Dracula Lewis – Cursed by the Sound of Horror

Foto: Malte Seidel
Cursed by the Sound of Horror

There’s not yet much online information about the artist Dracula Lewis. It’s entertaining to see how blogs are constructing a persona and putting the artist in a labelled box with the little information that they do have. They know that he is from Transylvania, calls himself Dracula and presents a certain uncomfortableness and rawness in his songs so of course he becomes a horror obsessed mystery and so a persona has been created but Dracula Lewis, born Simone Trabucchi, is not satisfied: »The stereotype is too simple. I think you can find more horror stuff in reality, in everyday life.« Also, and now I feel like I am failing Dracula Lewis, he isn’t actually from Transylvania, which I wasn’t too surprised about when I met him as he has a thick Italian accent. »It’s a joke. A tool for journalists and labels to play with.« A lot of artists create characters to up their entertainment value but few are so candid and nonchalant about it. Dracula Lewis doesn’t care if journalists and his listeners know the truth or not. »I see it as a test. I like to see if people like this kind of illusion or not. The first time I played in Berlin three years ago a crazy guy booked me. I sent him two lines about me and he immediately got it and wrote a page long biography about me. He took the opportunity I gave him to go wild with his imagination, to create a persona. Otherwise it’s boring.« Well, boring or not I felt I had to get the facts straight – but I do feel like I’ve failed his test.

So, here are the facts: Trabucchi is the 30 year-old founder of the Origami tape producing label Hundebiss, he’s just signed to Berlin label Souterrain Transmissions and is currently on tour with The Soft Moon. The band’s manager saw him play in Berlin last February, took a liking to him, showed his tracks to The Soft Moon, they liked him also and hired him as their warm-up band. »Marco shares his office with Souterrain Tranmissions so when he played my demo there they wanted to sign me. It was really casual,« explains Trabucchi. He had gone down the DIY path earlier, four years to be exact, when he brought out his first Dracula Lewis tape on his own label Hundebiss. »I hate releasing my own stuff on my label but at the same time I wasn’t looking for a label either. I was just working on my stuff without sending demos out.« So, he had a bit of a lucky break with Souterrain then? »We can call it luck,« he replies dryly clearly not agreeing, »It’s rather your approach to what you are doing. I was working on this record for a year and was playing live a lot. At some point you have to get out of the studio even if you don’t feel ready – that’s even better.«

This old school attitude of going out there and getting things done on your own along with his obvious affinity to tapes is rooted in his, well, roots. He’s from a small, countryside town between Milan and Bolonia called Vernasca. When I ask him what the music scene is like there he laughs and says: »There is no music scene there.« With no record store around he bought every music magazine he could get his hands explaining it as »…liking the imagery around music.« He would contact older, experienced music lovers in the magazines’ pen pal section; »People think the pen pal thing is kind of sad and lonely but it wasn’t. I was writing to people older than me and they just loved to give me records and teach me. I would send them blank tapes and they would put an old Misfits album or something on there. I have a lot of tapes and I learnt a lot from the pen pal thing.«

Dracula Lewis’ music does have a horror vibe to it, which would be undeniable even without the Transylvania myth but it seems like Trabucchi, even though he is just starting off, is already tiring of this trademark; »This horror sound is a curse to me. I never start a song with a horror song in mind. Even when I try to make a relaxed song or minimal song it sounds terrifying in the end. It’s just in my blood and that makes sense because I’m not a relaxed guy.« His song »Permafrost« was recorded in a basement using an old computer and most of his songs, if not very obviously, use field recordings of wild cat sounds – »I especially love their sound when they are in love. It’s kind of scary.« – or of his own improvised sessions with the microphone hanging outside of the studio so that cars and random banging irritate the recording. _»I’m not interested in the reality of field recordings anymore. I think we know our soundscape quite well already. I’m not a documentarists. I like to create fiction.«