‘I WOULDN’T want to say my music is more interesting than anyone else’s,” the Italian producer and composer Andrea Noce protests – with utmost sincerity — at one point during our Skype chat from her adopted home of Berlin. She’s fighting a losing battle though, at least as far as I’m concerned. Noce, whose speaking voice is the sound people hear in their heads when they say Italian sounds like music, produces work that is a great deal more interesting than other people’s. She has been involved in countless musical projects since leaving her hometown in Calabria — the toe of Italy’s boot — around 10 years ago, but she’s primarily here to talk about a beguiling project and alter ego of hers called Eva Geist.
Though Noce has released only two records so far under the name (last year’s Dniheb EP for the French label Macadam Mambo Trax and the cassette-only album Äquator System), it’s patently clear from even a cursory listen to the project’s rarified, cinematic music that she’s no newcomer. “I had a very classical background as a kid,” she begins. “I went to a music school and I played piano and sang harmony in a choir. I did that for 11 years and I always like to mention it because it was very important in my musical development.”
Perhaps in a fit of teenage rebellion, Noce decided music “wasn’t for me” for a while at around the age of 18, before thankfully being coaxed back to the fold after moving to Rome for university. “I was studying music a bit but was more focused on literature,” she says. “But I met some people who introduced me to the music scene in Rome, and I started having fun with music again. Eventually we began having jam sessions in a little basement studio, and we played gigs too. That was a conventional ‘band’ set-up with me playing a Gem organ, but eventually I bought a synth and began moving towards making electronic stuff on my own. I was also in a duo called Le Rose for a few years. We made synth-pop with Italian singing, and we became kind of popular on the Italian indie scene from about 2010 onwards. One song in particular became a bit of a hit, and we played all around the country and in Europe.”
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As well as being an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, producer, songwriter and visual artist (a talent-hog, in short), Noce is an excellent vocalist, and has made numerous guest appearances (under her given name) on pop records in various countries. That’s a world she fully intends to revisit in time, but the development of her Eva Geist project/character was a conscious break from it – she wanted to make a different, more abstract kind of music, but realised she was too established as a pop singer to use her own name.
“I needed to create a new character, a new me,” she explains. “Geist means ‘ghost’ in English – or actually ‘spirit’ would be more accurate – and the name has always been symbolic and important because there’s a lot of spirituality in the project. I wanted my Eva Geist stuff to have beats you can dance to, but soft, abstract ones. It’s inspired by cosmic music, mantra music, New Age music and by film soundtracks. I studied film at university too and film soundtracks still really inspire me, especially that of Italian composers like Ennio Morricone, Piero Umiliani, Marcello Giombini, Amedeo Tommasi and Piero Piccioni. It’s very cinematic.”
The visual element of music is clearly of utmost importance to Noce – the cover art of her two Eva Geist records to date is extremely striking and beautiful, and she has made an uncommon number of excellent videos to go with her songs. Unsurprisingly given her background, her fascination is underpinned by serious knowledge, and she has some big plans to put what she has learned into action in the near future.
“In Rome the final part of my studies was on synaesthesia (the neurological condition that causes people to ‘see’ music, ‘taste’ colours, and so on). I researched it a lot and interviewed a lot of people who have it, and became quite fascinated by it. For a long time one of my dreams has been to develop a show based on a strong interaction between music, visuals and costumes and so on, and I’m working with a designer right now on making that happen. We're going to debut it in Rome in the summer, and I'm really excited about it.”
Noce’s Eva Geist show in Glasgow next weekend won't quite have that level of theatre to it, but something special is still sure to unfold. “My live set is very atmospheric at the beginning, and I gradually add vocals and synths and arpeggiators and slowly build in beats,” she explains. “I like to have breaks in there though, I don’t want people to be constantly forced to move and I’m really interested in building soundscapes and making the performance an all-round sonic experience. And it’s a bit meditative and very melodic, which people might not expect in a club.
“You can still label it techno,” she concludes, alighting on her mot juste, “but it’s a more gentle and feminine techno than people might be used to.”