“Coming to the US is a main goal of 2019 and we’re very close to it. For you American promoters and bookers out there, this ìs the right time to get in touch with us.”
Ash Code are often referred to as a darkwave band, and the trio from Naples, Italy does make icily Nietzschean, danceable dark sounds that constitute a kind of mashup between goth club music, coldwave, and dark synthpop. With song titles like “Oblivion,” “The Void,” “It’s Time to Face the Abyss,” and “Posthuman,” it’s perhaps not surprising the band counts acts like Joy Division and Soft Moon among their influences, and singer Claudia has noted that philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s Untimely Meditations has acted as an aesthetic influence on the trio’s outlook and music, too. While a palpable strain of nihilistic philosophy does run through Ash Code’s approach, perhaps more surprising is that the band also counts deep cuts by acts like Siekiera‘s Nowa Aleksandria among their primary musical influences. This cocktail of inspiration culminated in 2018’s well-regarded, and compulsively danceable, Perspektive LP.
On the heels of the success of Perspektive, US-based Metropolis Records has announced a couple of Ash Code reissues for the US as well as a possible North American tour for 2019. As with their friends in She Past Away—who have worked with Ash Code before—Ash Code have a European label (in this case, Swiss Dark Nights), who will be handling European distribution of their back catalogue, while Metropolis will take over the North American side of things.
In light of the exciting news about the stateside reissues of the Oblivion and Posthuman LPs, I decided to catch up with Ash Code and see what their plans for 2019 are.
Ash Code was interviewed by Oliver for Post-punk.com in January, 2019.
First, some basics about the band–who’s in Ash Code now and when did you begin?
Alessandro: Ash Code was born between the last days of 2013 and early 2014. I sing and program the sequences, Claudia plays the keyboards and sings some of the parts, Adriano plays the bass VI and the drum pad. However, during shows, we exchange instruments according to the song. We feel that makes the live performance more dynamic and interesting.
Will Ash Code be coming to the US in 2019?
Adriano: Coming to the US is a main goal of this year and we are very close to it. We received multiple requests from folks in the US in the past few months, so we hope to make it a tour soon. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, but the deal with Metropolis will help us a lot. So, for you American promoters and bookers out there, it ìs the right time to get in touch with us!
Who came up with the name “Ash Code” and what does it mean?
Claudia: We were playing with some words that have the same initials as our names. We chose the name together. We immediately liked the association of “Ash” and “Code” for evoking an existential meaning behind it. Additionally, it’s linked to our city Naples, whose Vesuvius volcano reigns almighty.
Your 2018 LP Perspektive has made a lot of magazines’ and websites’ “Best of 2018” year-end lists. How does it feel to see your latest LP get such recognition? How long did it take to write the songs, record, and produce the LP?
Adriano: We mainly make music to express ourselves, but I must admit that the accolades do satisfy us greatly. After two LPs, it wasn’t easy to make something new without repeating the same formula, but we hope with Perspektive we succeeded. By the way, Perspektive took a year and a half to write and record.
You’ve signed a deal with Metropolis Records recently. Can you explain to readers this covers? Will you make a new album for Metropolis or will there only be reissues in the pipeline?
Alessandro: Metropolis will take care of Ash Code in North and South America. During the autumn they released our last LP, Perspektive, and the first two in special American editions on CD and LP. This deal will prove to be a big help, especially for making our music more accessible for fans in the Americas who will no longer have to pay a fortune in shipping costs.
Are you staying on the Swiss Dark Nights label?
Alessandro: Yes we are, basically Metropolis and Swiss Dark Nights have split the various territories for releasing our LPs. Metropolis in the Americas and Swiss Dark Nights in Europe. This will enable each of them to focus on maintaining the areas they know best in this big world.
I noticed Doruk of She Past Away mixed and mastered the last LP—how long have you known She Past Away and have you ever worked with them or with Doruk before?
Alessandro: We made our live debut supporting She Past Away in Naples in early 2014. Since then we have shared the stage with them many times and we became good friends even outside of the environment of music.
For our first two albums, we worked with an Italian producer, but for Perspektive we decided to experiment a bit more. We liked Doruk’s previous work and tried to get him involved. Mainly, everything was managed via e-mail and much to our surprise it was super easy to work together. He worked quickly, knew exactly what we were looking for and where to put his touch. In the future, we hope to work with him again.
I noticed the official video for “Perspektive” featured Luca Gillian of Die Selektion. Have you all worked with Luca before? How did the video come about and how was it to shoot and film it?
Alessandro: We were looking for something new for the title track, so we picked an interesting drum beat, different from our usual dancey ones, then added a strange handmade string instrument I found online and for the first time we decided to sing in German. Out of all of the European countries, we have the strongest following in Germany and receive a great deal of feedback from there. Claudia was perfect for the verses but we had a male voice in mind for the chorus and Luca was the right choice. We met him personally during Die Selektion’s first Italian tour in 2012, his voice is very particular and dark; he fit very well. The song is about “keyboard warriors” and our director Elio De Filippo wrote a video concept about it. The characters scenes were filmed in chroma key, the band’s scenes in a club outside Naples, and at Luca’s home with a phone…but Luca’s hologram scenes are the ones I like the most!
What bands would you say were the most direct influences on Ash Code’s sound? Would you categorize yourself with any specific genre tag, like “darkwave,” or “coldwave” etc? If so, or if not, why or why not?
Claudia: Our sound is influenced by many bands, historical ones like Joy Division, New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and Siekiera although contemporary bands are also a great source of inspiration for us such as The Soft Moon, Cold Cave, and Agent Side Grinder. We’d rather not barricade ourselves into a label or strict genre, we certainly have dark sounds that can fit easily into the “Electro / Dark Wave” scene. But we also like to experiment and don’t want to be narrow in our thinking.
How is the rest of the dark music scene in Naples? Is it very lively, and do you all feel as if you all fit in there?
Claudia: Naples has always been a very lively musical city and has produced very good artists of international notice. Before us there were Trees, Argine, Ashram, and Corde Oblique. Some of them are still active.
We all learned to play in local bands but with Ash Code it became a bit more serious and professional. Currently there are other great projects like Geometric Vision, Hapax, and Dark Door. Unfortunately, the audience is very small. Outside of the big events we can only get about 200 people out to a show and that’s counting the audience of the region.
A question I try to ask all bands: If you were stranded on a remote island, and could, through some magical means, play records, but you could only take 5 records with you for the rest of your life, what 5 records would those be?
Claudia : Very difficult question… I’ll try:
Surely one by the Cure, probably Disintegration. Then, I would bring Nick Cave – Skeleton Trees, David Bowie – Space Oddity, Bauhaus – Mask, and the last one by Dead Can Dance – Dionysus (since it came out I can’t stop listening to it).
Alessandro: Siekiera – Nowa Aleksandria, IAMX – The Alternative, New Order – Power Corruption & Lies, Twin Peaks – OST, Bauhaus – Gotham .
Adriano: Joy Division – Closer, Nine Inch Nails – Downward Spiral, Sonic Youth – Goo, My Bloody Valentine – Loveless, The Sisters Of Mercy – First And Last And Always.
Anything else before we sign off?
Claudia: This year will be very important for us, there will be news about touring soon, we’ll keep you informed. We’re already working on new tracks, and we’ve been inspired in recent months by some important literary readings and concerts we attended, so we have already started to work on a new LP.
Ash Code have a website maintained by Metropolis Records here: https://www.metropolis-records.com/artist/ash-code
Ash Code also have a Facebook page here.
Ash Code’s 2018 Perspektive LP is on Bandcamp here.