Winter Severity Index have achieved a consistently high level of excellence on all their releases to date. ‘Disgelo’, their third full-length studio album, was released in February 2022. The album is infused with elements of Synthwave, 1980s Post-Punk and Shoegaze intertwined with elements of trip hop and electronica. Winter Severity index are Simona Ferrucci— vocalist, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, and Alessandra Romeo— Keyboards and synths.

Q: In preparation for this interview, I re-listened to the entire ‘Winter Severity Index’ collection, living the journey release by release. Which of your creations do you personally hold dear and why so?

Simona Ferrucci: It's really hard to answer to this question Sean. Every song, every track is strongly related to a moment in my own life that suggests me a sort of vision of things, so I really care a lot about every single one. In the other hand I always try to listen to them impartially, as they were written and performed by another artist; if I practice this sort of detachment, I can say there are some tracks that I appreciate more than others. They are ‘Compulsion’ from ‘Slanting Ray’, ‘Severity’ from our first EP, ‘Blue Bird’ from ‘Survival Rate’, ‘Anemone’ from the compilation for Anywave Records, ‘5AM’ and ‘A Quiet Life’ from ‘Human Taxonomy’.

Alessandra Romeo: It’s difficult to pick up favourite child. For sure ‘Disgelo’ had a troubled birth, due to the pandemic and lockdowns. We started writing in Spring 2018, after a big change occurred in my life. We finished it in January 2019. Now it is inspiriting being able to hear it out. In general, any song reminds me feelings and emotions, each track is a box of memories. For this reason, I can mention ‘At least the snow’ from ‘Slanting Ray’, ‘5am’ from ‘Human Taxonomy’.

Q: Your albums Slanting Ray’ (2014), ‘Human Taxonomy’ (2016) and ‘Katabasis’ (2017) document distinct steps in the evolution of your sound. All your releases have a unique sonic identity. To your mind: what is it that defines the unique personality of Winter Severity Index’s sound?

Simona Ferrucci: First of all, thanks a lot for this consideration. It's absolutely true; we care a lot about sound quality and research in new ways of playing our instruments. If the result of this work is appreciated and remarked is a great reason of fulfilment for us. Nevertheless, is hard to sum up our personality in terms of sound in a single definition, also because we always want to feel free about it and change its characteristics if required by new expressive necessities.

Alessandra Romeo: Thank you very much, Sean, for your words. The instrument sounds are always a big component of study and research for us. However, I wouldn’t say that we have a unique sonic identity, because the instruments define our sound and in ‘Disgelo’ we use a completely new instruments set. Probably the perception of a unique personality of Winter Severity Index’s sound is due to our way of writing and playing music.

Q: The soundstage of ‘Disgelo’ is much more spacious than previous works— what I would describe as a ‘glacial post Brian Eno-esque soundscape’. What has inspired this progression?

Simona Ferrucci: Surely my new approach in music, as I started studying sound engineering, my recurring listening to krautrock that become even more intense than in the past, (Brian Eno of course! A sort of divinity of my personal Walhalla), the will to discover synths in all their potential of expression, have a deep impact in the composition of this new LP. But the most important aspect I want to underline is that krautrock inspired (and still does) me, not only from a mere sound point of view but most of all from a general approach to creativity, less concentrated to individuality, less ego-centred. I think this will be the aspect I will develop also in the following productions.

Alessandra Romeo: I really appreciated your definition, thank you. The will to use the arpeggiator instead of the bass opened up to new powerful possibilities and it also drove the sound into more electronic environment: ‘the glacial post Brian Eno-esque soundscapes’. This different approach and new instruments have created this spacious soundstage. Even if I don’t consider ‘Disgelo’ a pure electronic album. You can also find shoegaze, coldwave and trip pop echoes among the album’s tracks.

Q: On ‘Disgelo’, each track possesses an array of engaging voices and sounds in the mix. The fidelity of the recording is superb. Where did you record and mix ‘Disgelo’? Who engineered, produced, and mastered the recording?

Simona Ferrucci: I personally recorded the instruments in my own home studio, with great help for the guitars from Mirko Giuseppone, my partner in life and in work. Voice has been recorded at Subsound Studio by our great friend and amazing producer Luciano Lamanna, who mixed with me, still at the Subsound Studios (as we usually do, also for the previous releases) and mastered the LP.

Alessandra Romeo: Luciano Lamanna knows very well which sound we look for. His magical touch has forged all our releases.

Q: The vocals on ‘Disgelo’ have a reflective and introspective feel. Could you explain the key themes in the songs? Does the album possess settings linked to social-consciousness or the human condition? What influences your song writing process?

Simona Ferrucci: ‘Disgelo” (haw but also detente) is about the necessity of adaptation to new phases that unavoidably occur in everyone's existence. This process emerges in all its difficulties but also in its fascinating aspects: farewells, passages of time, death, cosmic cycles, climate changes, but also the insuppressible urge of discovery and confrontation, the opening to love and new relationships, everything related with putting ourselves under question with the unavoidable consequence of a deeper self-awareness and a true admission of responsibility in our choices. The composition and the song writing were inspired by important events happened in my life, related to love and death, to a more profound consciousness about life phases and the strong certainty we're here to understand, to make questions and increase our knowledge through a dialectic incessant movement we must assist, never obstruct.

Q: A strong feature of ‘Winter Severity Index’s music is the richly melodic atmospheric guitar. On ‘Disgelo’ the guitar is used more sparingly. Did you plan this intentionally?

Simona Ferrucci: Of course. Nothing is casual in Winter Severity Index. And the final intention was to underline the melodic impact of the lines isolating them in short cameos in the developing of the song structure.

Q: On this album, the listener is taken on a journey. Each track adds to the overall strength and cohesiveness. Was the flow from track-to-track intentional, or something that evolved during the recording process?

Simona Ferrucci: All the tracks have a common subject but declined in different ways. I think the LP can't actually be considered as a concept album but it definitely shows a strong connection between all its moments. The actual flow of the tracks was decided at the end of the composition and recording process, but I must admit I had a clear idea of it from the very beginning. Don't ask me more, it's pure instinct.

Alessandra Romeo: It was clear from the beginning that ‘Disgelo’ would be a different album, divided into eight tracks, but a unique whole routed in various moments. Each track is a landscape where you can lose yourself, pierced by emotions.

Q: ‘Blood Rock Records’ will be releasing the vinyl version of ‘Disgelo’. Tell us a little about the label and why you have elected to work with them? Will ‘Disgelo’ be pressed on 130gm or 180gm vinyl? Will there be coloured vinyl?

Simona Ferrucci: Blood Rock Records is a little Italian label headed by a single guy, Enrico Spallarossa, we collaborate with since 2013. Its releases are always well-finished from an aesthetic and functional point of view but what we appreciate the most is that the label has a various roster, from doom metal to dark ambient, from new wave to experimental, from psych rock to electronics, from new projects to historical ones. The trademark is, of course, an obscure mood, nevertheless remaining regardless to the strict labelling imposed by trade. In this sense Blood Rock Records is a real independent label. The vinyl will be released in May, and it will be transparent and with a gatefold sleeve.

Alessandra Romeo: I couldn’t say better than Simona.

Q: The closing track on the album, ‘Un Roseau Pensant’ is sung in French. Is the oratory nature of your vocal inspired by an ancient singing tradition? What moved you to write this special track?

Simona Ferrucci: Simply the meaning of the quoted text, which is originally by Blaise Pascal. So not a specific choice based on French more than other languages. The choice was based most of all on the intention of authenticity from a philological point of view. Luckily, I speak a little French and could read the quotation without particular problems.

Q: An interesting dilemma I have with your new album is that each time I listen, from start to finish I can’t think of an album good enough to follow up. Do you have any recommendations? Especially from today’s Synthwave and Coldwave genres?

Simona Ferrucci: I must be very honest: at the moment I don't listen to new synthwave and coldwave productions. I'm more on old electronics, psych and prog rock from the Seventies, things like that. So I really can't give any updated suggestion. What I can suggest is to listen again to classics in order to keep your ears trained with complexity, audacity, enthusiasm, experimentation and the courage to make mistakes, that is what I really miss in nowadays music, too much prone on easily collecting success (and be consequently forgotten in a few years).

Alessandra Romeo: Of course I listen to new synthwave and coldwave works, and post punk is always in my roots. But I like to discover darkness and melancholy in many genres. I used to search state of mind, suggestions and correspondence with my feelings: the therapeutic side of music that many times saved my life. The only advice I personally can give for listening to Disgelo, is to close your eyes and let the music lead you to travel afar.

Interview by Sean Bowley from Australian Darkwave Band EDEN.

Winter Severity Index Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/winterseverityindex

Winter Severity index Bandcamp: https://winterseverityindex.bandcamp.com

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