All throughout this week, Color contributor Aidan Johnston will be blogging daily from the NXNE Festival in Toronto. Make sure to check back everyday for great photos, stories and reviews from around the festival!
The amount of bedroom-produced hazy pop music today is starting to make me wish I’d been grounded more often and turned my youthful heartache into tunes for a summer playlist. Dream pop and its subsequent genres, (dream catcher pop, wet dream pop, in the end the whole movie was just a dream pop), has a tendency to synthesize your fuzzy adolescent memories, making you long for ex-girlfriends that never even existed. On this sea of transportive sound floats Brooklyn’s Porcelain Raft, the project of Mauro Remiddi. When he took the stage at the Drake on Wednesday in front of a crowd packed denim jacket to denim jacket, it came as a surprise to see a impeccably dressed Italian man and not a shy introverted teenager you usually expect behind this kind of music.
Remiddi has worked as a composer and songwriter for over two decades, scoring the music for the award winning short film La Matta dei Fiori, fronting indie pop band Sunny Day Sets Fire, and most bizarrely, in the mid 90s performing updated versions of traditional Korean music on state television. His diverse musical background brings a level of precision to Porcelain Raft that is often missing from these acts, who else can cite their time in North Korea as an influence? Remiddi takes the stage confidently, this gig being his last on a five-month tour of his album Strange Weekend, and has seen him support fellow dreamweavers M83 and Youth Lagoon; he holds a thumb up to the sound technician and begins.
[ o ] Brent Goldsmith
When the first atmospheric note comes through the speakers, it’s clear this bedroom music was produced with complete lack of regard for roommates. Buzzing synths and puncturing drums swash the audience, while Remiddi crisply and mournfully recounts spaced-out memories. Grating guitar takes over on the track ‘Drifting in and out’, a song I could picture myself enjoying in a fragile state with an entire box of cookies. Momentarily, it’s peculiar hearing this grown man, who looks like he could be an Italian soap star, singing with such childhood optimism. He’s like one of the Lost Boys who just joined the gang after retirement. The wistful melodies invite you to be wrapped up in the world that Porcelain Raft navigates, instilling a fabricated nostalgia for rope swings, mid-west road trips and magnadoodles (What? I really miss mine). During the head bopping closer “Speak with your heart”, there was a romantic sway to the room, implying it was time to take this music back to the bedroom.
[ o ] Brent Goldsmith
After the show when Mauro had finished kissing the hand of every woman there, he was kind enough to answer some questions for us.
Color: Every name has a story, what's yours?
Mauro: I was sitting in my apartment, random words were collecting in my head and when these two came together something clicked. I went to my flatmate right away and said ‘Porcelain raft, what do you think?’ He just looked at me and said “A porcelain raft? It wouldn’t be able to float”. I loved how cynical he was and felt that it was such a reflection of today, and that was it for me
Color: Having scored the soundtracks for films before, what would you liken your latest album as the soundtrack too?
Mauro: Its like listening to a page of my diary, its about me, who I am and what I do. But it’s not a soundtrack, it’s right now. It’s not about past, present or future, we are now, but if I want to tell you something about right now, I have to tell you about my past. So some of the songs have that. They have narrative from the past so you can understand how I feel now. Everything I write is about me now, but I’m made from the past.
Color: Have you performed as Porcelain Raft in your native country Italy and is there a market for this kind of music there?
Mauro: They love me there! But no there is no market in Italy, they only like what is big, loud and popular. Like Gaga and all that, only a very small amount of people would want to listen to my music there. Italy is not for me, but it’s a nice place to vacation!
Color: You were invited to perform traditional music in North Korea, a place few can say they’ve been. How was this experience?
Mauro: Terrifying! It was so long ago, in 1994 so the country wasn’t on the front page of all the newspapers like it is today. I was 24 and just didn’t know, maybe I was a bit ignorant, I just thought cool I get to go traveling. It was crazy, I met Kim Il Sung, I even have a photo with him. Only while I was there did I start to understand the situation and how crazy it was. I started to become real paranoid and couldn’t wait to get out of there, but they kept us for two weeks longer than we were supposed too for suspicious bags. It was scary, they wrote everything about us down in a dossier the whole time, id like to see what they wrote now though.
Color: Will Porcelain Raft ever perform in North Korea?
Mauro: No way!
Watch the video for ‘Speak With Your Heart’ here http://vimeo.com/35435881
Strange Weekend is out now, stream it here http://soundcloud.com/porcelainraft
Aidan Johnston is your NXNE correspondent—biking, cabbing and crawling his way across Toronto to deliver coverage that's as unofficial as an after-party. Check back everyday and you might just find your new favourite band!