It’s always revealing to see where a musician’s alter ego comes from — why did they choose the name that they did? What persona are they trying to evoke, and how does that differ from who they really are? This week’s Music Meter Monday artist — who is currently holding court at number one on that chart — is all about perception, right down to his highly image-driven moniker: Porcelain Raft.
Porcelain Raft, aka Mauro Remiddi, is no wide-eyed bedroom musician emerging from the wilds of Somewhereville, USA, to stun and delight the blogging masses, No, he’s an established musician — having played with myriad acts, from Sunny Day Sets Fire to the Berlin Youth Circus, in a multitude of locales, from London to North Korea.
Now, Remiddi resides in New York City, leaving behind the trappings of a collaborative musical experience and emerging from it all as Porcelain Raft, a musical act reminiscent of its name: delicate and lovely, with an air of improbability cloaking it all.
We caught up with Remiddi via email while he was overseas touring for his debut album, Strange Weekend, to talk names, touring partners and perception.
Your debut LP came out just the other day in US. Tell me what you did that day? How did you feel? Could you sleep the night before?
I was playing a show in Oxford… after the gig I stood behind my merch table with a big smile and a pint of Guinness.
You’ve obviously had a lot of musical experience over the years — in film, etc. Tell me about Porcelain Raft: Who is that persona? What makes this project distinct from all of your other work? Also, what are some of your experiences in music that led you to this point?
I’ve been recording in my room since I was very small, it’s been an ongoing thing since then. While recording I also started different projects; I always liked to play with other people. At some point I just realized that what I was recording at home was the real thing, it was me without hiding behind a band. It just came natural to open the door of my room and let people see and hear what I was doing.
Where did that band name come from? It evokes a lovely imagery.
I just put the two words together and it sounded straight away something I liked. I went to my flatmate to ask what he thought about it, he said ‘How can a raft made of porcelain float?’ That was what made it for me. If the raft made of porcelain is not floating on the water where is it floating then? If you are cynical you see it sinking, if you are not, it sparks your imagination
You currently live in Brooklyn, no? What prompted that move and how do you find it different from London? Better, worse, different, the same? You’re kind of a nomadic figure, really — playing with a circus, performing in North Korea — will you ever settle down?
I feel pretty much at home in New York and I just moved here. London was a great place that allowed me to reinvent myself; I met so many great people there, my best friends.
New York has an energy that resonates with me right now. I never wanted to settle in a way because I’m curious and wanted to see where my music would bring me.
It’s kind of interesting that you’re touring with Youth Lagoon and M83 — two musicians from a similar corner of music (although one is much more established). What do you think you can learn from those two men — one just getting into the scene, one having been there for a while?
I don’t think there will be time to chat about life or experiences with the two men; touring can be stressful, in a joyful way.
From the music side of things the two are the complete opposite and that is nothing to do with being established or not.
It’s fascinating, M83 has a bigger sound and his dream falls down from the highest cloud — it’s a mythical music, primordially epic. I feel Youth Lagoon works on a smaller scale, making any tiny and fragile thought and feeling shine through a stained glass.
It’s the way these two artists understand the importance of the size of what they do and treat that as an element of their music. I feel very honored to share the stage with them.
What is your songwriting process? I hear a lot about ‘bedroom musicians,’ but as Trevor from Youth Lagoon once told me, all music is bedroom music, really. What makes your process different/the same from other musicians of your ilk?
I compose the song and record at the same time, I lay down parts and improvise lyrics and edit everything at the end. I never really sat down and said, ‘OK, let’s write a song’. Recording and composing has always been one thing for me.
Bedroom music describes the place where something was recorded and I think the room or the place where you record is an instrument. Make the instrument play, make the room resonate.
I love your blog (on your website) — all the interesting stories you share and all the snippets of poetry you record. When and why did you start blogging?
Thanks, glad you like it… I just was gathering materials and tacking notes and I think to have a blog is the easiest way to have all gathered in one place. Also in that way you can share it.
I always liked the idea of working in progress, to show the fact that you are building something. The final thing doesn’t appeal me. I want to build the main structure, then leave space to your imagination to see what you want to see.
Can you tell me about the concept for the video ‘Unless You Speak From Your Heart’?
I always felt that if you put any object in a white room the object itself changes meaning, because it’s separated from its natural surrounding. A chair for example, next to it there’s a table, on the table there’s a cup of coffee and so on. The chair needs the elements around it to be a chair.
Once in a white room that chair can be or mean anything you want. Can represent the colosseum for all I know.
So I put myself in a white room, with a mic stand and two alter egos just to see what would have happened.