Queer because she doesn’t admit gender identity, Pagan because she’s against all religions, Doom because her music is slow, physical and piercing Avant because her sound is not current Metal because it’s inside her. The Italian musician and experimental performer ?ALOS is this and much more: music, dance, political activism, social critic, history, feminism, and anarchy.
Her work surpasses the boundary between performing arts, integrating experimental music, performance, improvisation, and video art and makes the audience participate actively in the show through the stimulation of the six senses. The feminine figure is the basis of each performative action and its role both in history and in contemporary society is critically investigated.
The Chaos Awakening is her 5th album (September 2018, Dio Drone). A research into the mystical, magical, shamanistic and pagan side of music and vocals. Following the elements Earth and Water, her attention now turns to Air and Fire. This record is a 20 minutes single track, a live recording which aims to capture a ritual in order to reawaken the chaos that surrounds us and which is deep inside us all. ?Alos fuses the ancient and the contemporary, using above all her voice, melding it together with ethnic instruments from Vietnam as well as handmade instruments such as modular synthesizers and The Chaos Scepter; a two cord wooden instrument built specifically for her by Nude Guitars.
I met ?Alos before her performance and it was interesting talking with her about this project. The Chaos Awakening is a beautiful and intimate record that succeeds in communicating something that goes far beyond music.
When and why did you decide to start this project?
?Alos started in 2003. At that time I played with a female band called Allun, We were touring a lot but once all of the other members decided last minute not to come for a short tour, so I went alone and when I came back home I decided to start a solo project and call it ?Alos. At that time it was pretty rare to do a female solo.
Which part of yourself ?Alos represents?
With ?Alos I declare my values: being feminist, queer, vegan, anti-specist, shamanic, doom!
?Alos is a work around the female figure, with this project I would love to deeply explore myself and the female role, both in history and in the contemporary society.
In the beginning, I started my solo to surpass the boundary between performing arts, integrating experimental music, performance, improvisation, and video art and making the audience participate actively in the show through the stimulation of the six senses. In my first live set “one girl cooking music” I was cooking vegan food on stage and then share it with the audience.
During the years I explored different female roles and in the last few years, I started to work on the magic, obscure and scary part of women, the side that makes people afraid of us and afraid when they feel it in our music.
With my last live set or, how I call it, “ Ritual”, I start to share this intimate, ancestral, obscure part of myself through my music.
How do you answer when people ask you “How would you describe ?Alos?”.
Usually, I answer that It’s a weird solo project, that the live set is really performative, intense and for some people scary. Or to be direct I answer: ?Alos is a queer-ancestral-pagan-doom-avant-metal, so all is clear.
You are from Italy. Did the music of your country has any direct influence on your project?
I don’t think so if we talk of traditional music or music from northern Italy no for sure, but I read a lot about the Sardinian culture and one of my album “ERA” is dedicated to some magic legends of Sardegna.
But if we talk in general, the old school Italian H.C. and punk were part of my life and bands like CCCP or CONCRETE inspired me a lot.
What does ?Alos mean to you?
?Alos literally and in reverse means Sola? It’s my trip, I’m alone in the world. It’s my alias by which I can express myself without compromise in the style of music that I play and in the topics that I decided to explore.
What inspires you?
Everything around me, Cosmos, Nature, Feeling, Politics, Books.
The place where I live has a strong influence on this new Ritual, I live near the sea and the mountains so I feel more bound to nature
The Chaos Awakening is your 5th album. Can you please tell us more about it?
My new Album is a 20 minutes piece, it’s a tape and one-sided vinyl only release. The vinyl is hand-printed, gold on black, with a huge illustration made by Coito Negato. The record is enclosed in a heavy paper silver box with handmade silk prints by Algas and it’s in a limited edition of 300 copies.
The Chaos awakening started first as a live set/ ritual one year ago, I had an invitation to play in a festival in Bruxelles and I felt to propose something new, unconnected to a record but reconnected to music, performance, art, like it used to be at the beginning of my solo project, Plus I felt like starting a work that would be first of all a challenge to myself and to my fears. So I started to perform this Ritual, a collective moment where the Chaos, the Unpredictable and the Magick are the protagonists.
What was the biggest challenge you found creating The Chaos Awakening?
I didn’t think to make a record from this Ritual at the beginning, I thought to do it only live but Dio Drone proposed me to release it, so I started to imagine how to translate the feeling that the audience can feel during the live ritual into a recording session. This was my big challenge because I know by experience and by old records that it’s super hard or impossible to create that feeling.
So I decided to go to record it on the mountain during an art residence with Marcello Batelli ( great sound engineer that works with theater projects too). So no studio, no overdubs, we recorded live, different sessions in different locations and we chose the session that was recorded in a vicarage. The church bells that you can listen to in the recording can tell you at what time we did it!
Did the collaboration with the Italian label Dio Drone has an effect on the completion of the album?
For Sure! The Chaos Awakening was developed together. Dio Drone’s boss (Naresh Ran) followed all the steps. He came during the art residence to film some recording session to document them and my suggestions.
Together with Coito Negato we worked on the graphics and all the images started by my drawings.
What kind of feelings did you want to convey?
The Ritual is a collective experience, first I would love that the audiences feel part of a community but also part of an intimate and safe place, then I would love to take them to another time and place, a sonic and emotional journey.
This ritual is for me a way to awake the Chaos around us and deep inside us.
My idea is to make the audience experience different feelings from relaxed and mellow time to darkness, fearful; playing from super quiet and acoustic music to loud heavy dooming sound
In the album, the presence of nature is looming. How important is nature for you and what kind of relationship do you have with it?
A few weeks ago I did my best show after 2 days of Hiking on the mountain.Nature is one of the key points of this album but also of my life. I moved from Berlin to Ravenna to be close to the sea but also to the amazing forests around here. Spending my summertime swimming and relaxing on the beach is a dream come true. It’s not a classic black metal standpoint but I love darkness and sun too.
You use several different instruments. What sounds do you want to create?
When I start to create this live set I immediately knew that I would have loved to be as much prehistoric, archaic and ancestral as possible. First I eliminated the idea to play the guitar in this set, but I wanted to keep the heavy bass sound that a bass string can make, so I contacted Nude Guitars (a brilliant luthier ) to build a two strings instrument that looked archaic. He makes my amazing “Chaos Scepter”. I love it.
I also use a flute from Vietnam and a lot of different type of bells.
How important is experimentation in music for you?
For me experimenting with my music is the base of my life. It’s the same with OvO too. We need all the time to explore new sounds, new instruments, effects, and never repeat ourself.
?Alos is not just a musical project but it involves a performance. What does someone should expect when they attend one of your shows?
I would love that the audience would come to see my show without expectations but with an open mind and heart, ready to experience something unusual that can go deep into their soul.
When you’re on stage you seem a completely different person. Do you feel this change?
I feel that I open the door to another myself, it’s me but connected with my ancestral side. I feel complete and in communication with everything around me.
During the performance, you use a particular way of breathing and singing, almost primordial. Why did you decide to communicate in such raw way?
To ring a bell in the Primal.Using the voice in this way makes me go deeper into myself, lost in the sound and it involves the people in this catharsis. Some people are scared because sometimes my voice is so weird and animal that brings out old memories and feelings.
The whole ritual seems a sort of exorcism, a liberation. How do you feel at the end of one of your performances?
All rituals are different and give me a different feeling, but most of the times I’m exhausted, I need a few minutes to talk again and be connected with the reality. But After I feel lighter and in balance.
The Chaos Awakening Ritual tour: