IKITAN: An Interview

IKITAN is a band from Genoa, Italy.

I was glad to catch up with IKITAN, especially after taking in their wonderfully shot recent video from the ruins of the 19th century Forte Geremia.

Weirding: Tell me a bit about how you came together as a band.

IKITAN: The band was born in September 2019 when Luca replied to an advert that Enrico posted on a Facebook group for local musicians. The band started jamming one week after.

It should be noted that Luca and Frik Et have been friends for ages and have played together for over ten years. And so they were looking for a new drummer for their new adventure.

The idea was to play instrumental music with a heavy soul. And we do so by letting our inspiration guide us in long jam sessions. And a fun fact: the three of us played at a local gig back in 2010. Luca and Fri Et were already in the same band then, and Enrico — playing in another band — bought a demo from them (which he still proudly owns).

Weirding: Do you think there is additional pressure on instrumental bands to stand out? 

IKITAN: Probably yes — if you look at it from the outside. Generally speaking, listeners are mostly captured by the vocals — which are the most outstanding and memorable element one can remember of a given band. So in that sense, yes, you need to put in a bit more effort.

However, how many times is a band ruined by not-good-enough vocals or a poor vocal performance? Too many. And this is not highlighted enough.

Sometimes it’s best not to have vocals and let the music do the talking rather than having a vocalist just “because it’s the way it has to be”. And maybe, as a band, you won't have to reach endless compromises to have the voice fit with the instruments.

Weirding: I hear what you're saying.

IKITAN: For us, the journey as an instrumental band is a truly liberating experience. We can shift mood as much as we like by focusing on the music only and never have to worry about whether the vocals will be able to match the feeling of this or that part of the song.

Weirding: Though it comes with challenges.

IKITAN: Sure, it’s more challenging in the sense that you can’t have an intro-verse-chorus-repeat approach. But we’re into this to let our minds go — and even though we don’t plan to do weird and complicated music in advance, we do tend to go and find some interesting solutions when the music requires that. And not having a vocalist to think about lets us be totally free with regards to this.

Weirding: You produce an enormous amount and variety of sound for a three piece. Talk to me about the songwriting process. How much of it is prepared in advance versus how much of it comes out of improvising?

IKITAN: We literally improvise everything. It has happened very seldom that one of us entered the room with a riff or a structured idea in mind. We record everything we play in the rehearsal room, then we listen to the whole thing again, select what we like, and work a lot on those riffs and ideas to build our songs.

Weirding: I love it. That's a great approach.

IKITAN: On “Twenty-Twenty”, some riffs come from the very first time we met. We were trying to make them interesting and varied.

So the inception is very spontaneous and each one of us has a key role in its development. But what you hear in the EP is quite planned and prepared in advance — it’s not like we recorded a jam session. Although we like that it somehow keeps that spirit.

Weirding: We love gear here at Growls and Shrieks. Describe your current pedal board set ups for us.

Luca: My playground is formed by a “gain and distortion” stage and an “effects and modulation” part. First, the signal passes through a cheap amp simulator — the Joyo Orange Juice — to have a soft crunchy sound before heading to an Xotic Effects Xp Compressor. Then I use a Visual Sound Son Of Hyde, my very first distortion pedal for overdrive. And lastly an Earthquaker Devices Acapulco as fuzz and heavy distortion.

Weirding: So the fuzz is coming late in the gain stage.

Luca: Lately I've started having more fun with effects, so now I can't live without two pieces of gear: Boss Re-20 Space Echo and the Strymon Blue Sky. Adding a Zoom Ms70 cdr for modulations I have all I need at the moment.

On some tracks, I play with a Electro Harmonix Micro Synth with a very psychedelic modeling sound.

Frik Et: For bass, I use the Zvex Mammoth fuzz and an EBS MultiDrive. I've got an EBS compressor and MXR Octaver... and the latest addition, the Walrus Julia chorus and phaser.

Weirding: Your recent video at Forte Geremia is beautifully shot. Tell me what was the inspiration for that set and how did it come together?

IKITAN: The whole thing grew very naturally and in a very low-profile way. After releasing Twenty-Twenty and being still unable to play live, we thought: “Let’s do something and show the band is active”. 

So the initial plan was to do something live on Facebook or Instagram from our studio and just play chunks of the whole song. Just for the sake of doing something, really. Just like getting ready for a concert and showing another side of the band’s life. And most importantly — showing the band playing live.

Then as it always happens, one thing leads to the other. So, one of us had a crazy idea and the other two added fuel to the fire… and there’s no stopping us. It was the end of January when we started envisioning this project. The first major change was that we decided to play the whole thing — and not just parts of it anymore. Second was to do it in an outdoor setting — and make it our first live concert.

We’re fans of the whole desert rock scene. So generator parties and the like have had an impact — even visually — on us. The idea was, on one hand, to tribute that concept. And on the other hand, we wanted to play the whole song as we never had done before — showing the band in an amazing setting in the wild. 

On top of that, Genoa, our city, is perfectly placed between sea and mountains. The city itself is kind of between two of the major mountain chains in Italy — the Alps and Apennines. So when you talk about nature and the wild, well, it’s the mountain that you’re thinking about. And so that's what we did: the video was shot on top of an old fort in the mountains. And we’re extremely pleased with the end result.

And so Forte Geremia is officially the first live concert of IKITAN. And it's a live concert which speaks of its times: there’s no audience and it’s only available on the Internet.


Luca "Nash" Nasciuti: guitar

Frik Et: bass

Enrico Meloni: drums and cowbell

IKITAN’s debut EP “Twenty-Twenty” is available as a limited-edition (200 copies) digipack with a free poster and sticker as well as a digital download on Bandcamp.

See more at: https://ikitan.bandcamp.com/

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