Nosound reveal the story behind the spark that ignited Scintilla
Nosound mainman Giancarlo Erra tells Prog about the band’s evolving sound, and turning pain into art
“The main reason I write music is because it’s the only way I know to express feelings,” says Giancarlo Erra, singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist and mastermind behind Italian-via-Norwich prog masters Nosound.
The feelings Erra expresses through his band are nothing if not melancholy. Scintilla, the group’s sixth studio album, is a voyage into Erra’s heart of darkness, with tales of sadness, loss and failed love affairs. Yet despite the aching sense of despair in his music, Erra is an artist driven by his passion for music, someone for whom creating is a need, rather than a choice. He has always written confessional lyrics, but Scintilla – which means ‘spark’ in Italian – takes Nosound in a new sonic direction, exchanging the lush, layered arrangements of their earlier albums for a more organic, sparse sound.
“I really think it’s about evolving,” says Erra, who likes to write songs and then put them away until he’s almost forgotten them entirely so he can return with a new perspective. “I have to discover the album as if I was a fan of Nosound,” he says. “It’s just the way I work. There’s an evolution, yes, I think it’s natural. It’s just moving in parallel with my listening tastes. I like to listen to lots of music and I like to discover a lot of new music.
“My listening taste is mostly minimalist or artistic folk, if that means anything. It’s very hard to pin down the kind of music – Northern European dark folk-rock-something. If anything, the new album isn’t that different from the past but it’s going more towards where my listening tastes are going. So something more minimalist, more sensual, and I hope something more direct.
Once a song is finished and it’s about something that was very painful for me, that’s when I really come to terms with it.
“I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or what, but I like it when things are simple and direct. There are not many notes, there are not many sounds. Either it’s a good idea at the start, or you just have to scrap it. I really appreciate it when I feel an artist wasn’t there at the computer or with a band rehearsing or playing for hours and then making a song out of copying and pasting. I like it when I can hear that the song was the flash of an idea you have in your head when you’re walking the dog or taking a shower. I was really trying to focus as much as I can on that essential idea I want to get out.”
Another driving force in the changing sound of the group is that Erra is no longer worried about meeting anyone else’s expectations. “Of the previous albums, the album I like the most is A Sense Of Loss, the one that possibly sold less copies than all the others,” he says. “People still complain there were no guitar solos, it’s too slow, it’s too much this or that. I really decided to say, ‘It’s my music and I want to do it exactly the way I want to do it.’