Who Is…Porcelain Raft

Arye Dworken

By Arye Dworken

on 01.24.12 in Who Is...?s

As we discovered in our experiment, Porcelain Raft‘s Strange Weekend took place over the course of one 48-hour time period, and is all about the magical things that can happen to you in New York. In our interview with Mauro Remiddi, he talks about some of the strange occurrences in his life that impacted the making of the record.

A few years ago, the troubadour Mauro Remiddi was backstage at a Parisian venue celebrating a successful performance with his buzzy band Sunny Day Sets Fire. The indiepop collective had just finished playing to a feverish crowd and, as Remiddi remembers, everyone was dancing euphorically. To the band, it felt like ahigh point, a sure sign of the successes to come. To Remiddi, it was a sign that he had to break up the band and become a solo artist. The next day, he did just that.

It’s not easy for a 39-year-old to go it alone after spending years collaborating with others, but the Italian musician is charting out new territory nonetheless, “No matter how great it was to be in a band,” he tells me in his charmingly flawed English, “it always felt like a compromise. And to have success was too tempting to stay in it.” Now, Remiddi is releasing Strange Weekend under the name Porcelain Raft, and he asserts that he’s now the most creatively fulfilled he’s ever been.

eMusic’s Arye Dworken spoke with Remiddi about Pink Floyd, turning 40 and invisible Mexican cowboys


On the recordings that will never make it onto the box set:

When I was 10, I got a piano for my birthday. As soon as the piano came to my house, I started recording my own songs…my father had an instrumental Pink Floyd record and I would talk over it and tell stories. One of my first stories was about an invisible cowboy from Mexico. There were these three black knights, and he had to fight them. And the whole story was about how this Mexican had to fight them but never got around to fighting them. The fight never happened. It wasn’t a story, really. It was more about atmosphere. A lot of boys have this experimental phase where they dream, and a lot of boys stop doing that. I don’t think I ever stopped doing it. I still have all these old recordings, basically a suitcase of old tapes. I kept all these tapes because if you stop doing saving what you did, you move on. I never moved on. This was always important to me.

On his ability to miraculously mask his heavy accent in his songs:

The words connect to the sounds. I’m not thinking about making sense – I’m thinking about the sounds the words make and how they fit to the music. I started singing in English because I moved to London and all my friends spoke English. When I was in Italy, I used to sing in Italian. In a sense, it’s very natural for me to sing in English because I want my English-speaking friends to understand it. But I say the words better in music because I’m focusing on the sound of the words.

On that strange name:

I put these words together and asked my friend what he thought about the name. A raft made from porcelain wouldn’t float, he told me. And I knew then that it would be my name. When you’re not cynical, your brain starts to think and figure things out. When you hear a term like “Porcelain Raft” you have to think about it. What is it? What is a porcelain raft?

On his primary influences being movie soundtracks:

When I was a boy, my father had a lot of soundtracks. One song different from the other. One song would be uptempo, the other song would be a waltz. I didn’t know the concept of a soundtrack when I was young, so I thought it was all one band. I thought that bands had to switch styles and tempos from song to song. They had to be diverse and lots of colors. And even since then, I would always listen for diversity in albums, and didn’t find it in a lot of albums. But when I heard Hunky Dory by David Bowie, I was like, fuck. This is it.

On his non-musical inspirations:

There is a fine line when you’re losing somebody, but you haven’t lost them yet. There are so many feelings that don’t have names. That’s what I’m interested in. That fine line where the animals of the day go to sleep and the animals of the night wake up. That moment when they’re both awake, whether it’s two seconds, that’s the moment I’m interested in. The moment of transition. Am I being too abstract? What’s funny is that I’m not a dark and serious guy. I think my friends like to be around me, but this is the style I’m most comfortable with.

On releasing a debut close to turning the big 4-0:

I am so excited. Because it all makes sense to me now. Like, I can’t explain, I want to be here now. I’m not a teenager anymore, no, but this knowing that I am having right now is not something a teenager would have. It took me a long time to find my voice and I’ve finally opened the door and finally exposed it. I was doing things since I was 10, recording demos all the time. But I had never exposed myself. I always had a band. And I felt like having a band is like hiding yourself.

You can wish it came before, but if it doesn’t take time to find things, then it was boring and not worth it. If I was looking for it, I wouldn’t have found it. This way, it happened naturally. Do you want to complain about having not made it yet, or do you want to wait for it to be your time? It’s like a story you have to tell. Some have long stories, some have short stories.