Don't miss out on the last hurrah of HORST Arts & Music Festival
Always been curious about scenes in other cities outside your own little cocoon? We assumed you were! As much as we can, we’ll feed your hunger for insights and secrets in the Scene Report. This month: Rome, aka the Eternal City, aka pasta heaven, aka Michelangelo’s playground. It has a lot more to offer than just cacio e pepe, la dolce vita and American tourists going on Julia Roberts’ pilgrimage. That’s why we invited Louise Souvagie to tell us about how she fell in love with Rome while studying there. Here is her story.
Text & photos by Louise Souvagie
While studying in Rome for five months, I discovered the city behind the perfect postcard views. While it has the typical chill of a Mediterranean city, it’s still a capital where many young people live, work and rave. To explore the scene more fully, I had a chat with Andrea Venerus (a solo artist), Gino Tremila (creative director and member of Sxrrxwland) and Mattia De Paulis (head of AMEN).
In Locanda Atlantiche, you can enjoy some house and ‘gabber eleganza’ in the most destroyed street of the neighbourhood
It’s a sunny morning in San Lorenzo, a district around Rome’s main train station. The elderly people are dragging their groceries through alleys dripping with graffiti. There I meet with Andrea Venerus for a cappuccino and cornetto – as one does when in Rome. Andrea has been making music under his last name for a while now, and recently released his first single, ‘Non ti conosco’. He just signed under a label called Asian Fake which mainly supports Roman artists. We started discussing the main alternative types of music of la Città. While frowned upon, the trap scene is huge in Italy in general, as is techno and indie. Turin and Milan are very hip and happening, but there’s still some real action going on in the capital.
San Lorenzo is home to many ‘recent’ ruins; it was bombed in 1943 because it housed the resistance against the regime. Navigating through these ruins you’ll find Locanda Atlantiche, where you can enjoy some house and ‘gabber eleganza’ in the most destroyed street of the neighbourhood. Nothing gets below 180 bpm over there.
Since the bombing the district has attracted many artists and outlaws. Andrea, who grew up in Milano, appreciates Rome and especially ‘San Lolo’ for its easygoing atmosphere and the openness of the people. We visit his favourite record store, Il Mangiadischi (‘the record-eater’), where you can have a local beer while browsing through a carefully made selection of vinyl. Andrea plugs in his phone and we listen to some new tracks on the store’s sound system. He grew up listening to niche blues as well as Italian storyteller Paolo Conte and it’s easy to hear these influences in his music.
The underground scene in Rome has lost its status of creative capital because so much is happening virtually nowadays
Gino Tremila is a whole other story. With lead singer Vipra and producer Osore, he makes up Sxrrxwland. The musical collective has become very popular among trap-loving Romans (against Gino’s will, I must say) and is slowly becoming a bigger experience involving fashion, design and very soon video. While their influences come mostly out of post-rock, noise, drone and midwestern emo, the lyrics (tutto in Italiano) are a bundle of social critique and existential poetry. They view Sxrrxwland as a post-futuristic place with its own inhabitants, customs and aesthetics. During the day, Gino is a freelance creative director where he is mostly ‘the executor of other people’s wishes’, as he likes to say, but with Osore and Vipra he found the perfect partnership to strive towards his personal creative development.
When asked about the underground scene in Rome, he describes it as having lost its status of creative capital, not necessarily because of a lack of activity, but because so much is happening virtually nowadays. This was also the opinion of Mattia De Paulis who organises events with AMEN. We got in touch after I saw he invited coucou chloe to perform at Largo Venue. With AMEN he is trying to get the hot stuff happening online – eg NON, Halcyon Veil, Staycore, Janus etc. – to Rome’s physical venues. And it’s working. They put together art expos and live performances, experimental music and clubbing. Under their main principles (NO racism, NO sexism, NO homophobia, NO transphobia, NO violence) their goal is to reach a bigger audience and maybe one day have a big multimedia festival.
The first AMEN event I went to was at Rashomon, a club in Garbatella, a lively neighbourhood to go out and experience very different nightlife styles. Pigneto is also a very varied area. You may know it as Pasolini’s favourite part of Rome, but nowadays it’s still a locals’ favourite with plenty of bars and clubs. Go buy almost any record at Blutopia, have some aperitivo on the main street, go dance at Fanfulla and have a late-night stuffed potato at Kalapà. The next day, go do some alternative sightseeing in EUR, the city founded by Mussolini and an atypical part of Rome with its huge, cold architecture and desolated vibes. There is more to Rome than the Trevi Fountain.