SaffronKeira is a project established in 2008 by Eugenio Caria from the island of Sardinia, Italy. With SaffronKeira, Eugenio Caria lives out his passion of being a researcher of the possibility of expression offered by currently available technology. Indeed, in his tracks he experiments a lot with electronics and unconventional elements, which sometimes seem meaningless at first sight, but uncover their significance only on a closer examination. Combining subtle and sometimes even almost invisible rhythms with textures of sound, he confidently moves between minimalistic pieces and classic ambient tracks, which should please both the analytic ears and the listeners who just want to dive into the music.
You come from techno music and the clubbing scene where you used to deejay. You’ve now left that world behind, and yet, the way some of your tracks are constructed, their duration and the way they unfold tells me you haven’t quite abandoned that musical mind-frame. I’m thinking, for instance, a track like Motion on Tourette with the slow build up, the loops and the reverb used on the spoken word section.
Yes, that is correct, I have now left behind me the world of techno, even if, to some extent, I still feel represented by it. As you pointed out, its influence still filters through in my work since when I start working on a new track, I never do so in order to achieve a predetermined result. Everything evolves quite naturally in my music to the point where any contamination from different musical genres is possible.
Could you tell me something about the way you compose, and your setup?
My studio is configured in a very simple way, with a laptop, two monitors, an audio card, a drum machine, pre-amplifiers, field recordings, several midi controls, and a few guitars, pedals and plug-ins.
You’ve talked about struggling to find the perfect label for A New Life and how there was always something that didn’t feel quite right until you got in touch with Denovali and got an affirmative answer straight away. You say it’s been love at first sight. What makes a good label in your opinion and what made you feel so at home with Denovali?
Yes, it’s been really hard finding a label for my first album A New Life. There have been a few false beginnings but I wanted to be absolutely sure I was picking the right label. When I sent to demo to Denovali they got back to me straight away. It was love at first sight. Through their emails I could feel their enthusiasm for my music. Also, Denovali never came up with absurd requests regarding the length or the sound of the tracks, which is something other labels did.
Two years after I first joined Denovali, which I came to as a fan, I can say that they have never put any pressure on me. I feel quite free to compose anything I like without having to conform to any particular standard! This has been incredibly important for me. I feel at home at Denovali and I believe I have indeed made the right choice.
There are different factors that contribute to make a good label, and there are many good ones around, from the right choice of artists, and the quality of the sound, to the careful selection of the artwork and the crucial ability of recognising the potential in an unknown artist. Furthermore, and this is the case with Denovali, it is important to be able to work with different musical genres in an original and fresh way without ever becoming banal.
I’ve read in a recent interview of how you were completely mesmerised by physical albums when you were little and that you owe your musical education to a vinyl cutter in Sardinia. I have the impression, though, that releasing A New Life on vinyl held more than just sentimental value for you and that it goes to the heart of the way you understand music, is that correct?
I have always been mesmerized by vinyl since I was a child. I used to play old 12” albums on my father’s stereo while staring at artwork with a mixture of awe and wonder. I still remember the hypnotic sound of Pink Floyd and I probably wore out those albums by playing them incessantly. I was always buying tapes to record the albums in order to listen to them on my walkman while going to school.
The release of A New Life on vinyl holds more than just a mere sentimental value for me. It is something priceless, something that is part of my life and it will always be so.
You’ve talked about A New Life as being a very personal album. The advise writers are often given is to write about what they know. Is that something you feel should be applicable to musicians as well?
I believe that in any case where an artist writes something personal that has marked her / him, they end up with a stronger and more truthful product. When someone works in a more instinctive way, the results are generally more convincing, which doesn’t always applies to those who see music as a mere money making exercise. Not everyone can apply this process to her / his work, though.
Tourette came out hot on the heels of your debut album, A New Life. Such a short time is unusual due to generally long production times, which also need to fit into a label’s release schedule. How did you manage this?
Yes, this is indeed unusual. When A New Life was released in July of last year, though, I was already close to the final stages of my album Tourette, which I finished back in September and I immediately sent it to the label, who were eager to release it as quickly as possible. Within four months of its completion, Tourette came out in record time!
The cinematic quality of your music is quite apparent. Have you ever done or will you do any sound design work for theatre/dance/film?
Thanks for this. I would love to work both for the theatre and as a film composer. I hope one day to be able to do so and to be capable of such a task.
There’s a darkness in your music that comes to the forefront with titles such as Acceptance of Mental Disorder, The Endless Agony of Being Sick, Psychologically Destroying, all on A New Life. At the same time, there’s Pregnancy, and the title of the album, A New Life. Without wishing to sound “new-agey”, there’s something yin and yang in your music, which is compounded by the highly contrasted black and white art work of your releases. How do you translate that in musical terms?
There’s a considerable amount both of darkness and sadness in A New Life, but at the same time there’s the other side of the coin, which is an integral part of the concept of this album. The Yin/Yang dichotomy reflects my music as the pairing of life/death, black/white or light/darkness demonstrates.
What is your approach to live sets? Also, you’ve recently played at the Denovali Swingfest and before then at the Störung Festival in Spain. What is your ideal kind of festival?
My approach to a live set is very simple and spontaneous and at the same time creative and strongly interactive when running in parallel with visuals. On the 18th of April I will be performing at the Störung festival, which is my ideal kind of festival as it is giving me carte blanche to develop a 50 minute long set where I’ll be able to experiment with new material. Another characteristic I cherish, is the opportunity of discovering new artists alongside tried and tested musicians who don’t always live up to the expectations.
You seem to use field recordings to add texture to your work, but they are never immediately traceable and are used quite sparsely. Do you have an archive of them in your studio or do you gather them especially for any given project you are working on at the time?
Yes, I did include field recordings on both albums! All samples were recorded by me during my travels through Europe and Australia and I now have a substantial library of sounds. Many of these filed recordings, though, are not immediately apparent because they have been heavily processed. Some were taken while I was working on the album for a number of specific tracks while others were added at a later stage.
Were any of these field recordings taken in Sardinia?
Yes, many of them were indeed recorded in Sardinia. As a matter of fact, last summer, my colleague Alex Gamez and I set off for a 10 day full immersion field recording venture taking in the whole island to capture all its great sounds including those from its rivers and lakes as well as the sounds of the sea, with some fantastic hydrophones!
Just out of curiosity, could you name a few of the locations?
Capo Caccia, Castelsardo Borgo Antico, Terme di Casteldoria, Lago di Tisiennari, Lago Baratz, Tempio Pausania, Valle della Luna and Martis cascata di Triulintas.
You’ve expressed your interest in a number of interviews, in working on a few collaborations in the future. Anything you can anticipate?
At present, I am working on a new soundtrack for a very well know film by David Lynch with two other Sardinian musicians: Claudio PRC and Svart1, which we will present in Cagliari in April. Furthermore, together with Svart1 I am also developing a new visual concept for my next live performances. Also in the works is a remix for Abul Mogard a musician from Belgrade.
You are from the Sassari region in Sardinia. Do you speak the Sassarese Language?
I know the Sassarese language very well, even though I seldom speak it. This is mainly because in the small village where I live, Castelsardo, we speak a different dialect: the Castellanese with a purer and more archaic pronunciation.
Has its musical tradition had any influence on you?
No, I wouldn’t say Sardinian traditional music had any influence on me. As I child I used to dislike it, nowadays, though I would be quite interested in working with Sardinian choral music and traditional music.
Where would you position yourself within the Italian experimental and electroacoustic scene?
I find it very difficult to answer this question as I really wouldn’t know where to place myself within the Italian electro-acoustic scene.
Any possible collaborations in the pipeline with any Sardinian musicians such as Waves On Canvas?
Ahahah what a coincidence!!! As a matter of fact, I have recently started collaborating with Stefano Guzzetti, aka Waves on Canvas. We got to know each other some time ago on facebook and later physically met in Cagliari where we decided to work together on a joint project. We have already completed the first few tracks! We’ll see what will come out of this.