Named after the ancient name of planet Venus (Morning Star), Stella Diana were formed in 1998 in Southern Italy’s city of Naples by Dario Torre (vocals and guitar) and Giacomo Salzano (bass guitar), joined by Giulio Grasso on drums. They bring together layers of shimmering guitars from bands like Ride and Lush, the dark wave atmospheres of Bauhaus and Joy Division, and new wave structures reminiscent of Echo And The Bunnymen and The Chameleons.
But Stella Diana are not at all a mere sum of their influences. As Primal Music’s Del Chaney put it, they “meld together a heady brew of driving post-punk, melodic dreampop and hazy shoegaze to produce musical soundscapes summarizing that they literally take my breath away.”
Photo courtesy of Stella Diana facebook
In accordance with their strong DIY principles, their latest release 57 was recorded and mixed by bass player Giacomo Salzano, and produced by the whole band in their own recording studio, allowing them to keep complete control over the music. The obsession with simplicity is present also in the cover art. A blood-red number on a black canvas, but a number that is not immediately clear, looking like a mark, or a piece of cave drawing.
Torched Magazine is pleased with having had the opportunity to speak with Dario Torre about Stella Diana’s forthcoming release 57, their strong DIY principles and how the music has evolved for them over time..We are also happy to premier Stella Diana’s first single off the new album which is due out May 25th via CD and digital formats through their bandcamp site.
TM – I love the name of your band, Stella Diana. Where did this come from and what was the inspiration behind this?
DT – first of all because stella diana is within of a verse of an ancient neapolitan song, supposedly composed in the seventeenth century. we come from naples and it seemed to us a good thing to remark our origin. secondly in Greek mythology it indicates the first morning star. naples was founded by greeks and, as you see, all makes sense.
TM – Your new album 57 has mainly been composed with freedom and without pressure in a DIY kind of atmosphere. How do you feel this approach to making music has worked for you?
DT – We think that freedom is absolutely essential for a band like us, we could never compose music if we were to accept rules or impositions. owning our own recording studio helps us a lot because it is a kind of mirror, a magnifying glass on your work. among other things we are only three and this makes everything easier.
Photo courtesy of Stella Diana facebook
TM – What was your inspiration behind 57? Are your lyrics generic or based on real experiences?
DT – we wanted to do something of more atmospheric, more intense, I don’t know, maybe a music full of tension and pathos. we are increasingly committed to creating a perfect balance of shoegaze and dark. i see 57 as a slow but heavy wave. this time I worked on my lyrics joining sentences from my personal feelings. this approach worked on all songs except in der sandmann. that text is very dreamlike and has no connection with myself. I work through images and sensations without following a logical thread. in this, I am very Dadaist. Usually my lyrics emphasize the lack of communication between people, or perhaps even the lack of communication between me and the outside world. this thing still is not clear to me after all these years.
TM – Who or what has influenced you creatively?
DT – there are a lot of things that influence us and it’s not just musical stuff. cinema and literature are a great source of inspiration. For example, in some of our old songs there are references and links to sci-fi movies like alien, sunshine. In this new album we mentioned blade runner or a movie totally different like the graduate. I teach philosophy and also it is a great inspiration for me.
TM – 57 comes out on the heals of your successful Nitocris album. What are some of the differences and similarities fans can expect to find between the two?
DT – Nitocris was thought more for bass and drums, more rhythmic, in a way. Some tracks were more compact, like a kind of single block and the whole atmosphere is a great beat, a pulsation. 57 is more melodic, like a soundtrack for something that comes from another time, from another dimension. Each song is less static, with a more urgent rhythm and perhaps this comes from the fact that our new drummer is more dynamic. among other things we tested ourselves also playing instruments different from those we play, like a synth and cello.
TM – How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
DT – It’s very simple to answer to this question because music is a part of me, a part of each single member and it evolves together with ourselves. let’s say that now we are more aware of our capabilities and also the liking are much more refined. playing something that is pure sound, pure dreamlike atmosphere is our absolute goal.
TM – What kind of advice would you give to a newer musician who is just starting out?
DT – to listen to so much music and believe in what you do.
TM – Is there anything else that you would like to share that I may have missed?
DT – First of all, for the time and space you have given us, there is nothing you have forgotten, indeed you have given us the opportunity to be able to emphasize some things of our music and we are grateful for this opportunity.
Since we are patiently waiting for 57 to be released on May 25th..please check out their previous album below. Many thanks to Dario Torre from Stella Diana for taking the time for Torched Magazine! You rock!