Scoring the underworld

The acclaimed, Rome-based post-rock band Mokadelic will be performing a special two-night concert at the end of this month. Teodor Reljic catches up with the band, who are especially renowned for their film and TV work, such as composing the soundtrack for the 'Gomorrah' TV series

Mokadelic: “We’re absolutely thrilled to play in Malta”
Mokadelic: “We’re absolutely thrilled to play in Malta”

How would you say your sound has evolved from when you guys first started out, and what were some of the most important steps to make you the band you are today?

Our sound has grown up with us, even if some characteristics remain, such as the raw instinct that defines our direction. We started playing because we felt the need to express ourselves, and we found the way to do that through psychedelic rock and post rock. Since the first time we played together our sound evolved, also thanks to the experiences that we had working with film and theatre. For example we started experimenting with electronic music when we were working on ACAB ('All Cops Are Bastards') and it became a reference to the big work we did in Gomorrah – the series with Stefano Sollima.

How did your leap into writing music for film happen? Would you say that the post-rock/psychedelic sound is particularly conducive to movie soundtracks, and what do you find most enjoyable about working on them?

We've always wanted to experiment with visual imagery; ever since our first few concerts, really. It quickly became a defining feature of our live shows. Indeed, post-rock, as genre, with its minimal and instrumental tendencies, matches cinematic texture, and we think that this is possible because it is naturally predisposed towards creating emotions and interior landscapes. And this continues to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the genre for all of us, to this day.

Apart from your landmark work on Gomorra, you've also collaborated with the likes of Gabriele Salvatores. What was your experience of working at such a high level of Italian film production like? What were some the main challenges of crafting a soundtrack to fit projects of that scale?

We have very distinct and fond memories of working on the 'Come Dio Comanda' soundtrack, and we still cherish having been given the opportunity to do so. At that time, we were fans of Gabriele Salvatores and his movies, as well as the writer of the source novel, Niccolò Ammaniti, and for us this experience was almost like living a dream. The composing of the score was particular and was developed in one year, before shooting the movie and, obviously, after. We had the opportunity to work with very nice people and great professionals, who are at the top of their field in Italy. The entire endeavour motivated us to do the best job we could do, and we're still very proud of it.

On that note, Gomorrah is arguably one of the most significant stories to emerge from Italy in quite some time – both in terms of its sheer popularity as well as its wider political import. As musicians, what kind of sound did you seek to craft that would match the tone and feel of the series, and why did you make these stylistic choices in particular?

For Gomorrah – The Series we were influenced by what we had seen in a non-definitive version of the first episode. Everything that we developed after that is the musical consequence of the emotional impact that episode had on us. We translated in music what we saw on the screen, such as restlessness, action, darkness, rage and the desire for revenge…

Are you looking forward to playing in Malta?

We’re absolutely thrilled to play in Malta – it will be our first performance outside of Italy. The University seems to be the ideal place where we can have this experience, we’ll do our best to involve the people. See you soon!

Mokadelic will be performing at the Valletta Campus Theatre (ex-MITP), St Paul Street, Valletta on February 23 and 24 at 20:00. They will be supported by local act Eyes to Argus. Bookings: https://shop.trackagescheme.com

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