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The Garden, released on the phenomenal Blackest Ever Black label by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Carla Dal Forno, was one of last year’s highlights in the electronic music realm. The London-based Melburnian produces eerie vocals, intriguing textures and zoned-out dubby baselines making her the right artist to add on your ‘when it’s dark outside and the thunderstorm has just passed’ playlist. Fans of Jenny Hval, Hype Williams or Grouper: it’s a good one to munch on. In preparation for another edition of Different Class, we logged into our Skype account and hit up Carla for a little chat about TV series, location-inspiring creativity and summer holiday destinations.
Interview by Dries Robbe
Photos by Laura McCluskey, shot in London
For the first record I set up some equipment on my kitchen table. I had a nine to five job back then, and I just recorded during the weekends
Hi Carla. What have you been up to lately?
I’ve been getting ready to go in tour in the US, I just got back from Italy.
Your name sounds Italian, actually. What’s the link?
My grandfather was Italian, but I grew up in Australia and live in London at the moment.
Where do you make your records? Can you describe the place(s)?
Well, now I live in London, so I’m making music here. I’ve always made music at home, so that’s the common thread. The first album was made in Melbourne, the EP was made in Berlin, and my new stuff is being made in London. For the first record I set up some equipment on my kitchen table. I had a nine-to-five job back then, and I just recorded during the weekends, on my kitchen table. I didn’t have any sound cards or monitors or anything, I recorded the whole album using my Macbook’s microphone. Which is a pretty decent microphone, actually.
Have you been trying to re-create a certain atmosphere in all those places you composed your different albums?
The common factor is that I need a peculiar feeling, not so much a space; a certain sense of isolation, and being cut off from the outside world. I don’t want to hear my neighbours, or worry that I make too much sound, or be in a studio where other musicians can hear me, I need to be completely alone, no one else in the house. That’s when I can make work.
I need a peculiar feeling, not so much a space; a certain sense of isolation, and being cut off from the outside world
The space as such doesn’t really matter, then?
No, I don’t think so.
I can hear some dub influences in your music. Are you actively inspired by dub music?
I don’t know if I consciously use elements from dub, but I play bass guitar, and I have a great delay pedal, and those two elements probably are enough to make the sound.
In Belgium, we often have the preconceived image of the dub music corner at reggae festivals where 20 totally stoned guys stand all day. Can you hit us up with some music to get past these stereotypes?
My best dub tip is a show on Cashmere Radio, a new radio station that’s broadcasting from Berlin. There’s a show on there called duty free, which is really worth checking out.
What kind of music have you been listening to lately?
Everything I’ve been listening to lately I usually put into my NTS show, so you know where to find them. I listened to Cindy Lee a lot lately. I also saw the Call Me By Your Name movie recently, and listened to the song ‘Love My Way’ song quite a lot (played during the dancing scene at the party).
Did you like the movie?
Hmm, the relationship felt a bit hollow, but I really liked the scenery and the atmosphere.
Have you seen any other movies/series recently?
Probably nothing worth telling, I think.
You can filter the guilty pleasures!
I feel like they’re all guilty pleasures, but I watched both seasons of The Crown (about Queen Elisabeth), the acting was amazing, but still, it’s some kind of soap opera.
I kind of gave up on that genre.
So what have you been watching lately?
Westworld. The themes – artificial intelligence, humankind, consciousness – and plot are great.
I saw the first season, saving up the second one right now.
Any summer plans?
When I get back from the US tour mid-June I’m planning to work on my new album.
Favourite summer vacation destination?
Berlin is awesome in the summer time, Florence too.
Any more rural tips?
Yes, last year I went for a weekend to a seaside town called Broadstairs, and it was so lovely there.
What can you do there?
Have ice cream, go for walks, see the sea.