In Conversation with Simone De Kunovich


PHOTOGRAPHY Junri Kamiwaki
Simone de Kunovich, an artist based in Milan, is inherently drawn to the world of obscure records, books, and films.

This enduring fascination serves as a perpetual wellspring of inspiration for his creative work. With his extensive, multi-disciplinary knowledge, he has earned acclaim as a discerning influencer who has an innate affinity for the unconventional

XYZ: How would you describe yourself as a person and as an artist, Simone?

Simone De Kunovich: I think you can say I’m quite a bold person – I like flamboyant outfits as much as provocative statements – everything that is eccentric or obscure has fascinated me ever since I have memory – a natural born curiosity with an endless thirst for knowledge and beauty.

XYZ: When you think of music, what is your first musical memory?
S.D.K : The videoclip of Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” flashing before my eyes on a cloudy autumn day in the fall of 1996.
The minimalist aesthetics and Jay Kay signature dance moves bedazzled me like anything before and triggered something into the 7 year old version of myself. Since then I tried to imitate his footwork and soon became addicted to 90s MTV late night programming and my obsession with music was born.
XYZ: You grew up in Milan, you combine influences from all over the world in your music. What does Milan or Italy in general stand for you and what influences has this country had on you?
S.D.K : (I actually grew up in Padova)
Italy has always been a very special place, featuring a cultural and geomorphological variety that has no equals – growing up in a city surrounded by history and charm really affects your vision, especially when you get older and can properly appreciate it.
My generation was the first one to ever experience globalization and its consequences – but, even if the country has been reshaped by multinationals and big chains, there is still a sense of resistance in the air, a strong will to preserve our secular heritage.
My homeland is a very complex cultural puzzle, extremely contradictory, rich and poor at the same time, hard to understand even by ourselves most of the times, like a beautiful voluptuous woman out of a Fellini movie – but i guess that’s the beauty of it.
XYZ: What was your biggest challenge and learning in your career?
S.D.K : Every day is a constant challenge to yourself – i don’t think I ever experienced any dramatical event that led to an epiphany of sort – being a creative is a daily expedition, like a never ending hike on a mountain that has no limits.
Still I wouldn’t change it for anything else – I don’t picture myself doing music for too much longer, at some point I wanna explore other mediums i feel connected to like cinema or literature – i honestly can’t help myself but to take risks, that’s the fuel to my fire.
The moment you stop doing so you could be good as dead – i’m not interested into anything that is too easy – often the most convenient option is also the least fun.

XYZ: You draw your inspiration from many different sources around the world, but you’re particularly fascinated by Japan, which almost feels like a contrasting counterpart to Italy. What intrigues you about it and what influence does it have on you and your work?

S.D.K : My life long fascination with Japan starts with my older cousin exposing me to otaku (geek) culture in the mid 90s.
Movies like “Tokyo Fist” (Tsukamoto), “Hana Bi” (Kitano) and “Ichi The Killer” (Miike) were my baptism of fire, with their bizzarre sophistication and crude visuals – I felt a natural connection to these eerie stories, an honesty and a vitality I couldn’t find in any of their Western counterparts.
Even more than Italy, the Japanese have always been a culturally conservative population that unexpectedly managed to resist globalization – visiting Tokyo for the first time is still a most alienating experience, in all its unfamiliar, tender, delightful absurdities.
It’s really hard for me to understand what’s this unconditional love for Japan is all about – I guess that my romantic nature always points me towards thing I can’t clearly understand – most of times questions are much more interesting than answers.
XYZ: How does true inspiration feel to you?
S.D.K : True inspiration to me comes in the form of discovery.
The excitement of finding a new record you love in some dusty crate, of experiencing a mind blowing movie or reading a book that captures you.
It’s contagious, you can’t stop yourself but to talk about it and share it with others – it reshapes you, creates new connection between previously uncharted points – like a snake changing its skin, you will never be the same again.
XYZ: Your last EP “Addio Mondo Nuovo” was characterized by an experimental undertone and scenically underlined an imaginary movie in the mid-70s, which takes place in a rainforest. In what scenic setting is “Flow my Tears,“ your new EP due out this September, set?
S.D.K : I took the title from one of my favorite Philip K. Dick novels, yet the scenario it’s not sci-fi but rather a nostalgic re-interpretation of the last days of my childhood in the early 2000s.
At the time my favorite after school activity was playing Magic the Gathering and other fantasy RPGs with my friends – I wasn’t really aware of dance music trends back then, but the recent resurgence of Y2K and my research for this kind of sounds triggered a weird reaction with me.
Somewhere between melancholia and euphoria, “Flow My Tears” is set in an imaginary world were trolls, wizards and dragons are strolling around 2002 Playa d’En Bossa in their flashy Dolce and Gabbana outfits, listening to Gigi d’Agostino while performing a wheelie on their rigged motorcycles.
XYZ: Your music is generally textured and atmospheric, “Flow my Tears” is infectiously exciting and optimistic, refreshing after the last few years. How would you yourself describe “Flow my tears” in 3 words?
S.D.K : Bittersweet Tacky Lullaby
XYZ: We are currently going through great changes in all areas, also in music: which doors are currently opening in the industry and which ones might be closing? What opportunities do you see this creating for you personally and for aspiring artists?
S.D.K : I feel we are experiencing a big qualitative crisis in every field of the creative industry, caused by the absolute predominance of the quantitative paradigm – data, streams, numbers.
Specifically talking about music, dealing with a scenario where you’re selling something intangible, that has virtually no value anymore, to a public which is mostly oriented towards a schizophrenic way of consuming medias from their digital platforms, could lead you downwards a spiral of mental burnout.
I think we’re not getting too far from the future depicted by “Demolition Man” (a 1993 sci-fi flick starring Sylvester Stallone), where radio hits are simply advertisement jingles from some shower gel or sunglasses brands – mainstream music has become the lubricant of capitalism, with its reassuring atmosphere that wants you just to be always happy, constantly empowered – everything will be fine, as long as you have enough money to spend.
On the other hand, most of the underground movement has lost its edge and ideological content, becoming either a sterilised parody of itself that can serve mainstream interest of product diversification, or closed in a conservative and self-referential loop, an exercise in hedonism for a minority of insiders.
What is gonna save us from this cultural catastrophe, i think, is a more conscious and respectful approach to artistry – we have a urgent responsibility towards the public, to feed them with nurturing content and teach them how to process it properly – it’s fine to give people what (they think) they want, but it can’t be hamburger and fries everyday – sometimes you have to be the one pulling spinach down their throat.