Bergen released their eponymous debut EP in January of this year. Thanks to the low-fi offerings and recommendations of the band, Elba have since become rather addicted to the Italian indie scene. The four well crafted snippets of dream pop on the Bergen EP are as comfortable in their adopted home of Glasgow as their mythological Scandinavian origin but their true lineage derives from the collaborative efforts of Italian duo Nicola Galati and Alberto Bagarello. Their romanticized landscape of sound soars highest on track Wake Up; a flighty and positive highlight with choral rhythm and echoing vocals providing ground for a restless guitar pattern to leap around.
The Bergen EP has been playing on the Elba stereo for awhile now and Nicola was kind enough to reveal, in his own charming turn of phrase, a little of what is behind those luscious tones.
How did you and Alberto meet and when did you start making music together?
We met each other around 2009 in Padova, our hometown in the noth of Italy. Alberto replied to my ad on Mercatino Musicale, a sort of local ad site for musicians.
When we think about how we met it seems unbelievable and we always laugh about it. I never saw Alberto before that time which is even more strange considering the fact that we were living quite close. We started playing with a few other guys, doing some covers, spending great times together but in the end, our first project didn’t work much. We kept in touch and we became really close friends, we always shared the love for gigs and several drinks.
Has music always been a part of your lives?
Alberto has played guitar since he was child. He has been involved in different projects and he’s actually helping in another band called The Clockmakers.
I started producing electronic music with an hardcore electronic duo called Orgoglio Mvtilato and then I produced some techno house tracks with the alias Ramadash. I listen to a lot of electronic music and I’m still making beats with Ableton. From 2010 we both worked more on Bergen, which is actually our main project.
Can you tell us a little more about the origins of the band name?
When we were thinking about our name, we felt really inspired by geographical names, towns, mountains and lakes. We both like travel and nature so we wanted to give to the band a foreign name, which would take the mind away from our home country. In the last two years I’ve been traveling around Scandinavia and I was becoming absorbed by this culture. One day, we were both making lists of dream cities in order to find a good name and surprisingly we both wrote Bergen on the top of the list.
Have the sounds of Scandinavia been an influence on the direction of your music?
We would say no, we like to think about Scandinavia more as an ethereal place, a state of mind. We’d like to take our listeners to the Norwegian mountains through the sound of our dreamy guitars, atmospheric synths and effects choirs. Then again, of course, we love a lot of bands from those countries. Among the most we love is The Radio Dept and their sounds but in terms of influences we feel more inspired by other bands.
What would you say your influences are and what motivates you?
We both like the eighties sounds of The Smiths and The Cure. We listenend to a lot of Captured Tracks releases, especially the firsts from Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing. Ducktails and Real Estate influenced us also, we love their gentle layers of guitar and rhythms. There is a great scene in Italy with lovely dream pop bands like Brothers in Law that we appreciate. We feel motivated by improving our productions year by year and by all friends around us that support our project. When we released the Bergen EP, we received good feedback from a lot of blogs and some small labels from different countries. To be honest we have not attracted as much interest in Italy as we did in the UK.
Where did you record the EP?
We did our first EP last summer without spending any money using a DIY philosphy. We recorded four tracks in my parent’s mountain house, which is located in a really suggestive town in the Alps called Andalo. Stefano and Guido helped us, providing their great equipment and we transformed the house into a recording studio. Alberto recorded guitar takes in the children’s bedroom and I recorded vocals inside a wardrobe. After that, another cool friend with a long beard called Cristopher mixed the tracks with Francesco Bruni in his professional recording studio (Studio 2) in Venice.
What are your plans for the future?
We are currently working on a new EP that hopefully will be released at the end of the year. All the tracks we’re actually working on were composed between Glasgow and Padova. As a natural process, our sound is experiencing some changes. The mood of the new EP will be a bit more dark than romantic, affected by a greater use of synths and less clean guitars. We’ll never leave our chained guitars riffs and our minimalistic dry drums. After that we’re planning to film a video clip of our first single in Scotland and if people love us we’re going to play some gigs.
If the above words weren’t enough to charm you then wander over to the band’s bandcamp page where the sounds, without a doubt, will.
Author’s footnote: draft titles for this post included ‘May the interview Bergen’ and ‘A wonderful Bergen-ning.’ The sub-title is ‘Kim puts on music, falls in love… again. Get ahold of your emotions, woman!’