A chat with Giulia Sarno of unePassante

Of beasts and heartbeats

Michelle Davis
January 31, 2017 - 16:48

2017 is already bearing its claws, eager to carve its indelible mark into the pentagram of our city’s musical history. We interviewed Giulia Sarno, founder and frontwoman of Florence-based trio unePassante, about the band’s new album “Seasonal Beast”, released January 27 on Florentine indie record label Chic Paguro. Majestic yet frail, a young wide-eyed deer stares at us from the cover. Don't let this eight-track suit of exquisitely transversal electro-pop prance off unlistened.

Ph. Sara Mautone


Michelle Davis: “Seasonal Beast” is your third release and it marks a decisive shift into the realm of electronica. How did the album come to light?
Giulia Sarno: I have been gliding over electronic horizons for a while but with this album I finally took the plunge. Our setup comprises computer elements (loops, samples and rhythmic patterns), programmed by Emanuele Fiordellisi, and synthesizers, played by our newest member David Matteini who, by entering unePassante, accepted quite a challenge, considering that his previous musical experiences were all guitar-centric. Palermo-based studio Indigo played a key role in shaping the album's sound, helping me create a continuity between the songs that are the result of a bumpy three-year process.

MD: You have lived in Palermo, Paris, London and Siena. Like your nomadic past, the incubation of “Seasonal Beast” touches various points on the map, like Florence, Palermo and Colorado, where it was mastered by Shawn Hatfield of Audible Oddities. Would you say that the album takes its migratory nature from you?
GS: Strangely enough, this album was conceived during a period of unprecedented stability. After years of wandering I finally found a sense of belonging in Florence. Maybe I channeled my previous inner and physical restlessness into a certain compositional restlessness, allowing myself to fully enjoy my newfound home. There is an essential common denominator, however, that binds all three of my releases: isolation in nature. Both previous works were written in Sicily, my native land: the first in Castelbuono, in the Madonie Regional Park, and the second on the island of Favignana.

I could say that “Seasonal Beast” is unePassante’s first Tuscan work geographically speaking, since its final arrangements were penned in the Casentino valley.

MD: Tell us a bit about the title, “Seasonal Beast”, and the disarming cover image.
GS: The album’s title is borrowed from a verse of Robert Wyatt's “Sea Song”. These words evoke an ever-changing emotional state with which I identify very much. As for the cover, I found myself immediately moved by this animal’s reciprocating glance. I try to steer clear from iconographic binging because I believe in the importance of maintaining clarity of vision. This is the reason why I don't use Instagram or other image-based networks.

MD: Would you say that you feel like a Florentine musician? One of the tracks is actually dedicated to the city. Tell us about it.
GS: I must say that I feel more like a Florentine woman than a Florentine musician. It’s a subtle distinction, but when it comes to music I don’t live within topographical borders. Florence be kind to me was the very first song I wrote for the album and even though now it has abandoned its more singer-songwriter qualities and shifted from major to minor keys, the lyrics are the same. It captures the moment when I realized that this city was offering me a home, a nest. I was totally incredulous, also because I had always rejected Florence from this standpoint. When I was studying in Siena I had to come here for band practice, and I just hated it. With this song I wanted to exorcise and analyze what a possible separation would entail. I have never felt nostalgic towards other cities where I have lived, but I feel that with Florence it would be different.

MD: What is it about Florence that makes your heart beat?
GS: Florence has a tendency to hide its real face and that apparent standoffishness initially annoyed me. Under all that blinding magnificence, there is something that doesn’t meet the eye, a mysterious aerial substance—the city’s true soul. It took me a whole year to find it, but once I did I was hooked. I don’t really like using this word, but there’s something spiritual about Florence. Sometimes I think that the secret lies in the quality of its light. It's unexplainable really.


See unePassante live on February 18 at Glue Alternative Concept Space.

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