In addition to going against the grain on most things, one aspect I’ve always found fascinating in the world of experimental music is the positive type of individualism that seems to flourish in it. I’d go as far as to say that in no other genre, the stance of a single person producing everything is as prevalent as it is in that particular realm. I personally think that when it comes to experimental, electronic, and noise oriented shenanigans, it’s usually a lot easier to abide to a singular vision and realise its full potential when you’re doing it all by your lonesome. Of course there’s a multitude of duos and trios and larger groups doing everything, but the hive mind mentality is a story for another day. On top of the mentioned, it’s oftentimes crazy how wide an individual artist’s musical spectrum can be, and such is the case with our latest Weekly Featured Artist.
Leather Parisi is a one-person entity focused on exploring the rougher and more daring side of post-industrial, noise, and electronic music. Having been formed and active since 2018, I first got ahold of the project maybe a year and a half ago, and discovering all the various layers and nuances of the artist’s output has been a thrilling non-stop ride that has been going on since. Sharing the general life ethics also made an additional impact for me, and further deepened my relationship with the unrelenting artist, that isn’t barred by a single aural boundary in existence. The plethora of releases of varying lengths and purposes speak for themselves, as Leather Parisi knows how to bend, distort, destroy, and re-calibrate a multitude of genre specific leanings into one giant pool of molten sonics that is quite beckoning in its scope and appearance.
It’s been clear as day for me that I need to feature Leather Parisi in this feature and pick the brain of its creator in-depth to not only get answers to questions I already had, but also to those I didn’t even think of yet. The timing finally clicked, and I was able to discuss various things with this author of sonic annihilation. To start, we went back to the early murks of the project’s creation, and how it came to be;
‘Leather Parisi was born 5 years ago mainly for fun and started as a joke to return to playing music, then became a sort of revenge against certain feelings and a part of the local scene of my hometown. Several years ago, after a period of playing guitar in a punk/HC band, I stopped, but always remained addicted to music, attending all the venues, lives, sets and raves of different kinds of genres, like all the involved music guys in the ’00s without social media or Spotify. Most of them were metal (black/death/grind) but also industrial, techno, noise and rave/EBM music. Then one day, almost five years ago, being bored of the same people playing the same genres live – and while I was changing several things in my life – I decided to start playing music again with the punk attitude of the harsh-noise scene with every tool or device that I had lying around (phone, laptop, iPad, audio-recorder, cassettes), not taking the situation seriously at all (more or less like now btw!) only as a relief valve.
‘Then suddenly two people came into my life supporting my productions and pushing me: La Furnasetta that became my sister and introduced me to the Asbestos Digit (Andrea Prevignano) family, and Steve Kirby that was starting the Industrial Coast tape label (one of the most important nowadays). Later things became more structured, but always with irony and a careless attitude.‘
Leather Parisi‘s trek to the dismal side of human psyche began with a string of singles and EPs that showcase the starting points of the act in full effect, constituting of harsh noise bursts with power electronics tendencies and blackened techno/industrial flavours, all of which are still very much present and important cornerstones in his output. It’s interesting how a sense of direction is present for the listener, yet according to Leather Parisi, it was (and still is) all a product of chaos and the lack of any indicators, above all. So what was it that pushed him to aspire these particular musical concoctions?
‘I always listened to metal in its various forms and various formats, and my favorite thing for sure was listening to bands like Carcass or Obituary on a Walkman! But I was also interested in a lot of techno and electronic sub-genres. Then from the industrial side, especially thanks to people like Justin Broadrick (Jesu/JK Flesh/Godflesh) or Dominic Fernow (Vatican Shadow/Prurient), I discovered a sort of blackened/doom/heavy electronic music that blew my mind by being the perfect joining link but darker, sadder and grimmer. So, I opened that door and dove right in, listening and discovering tons of great records and artists (harsh-noise, industrial, power-electronics, EBM, noise) but, in the end, I can mention five artists as main and former inspirations: JK Flesh, Vatican Shadow, ANFS, Futuro de Hierro, and Carlos Giffoni.
‘Currently there are so many great artists and labels that it is not possible to mention them all in this interview, but to list some of my favorite labels and inspirational artists for me; Asbestos Digit (La Furnasetta, Dope in the pig bags), Solium Records (EU1OGY, Traitre Calin), Phage Tapes (Threat of innocence, Choke Chain, Primitive Knot), Deathbed Tapes (Exome, X.L.V., Cromlech), Total Black (Oil Thief, Junta Cadre), Changeless Records (Hollowland, 111x), Strange Therapy (Donna Haringwey, Ironsight), Ghostcity Collective (Ankubu, Pleading Fern), Home Mort, Opal Tapes, Brucia Records, Sentient Ruin, Caligari Records, Damien Records, Kammer Records, Ohm Resistance, Neosignal, Human Cost Organization, Megastructures, Brutal Forms, Nyege Nyege, and sure I’m missing tons of others incredible labels.
‘Last but not least also horror movies are a great inspiration for me and finally this year I had the opportunity to collaborate to the soundtrack for a short horror movie called FISTER through my filmmaker friend Anthony Moran.‘
If you’re even remotely invested in the experimental realm, chances are that you either recognize all of the mentioned parties or at the very least most of them. The continuously churning and expanding underground movement is a delight to follow even from afar – let alone from within it – as its vivacious and uncompromising ethos is as inviting as it is engaging. To make a summary that’s both ridiculously simplified yet nothing but the truth, there’s simply something for everyone in there. It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for and whether or not you even know it yet, but you’re guaranteed to find it from these nooks.
Continuing on the path firmly founded on chaos as a groundwork, I asked how Leather Parisi approaches writing songs in general, and to be perfectly honest, his answers echoing the previously laid sentiments about losing control and not having any dictating mindsets doesn’t come across as a surprise;
‘Honestly I don’t have a recording/composing scheme, I’m quite impulsive and chaotic, weeks or months can go by without writing/recording anything, then suddenly instinct and inspiration come and I compose some tracks. To be honest, I must admit that during the times alongside I don’t write songs, I still record and collect tons of sounds or loops that I organize in several and well-catalogued folders from where I can draw them when I need to. Therefore, the composing process is quite chaotic, but behind that there is a basic process of production and samples classification.‘
Something that I’ve always found interesting when talking with artists, individual ones especially, is that how they view their own writing in terms of growth and changes when scrutinizing their entire output. While it’s one thing to decide to pursue a certain style or path with a given release, it’s entirely another one – albeit just as valid – to go with the flow and take the route where the noise leads you, without much of planning or deliberation.
Leather Parisi‘s approach I’d say sounds like a little bit of both, and it makes a lot of sense in the bigger picture. Even though, as stated numerous times, the element of turmoil is present most of the time, there’s still a level of order to it. As the artist himself put it, he records sketches to later on utilise them to their best effect, and I’d say that’s how he ends up with releases that albeit differ from one another to a great extent, still have a sense of unison and gestalt on them. Take the likes of Culto del Ratto, Clockwise Mayhem, or Dub Exorcism as examples of this; each release has a very distinct nature to it, yet there’s certain undertones and musical hues that transpire through each of them, making them stand out on their own as well as fit in in Leather Parisi‘s general curvature. The best part in this kind of approach is easily the fact that you never know what to expect as the next thing can really be anything from here to eternity.
‘As I said before, I have spent years listening to several genres of music and although it is always interesting to mix all the influences it can be dangerous to put all of them together inside the same record with a result that could not be as good as imagined. So yes, the idea, until now, was to crossover different musical attitudes but giving preponderance to one of them in each different record. For example, drones in Cannibal Drones, industrial dub in Dub Exorcism, black metal in The Moss Session, power-electronics in Lust Cascade, ebm in Past Present Temple, electronica in Clockwise Mayhem, and harsh noise in Funeral Stage.‘
A unifying element in Leather Parisi‘s mien are the concepts and themes that run on in spite of lacking standard vocals altogether, yet his performances aren’t completely bereft of voices, either. Samples from various sources mainly constitute the lyrical side of things, providing a layer of substance and perhaps tangibility to the ravaging sonics, underlining the aesthetics and titles in either straightforward or indecipherable manner.
‘Voice samples are mainly taken from movies or speeches, I rarely use my own voice. The samples chosen and used are, by the way, always related to the main concept of the song/album and not used randomly. All the last records that I have composed have a concept behind them; Cannibal Drones is about climate change, Clockwise Mayhem is about modern life anxiety, Lust Cascade is about conflicts, and Dub Exorcism is about the mankind’s societal failure highlighted even more by the pandemic. Therefore, the song themes, lyrics, samples, artwork and overall aesthetic reflect a grim mood with a full critique of the foolish choices that underlie our society and the disillusionment regarding a possible solution to this.‘
Earlier on I mentioned about having aligning ethics and world views with the artist, which in turn deepen my personal relationship with the music itself, and the above offers a vague glance into what those ethics are. The human society has failed on numerous fronts in varying ways, and it’s up to us to comprehend that, sever the hand that feeds that vicious cycle, and come up with lasting solutions to everything that ails us. Music is the perfect vessel to transcribe and transgress these thoughts, in both positive as well as negative ways, and even though I believe that art can also exist solely as art without other connotations, it’s too significant and visible of a platform to omit when it comes to these matters.
Not every message worth sharing has to be negative, by the way. Artists like Leather Parisi address the bullshit the way it should be, but does so in ways that aren’t just standard ranting or holier than thou demagogues. We have enough people speaking out of their asses and just whining about this and that without making the tiniest effort towards resolution, so it’s easy to stand out in today’s climate by simply offering something beyond the initial comma. Things are fucked, quite frankly, but they don’t have to be.
Speaking of fucked up things, the pandemic sure did plenty of that, am I right? Yeah, let’s not go any deeper down there. In short, as you very well know, live shows came to a halt with lockdowns and other restrictions, but have slowly been coming back to life globally. Since Leather Parisi came to be just shortly before ALL THAT went down, the act was forced to exist as a studio project only for a longer while, though the prospect of live shows have begun to look more promising recently, with some performances already in the rearview mirror;
‘I started this project more or less one year before Covid pandemic, so when the project became more solid with bigger following and interest, the possibilities of live concerts were stopped with the lockdowns. So necessity dictated this started as a ‘studio’ project but luckily, after a year and a half or so, live concerts became possible again and finally, I had the chance to perform live in Rome, Genova, and Brescia. It is not easy for a noise/industrial/drone/harsh artists find places where play live that kind of music, but there are a few venues and artistic directors interested in that, one of which was Klang in Rome (where I played my first show). Cristiano and Lorenzo are competent and connoisseurs of that underground scene, but unfortunately, had to close the club, although they still succeed to organize excellent shows on other venues. There are some other few clubs or collectives interested in promoting such music but are geographically rather distant in the territory and with limited economic resources. This means that most of the time, the same people play live in the same places, and this was one of the things that I hated in my hometown, so it’s not an easy situation. By the way playing live, when possible, it’s always a great moment to release your musical feelings but also to connect with other people, get to know interesting new persons, and share emotions. For example, I had the chance, during one live show in Palazzolo, to meet all the THØRN components (do yourself a favour and go to listen to their new record Inferno) that are so kind and always support me.‘
Now, if you have paid attention, and I hope you have, you’ve noticed how often Leather Parisi slightly deflects a questions either instinctively or by choice to underline other great artists and labels with his wordings. This circles us back to an earlier sentiment about the underground scene being in a truly vibrant form at the moment, and that’s largely thanks to people like Leather Parisi who spread the noise gospel rather than trying to steer the spotlight into themselves all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much giving all the attention to the artist at hand, and it’s also alright to expect that, especially out of an interview, but it’s delightful to see someone speak positively of others as an extension of themselves.
With the extension in mind, it’s probably obvious that Leather Parisi has been collaborating with a plethora of other artists throughout the project’s existence, and it seems like he’s having a good time doing just that. I’ve always found the idea of a collaboration rather intriguing, and oftentimes this approach is praised by anyone involved in such a scheme. That’s probably why it’s also good to keep in mind that not everything is always as sugarcoated as it may seem, and even though a collaboration can be executed tremendously well, it still has its own quirks and pitfalls that are just often left unsaid in favour of coming across as easygoing and success-oriented.
‘Collaborations are always welcome, because they always bring different points of view and new experiences. When you are used to work as a solo it is not always easy because nowadays everything goes so fast and most of the time artists seem that can’t wait for the other artists’ timing, this happens also to me, to be honest. Sometimes you want to collab with someone else but during that period they are busy (with their main work, family, music, or other things) and the timing doesn’t match but it also seems impossible to everyone to wait weeks or months for the right moment. The only artist with whom everything is always perfect and on time is La Furnasetta, when it’s time with her.‘
Ah, time. Our most precious asset that we seem to spend and waste completely randomly on whatever floats our boat at any given time (pun unintended). I’ve personally experienced a loss of it due to recent developments including but not limited to doubled workloads at my day to day and at home, but I still do my best to be able to utilise whatever motes of minutes I have left in any given day, to do something nice, such as write these articles, which by the way are way overdue and always turned in way too fucking late on my part. But it is what it is. I think everyone knows how it is to be busy, but we must strive to make time for things we deem worthy. Still, there are those who do and those who only talk about it, and actions have a tendency to speak about themselves.
When it comes to timing releases, literally speaking, the modern times have rendered the importance of full-lengths down to a subject of debate. I think it’s easy to make cases for both albums as well as shorter releases such as EPs or double singles or whatever, but essentially it boils down to what the artist wants to do, and what they deem is enough. Leather Parisi has put out plenty of albums, EPs, singles, and whatever else, so I asked him what constitutes a release to him, and when/how he knows something is complete. I knew the answer could go one or few ways, but his pretty much summed it up perfectly;
‘In my opinion there is no pre-established format for a release, it can be a full album, an EP or a single song, but it is important to express something, so regardless of if you have one or two or twenty songs related to the same concept, I think they need to be released together, explaining to other people what’s behind that project. Even more so, now that the releases are often digital or tapes with the artist’s requested timing, there is no longer a need to stay in the ‘old school’ format of the classic album.‘
Modern times require modern solutions, old school is considered ‘old’ for a reason, and no one likes school to begin with, right?
Conveniently, that brings us to the present day and Leather Parisi‘s most recent outing, a release titled Dub Exorcism. One morning I woke up, made some coffee, went out to – ahem – have a breath of fresh air, came back in to drink the coffee, opened Instagram, and spat out the said coffee over the news of a new Leather Parisi release. You see, at that point in time (this June, that is), I had spent a long time obsessing over all of his previous doings and of course had no idea something would drop out of the blue like Dub Exorcism did, so I obviously had no other choice than to leave for ‘work’ randomly early just to be able to wreck my car stereos with some wonderful industrial battery for a few hours.
Dub Exorcism as a whole is probably my favourite release from Leather Parisi to date – a refined effort that perfectly encapsulates what the artist is about without abiding to any self-set norms or guidelines. It’s hard-hitting, pure, gritty yet aerial industrial glory throughout its hair under thirty-minute runtime, that engulfs the listener whole for every single second that passes. I’ve raved about the EP everywhere since, and I’m not stopping anywhere near in the future. It’s just so fucking magnificent, and if you haven’t heard it yet, you’re truly missing out on something special, my friend.
Now, we’re left with one final question; what’s next?
‘After the recent release of Dub Exorcism I’m in one of those non-composing periods, and I would also like to fix some personal questions, but I’m thinking about recording my first record using only analog synths and pedals. I’m absolutely not an analog snob or supporter, I think that everything can and should be used to record music, but it is something that I have never done and it could be an interesting process that could also help me towards other digital releases. I also hope to start again, with the autumn/winter seasons, to perform some live shows that better fits with the darker seasons.‘
And on that note, it’s time to say goodnight. I believe I’ve made my case by now that you should all be infatuating and bawling about Leather Parisi, and the easiest way to do that is to dig into his doings over at Bandcamp and spread the word, alongside throwing him a follow over at Instagram and Facebook.