As the rain fell in Florence, I had the opportunity to chat to Italian musician Marie Rose about music, philosophy, production and guitars. Marie records music under her alias MonoLogue. Her new album, Spazio, is out now.
James: Hi Marie. Please introduce yourself to the people out there who may not have heard your music.
Marie: Well…my name is Marie Rose and I am a musician, a sound designer and a music art therapist. I don’t like to be defined by etiquette (it’s the same with my music). I like to say that I am a person who wants to work and research around music and sounds.
James: I see. So, to start with, what are your thoughts about music in general? What made you want to start making music, or was it something you already had inside of you?
Marie: I could write a lot of words about it but I will try to simplify. I think it’s something that was already inside me, and it’s been helped to grow by the people and environment around me.
James: Growing like a seed when it’s watered?
Marie: Yes, every day I keep in mind that it’s something you have to cultivate and let it grow naturally.
James: Interesting. I agree.
Marie: In the same way, I’m not interested in a ‘genre’, as I’m not interested in being closed inside only a word. I want to make music in a 360° mode.
James: So you’re very open-minded?
Marie: I hope so, because this includes a lot of trouble, too. We have fear and we can be really lazy too. It works the same way with all things in life.
James: Yeah, that’s true.
Marie: Everything that is not known is refused or criticized in advance. On the other side, it would be easier to use something that is the only enemy of fear: curiosity. But of course, curiosity needs research and learning, to be brave and not lazy. “Per aspera ad astra”.
James: Si! This is a bit of a generalization, but do you find electronic and experimental music to be one of the bravest styles of music?
Marie: I don’t think that we can define music styles as brave or not brave, but in brave or not brave ears. This is the reason why I want to make something free. I am exasperated at the limitations of the language, any language. I would like to have braver ears and more time to cultivate them. This would help my music.
James: I think music is the one true international language. Maybe open-mindedness and bravery go hand-in-hand and are the same thing, or similar things, at least.
Marie: I suppose, but bravery is sometimes full of prejudice. Music is something I grew up with. Without it I can’t speak or suffer or rejoice or…do anything. So I appreciate people’s interest in my work but that’s not the first reason for doing music. I do it for myself.
James: So it’s as vital as oxygen? You need to breathe music?
Marie: Now I am smiling cause if you could have seen me in these last few months when I was finishing my university exams and my thesis, and I was “obliged” to stay far away from music, you could have seen the answer for yourself.
James: Ahh, that must have been hard! So you had to study but you wanted to make music at the same time? What were you studying?
Marie: (laughs) I am laughing because I was studying music!
James: (laughs) That’s awesome! I studied music, too.
James: Has your music changed at all as you’ve gotten older? Is there an evolution in it, or do you think each piece is different?
Marie: I think both – I think there are periods that have some similarities, and that put together elements which seem very far from each other. I think that there are other periods that are only passages…I need to go across them to reach other periods. I don’t enjoy myself if I make the same thing over and over. I’m bored of boredom and I accept repetition only in a few cases.
James: Mmmm, interesting! I love how you say ‘bored of boredom’!
Marie: I am terrible in this case: the boredom probably frightens me, but I use this fear to move me in times and places.
James: There’s fear again.
Marie: In creativity, I mean.
James: Does the environment affect your music, too? Italy is very beautiful. If there’s a beautiful landscape, or sunshine, or rainfall, will it affect your sound or musical mood, or do you already have some kind of idea before you create?
Marie: Do you mean the creation of a track or in a general way?
James: Just generally.
Marie: My father is Belgian, my mother from Africa (from Ethiopia), I travelled a lot and I lived in very different places, so the first environment that affect me and my music is the ambient inside myself.
James: That’s cool! Where did you live when you were growing up? It must have been great to see and experience lots of different places and cultures.
Marie: A lot of places and a lot of people. I lived in Africa, in Spain, in France, around Italy and in other places. My mother comes from Ethiopia as i said. It is surely the place that influenced me most.
James: So what is the recording process like for you, Marie?
Marie: (laughs) That’s a very difficult question. Grazie, I like it. Well…I like to make music in a lot of ways. I come from jazz and classical music. I like random creation, because music is not like that. It’s what you have to say for yourself. Randomness brings that out. But I also like to write music with paper and pencil, or take my guitar or another instrument and play what I’m thinking.
James: Like sheet music, with a stave?
Marie: Yes, with a stave. I’m also a multi instrumentalist so I like to record a lot of sounds that I’ve played from a lot of different instruments. DIY instruments or regular instruments.
James: You are very talented, then! What kind of guitar do you play? I’m curious. I love guitars…
Marie: Noooooooo, I am not so talented. I just spent my time in this way….I can’t change a car wheel and many other things (laughs). A time ago I had a lot of guitars, but now I play what I find and I have a Gibson, a Ramirez, a Godin and a lot of other musical strings instruments (ukulele, guitarele, burdun lyre,…..). I have a lot of other instruments too…
James: Nice! I have a Fender.
Marie: I have an imitation of a Fender with a special pickup built by a friend of mine, Nicola Corti, with 46 positions.
James: 46! Whaaaaaa!
Marie: Nicola is a very clever musician, lutist and inventor. I like guitar. It is the first instrument for me. I like the wood. It is alive and with the guitar I can hug it.
James: Si. I love how the wood is still alive, still creating and giving life to notes, and it comes from a natural source, something that was once standing and living. Something that was and is a part of nature.
Marie: Guitar is one of my passions.
James: On your latest record, Spazio, I could hear some guitar in there. Was that you playing?
Marie: Yes. That are the first parts of the tracks in this case. The point I start the creative process from.
James: Molto bene!
Marie: I rarely start tracks the same way. I like to sample but I also build my tracks around synth sounds, drums and I can also play guitar, bass, hang, piano, flute,…. My home is full of instruments as i said and I’m a messy girl. I don’t have a protocol or a safe approach when I make music.
James: Maybe that’s the best way. What kind of samples do you use?
Marie: A lot of kinds: I create samples, I find samples…I work a lot with tapes too, so I like to cut/paste in an analog way. I love Philip Jeck a lot so I work with tapes as he works with records…I would like to be clever like him. He is one my inspirators. About the instruments I work with ….. when I need something and don’t have the money to buy it I will try and make it or I use unconventional stuff. When I need to change, I do it. I’m always making music and I like to mess with my stuff and keep it fun. If you use the same setup too much you get bored by your approach to making music. I think it’s always good to try different things, switch equipment, use cheap stuff to increase creativity… It’s always worth experimenting. Like avoid using presets in musical softwares, doing simple DIY things and modifying your equipment is a bit more challenging. Obviously you have to specialize yourself like when you play an acoustic instrument. So you take your box and start working on it, you’ll begin to understand how everything works and you become better at using it. It’s also fun to always be making new stuff…so the only thing that is really important is the sound…the music.
James: Si, I agree.
Marie: I mean, I’m not interested in making records. I want to make music. I want to be honest. I don’t make music to make records, I make records to make music.
James: Yes! It’s raining a lot?
Marie: Finally. It was too hot.
James: It’s been about thirty-three degrees in London, but Italy must’ve been warmer. The weather isn’t usually very good in the UK!
Marie: Yes, when I went there in 2014 to play some gigs I found fog and rain but I like “London weather”.
James: Oh no!
Marie: I like London.
James: It would be great if you came back to play a show in London!
Marie: I hope to come back soon…also in tourist version (especially the World’s End shop on King’s Road. I love Vivienne Westwood.)
James: King’s Road is nice. I want to return to Italy.
Marie: If you return, let me know. I want to buy you an ice cream.
James: Ok, grazie, Marie! Ciao!
Marie: Thanks, James. Thanks a lot.