MURDAH SRVC is an audio and visual project based in Catania, Italy, mixing Manga illustrations with music. The band's singer and creator Che spoke to Boogie O. Churchill about his current UK tour - hitting the Angel Microbrewery tomorrow - his artwork, and his time in Japan…
Hi Che, you've landed in Birmingham and have just played the first show of your UK tour, how are you finding your trip so far?
Amazing! The British audience is always so open minded and eager to discover new artists and we got so much love today!
You perform at our fair city of Nottingham tomorrow at the Angel Microbrewery... Being a fan of comic books, myths and classic films, do you have any prior knowledge of our city, Robin Hood, etc?
Of course I do so I’m super excited to perform in a city so full of history! I expect you guys to take me on a full guided tour at the very least!
This can be arranged my friend! The legendary Nottingham Castle is only fifteen minutes’ walk from the Angel... Not that there's much of it left!
I still want to see it! (Laughs)
When I first heard your music, I was drawn by the juxtaposition of an edgy yet commercial sounding track mixed with the dark, edgy animated design. Was the interesting and brave combination intentional?
I'm very happy you enjoyed it. I started off writing a plot for a sci-fi manga and from that I was inspired for song-writing. So basically, the music is a soundtrack for the manga, and the manga is the visual for the music. I combined my biggest passions, manga and electronic soul music, which I call Future Soul.
How do you think that fans of this simple yet commercial musical style will react to the darker artwork content, and do you have plans to add those visual characters so that they become a key component to the songs?
When you come to see the band live or watch a video, I want you to enter MURDAH SRVC world. We perform with heavily influenced Japanese culture visuals synced to the music, from pop culture to anime, to Japanese older movie scenes like Yasujiro Ozu 1950s movies. This definitely will be interesting for people that are fascinated by Japanese culture or might even be shocking because sometimes I use strong images. Everything, in the end, reconnects to the storyline of the manga...
Ahh that sounds fantastic! A fascinating looking place is Japan, with some legendary moviemakers. You spent a few years there... What led to that part of your life?
I lived in Osaka, Japan for one year as an exchange student about fifteen years ago because my major in college was Japanese Language and Literature. I've been fascinated by anime since I was a child, so I started drawing at a very young age and my idea was to become a professional manga artist. Then when I was in high school, I started making music as well so when I chose to go to college, I thought it was more responsible to choose something I could get a more regular job from but still I had passion for. So, I won a scholarship and had the chance to spend one year there, learning the language better and making music as well. It was definitely a very significant experience to me as a person and artist.
I recently spoke to Jez from Noisemaker's Guild (supporting you on your UK tour) and he was fascinated by his recent trip to Japan. Any stories about Japanese culture during your time there?
Osaka people are very open, loud and friendly. It was surreal how every morning I would meet elementary students on my way to uni or work and they would greet me with "Harooooo (Hello)" just because I was a foreigner. Once I was having dinner at a very cheap Pachinko parlor cafeteria - everything was only 100 ¥ - and a lady gifted me a bag of pineapple chips; she just came closer to me and handed me the bag without saying a word and she left! At the beginning I was wondering how could they sleep on trains for the exact amount of time until their stop, at the end of the year I found myself doing that and bowing over the phone while speaking Japanese!
Tell us a little bit more about your history in music before you reached this current stage of your career...
I've been making music for about 20 years. I was vocalist for several bands and I did some songwriting work for indie and major artists. In 2014 I started working on the MURDAH SRVC project and produced some songs with Italian producer John Lui. In 2017 I started touring internationally, the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Japan...
That sounds brilliant. What have you found to be the differences in those different countries? I have visited there a couple of times and seen some live music there too.
I think there is more education about listening to original music. I had lots of positive feedback in small pub gigs or bigger club ones. People are eager to discover new music and have no prejudice. In Italy, I find people willing to sing along to songs they already know or that are on the radio at the moment. That's why I chose to sing in English and to perform abroad before I did in Italy for this project, because the music genre is not popular over here. The experience in Japan was at the beginning of 2020. It's been great going back after so many years!
So, you think that smooth electronic soul sound doesn't translate well to audiences in Italy? Music truly translates everywhere if it's done well.
Honestly, I consider myself a world citizen. I've always been traveling my whole life and it's just something I love to do. Even more when music takes me to new places. The situation in Italy is not the brightest for small acts. Most cities, besides the bigger ones, have little opportunities for bands to perform their own music. Nevertheless, I had the chance to rock bigger stages as well in my country, some festivals too and had lots of love showed, but somehow, it's been just single events. Italians are not familiar with this sound, so I hope that they will grow an interest in it.
British culture, even in small towns, has such a history for giving live music a chance, we are very fortunate. So, when you say working on the manga what exactly will that entail? A graphic novel or online scenario via a website?
To be honest with you I'm not a huge fan of online comics. There are several platforms where comic writers nowadays can upload their production and can be seen worldwide easily. But for my manga I'd love to pursuit the old school printed media. At the moment, there is no publisher involved, but when I'm finished, I'd like to submit the work. And if I won't find the right agreement, I'll probably print it myself and sell it online and at shows.
Here's a curveball question for you: If you had the choice of being an internationally known comic artist (Stan Lee level) or top ten international artist (Royal Blood/The 1975 level), which one would you choose and why? (You would get the same royalties...)
It’s a tough one, but I’d probably say music artist because the energy I receive from the audience when I’m on stage is priceless. On the other hand, making comics is very relaxing to me so it’s a real challenge to pick one!
Do you think as you get older you become more patient with waiting for the right time to release music and art instead of rushing? Is that something you regret with your early music or did you always have a great game plan of what to do next?
I think experience is key. I learned how productive I can be, I learned how long it takes for me to finish one gig, whether it's music or visuals. So, I learned how not to overdo things. By nature, I'd like to do 100 things because I get super-excited and I want to try new stuff. But then I end up not completing not even fifty percent. So, I started studying some marketing as well, to get more organised and to understand the things I had to do myself, and the ones I could outsource. I managed to find a team I trust, and learned how to take the best out of each individual. It's definitely not an overnight thing, it takes time to do it and, in my case, I think there's still room for improvement!
It sounds like you have learned a lot and are laying some great foundations for the project. It has the potential to be very exciting and I'm intrigued as to where you will take it!
Let's say that music-wise and visually-wise I'm where I'd love to be today. I just hope I find the right way to communicate to like-minded people and create a real community rather than just try to look cool on social media. I hope that people can feel they can be part of something, a whole new world when they think of MURDAH SRVC.
It sounds like the right mix of talent and passion is there for the project and I have no doubt it will be a success! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me and good luck for the release.
Thank you so much for having me and giving some space to music - and visuals - from the soul!
MURDAH SRVC 'Bloody Valentine Tour' hits Nottingham tomorrow, 13 February at the Angel Microbrewery
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