As you may have noticed by now, when I hear an interesting album, one of my first responses is to fire off some long-winded questions to the artists responsible. It’s sort of a combination of duty and privilege, and thankfully, my poor victims are usually inclined to go along with it. First to return in a series of “interviews” I sent out recently were these questions, happily answered by Vanessa Rossetto. If you’re one of the slower STARTLING MONIKER readers, or if you claim to have just found this blog, you can catch up by reading my review of Pulga’s debut release “Pulga Loves You,” on Fire Museum Records.
STARTLING MONIKER: I’m very curious about the recording process– Valerio is in Italy, and you’re in the States– but still, the album sounds terrifically together. What was the setup? Were you able to work together in person at all?
VANESSA ROSSETTO: No, we’ve never actually been in the same room before. We sent files back and forth through Soulseek for one another to work on and built the tracks up that way.
SM: Although it isn’t the first, “Pulga Loves You,” is a great example of geography’s increasing irrelevance in selecting a musical partner. Out of all the people in the world, why choose each other? Is there a commonality that isn’t immediately obvious?
VR: It started because Valerio and I were friends and we had talked about wanting to collaborate with one another for a while. I had been sending him all the new things I had been making and at one point he took one of the tracks I had sent (“The Forest of Shoes,” which ended up on the Joy of the Mountain CDR) and added saxophone and some other things to it. We both ended up liking the result so when I got home (I had been traveling) I started making pieces specifically with the intent of sending them to Valerio to add to them. The first piece that was made this way was “Witches and Bitches Brew” that was made for a comp Marriage Records was putting out.
SM: Depending on your answer to the first question, this one may be senseless… It seems that a lot of “Pulga Loves You” is improvised, yet I’m imagining you did not have the opportunity to improvise live together. How do you work around the rigidity of your recorded partner? During the process of creating the album, did you find that one of you was better suited for the task of “going second,” so to speak?
VR: I usually went first. Thinking back I am pretty sure I always went first but I’m not 100% sure on that. It worked better that way because Valerio was doing all the mixing and mastering and we just seemed to fall into doing it that way. For this reason, Valerio could probably give a better answer about working around rigidity than I could. It’s really about the most fun thing ever, though, to get files back after the other person has added to and modified them, not knowing what to expect.
SM: Each of the songs has a significant ‘imaginary’ quality to it– “Return to the Forest of Shoes,” ‘Still it Rides Me,” etc… and of course, the sounds are equally imaginative. What influences your music to sound this way? Are these purely “what if” creations of sound, or are either of you drawing on some sort of experience?
VR: It’s interesting because most of the things I make on my own are fairly programmatic in nature, but the Pulga stuff really isn’t. If anything, it’s more influenced by the things that Valerio and I were listening to at the time.
SM: What is coming up in the future for Pulga? Any plan to tour?
VR: Besides the Fire Museum release we have a split with Rob Funkhouser coming out on Phantom Limb/House of Alchemy that is pretty much done and should be out soon and will be making a second full length CD that we aim to have out some time in 2008. It would sure be fun to tour (or even just play in the same room for a change!) but for now it’s mostly a matter of having the money to do it.
SM: Last I knew, “pulga” means flea. Any special significance you’d care to share with obsessive fans who simply have to know this sort of stuff?
VR: The pulga where I live is a huge and amazing flea market where you can get roasted ears of corn and toy musical instruments of all kinds, along with fat scurrying chickens, astonishing and elegant cockatiels, ritual floor wash, cheap car mats, pocketknives emblazoned with flaming skulls, and hair clips (four for a dollar!)