When you enter Mads, a club here in Rome, during one of the nights called La Tua Fottuta Musica Alternativa, you realize straight away that it’s not just another live music event. It’s more like a well-curated party, a themed party, a visual and sonic experience. For the specific event I went to, on the 17th of December 2010, Mads was decorated in pin-up style, with old videos of pin-up girls and pictures that could easily fall in the soft-porn category. It was supposed to create a strong effect, and to catch the audience’s attention, clearly. And it did catch mine.

We missed the first band playing, The Sadside Project, but managed to see The Leggins, an Italian band of very young but confident rockers who were able to entertain the audience and make the crowd dance during the whole show. And the atmosphere of the event was completely cheerful, it seemed that many people knew each other already, and again there was this feeling of it being at a big party, or better yet a gathering, a must-attend monthly meeting. Two live bands and dancing with the resident DJs all night long, that’s basically the format of the night.

La Tua Fottuta Musica Alternativa is one of a few series of events in Rome that are focused on emerging Italian music, trying to raise the awareness of the good music that is produced in my home country but that rarely gets played on the main broadcasting media or becomes known at an international level. The guys behind this particular project are very young and motivated, active especially within the network of La Sapienza, the main university here in Rome. These guys have also been very enthusiastic toward frestyl since the beginning, supporting our project and believing in us. That is flattering, really.

Logo of La Tua Fottuta Musica Alternativa

So I wanted to know more about La Tua Fottuta Musica Alternativa and interviewed one of the event organizers, Davide Caucci, who’s been brave enough to reply both in English and in Italian.

La Tua Fottuta Musica Alternativa (LTFMA) means “Your F***ing Aternative Music” – interesting name for an event. Why did you decide to call it that?

Interesting isn’t it? The story is rather long and absurd, but basically we were doing an advertising for a recording studio that produces low-cost demos for emerging bands, and our target were high-school students, so we thought of designing a flyer as big as 12x12cm [editor’s note: thats 4.7 inches squared for our American friends] which resembled a CD cover and which had on it “LA TUA FOTTUTA MUSICA” (“YOUR F***ING MUSIC”). The flyer was rejected by the studio’s responsible who didn’t want to have a bad word on their advertising. It was like a flash for us. The more they disliked it the more we liked it. We then added “ALTERNATIVA” (“ALTERNATIVE”) to the title because that was the kind of music we had in mind, and at that stage it was about exaggerating, about pushing it further, going against everyone and against the machine. We were sick and tired of events that had strange acronyms or buzz English words to sound international. We wanted to value our slang, our everyday language, the same way we wanted to value our music.

When did you start organizing these events and what made you and your friends decide to start a series of events like these in the first place?

I already had some experience in organizing events for RadioSapienza, the university web radio of La Sapienza, for which we were doing an event called INDIeFFERENT with live radio speaking, live painting, dj-sets and live music. When we created the collective Polimorfo, it seemed right and natural for me to bring my skills and my know-how as event organizer to this overall creative experience. At the beginning we were doing the events on Sunday nights with donations from the audience and local bands who were performing for free because the liked the event and the idea behind it. I’m happy to say that many of those bands became more known thanks to the events and the videos we did during them.

I noticed that you have different themes for the night, how do you choose the theme each time?

You got the point. We like to have a different theme for each event. This year we started with Porno Vintage, linked to a 70’s rock imaginary, but then we get bored of it because we felt like being one of those advertisements with Belen Rodriguez [editor’s note: I didn’t know who she was either, Wikipedia to the rescue], which are emptied from any meaning and filled with t*ts only. So our flyers now are quite minimalist, made only with colors and symbols. It’s about creating suggestions that we can then communicate to our audience. We don’t care about standard and commercially-driven advertisement, but prefer to fill the city and our clubs with peculiar visual stimuli, which are food for thought. Personally I think that the world could be a better place if people spent a bit more time at home thinking and producing good ideas.

How do you choose the bands to invite?

We simply choose them by listening to them. If it’s impossible for us to see them live, we check them out on MySpace or other social networks. The overall idea is to bring the best independent Italian music to Rome for the first time. We did it for bands like Plastic Made Sofa, Criminal Jokers or Dance For Burgess, which are now known at a European level. Right now that things are going well for the project, we’re attracting bigger names, but never really famous bands. Famous bands don’t need us and we don’t need them.

What do you think of the current state of emerging music in Italy? Has something changed? Is the situation evolving?

We mourn the death of MtvBrandNew, the TV program on MTV Italy which died exactly a month after launching a new format called “La Nuova Musica Italiana” (“The New Italian Music”). If you try typing “Indie Rock” on Google.it, you’ll get on top of the search results the Italian website www.indie-rock.it, which decided a year ago to stop reviewing Italian bands. The Traffic club, one of the top venues in Rome for independent local music, was forced to close down because of night noises. I just learned today that Rocketta, a booking agency from South Italy, doesn’t exist anymore because it was impossible for them to find live clubs willing to have bands playing during weekdays. Generally speaking, however, the situation is better in North Italy for emerging Italian music. I personally think that an Italian emerging music scene exists in quantity and quality, but it also seems clear to me that it has no economic relevance, if we compare it to the established music scene.

Why do you think that we, as Italians, are not very good at exporting the good music we have?

I don’t know and actually I’d like to know. People around the world like and import our food, they love our pasta. But maybe they think we’re not the best at making music?

Do you think events like LTFMA increase the awareness of good emerging bands?

Of course, I think that our activities and events help to shake something, to make some noise. I’m glad when I see people the next day linking and posting on Facebook the songs of the bands that played the night before, at our event. When I brought Criminal Jokers to Rome, we had three mutual friends on Facebook, the next day our mutual friends were 40. It’s all right, then.

Your events are organized through a collective called Polimorfo, can you tell us a bit about it?

Guido Chiefalo, Lorenzo Muto and myself are Polimorfo’s founders. It’s an abstract concept which takes shape every day, and every day is being re-defined again. Apart from the LTFMA event, we produce low cost videos for emerging bands and we involve our circle of friends and professionals (I have to thank Alessandro, Ele and Fabrizio) to help us make the collective progressively evolve. Now we have the website www.ilpolimorfo.com with some cool things on it, but it’s still a work in progress.

Logo of Il Polimorfo

I have to say that overall I’m a bit more optimistic than Davide about the growth of independent music in Italy, if for no other reason than the enthusiasm of the organizers of LTFMA, people like them, and the crowd that gathers at their events. I think it’s promising, although I definitely can agree on the current state of mass media. It is still not giving enough voice to these trends in Italy. Let’s see what happens next. We surely hope to contribute to make a difference too, here at frestyl.

But for now, I’m rather curious to check out the new minimalist style of the events of LTFMA. And I’m also looking forward to see again the band, Thank You For The Drum Machine, that will play at their next event (together with Dr Panico). I’ve seen them playing at MEI (the main gathering for independent music in Italy) and among the hundreds (they have concerts of emerging bands for 3 full days on 4 stages) they were one of the few that made an impact on my memory (I’m also a big fan of electro-rock/electro-pop). Indeed, Thank You For The Drum Machine have also been recently selected to play at an MTV show in NYC and Los Angeles (called Hitweek) with other more famous Italian musicians (such as Elisa).

So if you’re in Rome on the 11th of Feb then you can’t miss the next party of La Tua Fottuta Musica Alternativa, nor you can miss the opportunity to see Thank You For The Drum Machine playing live (OMG these long titles are killing me though!!).

Thank You For The Drum Machine – Back To Rock

For all of our Italian-speaking readers we’ve also included a transcript of the interview in Italian below. If you don’t know the language feel free to check out this tutorial before trying to read the interview:

Ok, questo sarà il nostro primo (mezzo) post in italiano, dato che abbiamo intervistato Davide Caucci di La Tua Fottuta Musica Alternativa, evento mensile che si tiene a Roma, al Mads di San Lorenzo, con band italiane emergenti, e lui (Davide) ci ha risposto sia in inglese che in italiano (wow!).

“La Tua Fottuta Musica Alternativa” (LTFMA)…nome interessante per un evento. Da dove è saltato fuori?

Interessante vero? La storia è lunga quanto assurda. Stavamo facendo una pubblicità per uno studio di registrazione che faceva demo low cost per gruppi emergentissimi, il nostro target di riferimento erano i liceali e così venne fuori un volantino 12×12 come fosse la copertina di un cd con su scritto “LA TUA FOTTUTA MUSICA”.

Poi il volantino venne bocciato dai responsabili dello studio che non gradivano ci fosse una parolaccia sulle loro pubblicità. Fu come un lampo. Meno piaceva a loro e più piaceva a noi. Ci abbiamo messo sopra “ALTERNATIVA” perchè di quello si trattava, di esagerare, di andare ancora di più contro tutti, contro gli schemi. Eravamo saturi di serate con strani acronimi o facili inglesismi. Volevamo valorizzare il nostro gergo come vogliamo valorizzare la nostra musica.

Quando avete cominciato ad organizzare questi eventi e cosa vi ha portato a farlo?

Io avevo avuto una minima esperienza di eventi già con Radiosapienza, la radio dell’Università, facevamo una serata chiamata INDIeFFERENT con radio dal vivo, estemporanee, dj set e musica dal vivo.

Quando è nato Polimorfo mi è sembrato giusto e naturale portare le mie competenze e il mio know how all’interno di questa realtà creativa superiore.

Facevamo serate la Domenica a ingresso a sottoscrizione volontaria con soli gruppi di Roma che si esibivano gratis perchè sposavano la causa. Sono contento di poter dire che molti di loro sono cresciuti insieme alla serata o ai nostri video.

Ho notato che avete un tema diverso per ogni serata. Come scegliete il tema ogni volta?

Esatto. ci piace legare un tema ad ogni serata. Quest’anno abbiamo iniziato con il porno vintage legato ad un immaginario rockeroll anni 70 ma poi ci siamo stufati e ci siamo sentiti come una di quelle pubblicità dove mettono Belen Rodriguez con le tette di fuori ma non dicono nulla. Ora le nostre locandine sono colori e segni. Sono suggestioni che ricreiamo al nostro interno. Non ci piace fare delle pubblicità così legate al commercio e preferiamo riempire la città e allestire i nostri locali con “stimoli visivi” che possano generare pensiero. Personalmente credo che il mondo sarebbe un posto migliore se la gente se ne stesse a casa a pensare e farsi venire buone idee.

Come scegliete le band italiane che invitate ai vostri eventi?

Sentendole. Se non è possibile dal vivo almeno su myspace e i suoi derivati. L’idea generale è portare a Roma il meglio della musica indipendente italiana per la prima volta. Come è accaduto con Plastic Made Sofa, Criminal Jokers o Dance For Burgess che ora sono band di livello Europeo. Adesso che la cosa cresce e abbiamo qualche soldino in più stiamo prendendo nomi più grandi ma mai troppo famosi. I gruppi famosi non hanno bisogno di noi e noi non abbiamo bisogno di loro.

Cosa ne pensi della situazione attuale della musica italiana indipendente? E’ cambiato qualcosa? Sta cambiando?

Piangiamo la morte di MtvBrandNew. Canale finito da circa un mese dopo aver sperimentato il format “La Nuova Musica Italiana”. Se scrivi indie rock su google ti esce il portale http://www.indie-rock.it che da circa un anno ha deciso di non recensire più gruppi italiani. A Roma hanno fatto chiudere il Traffic a via vacuna, storico club, per motivi di romuri notturni. Proprio oggi mi dicono che “Rocketta” che organizzava tour al sud Italia non esiste più perchè non riusciva a trovare locali aperti anche in mezzo alla settimana per sistemare i day off delle band, non ne sono sicuro e spero che non sia vero francamente. In generale dalla Toscana in su stanno messi meglio.
Detto questo la scena italiana esiste come quantità e qualità di musica prodotta, ma mi sembra evidente che non abbia una rilevanza economica.

Criminal Jokers – This Was Supposed to Be the Future

Come mai noi italiani non siamo molto bravi ad esportare la musica buona che produciamo?

Non lo so e vorrei saperlo. Tutti comprano e mangiano la nostra pasta. Siamo i migliori a fare la pasta da sempre. Evidentemente non siamo i migliori a fare la musica.

Pensi che serate come quelle di LTFMA aumentino la consapevolezza del pubblico nei confronti della musica indipendente?

Certamente, noi nel nostro piccolo ci sbattiamo, muoviamo le acque. Sono contento quando vedo il giorno dopo l’evento gente che si passa su facebook i link delle band della sera prima. Quando ho portato i Criminal Jokers avevamo 3 amici in comune il giorno dopo 40 circa. Va bene così.

Gli eventi di LTFMA sono organizzati dal collettivo Polimorfo di cui fai parte. Ci racconti qualcosa a riguardo?

Io, Guido Chiefalo e Lorenzo Muto siamo i fondatori del Polimorfo. Concetto astratto che per definizione può assumere più forme e ridiscutersi tutti i giorni. Oltre alle sera ora produciamo videoclip low cost per gruppi emergenti e raccogliamo intorno a noi professionisti e amici (devo ringraziare alessandro ele e fabrizio) che ci danno una mano a portare avanti la cosa. Da oggi abbiamo un sito con un po di belle storie su www.ilpolimorfo.com

Da non perdere dunque il prossimo evento di La Tua Fottuta Musica Alternativa, al Mads di Roma l’11 Febbraio con i Thank You For The Drum Machine, una band di cui posso confermare il potenziale dato che li ho visti al MEI dell’anno scorso e mi hanno davvero colpito (beh questo per chi si fida dei miei gusti naturalmente!)

Minimalist style poster for the next event of LTFMA (check out the frestyl logo in there!)