I remember the first time I spoke to Aris Bassetti. I had heard three songs from Peter Kernel on MySpace and we exchanged a few emails afterwards. At the end of one of them he told me, rather ironically, how difficult it was to be a Ticinese sometimes, at least with regards to rock, since the region is lacking in venues, concert halls, festivals and labels.
8 years later much is still the same, and yet it’s already another world. Like MySpace, the Ticinese rock wilderness seems to be a thing of the past, replaced by a scene in full expansion which is now being talked about beyond its borders. "Lately, new places that organise concerts have appeared. Above all, the qualitiy and ambitions of Ticinese groups have increased in the past 3 or 4 years and there are more of them performing and playing around the world" observes Aris Bassetti.
A label, a sign of seriousness
This 38 year old musician is someone to be reckoned with. On the Camper, the label he created in 2006 with his companion Barbara Lehnoff, has in recent years allowed the emergence of their Peter Kernel project, as well as several notable and exportable Ticino groups ranging from Camilla Sparksss (Barbara's solo project) to The Lonesome Southern Comfort Company. Above all, it has put Ticino on the today's music map. "I don’t know why but people take a label more seriously than a group, and this in particular attracts the attention of the media. That's why having a label makes sense in Ticino”, analyzes Aris Bassetti.
This label, which feels like a musical family, celebrated its 10th birthday during an Easter weekend festival in Lugano. It was the the opportunity to not only spearhead On the Camper, but also to discover some new live Ticino bands on the up. Headlining is tam bor, Vitti Bastianelli’s solo project, occasional drummer with Peter Kernel. Pounding his beats on synthetic loops, the young musician gives life to a strange mix of garage and electro, all enhanced by a powerful voice. Though more conventional, Viruuunga is by no means less seductive. The bass/drum duo, backed by a drum machine, nods its head to both psychedelic rock and ethereal lines of a certain new wave; their first EP is due out this fall. Lastly, the Niton Trio - last minute guests replacing Rocky Wood - who impress with their radical stance, electronic sounds from a polymorphous cello and homemade instruments, resulting in a music previously unheard of.
Thrills and future collaborations
Aside from the youngbloods, the (already) glorious elders of the Ticino scene are not left by the wayside. The Lonesome Southern Comfort Company distills its inspired folk, rougher and grimier on stage than on record, while Camilla Sparksss imposes itself in a fury of electro-lo-fi, causing the synths to saturate like few others. But the highlight of the weekend is of course Peter Kernel. The group behind the birth of On the Camper closes this jubilee with an indie rock that’s as effective as ever, but suddenly loaded with particular emotion. The thrills are palpable with the first chords of It's Gonna Be Great before an explosion of glitter punctuates the evening and the festival.
The festival was beautiful, leaving behind many great lasting memories. The two evenings at Studio Foce in Lugano were sold-out and gave Aris Bassetti some ideas. "This birthday was also a way for us to test the possible collaborations between different cultural aspects of the Canton, with a view to realizing a project that we’ve been thinking about for a long time," he explains. “A festival which we’d call La Tessinoise. This is our next goal”. The musical scene in Ticino has not ceased to surprise us.
Rocky Wood new EP "No Wait". https://rockywood.net
Rocky Wood new Video "Enough"