OvO is one of the most interesting bands playing in this day and age. The combination of heavy riffage, bombastic drumming and vocals that could either crush concrete or lull a baby to sleep makes for an interesting blend of sound. I first saw OvO live in Providence, RI (my home) years back when they were supporting Miastenia their first album on Load Records . For the most part I check out every Load release because it is a great label and owner/operator Ben McOsker has knowledge for miles of interesting and unique music (laypeople will catch up to this label in the future). OvO was such a pleasant surprise: 2 people, woman and man, she (Stephania Pedretti) plays guitar, fiddle and her own hair and he (Bruno Dorella) plays percussion, usually a floor tom, one cymbal and snare. The sound is huge! When performing live, the band donned garb that appeared influenced by Carnival or perhaps something more… evil? Rhythmic and noisy the band played music that was on such a level above most else that many were standing in awe with their jaws on the floor. Without having heard their music before, people instinctively broke out into a frenzy of dance.
On wax, the band has many amazing past releases. The newest contribution to Music is titled “Crocevia,” and it is a magnum opus. Diverse sounds emanate from this record, noise, doom, hardcore, no-wave and Hawaiian strumming all can be heard. Long dirges with repetition meet other songs with short Lydia Lunch ’79 style vocalizations and guitar work. Again I am left in a state of sincere admiration of this band and their work. I encourage all to check out this new record (another release on Load Records), and do not miss this band live when they do come to your area.
The following is an interview with Bruno Dorella of OvO (Stephania is currently on tour with her solo project ?Alos) -
1. I am not sure exactly what part of Italy you both are from? Milan? If so, do you have any comments about the music scene in Milan (past or present)?
We're from Milan, but we're currently living in Berlin, Germany. There's always been a good scene in Milan, since the 70's. My favourite one to mention is Wretched, the wildest Italian punk band ever. Today the experimental rock scene includes bands like Uncode Duello (and all the one where Xabier Iriondo is involved), Fuzz Orchestra, Ronin... Even the two Italian twins of Blonde Redhead are from Milan. Berlin is more about electronic music. If you wanna be on the techno- breakcore- dubstep map you gotta live here a couple years at least. There's a good noise scene, small but good. A lot of great musicians from all over the world just come to live here, cause it's cheap and creative. But not many of them are German, and the experimental rock scene is really small. Beside OvO I mention Monno, MoHa! and UglY Iglu, but most of them aren't German.
2. What is it like to live in a country where it is a respectable trade to be in a band? Or is this not the case in Italy?
This is too complicated. It'd need a long, boring sociological excursus.
We should define "respectable trade", and try to understand why the most successful bands come from the US, where it's apparently an unrespected trade... don't know, I really think it's too boring...
3. Your new album "Crocevia" is very good. This word means "Crossroads" in English, is this album title related to anything spiritual? I know this concept is used in many old Blues songs - Robert Johnson and all that...
It's related to something spiritual and practical at the same time. Me and Stefania have been a couple for 11 years, and we basically split during the recording. We did it in peace, we're still friends and we still do OvO and take care of each other. Musically with this album we say goodbye to improvised and avant-garde music to become a rock band, even if weird. In Italian Crocevia means something stronger than Crossroads... it's a Milestone too. It's something you don't come back from, or an important decision that will influence your whole life. Last but not least, the words Croce (cross) and Via (road) remind of Christ's Via Crucis, so this album is also a concept about Crosses (Ostkreuz means Western Cross in German and it's a very special place in Berlin, Croce del Sud means Southern Cross in Italian, and so on...).
4. Stefania has a very unique and amazing vocal style ranging from operatic singing to her trademark growl; it makes the music very evil sounding but also beautiful. How was this style developed?
She's a natural born phenomenon. Her voice sounds like a trained opera singer mixed with the wildest male growler linked to a chain of weird pedal effects... but it's all natural and she does it without any training. Some singing teachers saw her and said that her body technique and her use of her stomach and throat would usually need years of study...
5. The one song on Crocevia titled "Tiki 2020". This one sounds No-Wave in a really great way. Do you both enjoy listening to No New York or other No Wave albums? Or was the inspiration elsewhere?
You're right. We love No New York and the no wave scene. I chose to play a minimal drum set instead of a regular one after I discovered that record. The energy in that album is unique. Tiki 2020 started as one of our many "OvO goes Rockabilly" songs ( Tiki 2010 is another one), but Stefania's guitar riff and voice gave it definitely a no wave taste. We were worried it would sound like contemporary arty farty San Francisco-NewYork newnowave, which we really don't like, but I hope we avoided it somehow.
6. How was the recording experience for this album, you did it in Brooklyn, NY correct?
It was great. We worked with Jason La Farge at Seizures Palace Studio in Brooklyn, the same where Martin Bisi recorded Sonic Youth, Naked City, Unsane, Alice Donut, Zeni Geva, Lydia Lunch, Cop Shoot Cop, Swans and tons of other great bands in the 90's.
Jason was really patient and easy, the rooms sound great, we didn't have to add a lot after the pure recording. The magic of the place did the rest.
You sit on a chair? It's where the drum set of Bad Moon Rising was.
You cook some tea? The drum set of Torture Garden was there. There's a hole in the wall? It was Brian Eno throwing a chair during a frustration moment in the recording of Material. John Zorn apparently recorded some sax tracks in the bathroom... you can't even take a shit without feeling all the inspiration of that place!
7. What are you listening to lately? What kind of music would be on your normal playlist?
I listen to everything, really. From grindcore to chamber music, from free jazz to breakcore, from soul to avantgarde, from african music to all the Load stuff... but lately I'm listening to a lot of electronic music, I name Murcof, Fennesz, Venetian Snares, but there's a lot of good stuff out there. Recently I listened to the whole collection of Load records, what a great label. And then as usual a lot of heavy metal, especially the stuff on Relapse, and the band that never leaves me alone, Neurosis. Stefania is more into classical music, but when she listens to rock it must really really heavy...
8. Last, is there anything you would like to let people know about OvO or your new record?
We would like everyone to know that this is our best record. It really is. There have been some problems with the distribution, the release dates, the promotion, and because of these things many people don't even know it's out. So spread the word and see you in September for our US tour.