After busting out some terrible Italian, Spindle sat down with Alessandro and Michele, better known as M+A.
M+A can thank winning the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Award last year for their UK success, but do they really thank it? We talk about the different routes into the music industry, the differences between the artists in Italy and the UK and their new EP.
Do you guys live in London now?
No, we were living here two years ago for work and now I live in Bologna.
You guys are originally from Italy, what’s it like living in Italy and the creativeness of that country? Has it influenced you?
Alessandro: Living in Italy is a bit difficult if you want to play music. If you try to build a fan base here and live in Italy, it’s difficult because every time you have to take flights. In a way, we have a crew that is working here for us so we are always here and always coming back. But every time we come here, it seems more interesting to Italy. They ask what we are doing now, where are we performing. Everyone thinks Italy is a cool place to be, it’s not so cool. To outsiders it is.
I think it is a nice place to be if you want to a good life, spending time by the sea, but for an artist, it is not so easy to live there. For music, for example, if you want to do something different from singing in Italian, it is impossible. So far we are quite lucky because if you are Italian, with all the UK press, they start to recognise us and say, “who? They’re very Italian but they have managed to do something abroad”. Italy is always like that, if you do something abroad you become something very “ooo”. In the beginning you are nothing, then you become more interesting than other artists.
Here the feedback is more honest. In Italian, they seem to think you are more than what you are, they have fog around the idea of you. They don’t know what is happening to M+A, they’re just thinking we’re a cool band that is working abroad. But actually, we are just a band.
You’re new EP came out a few weeks ago, and to celebrate you did a show at Soho House. Was it good?
Alessandro: It was interesting because it we played an acoustic set which is very different to our normal stuff which is more electronic, more dance. People seemed interested and the acoustic set is a bit more lounge.
A bit different to normal then! What was the EP writing process like?
Alessandro: One song, for example, is very old. Actually this EP has been made in a rushed way. We needed something to release as quick as possible so the process was a bit stressful. We needed to record the song that was already ready again. We chose another song that we used to play live too, we haven’t actually chosen songs that may be better, and we recorded the first four songs we have written. For that reason, you can feel the gap in the tracks. They are four songs that are a bit different.
There is something interesting though because every song has something different, from a different period. One song we wrote two years ago by the sea with a guitar, now it’s more dancey. It’s been a long process.
Do you use a lot technology when you write music, to get the electronic vibe?
Alessandro: In the beginning, it is more the standard process, then we spend a week or two in the studio to do everything maybe with different sounds. They all start very basic though and the rest develops later.
You guys won the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, how was that?
Alessandro: It was very good, but now it is becoming, “oh you are the won that won that award”. Of course it gave us a lot of good feedback and a good push in the right direction. Things are still happening because of it too.
You’re going back to perform there this year, as well as three other UK festivals.
Alessandro: We found a booking agency after Glastonbury so now we are trying to play here as much as possible to build a fan base here. It seems they like our music here. At the beginning it wasn’t our focus in the UK, but it seemed to work here so we have a team over here that help us.
Would you move back to London?
Alessandro: Right now it is quite impossible, we are recording the new album. It is more convenient and cheap to still live in Italy because here we would probably spend more time and money just to move everything here. The plan is to record everything, then when the album is out we will move here. It’s more easy to do interviews or perform live if we are here.
How do you find being a two-member band? There are more two-member bands recently than there ever has been before.
Alessandro: I think in a way it is easiest because you are just two people, it is more like a couple. The communication is better. But the bad side of it is that if you are just two, it’s more difficult to handle the feeling when you are very stressed. The stress is more spread out with more members.
When you are just a two-member band, you have to be strong and you have to understand the other person.
It is more when you are in a relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend. We have a drummer when we play live, and this brings more dynamics to the band. In the beginning it was to create a personal solo project each. We were so connected in the music that we decided to create a band. We never thought we have to be two, or three, or four, it just happened.
Do you like performing with a drummer?
Alessandro: It’s much better. In the beginning we were just two of us, but with the drummer it means the show is more powerful and people can enjoy it more. We are back in the UK on the 20th May. We are a bit scared, the capacity of the venue is 400 people. Let’s see how it goes.
We’re sure everyone will be up and dancing.
Alessandro: It’s quite mental to have people come to hear your music, but it’s even more that they have fun.
What would you say to anyone else trying to get into the music industry? Do you think opportunities like the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Award is good for bands?
Alessandro: Of course it is good, but it is just one of the thousands of ways to get into the industry. It could be winning a competition, or tour with a big artist, there are so many ways to do something interesting but the bad side of it is it is very difficult if you do just one of these.
I think that you have to be very lucky now, you have to be good of course, but also you have to be lucky to get the opportunity.
We didn’t think we were going to win the Glastonbury award. Our friend nominated us for the contest and we didn’t know until the end, because he just put our name down and it was thought that we couldn’t win. It was quite the unexpected win. We started to think that it wasn’t possible to win so we were thinking to cancel the flight and not to come.
Imagine if you didn’t!
Alessandro: We were like it is impossible because we are Italian, why should they pick us instead of another band? And the flight was expensive because it was a week before the final contest. The things you think will happen don’t happen and vice versa.