At a certain point in my life, I found myself completely perplexed and at the same time mesmerized by a band from Torino, Italy , consisting of two brothers, called My Cat Is An Alien. They have released many many beautiful editions of exploratory sound and visual art. I was immediately drawn-in by the hand-painted, screen-printed and paste-on album covers on many of their early releases. They all seem to capture this strange and mysterious out there-ness that makes you kind of wonder if maybe these guys are from some other world. The sounds they create seem to fit this mood perfectly. They have now marked their 20th year as a band as they continue to guide us through the stargate into the unknown dimensions of the other worlds.
LT: All over the world, it seems we are all trying to get through these extraordinarily difficult times. What have you guys been up these days?
MCIAA: Needless to say, it’s been a really tough period, ‘cause as you know Northern Italy has been hit particularly violently and suddenly by this pandemia—actually the first Western country right after China—and we’ve been stuck in our hometown Torino, with no possibility to go to our place in the Western Alps. Music and art are the only means of survival for MCIAA, and Italy’s government does not help or financially support “independent” artists in any way—are you an artist? you must die! …So, we tried to take care of ourselves, stay healthy and focuse even more our activity on what is really essential for MCIAA: put our music on physical records! The reification of music! Only once a MCIAA work is on whatever physical format we feel it comes to life… we always had the same feeling since the very beginning. Among the forthcoming releases, at this point we want to tell as preview for you that the new MCIAA studio album will be out this Fall on our own and renewed Opax private press: musically what we consider one of MCIAA’s absolute highlights, and conceptually our intimate and deepest reflections on the way this Planet and humankind have been evolving—and fading—during this period of extreme crisis.
LT: I keep seeing MCIAA videos that show you guys using some very interesting looking instruments. What are the origins of these devices?
MCIAA: from the beginning our interest in experimenting with sound led us to consider and play any sort of instrument in a non-academic way. The point is to make the alien sounds that inhabit our minds real. Also, it’s too boring and anti-creative to follow “instructions”: we need to create our own sound!
MAURIZIO: For instance when me and Roberto still played mainly electric guitars, my brother would play it using his vast array of “space toy guns”. Then in 2012, right after writer Ken Hollings came to our Alien Studio in Torino and tried to unveil MCIAA’s universe through The Wire cover article, we thought it would have been exciting for us to change the game, escaping predictability once again—the exact opposite of what most of musicians and visual artists usually do—and somehow challenge ourselves demonstrating we could keep MCIAA’s distinctive sound even re-shaping our whole instrumentation.
ROBERTO: So Maurizio built self-made wooden string instruments for himself following exclusively his own vision, while I modified some primitive electronic devices—called “alientronics”—and made my wordless vocalizations become an even stronger and basic element in MCIAA’s music. MCIAA’s sound was still there and stronger than ever, simply in a completely renewed shape and concept. Whatever instrument we might invent or play, it will always be 100% MCIAA.
LT: Your records truly have a fantastic mysteriousness about them that absolutely uplift and send my imagination into oblivion. The artwork and sounds are so deeply cosmic and beautiful. Where/How do you gather your inspiration for these releases?
MCIAA: inspiration for MCIAA’s artworks and sounds is strongly connected with the moment of creation itself. Our creative process is pure mystery to ourselves too… We never seek to it, it just manifests itself and we accept it as a gift from outer space. Actually we believe mysteriousness should always be the true substance of Art itself. Elements from the outer and inner worlds at one point collide and make magic happen. We don’t need to search for inspiration ‘cause when time has come it’s as simple as switching the light on. Then MCIAA are at work: there’s no way to stop the creative process. Sounds and visual artworks spontaneously merge into a unique vision. Our spirits and souls stare at what is yet to come… from the brilliance of MCIAA’s mysterious “Great Void”.
LT: After 20 years of creating and performing, are there any releases or moments that you feel especially have captured the true essence and feel of what My Cat Is An Alien has been trying to do? …Any favorites?
MCIAA: hard to answer… everything we do as MCIAA tends towards transcendence, and is part of an ever-expanding universe where each creation has its own peculiar place and meaningful story behind. We hate to repeat ourselves, yet we do have an innate sense of stylistic coherence: every MCIAA release, performance and art work will always be unique and at the same time inevitably MCIAA. From the debut “Landscapes Of An Electric City” to the two series of split ART-LPs “From the Earth to the Spheres” and “Cosmic Debris”, the retrospective box set “ALIENOLOGY: Selected Works 1998-2008”, “The Sky With Broken Arms”, “RE-SI-STEN-ZA!” (whose concept is more current than ever!)… and our new side project > ETERNAL BEYOND > with French female singer/musician Joëlle Vinciarelli. And of course the two LPs released on Lost Treasures Of The Underworld always keep a special place in our hearts: “Sotto Le Stelle” and “Inward Eye” LPs are two highlights both musically and visually: collaborating with you we got some of the most wonderful artefacts ever! They represent MCIAA’s aesthetics of true “out-there-ness”.
LT: We heard the Victoriaville Festival was canceled this year. Is that going to get rescheduled? And…do you have any other upcoming events, releases or anything online that you’d like to tell our readers to check out?
MCIAA: hopefully 2021 will guarantee the safety conditions for festivals like Victoriaville to happen, and for musicians to travel healthy across the world. We were very sorry for not being able to perform at FIMAV again—this time with our new instrumentation—to present MCIAA’s new phase called “SPIRITUAL NOISE”, as well as the quartet with Jean-Marc Montera and Lee Ranaldo.. These are two projects we’ve been working last year, launching a new label called Antigravitational which focuses on MCIAA and collaborative projects: with a strong, unique design, each vinyl release comes out with a proper artist book pasted on the cover jacket, featuring links to online extra contents, thus offering a full immersion in MCIAA’s audiovisual universe. “Spiritual Noise” Vol.1 and Vol.2, as well as the live recording of “MCIAA XX Anniversary”, performed in Torino in quartet with JM Montera and Lee Ranaldo, have been released so far. Art editions come along LPs, art books and digital and it’s all on the label’s Bandcamp page. Another label, Elliptical Noise, which started ten years ago in Canada with the aim to support and spread MCIAA’s music via Bandcamp is always the first platform where to find new physical / digital releases too, and sometimes bunches of long-out-of-print records.