An Interview with Waves for the Masses:
Waves for the Masses has a simple message: promote good independent bands. And that’s exactly what they do. Waves for the Masses has a global reach and recently made the big step from PR agency to a record label and tour organizer. With artists in Italy, the UK, China, Germany and more, the musical range they promote is impressive and intriguing. That’s not to say that they shun English-speaking bands! When I had a chat with them for The Hippo Collective, I understood that the talented individuals running Waves for the Masses love all music. Now they want to share their selections with us. Enjoy!
Where and when did you guys found Waves for the Masses? Where is the company currently based?
Waves for the Masses is actually not based anywhere, but it was created in September 2013 in Italy by Vincenzo Lombino (Palermo), Fabio Gallato (Padova) and Fabio Mascagna (Viterbo). Although some of our members live abroad, [Italy] plays a key role in our work.
Other members of our team: Simona Strano (Catania), Fabio Pisano (Milano), Lorenzo Mondaini (Fabriano), Angela Fiore (Berlin), Germano Centorbi (Torino), Marek Lukasik (Narni) and Zining Cui (Edinburgh).
From where does the name Waves for the Masses originate?
The idea behind the name Waves for the Masses comes from one of our concerns: the lack – at least in Italy – of artists that really aim to use their music to talk to a mainstream audience while keeping a truly independent sound. Nowadays, Italian indie acts that have managed to reach big audiences are just bad mainstream music. Indie [music] is just a brand that can allow you to reach an audience that identifies as indie.
What is the company’s mission?
The main purpose is to promote music. We do that in many ways and sometimes we do it [for] free, just because we really believe in something. We were born as a press agency, so we usually do just this [communicate with the press] kind of work. However, we are trying to explore new ways to help bands.
You speak about wanting to promote ‘good’ music. How exactly do you all decide whether a certain musician or song is ‘good’? Is it something that is objective or is it based on intuition?
The important things in a song – the ones you can’t fix – can be judged only in a subjective way. So, yes, our decisions are strongly guided by intuition, but the different backgrounds and experiences of each member help us reach a well pondered decision.
How have you used social media to promote the group? How has Facebook in particular been instrumental in promoting new music?
My personal background includes more than 10 years of working in the Web Marketing sector, so I’m trying to bring all these skills to the music business. To get good results you should focus on just a few social [media platforms].
We chose Facebook because it’s the most used social network and it’s flexible enough to let us promote different kinds of things (music, events, articles) to the same audience.
But generally speaking we’ve used:
Facebook to promote all of our news and to build a good relationship with our followers, promoting our bands, new artists we like and a few masterpieces
Facebook Ads to reach a targeted audience when we need it
Soundcloud to promote new tunes
Twitter and Twitter Ads to reach those users who don’t use Facebook
YouTube to promote music videos
AdWords to promote events and releases via videos or banners
Soundcloud can play a key role in music promotion, but it’s not easy to grow a genuine audience over there. We are still building our presence on that social. For example, recently we made a nice compilation with all the summer releases we are promoting in Italy these days. It reached a good audience, so we are really looking forward to learning something more about SC.
You emphasize the importance of promoting bands that sing in languages other than English. Do you feel that English language music dominates throughout the world? Does this detract and stifle creativity and talent in other parts of the world?
Since it’s originally an onomatopoeic language, English is an amazing [tool with which] to write music. However, we are not trying to declare war on bands that use it. Actually more than half of the bands in our roster sing only in English. What we are afraid of is that bands are choosing it because it’s the easiest way to make your music easy to understand for listeners around the world. We think this choice shouldn’t be based on the listeners’ needs, but on how well a language fits your own sound.
English is not always the answer.
Why do you find that listening to ‘great music’ in languages that ‘we don’t understand’ is beautiful?
Music is a universal language itself, so you don’t need another one to understand it. For example, think about Sigur Ros, Cocteau Twins, Faye Wong, they don’t even sing in a real language, but everybody can feel their music. Someone can say that “to feel” is not the same as “to understand”, but actually both when you write songs in English, Italian, Chinese or an invented language usually your aim it’s to reach the listeners’ hearts not their minds.
Here is a playlist with great non-English tunes you can listen to: https://play.spotify.com/user/1167286245/playlist/3Zc4aTgPvfyxuYW1lJg9Su
Our favorites? Efrat Ben Tzur, Vaadat Charigim (Israel), Kino (Russia), Faye Wong (China), Cornelius, Boris (Japan), Iosonouncane, CCCP (Italy)
Tell us a bit more about Leave The Planet and M!R!M. Who are they, what have they been up to and what does the future hold?
M!R!M is the moniker of Jack Milwaukee an Italian-born, London-based musician. More than a year ago, he founded Leave The Planet with Nathalia Bruno (PHOSPHOR). Since Nathalia is playing live with M!R!M too, I think that you can imagine M!R!M as the nightmare side and Leave The Planet as the dreamy side of the duo.
While M!R!M will stop [performing] for a while to write new songs, Nat and Jack are now focusing on a new release as Leave The Planet. Maybe an EP followed by an LP.
Could you choose one of your favorite ‘non-English’ bands in your roster and tell us a bit about them?
To be honest the idea of working with “non-English” bands is more a vision than a mission, so as I said before, we mostly work with English singing bands. Nonetheless, we have been working with many bands that use different languages.
For example, while 16mins often sing in English, Cindy (the singer) also wrote lyrics in Chinese. CAssette mainly write in Chinese. Den Stora Vilan – with whom we are working as booking agents for a tour in January – mainly sings in Swedish. Grimm Grimm – a Tokyo-born, London-based musician released by ATP Records – have sung few songs in Japanese. Kavemura featured Cantonese vocals in few of his tracks. Good Morning Finches alternate instrumental songs and tracks sung in Italian.
To answer to your question about our favorite “non-English” band in our roster, I’d say is Hiperson: we are just helping them with a little promotion in Italy. They are a Chengdu based five-piece band out of the great Maybe Mars Records. Though the band members are in their early 20s, they share our vision and that’s why they proudly sing in Chinese. And I honestly think their lyrics succeed in tearing down the language barriers, running from the ears all the way down to the heart.
Here a playlist with a bunch of non-English songs written by bands in our roster:
What are you most excited about for the future?
Niagara’s third album, Kavemura’s new project Yuen Yuen, Perdurabo’s debut album, Leave the planet’s new releases. I think there’s a lot of amazing stuff waiting for us on the horizon.
In the next months we’ll work on these wonderful releases:
Winter Dust – Thresholds (September 9th, 2015) out on Voice of the Unheard Records (France)
Blast! Taiko! Players! – Low Fi Music for Sci-fi Action (September 12nd, 2015) out on W//M Records (Italy)
She Owl – Animal Eye (October 5th, 2015) out on Broken Toys (Italy), Bekassine Records (Germany), Rockers Die Younger (France)
Paisley Reich – Blaze (October 12nd, 2015) out on Satellite Records (Italy)
Are any of the bands you represent touring or about to head on the road?
We are working on two Italian tours in November – Grimm Grimm (2/11 – 8/11) and Allie (18/11 – 25/11) – and Den Stora Vilan’s tour in January.
There are many bands we work with as a press agency that are touring right now. Among them, we really suggest you not miss Niagara’s gigs.
Since they’re based Monotreme Records in London, I think they’ll tour the UK again next year.
Finally, feel free to use this last question as a space to voice some ideas, projects or issues that you have been pondering and would like to share with your fans.
Waves for the Masses also has a development team, that’s now at work on a web platform that will help bands and artistic directors with their booking work. There are many platforms out there that have the same mission as we do, but the way we are doing it is innovative. It allows bands and artistic directors to reduce the booking work to a minimum, improving everything else. How does it work, you may ask. Follow us and you’ll know soon: https://www.facebook.com/wavesforthemasses
The Hippo Collective would like to thank Waves for the Masses for taking the time to chat with us! I highly suggest that you take a look at the playlists linked above and their SoundCloud page: https://soundcloud.com/wavesforthemasses. Also, follow through on the artists listed above and attend a gig or two! Thanks for reading!