After “Waveforms” and the Urban Laser Show Andro wants to keep on working and evolving
Andrea Mariano, aka Andro, and better known as the keyboard player from popular band Negramaro is a sound alchemist. Through the countless different ways in which he dedicates himself to sound and music, he manages to create experimental melodies that go beyond the contemporary by blending with sounds that speak the universal language of classical music.
The result, as Andro himself explains on his official web site, is “an intense synthesis of tradition and innovation, a captivating mix of harmonies and acid sounds”. A
ndro is no stranger to taking to prestigious stages in front of a vast audience, the success of Negramaro is a constant exercise – testing oneself with the adrenaline of a live performance and much, much more. “Producer, DJ, keyboards, music and more” as he puts it on his Instagram profile, Andro focuses on the construction of sound projects, produces soundtracks for feature films and fashion films, collaborates on initiatives with important Italian and international artists and, from now on, can also lay claim to having curated the music for the first Urban Laser Show in Italy.
The huge GalaxyS7SHOW event, organised by Samsung and held in Milan on 10 March, was a brand new format for show design, in which the musical and visual elements were blended in a hypnotic multisensory game (which we already told you all about here).
We chatted with Andro about the situation behind the scenes at the Urban Laser Show and creation of the exclusive musical composition entitled “Waveforms”.
Andro – Photo Credit: Flavio&Frank
Sound Identity: We read that this project kept you up at night. Can you tell us some more about the premise from which it all started?
Andro:Yes, the first two days were very intense. I was brought on board by Anghela Alò and Claudio Santucci from the Gio Forma studio approximately three weeks before the event, when they already had an idea of what the show would be, that is, a laser show with an ad hoc soundtrack. I must admit that knowing I only had 20 days to work on a show of that scale did make me a little anxious to begin with; it’s not the kind of thing that happens every day. We had a meeting on the first day and we laid down the guidelines for this new collaboration and then, in two days, I had a first draft of Waveforms. I built these 12’ by marking the various minutes and seconds moment by moment, predicting what would happen. At that point, a whole world opened up and we all relaxed because we had something to work from. It would all start from Waveforms.
Sound Identity: You involved some real professionals from the music scene and other areas. What was it like collaborating with Mauro Pagani, Sergio Carnevale and Lele Sacchi for this project?
Andro:I immediately suggested a series of collaborations as part of the track. I wanted a percussion moment and I was keen to involve Sergio Carnevale for that, a moment of choreography for which has been called performer Erika Lemay who embodies the art of the circus, the elegance of a classical dancer and the expressivity of a physical poet. It was a mix that proved to be very effective in terms of both emotion and scenography in the cube context, which was an unusual setting for Erika.
Then there was some wonderful choreography from Modulo Project coordinated by Laccio, which enhanced various moments of the show.
It was important to me that we involve Mauro Pagani, with whom I have collaborated on many other projects for the band (Negramaro). He still has that unpredictable creative soul which is what has enabled his long and eclectic career and which fits perfectly with any artistic situation. Again in this case, he masterfully interpreted a performance that might have seemed light years away from his style. Yet what he wrote and created fit perfectly with the extremely electronic character of Waveforms.
My aim was to create a harmonious mix that embraced various musical worlds, starting from my varied background, to then include the experience of Sergio Carnevale, Mauro Pagani and Lele Sacchi with his irrefutable background in clubbing.
Sound Identity: How did the project develop exactly? And how did you manage to obtain that alchemy that we witnessed between the elements of sound and vision?
Andro: For me to bring together all those different elements, connected to the creation of a track designed for a performance by other people, was really stimulating and perhaps the task that I have been most enthusiastic about ever. I have worked on soundtracks, sound design installations and TV spots for years, but I think this sort of dimension was actually the synthesis of everything I like. It brought together production, collaboration with other artists and also light design, which I am very passionate about.
Sound Identity: Was that one of the reasons you were involved in the project or was it just by chance?
Andro:They had no idea about this interest of mine. I am just a fan, by no means professional. Years ago, for a Negramaro tour, I had a laser harp built after seeing Jean Michel Jarre use one in concert. I was so curious that I immediately looked for somebody to make one in Italy. I then used it during a solo on one of our tours. Apart from that, I have always approached the world of light design and laser for my own private interests. But I was able to really explore this sector and develop my knowledge by following the production of Negramaro tours. I often find myself working alongside operators and light designers to define the scenography for the show. It was quite natural for me to develop a passion for these visual experiments.
Sound Identity: Was it natural to think about the event as a whole, even where the visuals were concerned?
Andro:Yes, it happened quite naturally and it was truly stimulating to have the chance to create a track that would be the basis for a form of visual art, in this case mainly the mapping onto the four sides of the cube that was realised with support from Clonwerk. I also involved Jordan Babev, a light designer who came on tour with Negramaro and turned out to be quite exceptional in terms of creativity and speed, remember this was a project that started out from scratch in terms of production and was perfectly functional in 20 days. The structure of the track also had to cover the stage change, which I resolved with a series of mechanisms that I kept in mind whilst writing so that it would support the various performances yet also allow the technical time for various stage changes.
Andro – Photo Credit: Flavio&Frank
Sound Identity:What was it like being there that evening and making sure everything went right?
Andro:I can say that I enjoyed it from my position on top of the cube (9 metres high). Even at our concerts, I still always wonder how the public sees the show from an outside perspective. I would like to be able to clone myself and be both on the stage performing and at the same time among the public enjoying the whole show.
Sound Identity: What was the secret to the success of the Urban Laser Show?
Andro:I really want to emphasise that it was thanks to the whole team, every member of staff, that this project was possible. Like me, each one of them worked incessantly to guarantee our success. There were non-stop exchanges of emails, files and ideas. Every time I modified the track, I sent it to mapping, they prepared the simulations while I kept working on the details and divided the track into various segments to allow Jason Rooney to work on the mix. I think that the success of this project is down to team work: a perfect combination of Italian and international talents.
The Made in Italy component of this project is further proof of the fact that there are plenty of people in Italy who are more than capable of keeping up with other countries in terms of technology, skill, taste and creativity. Everything was studied down to the last detail, nothing was left to chance, starting from the production itself which was handled by Eventually, acting as the glue to that kept all the various figures together.
Sound Identity:What is your relationship with technology?
Andro:I have never read an instructions booklet, my approach is more pragmatic. I like experimenting and exploring by trial and error, then memorising the solutions that I found. It’s the same with music, I start from my knowledge of classical repertoire and my training at the conservatory to then explore new developments and technology as a self-taught student.
Sound Identity: What do you think of the Italian scene? Do you think brands are beginning to grasp the importance of entrusting sound design and sound branding to professionals?
Andro: This project gave me the chance to work with complete freedom and zero conditioning artistically speaking. I think that one of the most important factors if a project is to be a success is to have the utmost expressive freedom and the brand that sponsored this event proved themselves to be forward-thinking by trusting in the experts they had selected. Towards the end of the project, we organised a listening session in my studio with the staff and a few representatives from Samsung. We listened to the music and watched the simulation of what would happen and, I must say, it was truly satisfying to see the appreciation of the brand and to see that we had earned their trust.
Sound Identity: What projects do you have planned for the future?
Andro:To keep on working and evolving. I believe it is fundamental to keep experimenting in order to bring new ideas to the band. Each of us has our own personal projects and this brings energy to the band itself. I am leaving shortly and I’ve got rehearsals with the band tomorrow at a manor farm in my diary, followed by a DJ set in Salento and I’ve even managed to fit in some appointments even further afield. All this in just a few days and still managing to squeeze in my birthday tomorrow (interview date: 25 March 2016) and Easter! And then, who knows? Perhaps we’ll take Waveforms and the Laser Show around the world.
Urban Laser Show – Photo Credit: Cristina Risciglione