Michele Mozzillo (vocals) from Hapax
Already a first listening to HAPAX gave me a feeling I came across something special and exquisite. The Naples based, Post Punk / Darkwave trio already won ears of the audiences in Europe and their albums ‘Exile’, ‘Cave’ or ‘Monade’ present both the soul and substance of the best quality. Ahead of their show at Nocturnal Culture Night I spoke to Michele Mozzillo - the band’s frontman- not only about the live shows, but also Naples scene, music and creative process as well
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: At the very beginning - could you please tell me how did your journey with music started? You were formed in 2014, so you quite a history.
Michele: Hi everybody! HAPAX is a project formed in 2014 that has until now released three full-length albums and one EP, all with the label Swiss Dark Nights owned by Valerio lo Vecchio. We’ve always been “tagged” as Darkwave / Coldwave band, but we like also to experiment and trespass into the Industrial zone. In the past we used already to play in other bands, so we have always been actively engaged in music projects. It just came up, by chance we could say. The inspiration, the HAPAX-mood, had been in our minds for quite long time before. We got a couple of tracks done, drafts at that time, and after Valerio (Swiss Dark Nights) heard them, he immediately wanted us to be part of the artists produced by his label. Thus we started working on our first album.
RoD: Is the music you make in HAPAX a result of your own musical taste? When you first started making music were you inspired by any artists?
Michele: Actually we like listening to disparate music genres and it would be hard to name all the artists, whose works we have appreciated in recent times. We are lately fascinated by deeper, more ancestral and tribal sounds. But we are always on the lookout of sonorities that could excite and stimulate us.
RoD: ‘Exile’ was out on 28th May 2021. It’s a great album filled with dark, vibrant songs. Is the album part of a larger story you tell as a band?
Michele: Sure, ‘Exile’ tells about what we are experiencing and what we lived during the last two years. Being away from stages, from human contact, has changed us as people and makes us see the world in a different way. In this scenario the culture is the one who lost more and we ourselves with our music try, in our small way to contribute to it.
RoD: Tell me how was the album recorded - what inspired the content?
Michele: Recording this album was a liberation, as we said above, being away from the stages but also from the rehearsal room had made us a bit 'dizzy and this was our way to react. This album was entirely recorded in analogue in the wonderful studio of our drummer (Francesco Giuliano / Hive Studios). We had a direct and “visceral” approach to these latest songs, unlike the other albums which were much more elaborate.
RoD: ‘Exile’ is energetic and kicking and yet it holds a profound, melancholic vibe to it, too (like e.g. on ‘The Unfailful One’ or ‘A Different Blue’). Is the contrast a thing you would call something characteristic for HAPAX artistic output? Black and white album covers, warmth and coldness in sounds, cool guitars, velvety vocals...
Michele: In the albums as well as in the single songs we bring in all what we feel inside, and each one of us Diego (arrangements and artistic production), Alessandra (lyrics), Francesco (studio production and drumming) and Michele (vocals) has good and bad times. Writing songs is a bit like laying bare to reveal to people how you really are. You can discover so much of our lives, of our thoughts and of our desires by listening to our music.
RoD: Is there a song on the album that is particularly important to you?
Michele: There isn’t any particular song we’re especially fond of, each one is relevant for us, otherwise we wouldn't have released it. Of course every one of us is more tied to one specific track than to another, but we keep that for ourselves. We always try to look straight forward and think about the next project.
RoD: The covers of all your albums follow one black-white stylistics. Who is responsible for the visual part of HAPAX releases?
Michele: Diego takes care of our graphics. While producing a song, he has kind of visions that he then translates into music and also into images. Actually, our first release ‘Stream of Consciousness’ had some colours... The cover of ‘Exile’ was created by a great illustrator of international fame ‘Daniele Serra’, who was so kind to draw a new subject for our release.
RoD: As you progress as the band - how would you say you develop with every album you release? In terms of music, lyrics, live shows?
Michele: It’s something we don’t really think about, we just let ourselves be inspired and make music in the best way we can. Everything else comes out naturally, we don’t plan what will happen live and every concert is different.
RoD: Apart from the new album - tell me about the video making process for ‘Silvery Track’. The effect is spectacular. Alessandra Policella, who also wrote the lyrics for the song, appeared in the video. It was inspired by the Covid pandemic, is that right?
Michele: As said before a pretty much of the whole record is inspired by that. We discussed with our director Elio De Filippo (Studio Nubes) and our photographer Jessica Squillante, about how to represent the way culture has been left aside and in the background during the recent times and how to, somehow, awaken it through images. So they came up with the idea that music, in this case, should have been rekindled, returned to people. It must not be shelved, taking dust in some closet and this is the result. Urbex Campania gave us a big hand for the beautiful location.
RoD: You have some events scheduled this year - including the one at Batcave Festival in Wrocław (and we are all keeping our fingers crossed that it’s not re-scheduled :). Are you missing live shows?
Michele: We crave for concerts, they are the core of everything we do, unfortunately the Return The Bat cave has been postponed to. 2022, but we are planning a tour that will touch many European cities and we will also play for the first time in Russia with two gigs. Moreover in fall 2022 we are planning a tour in the United States.
RoD: Would you say the Naples Post-Punk scene sticks together? Like with ASH CODE for example?
Michele: The Neapolitan “dark” scene is composed mostly of friends. We used to known each other for years and we got to the same clubs and see each other regularly. Between us there is a wonderful friendship and we always collaborate. Michele recorded the first three GEOMETRIC VISION records in the studio, for example. The same relationship we share also with ASH CODE, DARK DOOR, and other bands that are forming over the years.
RoD: What do you see for yourselves in the future? New music, new places to play concerts in? And personally?
Michele: In the next future we want to grind out km and do a lot of concerts. Meet new people and get rid of these months of immobility. We need the stage-thrill, the contact with the audience, the dancefloors, the trips. Culture only exists when it is experienced.
We thank all the readers and the editorial staff for the interview!
RoD: Thank you very much for your time
All pictures by Jessica Squillante