We had an interesting chat with Johnny Jay, aka FOREVER ALIEN, Italian artist and producer based in Edinburgh, on the occasion of the release of his debut album “Safe As War” (Bulbless!, 2018). Listening to the album is a surreal experience, we find ourselves catapulted into alien and foreign lands. Safe As War’s sound is an unprecedented mix of Synth / Mystic / Wave / Hyperdelic / Pop, created by FOREVER ALIEN with a very low-fi minimalist approach. And now, enjoy the reading and good listening.
øTheP: Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
FA: I was born in borderland where different worlds cross their path, briefly touching each other. I grow up searching for a future for the present, trying to find what’s right to say today to shape the future. And do it in the most elegant way through a cryptic but elementary language.
øTheP: Who (or what) do you love?
FA: Whether someone’s living with passion and fury or the greatest sense of duty it’s hard to find the difference between acting and loving. We’re constantly at the mercy of something, always fatal, just like love, selfishness, brotherly love, love of money, gambling, women or whatever. That’s the fuel of our daily excess, or lack, of aim. By digging deep one can realise that the needle is always shifting between how much we’re able to love and to what extent we’re capable of detachment. We find ourselves entangled on a perennial effort of loving love which soon becomes a projection on everything we do; in the best cases it goes towards noble ideals such as Truth, Justice, or Freedom which can allow us to make sense out of the constant flux of our thinking, or Art as a space for the aesthete to amuse himself, believing with impunity to create some great work of art while handling the most powerful medium that human race have ever developed.
øTheP: When did you first discover your creative talents?
FA: If we exclude my childhood ingenuity where I pictured myself as an inventor, I’d say that soon after my teens, starting to figuring out the world I was living in and the way we live, it’s been a necessity to seek out for something to channel an otherwise worthless existence and, leaving out certain assumptions that fraudulently excite death, I’ve never found anything better to do rather then looking for the spark that, albeit for an instant, enlighten the days.
øTheP: Who and/or what are some of your influences?
FA: Vague question. I could and should give you hundreds of names, movements or attempts to dominate expression. Let’s say that I try to push forward what ingenious men that came before us did. Each one of us is living his own time and that create a singularity, but the truth is that those who have done remarkable things were moved by the same sacred fire. I can say that I like the visionary, those who do things their own way, those who risk, those who dream, and those who have passed beyond the enclosure of their time.
øTheP: How would you describe your art to someone who could not see/read it?
FA: The meaning lays beyond the senses. We’re sensible, psychic, sensient, but even when, maybe, there’s nothing to figure out, we force ourselves to understand what surrounds us. A good attendant knows always what’s being said; he knows exactly how and where to stand. FOREVER ALIEN is a radical and extreme entity and it can be appreciated only if accepted. We listen to what we want to hear and hear what we want to listen. I believe that those armed with enough will can follow the trail. For the others it will be more like a flashback, a decompression, or just an echo from a far-off future.
øTheP: How do you prepare yourself for a day of working? Rituals?
FA: There’s no single path, there are ideas, feelings and aspirations that once intersected allow the squaring of the circle to take place. Anyway I must ascertain and admit that as FOREVER ALIEN has become immanent, and I’ve confronted and apprehended the essence of solitude as well as the power of moltitude, then mystic component has become essential. Relegating and forcing myself into endless nights spent seeking the necessary silence to hear the distant and impertinent chant of the imaginary muses, trying to look beyond, and inevitably, right through the abyss.
øTheP: Which is your favorite piece you have created? and Why?
FA: My first and by now last record is the obvious exposition of what pushes me through this abstruse and dull battle that endures every day. If there really was the necessity to erect obelisks for every reached peak, it would be absolutely unnecessary any form to crystalize an opera. There is no way nor ground to prefer what one’s got, when there’s barely time to act through the fleeting emptiness of persistence.
Music-wise I guess I represent the endless search to summarize and emancipate, that which is elusive or completely absent. As much in the melody as in the rythmics. A continuum of aesthetic hints and beckons, facing one problem at a time, on a totalitarian manner. Compressing rather than dilating. Channelling rather than emanating, exorcizing and focusing on the many faces of a deceptively identical reality, with all the violence and inevitability of presence.
øTheP: If you could spend the day with anyone, living or deceased, whom would you choose and what would hope to gain from the experience?
FA: At the moment I’d like to meet Donald Trump, to be taken on the room where he keeps the Red Button, the big one, the biggest one. Then, without him knowing so, I’ll press it; so that all these fanatics can finally see, as Kim Fowley used to say, what’s on the other side of the sun. Afterwards I’d ask for a Government’s enrolment, at least decennial, as artist-in-residence for Saturday nights in Gaza, and Sunday mornings at the Vatican.
øTheP: What is your secret ambition?
FA: I would close all the museums, theatres, radios and dance halls, boycott every good feast or salon; and I’d forbid the use of any work of art for commercial purposes and/or on inappropriate contexts. Making sure that art would be forced, literally, on the streets. So as to deliver to deserved oblivion this mega-superstructure managed by charlatans of artifice and professionals of finance who have monopolized use and consumption of a priceless thing.
To start the Rocky Age of the near future.
øTheP: What is your favorite word?