SXSW interview with Alessandro Cortini

Alessandro Cortini may not be a name you immediately recognize. If you’re really into modular synthesizer’s you probably are. If not, its more likely you’ve seen him play. If you caught Nine Inch Nails on tour anytime between 2005 and 2008 there was a good chance you saw him performing live with that incarnation of the band. Cortini is also credited on Nine Inch Nails 2008 release Ghost I-IV as well as that same year’s The Slip. Besides his time with Nine Inch Nails, Cortini also has many other projects that he keeps busy with and focuses on. Those said projects would be Modwheelmood with Pelle HillStrom and as a solo artist under the moniker blindoldfreak.

Mr. Cortini’s latest is SONOIO. SONOIO which comes from the Italian phrase “sono io” meaning “it’s me” is a solo project but differs from blidoldfreak. SONOIO to me sounds like a convergence of Modwheelmood and blindoldfreak. Cortini who’s fully embraced the do it yourself tools that the internet empowers musicians with announced SONOIO via twitter last July after several teaser videos on YouTube. Since announcing SONOIO, he has gone on to release a full length SONOIO album, blue and an electronic instrument created in collaboration with The Harvestman called SuONOIO. SuONOIO translated from Italian is “I Make Sound”.  The SuONOIO has proven to be a hit with fans and musicians alike seeing both limited, small batches made available on the site SONOIO.org selling out. NON SONOIO a companion remix album to blue was released around the holidays and is available as a free download on the site or at the bottom of this post.

Cortini, whom was scheduled to play one show while at SXSW 2011 had a second added after his electrifying performance on night one. At that same show he debuted some new material live that I personally can’t wait to hear more of. Mr. Cortini was gracious enough to take time to answer some questions I sent his way after seeing his show and getting a chance to catch up with him in person.

What inspired SONOIO?

SONOIO is exactly what it means. Me doing what makes me happy. Writing without thinking too much about how and why it happens. Not worrying about what it’ll become and about cleaning up mistakes or production.

SONOIO was the result of needing to be myself, on my own, in order to understand what makes me happy musically and in life.

The SuONOIO is a really different idea that puts the power of creation in your fans’ hands. How did that come about and have you seen or gotten any cool stuff back from those that have purchased one?


SuONOIO is the materialization of a concept that’s been in my mind for a while now: offering a product that effectively represents the music I make and at the same time offers the chance to create new music. Thanks to Scott @ Harvestman, we were able to make it a reality….it was VERY successful, and we are planning on making more in the near future.

I received plenty of links to videos and audio clips and I am amazed by the amount of creativity it spurred. Really makes me happy!

What first inspired you to get into music?


I grew up in a house full of music…I think it’s just what I need to be doing in order to achieve happiness, as it’s the only thing that feels very natural to do.

Are there any acts or fellow musicians that continue to inspire or push you today?

Definitely. I have learned a lot both business and music wise from Trent (Reznor) and my years with the NIN family, so undoubtedly he left a big mark, even though it’d be difficult to notice from a strictly musical point of view.

Bands and music out there today…not many; some of the big ones I learned to love and respect have become lazy and uninspiring to me, either because I have changed or because they are actually lazy and uninspiring, or maybe both.

I listen to very few new records, but there are some artists that still make me sit through a whole record and play it again at the end…here is what I am listening to, old and new:

BigBlackDelta, Telefon Tel Aviv, Belong, Tim Hecker, Dead Snares, Elbow, Doves, Fever Ray/The Knife, PVT.

You keep busy having released Modwheelmood albums in 07, 08 & 09 along with 1 as BlindoldFreak and then SONOIO in 2010, at the show the other night you played a couple of new songs, which sounded fantastic. Can we expect more in 2011?

YES. New SONOIO releases this year for sure, along with Blindoldfreak. MWM is still on hiatus, as we are all doing other things at the moment…but we keep in touch!

How did NON SONOIO the remixed come about?

The NON SONOIO album came about as a way to give back to the fans who have been so supportive of the music so far…there isn’t a bigger honor to me than having my favorite artists interpreting my own music, and I wanted to share this with everyone who allowed SONOIO to grow day by day.

Are you involved with BigBlackDelta at all, (the not always correct) Wikipedia claims you are.

I am. Jon (Bates) and I work well together, and we have been giving feedback/helping each other with our music for a while now. I can’t wait for you to hear his new album. In a perfect world, it should be on everyone’s library.

While your current focus is on Sonoio can we expect anything in the future from either ModWheelMood or Blindoldfreak?

In the future, all of the above.

Any plans to tour as SONOIO?

A desire to, yes. plans are harder to make, as I am only one man and cannot do everything on my own (booking a whole tour, for example).

Hopefully soon I will be able to plan a whole tour, but for now I think it’ll be more local LA/ west coast shows…after the SXSW shows in Austin I think I found a comfortable and enjoyable way to portrait SONOIO’s music live, and I am looking forward to bringing it wherever I can.

For the time being, I plan on streaming shows from the studio, which will give peeps a taste of what I do…I tried it during SXSW and it worked, more or less…

What were you using at the show the other night to perform? I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really ended up enjoying the show as a fan of the album immensely.

Don’t question it… just embrace it!

Anything else you’d like to share?

Plenty to share, and it’s all coming very soon.

Get four tracks from blue free now

Here is NON SONOIO the remixes

Words by John Coovert
Photos by Kelly Powell

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