IKITAN (from L-R):
Luca Nash Nasciuti (Guitar)
Enrico Meloni (Drums)
Frick Et (Bass)
After the acclaimed release of their debut EP "Twenty-Twenty" Italian post-rock trio IKITAN took the time to answer some of our questions.
Q - Who's who in the band? What are your names and roles?
A - Hello, we’re IKITAN, from Genoa, Italy.
Luca Nash Nasciuti: guitar
Frik Et: bass
Enrico Meloni: drums and cowbell
Happy to be talking to you, Andy, and dear readers of The Uncarved Block!
Q - Where did you meet/how did you all get together?
A - IKITAN was born in September 2019 when Luca replied to an advert Enrico posted on a local musicians’ Facebook group, and the band started jamming one week after.
It must be noted that Luca and Frik Et have been friends for ages and have played together for over 10 years years and so they were looking for a new drummer for their new adventure.
Fun fact: the three of us played at a local gig back in 2010: Luca and Fri Et were already in the same band then, and Enrico, playing in another band, bought a demo from them (which he still proudly owns).
Q - How did you choose your band name?
A - IKITAN was chosen by Luca, who was fascinated by its meaning, found on the Italian Wikipedia page of the “Aztec gods”. According to whoever wrote that page, IKITAN is the god of the sound of the stones. It fits perfectly the idea he and Frik Et had in mind for our music, and the moment we got together and started playing it made so much sense.
There’s also a nice little pun there: stones and stoner, of course, as we love stoner rock. And also stoned, although we don’t smoke! :D
So we’ve been playing for months with this whole IKITAN concept in mind, we prepared the album cover (thanks Luca Marcenaro!) and everything… Some days before the actual release date, we found out this was not true! Or at least not verified. We even wrote to a university professor who is the go-to expert in pre-Colombian cultures, only to find out that IKITAN is nowhere to be found! The power of unverified Wikipedia sources…
But who cares: we love the concept, it’s an inspiration for us, and we’ll stick to it!
Q - What are your musical influences?
A - We’ve listened to a whole bunch of very different music by now (we’re well in our 30s) and we’re very open when it comes to musical taste. Our main influences are surely post-rock, stoner and progressive, with a heavy soul. As for the bands, Tool is the name we truly must mention here. The first time we met we started talking about them (we were all at their same concert in Florence - Summer 2019) and we knew from the get go that something cool would have happened.
Other IKITAN’s favourite are Russian Circles and Yawning Man.
Q - Your first musical release is called “Twenty-Twenty”, a 20-minute-20-second EP containing only one song. Tell us something about its release. Why did you decide to make a 20 minute song, instead of multiple shorter ones?
A - Our debut EP is titled “Twenty-Twenty” and it was released on 20th November 2020.
This album was conceived as a longer song which includes different parts, or “Chapters”, as we like to call them, that are somehow linked among them. We can’t call it a “suite” because some of the formal elements are probably missing, but the idea somehow comes from the post-rock and prog worlds, which are a great influence for us.
By the end of Spring of 2020, we had enough material to put together three different songs and, considering the overall situation caused by COVID, we said: “it’s our chance to put the word ‘end’ to this first part of the story of the band, nobody knows what’s gonna happen next, so we want to set this moment in stone” or, well… on a cd.
These three songs were somehow linked among them and at one point we also started thinking about just releasing the album as one only song and debut with a one-track EP. It was all very random and things clicked one after the other quite surprisingly.
Even though the ideas and riffs were all born during jam sessions, the end result is very much planned, meaning that we spent a few weeks working on these three songs only, making sure they had meaningful connections, the whole thing was interesting to listen to (you know, not so many repetitions of the same thing and the likes) and we could add a few extra special sounds and effects here and there.
Recording everything that we play in our rehearsal room certainly helps: we go back to what we’ve jammed the previous times, refining and listening to stuff constantly, and once we’re happy with something, we develop it fully until it becomes a song… or parts of a song LOL.
Eventually, the song lasts 20 minutes and 20 seconds. The album is titled “Twenty-Twenty”. It was released on Friday 20th November 2020. A lot of 20s!
To make our project even more special and our efforts truly worthwhile, we released the cd as a limited-edition digipack with a free poster and a sticker. The artwork was curated by Luca Marcenaro who did an awesome job.
Also, we’re very happy about the final result sound-wise: our guitarist Luca Nash is also a sound engineer and a music producer in his “real” life, the whole album (except for the drums, recorded at Mattia Cominotto’s Greenfog Studio in Genoa, one of the most renowned in Italy when it comes to rock music) was recorded at his private studio so we could do things at our pace and in a stress-free environment.
Q - How do you go about writing new material – is there a main songwriter, or more of a band effort?
A - Our songs are very much jam-driven. We enter the studio, plug the instruments, sit behind the drum kit, and just go. It can all start from a drum fill, a guitar melody or a punchy bass line.
Of course, once we have to record an album or give final shape to the song, we arrange our compositions with great care and play them a million times to make sure the whole thing has a sense and flows nicely.
But the inception is very spontaneous. None of us enters the studio saying “here’s the song, I’ll show it to you and we learn it”. We always record what we play and go back to listen to it to find new cool ideas and even things we might have overlooked.
Mistakes and “wrong turns” are especially crucial as they can lead somewhere completely new even for a band who doesn’t have a plan.
IKITAN is our opportunity to experiment and let our minds (and hands and feet) go, so we’re enjoying this fully.
Q - How often do you normally rehearse/jam/practice?
A - As we were forced to cancel all of our external activities (those related to our real jobs: Luca is a sound engineer and travels often to work at gigs and theatre shows, and Enrico is an event planner who used to spend countless hours on trains and planes… not to mention that gyms and swimming pools were also closed in the past months), we’ve been playing as often as twice a week in the last year or so, something that really helped us put our music in the right shape, be super productive, and be able to release a live video within months after publishing our debut EP.
Let’s see if we’ll be able to keep this schedule now that the situation eases a little bit and “normal” activities will start again, such as travels and sports, among the others.
Generally speaking, once a week does the job though.
Listen to "Twenty-Twenty" on Youtube
"Twenty-Twenty Live at Forte Geremia"
"The Making of "Twenty-Twenty"
"The Marsala Sessions part one"
Q - How did the virus affect your plans? Did you have to cancel gigs/recordings/etc?
A - We started with no expectation whatsoever other than “let’s release this EP as we have it ready”, and there were no gigs planned and thankfully we were able to complete the recordings of the EP without the virus affecting us.
Sure enough, we have not had the chance to play a proper gig with a real audience yet (we actually took part in a music contest in an empty theatre last May, and it was even recorded and live streamed… more on it in the coming months!) so we can’t wait to hit the stage and be able to play live. All of us have been playing for a long time now so we had a taste of playing live with our previous bands… time to make it happen with IKITAN now.
Q - Have you got any new material on its way?
A - Yes, we’re currently writing our upcoming first album, for which, in pure IKITAN fashion, we know very little about right now! :D
We’re revising our rehearshals, listening to them again after weeks or even months, trying to find the cool ideas we developed in our hour-long jam sessions, and we’ll take it from there. We do love to jam, but the final songs are usually quite refined and well prepared, not having a vocalist it all gets more challenging as we need to keep things varied and interesting with more intent, let’s say.
Q - How did you decide to record the outdoors live video “Twenty-Twenty Live at Forte Geremia” and what did the task involve?
A - It all started very low-profile: after releasing our debut “Twenty-Twenty” on 20th November 2020, and being still unable to play live, we thought: let’s do something and show the band is active. So the initial plan was to do a live on Facebook or Instagram from our studio and just play chunks of the whole song. Just for the sake of doing something, really, getting ready for a concert, and showing another side of the band’s life. And most importantly - show the band playing live.
Then as it always happens one thing leads to the other, one of us has a crazy idea and the other two add fuel to the fire… It was the end of January when we started envisioning this project… So the first major change was that we decided to play the whole thing, and not just parts of it anymore, in an outdoor setting, and make it our first live concert.
Being winter, one of the coolest things would have been to do so in the snow (luckily and with hindsight, this didn’t happen)! We’re fans of the whole desert rock scene, so generator parties and the likes have had an impact, even visually, on us. The idea was, on one hand, to tribute that concept, and on the other hand, to play the whole song, as we never did before, showing the band in an amazing setting in the wild. Also, we saw the video Yawning Man did (Live at the Giant Rock) and it was an inspiration too, of course.
On top of that, Genoa, our city, is perfectly placed between sea and mountains. The city itself is kind of between two of the major mountain chains in Italy (Alps and Apennines), so when you talk about nature and the wild… it’s the mountain that you’re thinking about. And so we did: the video was shot on top of an old fort (there’s dozens in the mountains behind the cities here in Liguria: not surprisingly, they were used to control the sea from enemies) and, even though it was not shot on the exact point of the fort we wanted as it was too windy, we’re extremely pleased with the end result.
Forte Geremia is officially the first live concert of IKITAN, a live concert which speaks of its times: there’s no audience and it’s only available on the Internet.
The filming of the video itself was pretty straightforward as we just had to play the song and our amazing friends from Squeasy Film were doing the shots with 4-5 cameras (and drones), even though, as with all the projects with a set date and deadline, there were some challenging moments.
First of all, when we decided to go to Forte Geremia, Italy was still in what we refer to as the “red zone”: you couldn’t leave your municipality unless for health, work, etc. These restrictions were waived just days before we actually went up on the mountain, something which of course was decided weeks before, otherwise… we might have had to make something up to make it happen anyway, there was no plan B.
Secondly, weather played a big role too. Masone, the municipality where Forte Geremia is located, is known for being a place where rain never stops, so all in all we’ve been very lucky to just have wind and cold weather all day long, and not a single drop of rain. Nevertheless, the moment we jumped out of the car we thought “ok, do we really have to stand this weather all day long, with as low as 5°C?!”... and so we did eventually. We’ve never appreciated the comfort of four walls around you like the day we came down from that mountain!
Thirdly, we did get the permission to do everything legally, and even got lunch in the mountain refuge that the Forte hosts (it’s a frequent stop for hikers and nature-lovers, and you might spot some in the video too… ), but once you book the time of so many people (video makers, sound engineers and the likes)... you really have to make it happen on that day, and that’s it. You don’t get many chances, also considering the completely uncertain situation we were in back then due to COVID restrictions and this kind of stuff. So it was a “now or never” thing. (as said, no plan B).
Lastly, the Forte had nothing in it, just electricity. So we had to cater for the whole thing ourselves. Luckily we own all of our instruments and PA, and Luca is also a sound engineer, so he took care of all aspects of the outdoor gig from start to finish, making sure we could recreate the sound we had in mind in an outdoor setting where we could rely on ourselves only. Big thanks to Stefano Gualtieri who was behind the mixer when we recorded the song on the day.
Once we prepared everything, we started filming straight after lunch, where the light is more suitable for it, and we played the whole song a few times whilst being recorded from 4-5 different angles and cameras (including drones, of course).
The post-production of the video took a few weeks and we’ve left the music as natural as it was when we played it at Forte Geremia: we really wanted this to be our first live concert, and not a video clip. So you’ll likely hear some “mistakes” too, but that’s what would happen at a concert too, right? This video is a natural and faithful representation of what you can expect from IKITAN at a concert.
As said, once we agreed on doing a “proper” live video of us playing in the wild, the inspiration came from “Live at the Giant Rock” by Yawning Man. There’s no desert around us, and a “similar” place, in our area, could be found at Forte Geremia, the 819 years old military fort that’s just one hour from Genoa.
The location was already used for a shooting by our filmmaker friends Squeasy Film, who were responsible for filming the band playing, so this whole thing kind of matched with the idea we had in mind.
There are references with the cover of the EP too, in a way: it’s a rocky scenery and we’re on top of a mountain, and there’s a mountain on the cover too, and IKITAN is the alleged god of the sound of the stones for the Aztecs (more on this below), so it all matches really.
Q - What gigs do you have coming up? (Plug time!) Anything set up for the summer?
A - We’re currently talking to some other bands here in Genoa to make something happen this Summer, let’s see if it will be possible. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about what can be done and so on, so we’re taking it easy and we’ll see what happens.
Rest assured: we’re ready for it! :-) In the meantime, you can watch us play “Twenty-twenty” surrounded by sea and mountains.
Q - How do you feel about the current music scene in Italy?
A - We can share something about our local scene. We all live in Genoa, one of the largest cities in Italy, located on the North-West coast, and a major European harbour. Luca and Frik Et are the true Genoa dudes, and Enrico is from Sardinia.
Genoa has been and still is one of the Italian capitals of prog music, bands who were born in the 70s such as New Trolls, Nuova Idea, Delirium, Latte e Miele are from here. Not to mention the “Genoese songwriters” scene, with mind blowing artists such as De Andrè, Gino Paoli and Luigi Tenco who were huge in the 70s, and so on.
With regards to the metal and rock scene, in the past Genoa gave birth to bands like Necrodeath, Sadist and Malombra (to name but few) in the most extreme sector, and Isaak, Gandhi’s Gunn, Meganoidi, Il Segno del Comando, La Coscienza di Zeno, for what concerns prog and rock “at large”.
We won’t go too deep on the very lively pop and indie scene but surely there’s a lot to check out there too.
Talking a bit more about the present, Genoa boasts a huge variety of bands and genres, from hip hop to rock, jazz, metal, prog, reggae, songwriters, stoner rock and everything in between. Some of the bands we just mentioned are still active and they’re a pleasure to watch live. We can’t avoid mentioning our good friends and amazing bands Isaak, CRTVTR, Burn the Ocean, Varego, Kurt Russhell, NAAT and Temple of Deimos.
The city, despite being one of the most populated in Italy, is quite small when it comes to the local scene (which city is not like this, after all?), and in one way or another, we all know each other either by name or personally.
A few music shops and music labels exist and resist, providing invaluable support to emergent bands and famous ones by organising festivals and concerts, and offering showcase opportunities. We shall mention at least two of them: Flamingo and Black Widow.
We’re very happy to be in such good company in our city and we hope we’ll be able to visit other Italian and European cities too very soon!
A lot of connections are made possible by the Internet and we’re working hard to be supportive towards other bands and create a meaningful network of relationships that will become more effective once we’ll be able to travel again.
Music clubs have been suffering massively in Genoa even before the current pandemic, with just a handful of venues surviving. Such a shame for a city that truly was and still is very vibrant in terms of ideas and bands.
Let’s see what will happen once this whole situation is over, we can’t wait to hit the stage as we released our debut just in the middle of this situation and have never played live. Weird times we live in!
Last but not least: we’ve put together a Spotify playlist which contains some great rock, stoner, post-rock and prog artists from Genoa and from other cool places all over the world. Let’s support the underground, these bands are smashing.
You can find the playlist here: https://linktr.ee/ikitan
Q - What can we all do to change the music scene for the better?
A - Go to the f****ing gigs! :D Now that there’s no money to be made anymore from album sales (unless you’re Lady Gaga, which is not our case), the only real way to support bands and therefore each other is to go to gigs, buy a t-shirt, share a post, talk about the local scene and not about the same old bands. Sure, we all love Maiden and Deftones, but there’s a lot more out there waiting to be discovered.
Plus all these new-er bands are dying to be featured, you can actually talk to them as the Internet makes it all very easy… what are you waiting for?
Whoever says rock is dead has never used bandcamp, obviously.
Q - What aspirations do you have, as a band? What does the future hold?
A - Considering that the totally unexpected results of the promotion of “Twenty-twenty” have opened many doors, we’re working hard to keep promoting our work and release our first full length. We aim at doing concerts and, why not, a local tour some day in the future. These are the main goals of IKITAN right now.
It’s also very important to stay focused, never give anything for granted even in terms of balance between the band’s activity and personalities involved, and never stop: we do like playing together, we enjoy each other’s company and we do our best to keep this momentum going.
A massive thank you, IKITAN, for your time, and we hope to have the pleasure of seeing you live in the UK as soon as is possible.