For a little over a year now, TRK. Sound Club has been ushering Florence into a new musical era, showcasing some of the world’s most interesting and obscure experimental young musicians. Born in the framework of Florence’s centre for electronic music Tempo Reale, it offers an ongoing calendar of live performances held in spaces dedicated to all things contemporary, triggering cross-pollinations between the Arts. While the previous edition was hosted in the central spaces of via della Scala’s Galleria Poggiali, now its epicentre has shifted to suburban Novoli, inside world-renowned Galleria Frittelli where you can admire works by Mimmo Rotella, Luciano Ori and other famous Italian artists.
This Thursday TRK. Sound Club will be presenting Tomaga, a London duo composed by multi-instrumentalists Valentina Magaletti and Tom Relleen. Caught in crossfire between improvisation and form, their work welds together industrial, psychedelic and minimal elements.
Michelle Davis: Tell our readers a bit about Tomaga and your previous musical experiences.
TOMAGA: Before Tomaga we had been playing together in some different bands, and Tomaga was formed in summer 2013 when we had some spare studio time in London. It started as an experiment in which we would modify our instruments in order to create a different sound palette. We then performed some live improvisations and were asked for some recordings by different labels and the rest is history. We have just performed our 100th show.
MD: Congratulations! You launched your duo career with a self-produced audiotape – why did you decide to embrace this kind of format?
TOMAGA: This cassette was actually released by our friend Maneesh, who has a cassette label in London, so it was his idea, but we do love cassettes, although not as much as vinyl as a format. Cassettes are very inexpensive to produce so perhaps its a easy way to launch a new project without taking a financial risk on producing a vinyl.
MD: The opening track of your latest album The Shape of Dance is titled Tuscan Metalwork... can you tell us a bit more about this track?
TOMAGA: In the summer of 2015 we performed at some Festivals in Switzerland and Southern France and between the dates we stayed in Santa Lucia near Tuscany with some friends. We took many walks in the countryside and recorded the sounds of the things we found. Tuscan Metalwork features the sound of some large metal pylons which we found by the side of the road that we struck with sticks and beaters to make a rhythm track. We used the recording of this rhythm track as a basis for a composition. We like to respond to the environment we find ourselves in and interrogate it for sounds. There are other sounds on our last record also recorded in the same location, such as gravel, wheelbarrow, wasps, as well as the acoustics of the old stone buildings where we recorded.
MD: In a recent interview you associated the idea of “touring” with a sort of “Exhibition Tour”, tell us a bit about this. Do you see a creative relationship between sound and visual arts? Do you believe that by playing in art spaces you can detect and perceive the “creative zeitgeist” of the cities you are touring in?
TOMAGA: When on tour we often have days off or spare time and like to seek out the local museum or art gallery of the city where we are. The nature of touring means that we are often returning to the same places each year, and so we are often returning to the same galleries and they become great favourites.
We definitely think there is a relationship between all forms of arts, and with our music we are responding always to the place where we perform and what we have seen, heard and eaten that day. So yes, I suppose we are articulating something of the city we are in and the people we have met there, along with other manifestations of our unconscious.
MD: This might sound like a silly question but I noticed that on facebook you registered your page under the “Radio Station” category. Is there a reason behind this choice? What do you think about social media? Since you are self-managed, what role has the internet played in the promotion of your project?
TOMAGA: This was a bit of a joke at first but in truth the ‘Radio Station” category is, I suppose, more broad than simply calling yourself a ‘band’, and we don’t really like the limited idea of a band, it has associations of teenage years and off a more formulaic approach to music and identity. We are foremost musicians but we also play Dj sets, collect art and books, release music by other artists who we like, as well as zines. We will soon launch a website with a photographic archive as well as mixtapes and other releases. So in this way we consider ourselves more than a band! Social Media is undeniably useful for connecting with an audience, and for communicating our activities to that audience, so it is definitely a good tool.
MD: Is this your first Florentine gig? Tell us a bit about your set and the instruments you will be using this thursday.
TOMAGA: We played a private concert with our friends from Blutwurst in the summer of 2015, but otherwise it is our first Florentine gig. Our instruments include percussion prepared using contact microphones , vibraphone, organ, synthesiser, springs, bass guitar and more.
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