Jacopo, Lorenzo, Julio, together with Paolo Baldini you guys are all from Pordenone in Friulli. Does that mean there a small reggae scene there?
Jacopo 'Jacob' Garcia (vocals/guitar): "I don't think we can claim there's what you could call a reggae scene in Pordenone or even in Friulli, the region we're from, but the thing is it's an area of Italy where the sky is grey for large parts of the year and it rains a lot, so it's a climate that calls out for some tropical vibes to bring out the sun."
Giulio 'Jules-I' Frausin (bass/vocals): "And of course we were lucky enough to be very close to the original location of the Rototom Sunsplash festival (Osoppo, red.). It was almost as if the entire island of Jamaica came to perform in our backyard."
Lorenzo 'L.O' Garcia (vocals/guitar): "I just want to add that in my opinion, when we started playing our first shows in and around Pordenone, I guess there actually was a small reggae scene. You had Paolo's band B.R. Stylers, and then in Venice there was Pitura Freska and a few others. The thing is that when we started, we weren't really aware of it as we weren't listening to Italian reggae ourselves. It was only afterwards that we discovered Italy had a couple of big reggae scenes like in Torino or Salento. Meanwhile I guess Mellow Mood has become an integral part of the Friuli reggae scene and we're even actively involved in trying to attract newcomers to keep it fresh and alive."
Apart from the Rototom Sunsplash being near to Pordenone, where did your love for reggae music come from?
Jacopo 'Jacob' Garcia: "For me and Lorenzo it all started with Bob Marley, like is the case for many reggae lovers I suppose."
Giulio 'Jules-I' Frausin: "For me the story is slightly different, as my love for reggae started when I first saw Paolo Baldini and his band play. That also meant that at first I thought reggae was mainly this dubby electronic kind of music many UK sound systems play. Apart from that I think we're also part of that first generation of music lovers who really benefitted from what the internet had to offer. We literally downloaded hundreds of mp3's, mostly Jamaican tunes by artists like Capleton, Sizzla or Buju Banton, and all done illegally of course! (laughs) The internet has made finding new music very easy, too easy maybe, but it's also benefitted us as a group because at the click of a mouse people from all over the globe can now discover our music."
Mellow Mood is an Italian reggae band, but you guys didn't opt to sing in Italian.
Jacopo 'Jacob' Garcia: "We tried it in the very beginning, but weren't really satisfied with the result, and we've always felt more comfortable singing in English or patois. It's also broadened our chances to play abroad, but it was never a strategic choice, it was just a natural thing."
Lorenzo 'L.O.' Garcia: "All the music we were listening to was also in English or patois, so I see it as kind of an emulating process; we wanted to sound like these guys did."
You guys being twins, how do we have to imagine the songwriting process in Mellow Mood?
Lorenzo 'L.O.' Garcia: " It kind of depends what we are working on, but basically we each do our own stuff before getting together to see what the other might be able to add."
Jacopo 'Jacob' Garcia: "We've never sat down and tried to write a song together, but I think we influence each other a lot as we share and compare our stuff all the time. We also don't live in the same house so that make working independently more logical. We just take our time and when we think we have created something worthwhile, we share it with the others."
When you first started thinking of doing this project, was it clear from the very beginning that you would both be fronting the band or did one of you had to convince the other?
Giulio 'Jules-I' Frausin: "In the very beginning Jacob was the main vocalist, with me doing backing vocals, and Lorenzo only played guitar, but when we met Paolo, he immediately pitched the idea to have the twins fronting the band."
Lorenzo 'L.O.' Garcia: "It's true, I took some convincing as I felt I was still finding out what my role in music would or should be. In the end Paolo managed to convince me though and he supported me a lot."
Since you've dropped his name a couple of times now, should we consider Paolo Baldini as an extra member of the Mellow Mood crew?
Giulio 'Jules-I' Frausin: "Well we're all from Pordenone, and if I remember correctly it was Michela Grena, the singer of B.R. Stylers, the band Paolo was also involved in back then, who introduced us to one another. At that time we had a number of songs we used to perform at local venues, but Paolo suggested he wanted to produce an album for us, and that's where everything started. Working with Paolo was a true learning process for us, as basically we had to get to know the whole recording process from scratch. The album that came out of that first collaboration was 'Move' (Alambic Conspiracy, 2008, red.), which, among others, yielded the single 'Dance Inna Babylon', which is still one of the most popular Mellow Mood songs. Since then Paolo's involvement in the band has only grown, and today we see him as a regular band member."
You guys are also involved in Paolo's Dub Files project. In short what is the idea behind that?
Lorenzo 'L.O.' Garcia: "Basically Dub Files is Paolo with his mixing board and featuring various guest vocalists. Meanwhile it's grown into two different dimensions: on the one side you've got the live sets, but he's also produced two albums under the same banner already. Paolo runs either his own riddims or productions by people like us, Arawak, Imperial Sound and so on through his mixing board and the vocalists freestyle over them. With the albums it works more or less the same, but of course there's some post-production involved, where things can be edited and effects can be added."
Giulio 'Jules-I' Frausin: "Paolo also has the habit of filming the whole thing and there's always a camera on his mixing board. Over time he's put several of these video recordings as clips on YouTube. In 2015 he took the whole project to Jamaica and voiced a number of local artists at Sound Embassy, of which the most well-known is now Hempress Sativa I guess."
As vocalists, doing a show with Paolo must allow you a lot more freedom compared to doing a regular Mellow Mood set?
Jacopo 'Jacob Garcia: "Of course! Doing the Dub Files thing is liberating, because there is no schedule to follow. It's not exactly completely freestyle either, in case you were wondering; we try to improvise where possible, but basically it still are our songs."
Your two most recent releases 'Twinz' and '2 The World' have a very similar look. Was that already the idea when you started working on the first album?
Jacopo 'Jacob' Garcia: "Well, originally they were supposed to be released as one double album, so when we released 'Twinz' we also had already recorded the songs that are now on 'To Di World'. La Tempesta, the label we work with, convinced us not to present it as a double album, but two separate ones instead. And to be honest, releasing 2X new songs at once would maybe have been a bit much. If look at both albums closely, you'll notice that there are similarities in the track lists as well: on 'Twinz' there's the title track 'Twinz' and on '2 The World' there's its counterpart 'Twinz Invasion'. We also played with our images, as on 'Twinz' it's my face on the cover and on the second one it's Lorenzo's. It was also the first time we wanted to use this twin-concept to its full capacity so to speak."
Giulio 'Jules-I' Frausin: "Exactly, it was the first time we really sat down and map out an album project and everything that comes with that, like shooting a video, doing a photo shoot for the cover and so on. It was an interesting growth process for us, also from a management point of view, because we're still completely self-supporting."
I have to ask, can your fans always tell you guys apart?
Lorenzo 'L.O.' Garcia: "Our real fans can, yes. It might astound you, but we regularly meet people who don't even realize at first that we are twins!"
Do you try to fool people at times by one pretending to be the other?
Jacopo 'Jacob' Garcia: "No, not anymore. When we were still at school it happened, but only a very few times. It's the typical cliché people expect from twins, so we try to stay away from being stereotyped."
Apart from the music, is reggae a livity a way of life for you guys?
Jacopo 'Jacob' Garcia: "I think the three of us will each give you a different answer on that question. Personally I live a very clean, relaxed and healthy lifestyle - I don't drink or smoke or party too much - so when I learned about Rastafarian culture I recognized a lot of myself. That being said, the idea of living a sober life is something you'll encounter in many religions. I also like the aspect of brotherhood, inity, and respect for the environment. When we started Mellow Mood, we were aware that we were emulating Jamaican and Rastafarian culture, but for me it was all about the messages and teachings you could find in that music. I never dealt with the religious aspect of it all."
Lorenzo 'L.O.' Garcia: "Personally, I've always been fascinated by the Rastafarian philosophy, partly because it's almost inseparable from the music. But at the same time I'm fascinated by a lot of other cultures and religions as well. I believe there's a reason or a plan if you want, that makes that you're born in a certain country with a certain culture. For me that was Italy where the majority of the people are catholic Christians. Basically all religions have more or less the same basic values like love, respect and unity."
Giulio 'Jules-I' Frausin: "I slightly disagree with Jacopo and Lorenzo, because you simply can't deny that Rastafarianism has a significant impact on anyone listening to roots reggae. Shouting: "Rastafari!" or "Selassie I!" has a very different energy than shouting: "Buddha!", "Krishna!" or "Allah!" for example. At least for me the symbolism of Haile Selassie, the Lion of Judah and so on is very important, because it showed me a different dimension in life. At a certain level, what we do is definitely word, sound and power. Being aware of the reality we're living in and the way we live our lives and treat the planet we walk on. That's a big part of the way I live Rastafari and I believe that's also true for many other people who identify themselves with Rastafarianism. I'm not saying I would prefer living a life as a Rastafarian hidden away in a remote corner of the Alps or something, because it just wouldn't be realistic, but that doesn't mean you can't take the teachings of His Majesty into your life and try to apply them wherever and whenever possible. In a way that's sort of a political choice as well, because you can apply it when you go grocery shopping, when you vote, when you listen to the radio or watch television and so on. The Rastafarian ideology should be something you wear with you wherever you go as a sort of badge of honor. It also helps if you've been to Jamaica and you've had the chance to talk with some of the Rastafarians living over there. Here in Europe it's very easy to have an iPhone but still identify yourself as being Rastafarian, but in Jamaica I learned how to find the balance between the world you're living in and the actual teachings, which, if you think about it, are basic values that have been around almost since the dawn of man. Finding balance, King Alpha and Queen Omega, is very important!"