Yass-Waddah (Italy) 25/06/2024

It is so rare to keep listening to an album even after writing my review. That is what happened with the latest album of Yass-Waddah. So, it was essential to speak with the artist behind the band and, of course congratulate him for the very good result, but also get to know him a little better. I write ‘a little better’, because he has shown us a part of his character through his very interesting lyrics. Pietro, thanks a lot for the interesting conversation and congratulations for the release.
1. Hello Pietro. I am very happy to have this discussion with you. I have followed Yass-Waddah since you introduced them to me with your ‘Cities of the Red Night’ release back in 2012. Would you like to tell me more about your journey with the project starting from the beginning of the band until today?
Pietro Baldan: Hi xDemoNx! First of all, I would like to thank you for this interview and for all the time you spent to reviewing the entire Yass-Waddah's discography. I would also like to take this opportunity to greet all your readers. You were certainly one of the very few people to receive the first EP. At that time, I had prepared only 10 CDR copies homemade expressly to send to webzines for reviews, and one of these I sent to you. "Cities of the Red Night" never had an official release, but it can be listened to and downloaded for free through the band's Bandcamp page. The musical project started in 2011 in the city of Venice, Italy, bringing together four musicians (vocals, guitar, bass, and drums) with the aim of composing their own songs and performing live. But unfortunately, things did not go as planned; after completing the first recording, the group disbanded without ever performing a concert. Five years later, having many ideas to record a follow-up to the first EP, I decided to revive the Yass-Waddah project by recording new material, this time collaborating with various musicians. Over time, the released albums became three, and the project remains active to this day.
2. I have read that you were born and lived in Italy but now you moved to Spain, is that correct? How has that change in your life affected your music and generally your creativity?
Pietro Baldan: Yes, that’s correct. I moved to Spain from Italy in 2015, specifically to the island of Tenerife (Canary Islands). Since moving here, I have started playing the electric guitar much more than before, as in Italy I was mainly dedicated to classical music, playing the cello in orchestras and chamber groups, which was my job.
3. I see that the last 5-6 years you have been more active in metal. Would you like to tell me more about the other projects that you participate in?
Pietro Baldan: Sure, here I have played with several bands with which we performed at various festivals and concerts in different cities in Spain (Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, Bilbao, Mallorca) and recorded some albums as well. At the moment, I am active with two bands that sing in Spanish: Obediencia Cero (thrash metal) and MARABUNTA!!! (grindcore/powerviolence). Previously, I also played with Death Above, Wikedness, and Brutalizzed Kids.
4. In my opinion, your latest release, ‘Lust for Domination’, is your best so far. How do you feel about the album? Are you satisfied with the result or if you could, you would have done something differently?
Pietro Baldan: Thank you very much; I am pleased to know that you liked the last album so much. Yes, I agree with you; for me, it is the best of all the albums I have produced with Yass-Waddah. I am satisfied with the result obtained. In this recording, I tried to give my all, both compositionally and technically, based on my experience and performance ability. Even listening to it now, a year after its release, I wouldn't change anything, as I wouldn't be able to do better than this at the moment.
5. Do you want to give me more info about the compositions and the process you followed from conceiving the idea until the delivered version of them? Do you have any favorite songs from the last album?
Pietro Baldan: The composition of this album began with the guitar line, creating a complete structure from beginning to end for all the songs. The drums, bass, and vocals, although present and well distinguishable in the recording, were arranged later to adapt to the guitar line. My favorite song on the album is "Burn Your Flag".
6. How was the album received by the fans of the band or the people who reached out?
Pietro Baldan: There have been many positive reviews of the album on various webzines, and I have seen that it has also been shared by many people online and broadcast on some radio shows. I am very grateful to everyone who supported the band.
7. I have to tell you that for every album the artwork and the cover is at least very special. Do you want to give me some info on this and what made you choose those covers?
Pietro Baldan: The cover of the latest album was designed by the graphic artist Gragoth, with whom I had previously collaborated for the cover of one of my other bands. I didn't give him many instructions regarding the design, apart from the idea of a connection through a portal between two different dimensions. For the rest, "it's all his doing." Regarding the other covers of the previous albums: "Cities of the Red Night." The cover is taken from a painting by Andrea Vicentino that is in the Doge's Palace in Venice. It represents the naval battle of Lepanto between Venetians and Ottomans on October 7, 1571. It seemed perfect to represent our music. "Lights in the Murk." The cover was created by the artist Mario Estuardo López Morales, and it represents a decaying and suggestive landscape created according to his free interpretation while listening to the music I had sent him. "This Reality Is Just a Deception." The cover of this album was created by Caio Caldas. During the period I recorded this album, I was very interested in esoteric themes, and this cover caught my attention, so I decided to buy it and use it for this release.
8. I think that in ‘Lust for Domination’ you have written your most mature lyrics. Would you like to tell me more about your lyrics? What feelings are you trying to express?
Pietro Baldan: Regarding the lyrics I wrote for this latest album, I tried to present some concepts that are important to me and to give an objective interpretation of this historical period we are facing. I believe there is no absolute truth and that no one can tell you what is right to think and what is not. The truth is within each of us, and if we have values that we feel are ours, we must follow them and fight to achieve them without fear. However, I invite everyone to pay attention to the album's lyrics because I tried to convey a message hoping it could provide food for thought for the listener.
9. Looking back, the list from my favorite to the least favorite album would be ‘Lust for Domination’, ‘Lights in the Murk’, ‘Cities of the Red Night’ and ‘This Reality Is Just a Deception’. Please give me your list and tell me what you like and what you dislike in each album.
Pietro Baldan: Each Yass-Waddah album belongs to different moments in my life. They all sound different from each other because they are different phases I have gone through over the years, and this is also reflected in the music. However, regarding the final result in purely musical terms, I agree with your ranking. "Lust for Domination" Like: In this album, I included several guitar solos, and they are the parts I enjoy listening to the most. Dislike: I took great care in the details of this album without rushing to release it, there's nothing I dislike on It. "Lights in the Murk" Like: In this album, I really like the arrangements of all the instruments and the vocals. I collaborated with top-level musicians active in the metal world with their internationally renowned bands, and I think they did an exceptional job. Dislike: The bass line is not very noticeable in the recording. "Cities of the Red Night" Like: The songs are violent and direct; for me, it is an excellent demo. Dislike: The recording lasts only 14 minutes; perhaps it would have been better to extend it a bit more. "This Reality Is Just a Deception" Like: What I like most about this album is the vocal part. I had never tried to sing anything until then, and for me, it was a discovery to be able to use my voice in Yass-Waddah recordings. Dislike: To compose the songs, I used drum machine tracks as a base while composing the songs. This led to a certain rhythmic and compositional staticity in the guitar riffs, creating a perhaps somewhat too linear result.
10. My communication with the label which released your albums has been really good. How has your cooperation been so far? Will ‘Lust for Domination’ be released in other formats in the near future?
Pietro Baldan: "They Live We Sleep Recordings" is a record label formed and managed by various members of metal bands here in Tenerife, where the musicians themselves, joining their forces, support the production and promotion of the various releases with their resources. It would be great if "Lust For Domination" were reissued on vinyl, but for now, there is nothing certain. If another record label interested in reissuing the album on vinyl were to come forward, I would be very happy if it could be done.
11. What happened to the keyboards after your first full length? How did you decide to add keyboards in that release and why did you not use them in the later ones?
Pietro Baldan: Having graduated in cello at the conservatory of music and also having a background in extreme metal, every time I played epic classical music pieces with the orchestra, a blast beat of drums resonated in my head. So, as soon as I had the opportunity, I tried to recreate that sound I had in mind, thus indulging my deepest musical fantasies. Then, as I had already mentioned, each album belongs to a different era of my life, and over time, I wanted to experiment with other stylistic forms, thus abandoning orchestral arrangements to arrive at the current sound.
12. I believe that the Scandinavian scene is a major influence for you, is that correct? Would you like to tell me, generally, which genres or bands do you think is the most important for you?
Pietro Baldan: I started listening to all types of metal from Heavy to Death at the end of the eighties when I was still a kid (I was born in 1976). Then, at fourteen, I finally bought my first electric guitar, and the following year I had already formed my first Thrash Metal band. Regarding the Black genre, I started listening to and playing it later, in 1997 when I was 21, thanks to a group of friends from Venice who played in a band called "Frozen" (their fantastic demo can be found on YouTube). One of their two guitarists had left, so the singer-bassist and founder of the band, Walter, asked me to replace him. Unfortunately, Walter fell seriously ill and died that same year. Despite this, the band continued to play, performing several concerts until 1999, when we decided to disband. These are some of the most significant Black Metal albums for me that have musically inspired and marked my soul: Emperor "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk" Marduk "Nightwing" Kvist "For kunsten maa vi evig vike" Impaled Nazarene "Rapture" Burzum "Filosofem" Oxiplegatz "Worlds and Worlds" Carpathian Forest "Black Shining Leather" Diabolical Masquerade "The Phantom Lodge"
13. Have you begun writing material for your next release? Would you like to give me some information about it? Will there be any surprises?
Pietro Baldan: No, at the moment I haven't thought about the next album yet. But one thing I'm sure of is that I don't want it to sound like the previous recordings because, for me, each album must express something different from the others. However, I think that for the next album, I will use a method to compose similar to the first EP, that is, improvising riffs together with a drummer in the rehearsal room and then constructing the songs.
14. I think that you have never played live so far.I guess you are not interested in playing live with Yass-Waddah, are you?
Pietro Baldan: Yass-Waddah's songs have never been performed live until now. But I don't completely rule out the possibility that gigs could be organized one day. It would be interesting.
15. How do you see the future of Yass-Waddah? Do you want to accomplish some goals with the band, for example make the band’s music known to a wider audience or release a number of albums or is it simply a way of expressing your thoughts and feelings?
Pietro Baldan: The albums I record are primarily born to satisfy my personal compositional and creative needs. Obviously, by releasing them, I hope that other people around the world find my music interesting, appreciate it, and understand what I wanted to convey. However, this does not influence my initial compositional choices, which are the basis of everything.
16. Thank you for your time. Would you like to add anything or give a message to the people reading this interview?
Pietro Baldan: Thank you very much as well for this pleasant chat. I really enjoyed answering your questions. If I may, I would like to recommend some books to read for those interested, which, in my opinion, could be useful nowadays. Plato "The Republic" Niccolò Machiavelli "The Prince" George Orwell "1984" Ray Bradbury "Fahrenheit 451" Aldous Huxley "Brave New World" Thanks again and a warm greeting to all the readers. Cheers!