M!R!M: An intimate interview
M!R!M is the solo project of Italian-born musician Lacapo Bertelli, known in London as Jack Milwaukee. Last week The Upcoming visited him at his flat in Dalston to discuss his music.
Can you start off by telling us a bit of background about yourself?
I’m Jack, I’m 24 years old and I moved to London three years ago to live with my girlfriend at the time because I was bored to be in my hometown, Lucca, a small town in Tuscany. I always loved making music but in Italy it’s not easy if you try to make something like what I do – quite different from mainstream stuff – so I moved here and found a different environment. People are more open-minded so I felt quite welcome in terms of what I was doing.
I worked in some pubs to save some money on the side and little by little I developed my solo stuff which is M!R!M. I self-released some singles and then through a Greek label called Fabrika Records I released my first LP, Heaven, on vinyl and I started touring around Europe. And now I’m playing music – I’m only doing this at the moment. It’s not easy but I saved some money with gigs and vinyls and stuff so now I can still live in this shit house [laughs]… but it’s fine, I don’t really mind. I’m living with cool people in a good area.
How did your current live line-up come about?
Basically, at the very beginning I was playing with another Italian guy who played bass for me, then he left the band because he was not very keen on making an album. Then Natalie moved into this house and we became friends; she was playing music so we started playing together and I asked her if she wanted to join me live. We played actually as three of us for some gigs at the start of the year – the guy was playing bass and she was playing only synth. Now she plays a bit of both.
How would you describe your music?
It’s my mood mainly: quite paranoid, quite chaotic. In terms of genre I would say noise, post-punk, industrial, chaos, I don’t know… It’s definitely noisy listening.
Do you get described as anything that you don’t agree with?
I don’t like it when people say that my music is goth, because I’m not goth at all. I really don’t give a shit about the scene. I mean yeah, I kind of like some old bands of goth music but it’s not my style; I think my music has more of a punk attitude with different branches.
Who are your influences and favourite bands?
Well. I’ll say first that this is not the only music that I listen to – I listen to punk, pop, dream-pop, shoegaze, sometimes old-school hip-hop. For me, everything is a good influence. I think if you listen to only certain music you’re just going to make a copy of that. I’m not saying I’m original because I’m not; no one is original these days – the music is already done. I mean you can try to make your music in a different key from an old version or something like that to try to make it sound fresh, but ultimately its already been done in some form. For this project I would say loads of punk 77 bands influenced me, bands like Wire, Gang of Four, The Fall – this kind of British punk scene in the 80s. And no-wave bands from New York from the early 90s – bands like DNA, Theoretical Girls – they used to play noise, proper noise with guitars, lots of reverb, delays, screams, that kind of thing. John Maus also influenced me actually; I really like his stuff.
On your Last FM page you say “Bertelli created Heaven in his bedroom, trapped inside four walls of loneliness and fear of what the future might bring.” Can you tell us a bit about your life at the time of recording the album?
Well definitely it wasn’t that good, otherwise it wasn’t going to sound that dark or depressive in some ways. So, yeah, I was alone because the guy I used to play with left; he didn’t want to participate in the album and for me it was something very important because what I’m trying to do is make music; I don’t want to work in a bar, it’s not my thing. So I felt alone and I was kind of scared about what I was going to do by myself because I didn’t have any external judgements of what I was doing. If you’re in a band and you play something. someone else can tell you “Oh no maybe this thing’s not good”, or maybe “that thing’s good, keep it”. When you’re by yourself you think “Am I sure of what I’m doing? Is it good or is it only good for myself – can someone else like it?”, so it’s not easy. I was very depressed in a way, in terms of composing music. I recorded the album in my room, which is very small. I put my amp on my bed, I had my old PC. I recorded with a shitty audio interface with me in the room, my pedals and stuff, and just started making noises.
Do you have any forthcoming releases or other projects in the works?
Yeah, with M!R!M I’m releasing two singles: one will be self-released next Monday maybe and will be only digital and free to download, I think, and after that I’m going to release a single on vinyl with a French label. I’m not sure when that will be out, maybe in October. I’ve got another project that is absolutely the opposite of this project – in music I like to split myself across projects – it’s called Leave the Planet and it’s a dream-pop/shoegaze band. It’s still me and Natalie, but she sings and she’s definitely part of the band. We got signed to a US label and we’re doing very well for the time that we’ve been going.
If you weren’t doing music, what do you think you would be doing?
I think I’d be dead… Not actually dead but like a normal person who doesn’t have goals in life. Most of my friends are like that: they don’t give a shit about anything. I think I’d be like that. If you mean what would I like to do? Well when I was a kid I was obsessed with astronauts; I wanted to do some kind of space job. Then I wanted to become a football player because I was playing football when I was younger and in Italy your parents are like: “Play football, play football – make money!” and then I got into music. I used to play the flute!
For further information about M!R!M and future events visit here.