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January 2020. On my last visit to my hometown before the pandemic struck, an old friend and former music partner, Gianluca Lo Presti, invited Emilio Albertoni and myself to dinner. He had recently lost his father, and a new album dedicated to reflecting on their time together was in the works. The idea included an album of original songs, and a companion EP of remixes of the same material, done by friends and former collaborators.
Gianluca asked us to choose a song to our liking and produce a remix together. We had complete creative freedom, and several months at our disposal. After listening, in isolation, to an early demo of the album, we both selected the same song: Non so chi sei (“I don’t know you”). Looked like we already were on the same page.
Then Covid arrived, wreaking havoc to everyone’s lives and projects. After a few months, and several chats between Emilio and I, we agreed he would start drafting ideas in Logic and send them over. I would then see his direction and decide how to interact with my own production.
I’ve been collaborating with Gianluca for twenty years, somehow picking up Simone’s baton right after he left Ravenna in the mid-Nineties. When we met last year, in a foggy wintry night, we couldn’t possibly know that a global pandemic was around the corner, nor that we would have worked together remotely, despite ironically living so close.Emilio Albertoni
Emilio delivered a first draft that sounded stunningly beautiful and really well crafted. I was totally inspired by the way he re-interpreted the song. It felt completely new compared to the original, yet perfectly retaining its spirit. More than 90% of our ‘demo’ material ended up in the final master.
I almost immediately decided to do a couple of things: first, write the bass part in a way that was coherent with Emilio’s tracked line, but at the same time convey the fractured feelings expressed in the song. Second, I wanted to re-add a section of Gianluca’s vocals, cut in a way that would slightly twist the meaning, creating a mirror of the original title. This is how we ended up re-titling our remix Non sai chi sono (“You don’t know me”).
We wanted to make this a dialogue, where the original song and our remix approached the father-son relationship from different point of views.
We listened to the song at lenght, making an effort to understand its feelings, and this was arguably the most relevant technique we applied.Emilio Albertoni
Production-wise, I remember playing my fretless bass over and over against Emilio’s demo while I still was in the UK planning my departure. It was a very stressful time: the pandemic was approaching its second peak in the country, my wife and I wanted to leave as soon as we could. We made it just in time before Britain’s second total lockdown.
After re-settling in my coastal Italian hometown, I managed to work on my side of production. Added the vocals, the bass, reorganized the samples, recorded a new rhythmic section in the chorus, along with an original Italian TV announcement of Nixon’s victory in 1968.
The spoken words of Gianluca’s father — recorded by himself on tape at the time — is featured all along, like a vocal journal of his preparations for a work trip in Iraq in the same year. At the beginning, tenderly speaking to his wife, he states the date: the day before Nixon was announced as the new President of the US.
Emilio and I exchanged opinions about the rough mixes, efficiently collaborating to the editing until we both felt the song was complete. I then mixed and mastered. After starting the work in Logic, as we used to do, both the mix and the master were entirely done in Pro Tools.
We strived to reach out to the core of the song — but also moving to a different territory — respectful of our different musical paths. Simone is outstanding at giving context to songs and laying down elegant credible bass lines. He built rhythmic parts, strenghtening and tying together the tension that I created with my guitars and synths.Emilio Albertoni
Electric guitars, synths, fretted bass, drums
Fretless bass, drums, sound effects, mix, master
Gianluca Lo Presti
Vocals, synth, sound effects
© 2020 music and lyrics by Gianluca Lo Presti (‘Nevica’).
© 2021 remix produced and arranged by Emilio Albertoni and Minutes to Midnight.
℗ 2021 copyright of the sound recording (master) owned by Minutes to Midnight and Emilio Albertoni. Recorded in Italy.