Swiss metalheads Dreamshade are from the small town of Lugano on the Italian side of the famously neutral European country.
One look at their names cements this. Guitarist Fernando Di Cicco (aka Fella) probably has a more Italian name than I do, if that’s possible.
Their journey is an interesting one, which saw them gain international recognition before they were acknowledged in their own country, and Fella was very keen to chat ahead of their return to SA about their years of hard graft.
Tecla Ciolfi: A lot has changed since you were last in SA five years ago… a lot of our music venues have closed down. Our music scene is going through an interesting transition period. What’s the scene like currently in Switzerland?
Fella: Sad to hear that venues are closing down. It’s happening everywhere I guess. Some are now closed also in Switzerland. The music scene in Switzerland is actually pretty big for festivals, I think it’s the country with the biggest number of festivals in Europe and that’s really something since it’s a very tiny country. But yeah, venues don’t always go well, there are some really sick ones here thought!
TC: South Africans think that if you live in Europe it’s easier for a band to get around and tour, but I read that you only recently travelled to the UK to tour because you’d never received a good enough offer before. What markets or countries are you concentrating on now?
Fella: Well everyone who doesn’t know us thinks we are an average Euro band but the reality is that we come from one of the smallest countries in Europe and even in this country we are a minority since we live south of the Alps and we speak Italian and have a slightly different culture from the northern people.
It took a long time before the rest of Switzerland even considered us as a Swiss band. In fact, we’ve toured the World before that happened. So I’d say that it’s really difficult for every band in any part of the planet. Probably if you live in cities like Los Angeles, London or Berlin it’s easier to get to know the right people but we are from a small town of 80 000 people so it’s been really hard.
TC: Who came up with the concept for your new music video “Question Everything”? Was it a collaboration with director Andrea Todaro or did you come up with the tongue-in-cheek concept yourselves?
Fella: The band came up with the original concept idea and then Andrea developed the whole structure so we actually created the whole thing together. Everybody on the set is our friend, we didn’t hire any actor or model. The whole concept of the song and video is “Budget and Modern Music Industry”. We really wanted to portray the worst of this business in the funniest way possible and kinda be ironic about it all as we did in the song lyrics. Working with our friends and family on set has been such a blast and pleasure that the video turned out great!
TC: It really did! I enjoyed the video because it doesn’t take itself too seriously and feels like it was super fun to shoot, but it still has all the trappings of a quintessential Dreamshade song – complete with your shredding solo. What was the process like laying this track down in studio?
Fella: It’s funny because it all really happened in two days. [Laughs] I started writing the main riffs of the song and it just felt right in the beginning. It took another day to perfect everything and add the solo part and then went to the studio to lay some vocals with Kevin. We were so excited about the sound of the song that we literally came with all the lyrics so naturally in one day! Maybe that topic was already on our chest before we even got to the studio and it just felt so natural to throw it on a track!
TC: You were signed to SpineFarm Records for a bit and released two albums under them – are you back to doing things independently now and if yes, why?
Fella: We’ve been with Spinefarm (Universal) for two albums, then signed to Artery Recording (Sony) for the “Vibrant” album but the company was bought by Warner after one year. After that we started writing new material and felt like we could release some songs on our own because we wanted to give each song the right moment and importance for the people to understand them well. That’s what we are doing right now and it feels really good! Who knows what the future holds. We are still getting proposals to release a new album so we’ll talk about that.
TC: What’s your take on streaming and playlisting and companies like Spotify changing the music business forever, or at least for now – do you think it’s a positive or negative situation that musicians now find themselves in?
Fella: I personally like Spotify a lot and use it all the time so I can’t really say it’s a negative platform. Also, I think that smaller artists have a chance to get themselves out there on the market thanks to streaming systems like this. It’s true, we all earn less money than back in the day but the industry changes every five years so who knows, maybe soon there will be another type of platform to sell music.
TC: Was there something that you really wanted to do when you were in SA last time that you didn’t get to do?
Fernando: We did shark dive but didn’t have the chance to do a safari or anything similar unfortunately. I would really love to do that and for sure some wine tasting experience. Me and the Dreamshade boys are all about wine so we’re really looking forward to that! We’re honestly so stoked to come back to SA because we really waited so long to be back and last time we made a lot of good friends in every city. We can’t wait to hug you all soon again!
TC: Dibs on that hug.
Check out Dreamshade’s full tour schedule below.