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Winking at the ethnic – an Interview with Trust The Mask

Italian duo Trust the Mask (aka Elisa Dal Bianco and Vittoria Cavedon) have recently released their debut album Idiom. The 12 tracks of “synth-spoloration” take the listener on a journey across different genres and sounds as the band seek to create connections to the world, the listener and their true selves.

We caught up with Elisa and Vittoria to talk about the album and how they fit into the Italian music scene.

Hi! How’s everything going right now?
Hi! We are happy to write here. Everything is going great! As a first thing we feel like saying that we are really grateful for what is happening around our project. Our first album is out and we have a wonderful team of people making this real and helping us in this musical growth. A great satisfaction!

What classic album cover is your current mood?
Vittoria: It’s very hot in Italy these days so my current mood is similar to the album cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”.
Elisa: my current mood is the album cover “Galore” of Oklou.

Your debut album IDIOM has just been released. When did you write and record the tracks?
Idiom was released on June 16, and for us it is the date when we leave a sign on earth. It is an incredible feeling! Many of the tracks you hear in Idiom were born during the first quarantine, a time when we were able to devote ourselves 100 percent to our passion. The time we had available allowed us to devote ourselves to a deep research of sounds, favoring material and unconventional ones. 
From there, with the help of musician and collector of ethnic woodwinds Giuseppe Dal Bianco, we explored instruments from distant populations, sometimes even adapting them to more pop tracks.
In December 2021 we participated in the call for entries “La Zona D’Ombra,” sponsored by the Bronson Recordings label. We won it and thanks to that, we had the opportunity to define the pieces by taking advantage of the artistic residency that was up for grabs. For fourteen days in Bronson’s studios we recorded the tracks and defined our musical style. 
Was also possible thanks to the people who worked with us: Bruno Dorella, Andrea Cola, Matteo Vallicelli of The Soft Moon (who gave us his synth wave touch), R.Y.F. and Cemento Atlantico.

The album has been described as “a bold and courageous expedition into the cyber, glitch, wave, industrial, alternative and ever-expanding synth pop world”. Who were your musical heroes when you were growing up and how did they influence the sound of IDIOM?
Elisa: My musical heroes that I grew up with are Dead can Dance, Einstürzende Neubauten, Massive Attack, and Amiina. To mention later listening instead, Colin Stetson, Young Fathers and Jambinai are great sources of inspiration.
Vittoria: Florence Welch was and still is my idol, I have been following her since her first album Lungs. Her voice is enchanting. Then Alt-J, with that elegant electronic touch, Crystal Castles and The XX. My family never listened to a lot of music so it was during my teenage years that I approached the musical world with great curiosity and I was a maverick, listening to random tracks and all kinds of genres, without methodicity. It didn’t take me long to realize that the more tribal and obscure sounds, winking at the ethnic, were the ones I preferred.

If you could only listen to one record, what would it be?
Elisa: the song “Von” by Sigur Ros, of which I also have a tattoo.
Vittoria: probably the remix done by Trentmøller of the song “Too insistent” by The Dø.

When and where did you meet to form Trust The Mask?
Elisa: While I was in Seoul, I decided to send some demos to Vittoria to collaborate. Listening to her previous works, I immediately sensed her innate ability to find catchy vocal lines that would shape my more experimental sound constructions. As soon as she returned to Italy, in one evening we wrote the track “You’re not fine” which you hear on the Idiom Album. From there we knew immediately that it would be a very natural collaboration because of the similar tastes and musical understanding, as if each of us knew how to give the other what she was looking for musically speaking.
Vittoria: Elisa and I come from a very small town in northern Italy, but where there is a fervent music scene. We all know each other a little bit here and I had seen Elisa at some parties. We both had projects previously, so we knew what we did respectively but it all came about when she sent me those demos. When I heard them I went crazy, they were of an elegance and sophistication that I had never heard before. The desire to collaborate was immediate and having seen the genuineness with which we created a song already the first time we saw each other did the rest. I am Elisa’s biggest fan, I am grateful to be able to work with her and happy with what we achieved working together in synergy.

What is the music scene like in Italy at the moment? 
Right now, Italian music definitely favors Italian rap and trap. The user base of these genres is gigantic. In general the Italian song has come back to the fore in these years, there are a lot of groups that are building their working path around a songwriting format that is mixed with electronic bases.
There is also a very rich and varied underground scene that moves with originality and research, but it is a really small slice and one that unfortunately struggles to emerge. For our genre in particular, we believe there are other countries much more sensitive than Italy. Our goal is just that, to find the right environment for our music to resonate loudly and give value to our work.

You are performing at a lot of the festivals in Europe this year – do you have a favorite that you are looking forward to playing?
Elisa: We are very satisfied with the dates so far and those to come. We are looking forward to playing at the Terni Baravai Amphitheater in Terni on the same night as Anna Calvi, an artist of inestimable charisma. We are also proud to have been part of the line up of many public events such as the Sicily Music Conference in Palermo, and at the European Music Festival in Modena. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to play abroad, something we have been longing for. There are many interesting showcases where we believe our music can find the right attention that we often do not find in our country given the experimental nature of our project.
Vittoria: A dream would be to play at Robot Festival in Bologna, Club to Club in Turin or Transmission in Ravenna, speaking of Italy. But we will also be satisfied with Sziget Festival or Coachella 🙂

What would go on your signature pizza and what would it be called?
Vittoria: As a good Italian, I have two favorite pizzas, one for summer and one for winter: for winter pumpkin and mushrooms I would call it “blanket of wool”, for summer buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes with a looooot of fresh basil, the “summertime”.
Elisa: I am a monotonous person and my signature pizza is vegetable pizza. I would call it “comfort zone.”

What do you have planned for the rest of 2023?
Playing live, everywhere! We are doing a tour to present the album Idiom, The scheduled concerts are so many and in different Italian cities. At the end of the tour we will focus on producing new songs.
We have some old songs, already recorded in the past but that we would like to come back to in order to stay true to the style that we have built and represents us. One more step we would like to take is to look for a foreign booking that can take our music outside the Italian borders. We are looking for contexts where experimental and conceptual music is the norm and not the exception.

You can find out more about Trust The Mask by following them on Instagram and Facebook.

Feature Photo Credit – Emmanuela

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