but it’s 500 records. When I was a kid you sold 500 records in your neighborhood. But that’s a very complicate topic to discuss. When I started I knew already the toy was broken, scarce music culture, zero investments from the country on arts and a super crowded market made possible by new technologies, so I’m not afraid of the continuous instability of the economic side of running a label. That’s what I like to do.
Great satisfactions also comes when you get unexpected acknowledgments from artists you admire, Julian Cope is a great fan of some of my records, especially Father Murphy and Mamuthones. But in general, seeing that a band you released is doing good, is approached by other labels, even bigger than BM, is always a good sign.
Nearly all of the artists you’ve worked with are Italian, and the vast majority of them are based in Italy as well. And this is a very diverse roster, I should add. Often it seems to me that Italians are very outward-looking, maybe even inclined to downplay their own country. Is part of your mission to share all this excellent music being produced in Italy with the world?
It is the mission. When I started I didn’t had in mind to release only Italian music, but that came pretty natural in the first years because I realized how many great musicians we have that weren’t released properly or that actually had an existing network of collaborators and fans outside Italy. Since then I decided to focus only on Italian artists, living anywhere, trying to spread the world around.
Italy has always been seen as pretty exotic when it come to music, but sometimes that’s because we ourselves have been outward looking as you mention. Especially the press. My inspiration comes from the great Constellation Records, who focused only on local musicians for a long time, serving high quality music with great looking packages to the world. That’s what I’m trying to do, promote underground gems outside the Italian borders and reassess the position Italian musicians have in the market.
Sometimes people forgets that Italy has forged some of the most famous experimental musicians in the seventies, that Italian prog music is renowned everywhere. As I always put it, with a bit of mordacity, we have Morricone and you don’t. Just in recent years, a term was coined and gained a bit of attention, about that Italian scene of musicians called Italian Occult Psychedelia. Many of the artists included on that scene are from the Boring Machines roster and all the others are friends I know, the music styles are sometimes very different but they all retain a red thread to an Italian heritage which comes from the experimental works of the past, whipped with today’s sounds and recalling the atmospheres of old Giallo films, horror and b-movies, Italian library music and much more.
You see, when I hear of Umberto (which I like) or I see all the reissues of horror movie soundtracks made by US and UK labels, and I feel they’re strictly an Italian thing, I get a bit sorry about all those Italians who seems to discover such sounds just now, like they never heard of the works of Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, all the Morricone soundtracks even for smaller movies, Egisto Macchi and a lot of other Italian musicians. If they don’t know this giants, how can I imagine they could get to know my artists?
And how has the scene changed in the last ten years in Italy?
Many of the artists I knew at the beginning of my adventure with the label are still making great music, despite the fact that live venues are dying on a daily basis, most of them still find a way to play live and the energy is very positive. Things haven’t changed much in the scene I’m regular with, it was very underground before, it’s very underground now, and always will be. It’s a niche that most of the times didn’t suffer of all the transformations of the indie scene, because those bands and labels always aimed to monetize, they called their things “products” and they followed the music industry rules, just with fewer money. The underground scene had nothing but its passion for music, its will to bring people together to listen.
I believe that the harder it gets to keep on, the stronger it will be, we are few people but fierce.
Lastly, tell us about the mix you’ve put together. And what can we expect from Boring Machines in the future?
This mix features tracks that spans all along the 10 years of the label, showing some of the states of mind I tried to represent with my releases, there are noisy tracks, more romantic ones. All of them are usually very long, so i had to do heavy edits, otherwise it would have last hours. I like long tracks, I’m a patient listener and I like artists who challenge the listener’s attention in an era of short Vines and emojis.
The future of Boring Machines is full of exciting things, for me at least. I just released a huge photographic box from Fabio Orsi with a tape of new music, two records are coming out in few days, 1997EV (post-apocalyptic psychedelia) and Passed (a ritual built on drum loops and otherwordly screams). During spring I will be releasing a new album from a trio comprised of Alberto Boccardi, Antonio Bertoni and Paolo Mongardi. Also, for the 10th year I have a small gift for all those who missed Death Surf from Heroin in Tahiti: it will be reprinted in a short run, because I can’t stand people trading it on Discogs for 50 euro, that’s ridiculous. Oh! And I have another big special planned: 4 LP will be released on Solstices and Equinoxes, only in 10 copies. There will be no information on artist names, no pictures, no digital previews, nothing. Just the records to buy with the number 10 on the sleeve. After ten years of spreading the best music around I ask people to trust my taste.
01. Luciano Maggiore & Francesco Brasini – Cham Achanes (edit)
02. Be Maledetto Now! – Tutti Quei Simulacri (edit)
03. Punck – Piallassa.mp3 (edit)
04. Claudio Rocchetti – Northern Exposure
05. HMWWAWCIAWCCW – For Nobody
06. Luminance Ratio – Like Little Garrisons Besieged (edit)
07. FaravelliRatti – Bows and Arrows
08. Maurizio Abate – Into the Void
09. Uggeri_Mauri_Giannico – 6.18AM Icy Leaves
10. 1997EV – DrySun Acid (short version)
11. Dream Weapon Ritual – untitled 1
12. Adamennon – Manvantara
13. Squadra Omega – Man’s Empire Ends At The Waterline
14. DuChamp – Gemini (tremolo mix)
15. Von Tesla – Null hypersurface
16. K11 & Philippe Petit – Residual Spookyness (edit)
17. Fabio Orsi – Loipe 01 (edit)
18. Zone Demersale – Politica Fondale
19. Paul Beauchamp – Pondfire
20. Be Invisible Now! – Super-K-82-83
21. Everest Magma – Nan Nan
22. Passed – Glory (I’ll show you light now) (edit)