23 March 2023

(Photo by Turn Up the Volume)

Italian singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist GIOELE VALENTI is a busy musical bee. He’s the mastermind of spellbinding psych acts JUJU and HERSELF and he regularly works with fellow Italian artist Nicola Sanguin of Lay Llamas. He also toured and recorded with the wonderful duo Jonathan Donahue/Grasshopper of the supreme band Mercury Rev recently.

A couple of weeks ago JUJU played my hometown of Ghent (Belgium) again and we had
a chat focused on his newest album made with Lay Llamas and named Flag Of Breeze.

But first, as usual, we start an interview with a slice of music. Here’s one of my
favorite Juju songs, it’s from the excellent 2nd LP Our Mother Was A Plant.

Hello Gieole,
great to meet you again

You operate under two different monikers: JUJU and HERSELF.
Why, Gioele? Different music and/or different musicians?

“I think that at the basis of my training there are such heterogeneous listenings,
from folk to post-punk, that I immediately found it necessary to split into several
artistic personalities.

Different sound perspectives for the same artistic identity. Call it, if you will, sonic schizophrenia or company of artistic sub-personalities. I’ve always made my records myself. Of course, live, both Herself and JUJU become a real band.”

Which track would you pick from your work – overall – to introduce
yourself to people who never heard of you ?

“I think a good synthesis of JUJU’s sound, we find it in the song We Spit On Yer Grave, from the debut album… you can find everything in it. From new wave to post-punk; from indie pop to shoegaze. It still sounds very good to my hyper-critical ears!”

New mini-album FLAG OF BREEZE is a collaborative one with Lay Llamas (Nicola Giunta) You worked with LL before. What connects you both?

“It’s a long story… rooted in twenty years, I think. Nicola and I met at the time of Herself‘s first records. Nicola came to one of my concerts, if I remember correct-ly, in my city. And we immediately became friends. Lay Llamas is a Nicola‘s idea, and when he started taking his first steps, he immediately involved me, more or less.

Our most nourished collaboration takes shape in the Ostro (Rocket Re-cordings) album. From time to time, we like to make a record together, like the latest Goud, or the Flag Of Breeze collaboration. Between me and Nicola, in addition to a long-standing friendship, there is an extraordinary artistic affinity. In the work of the Lay Llamas, a perfect chemistry is unleashed, which neither he nor I can explain on rational grounds. I think it’s “simply”
a kind of alchemy.”

Lay Llamas’ Nicola Sanguin

Are all songs created together, lyrically and sonically?

“Normally the work with LL takes happens in the following way. Nicola sends me a sonorous canvas, or a definite structure. I write the lyrics and record my vo-cals, some arrangements, guitars, and synthesizers and then he polishes everything to a strong, typically LL aesthetic. It often works like this… but it’s not a rule. Sometimes everything
is already clear enough. Other times, we have no idea where the songs will lead us.”

Are all tracks connected or does each one stands on its own?

“As for my writing part on Flag Of Breeze, in agreement with Nicola, there is a universalist inspiration, which I am not afraid to define as pacifist. the whole record is lavished by this utopia of brotherhood, which is not mannerism, but a yearning pure, sincere. Fully aware that our world is falling apart under the yoke of truly negative powers.”

I like the artistic image on the album’s cover, although I have
no idea what it means? Is there a story behind, Gioele?

“The aesthetic part of the cover is totally Nicola‘s prerogative.
I can only tell that, yes, I like it!”

Which movie would be perfect to have your music as its soundtrack?

“A film whose story is written by Tom Robbins and whose photography is han-dled by
John Alcott! Naturally, I would see Lucifer directing, the most misunder-stood angel of all!”

Painting by Alexandre Cabanel named ‘Ange Dechu’ (The Fallen Angel) in 1847

If you could collaborate on a new record with
a big name artist, who would it be and why?

“You know, I feel like a craftsman. I even have a hard time thinking of myself with a “big” name. There are so many artists that I love… I think with Mike Scott of the Waterboys. I loved them so much that I sanded my heart. Simply, because they are a part of me.”

I know you like to play live, so the lockdown years must have been
a pain in the ass. How did you cope with that Covid-19 period?

“Yes, that was a very painful time. As for everyone, by the way.

I think JUJU is a machine that express itself at his best in live dimension.
Yes, I really missed the live dimension. But I’m a fatalist, and I think everything
happens for a reason. And here we are again.”

A couple of weeks you played in my hometown of Ghent in Belgium again.
It looked/sounded as if you and the band were happy to be back on stage
despite car problems the day before.

“Sure, man. We were coming off a date in Bordeaux and were on our way to Beaumont.
We had this bad, but not serious, accident. We missed a date. But we caught up with Ghent. A city that we love and have played many times.

We were happy to play this concert organized by Sven Van Daele. Sven is a fan and a great person. We are always very happy to play in Belgium. A place where we feel at home.

March 9 – Ghent, Belgium – photo by TUTV

Any plans to work or tour with Mercury Rev again?

“Oh man. Yes I’d really like. We catch up with Jonathan: (note: Jonathan Donahue
is Mercury’s Rev charismatic singer/frontman) from time to time, like old friends.
They are extraordinary artists and very special human be-ings. Maybe…”

Gioele’s Herself project feat. Jonathan Donahue

What’s the next step for Gioele Valenti
and his different projects/collaborations?

“There’s something brewing… but I’m not the type to open
my mouth before things are done. Fingers crossed.”

here via Bandcamp.

Thank you Gioele for this interview.
May the road rise with Juju/Herself.

Gieole Valenti/JUJU: Facebook – Instagram

Hypnotic Psych Grooves To Dance 2021 Away With – JUJU Released Their New Album ‘LA QUE SABE’

22 December 2021

Band: JUJU
Who: The project of Italian
multi-instrumentalist Gioele Valenti

“Sicilian multi-instrumentalist and producer is a key figure of the European underground music scene. He is one half of acclaimed Occult Psych project Llay Lamas (Rocket Recordings). He is the man behind Herself, a folktronica project that involved the likes of Jonathan Donahue of Mercury Rev, John Fallon of The Steppes and Amaury Cambuzat of Faust and Ulan Bator. He was also the guitarist of Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation. Most importantly, he is the creator of
the unclassifiable JuJu. Championed by Goatman and Capra Informis of GOAT, JuJu have already released three albums (two of which with Fuzz Club Records) and left a permanent mark in the international Psychedelic scene and beyond.”

“JuJu are known for their signature sound merging their Mediterranean influences with styles like Afrobeat, Krautrock, Psychedelia (Occult Psych) and Art Rock. This new album marks a shift to a much more “western” imagery, combining Post Punk, Shoegaze, Darkwave, Industrial, Synthpop, R’n’R with Dance, Club and Disco. Sonically, JuJu have somehow migrated from the South to the North, but without losing the mystical knowledge and experience gathered in their previous wanderings.”

(photo by Turn Up The Volume)

New album: LA QUE SABE (Sapnish for ‘the one who knows’)
Released: 22 October 2022 via Weird Beard Records.

Four years after mind-boggling album Our Mother Was A Plant Gioele Valenti and
his alter ego project Juju return with La Que Sabe. And he’s still playing with our minds with his ongoing groove-tastic jams, with his psychedelia-fueled extravaganza and
24-hour party trips.

From the infectious, repetitive electro-driven rocket Not This Time to the fade-out of closing cut Beautiful Mother Juju pushes your adrenalin production in overdrive. The transcendent vibrations of Nothing Endures, Could You Believe and She’s Perfect put a Krautrock spell on you, Walk The Line has an energetic panache while its haunting choir-like vocals resonate like a manic mantra and Seven Days In The Sun has a soothing effect. Don’t be afraid, all these sonic drug injections are legal.

Still, looking for the soundtrack to dance 2021 away with next week?
Trust me, stop looking, here’s all your mind, heart and soul, and body needs.


JUJU: Facebook

(photo by Turn Up The Volume)

TURN UP THE VOLUME’S Knockout OCTOBER Team – Eleven Killer Tracks…

Eleven killer tracks on repeat this past month…

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Eleven killer tracks we played on repeat in October!
An eclectic mix of poppy vibrations and steamy grooves
energizing all of our senses and our limbs this past month!
Here’s Turn Up The Volume‘s Knockout October Team!

1. ‘Faith & Science’ by MODERATE REBELS (London, UK)
With Moderate Rebels it’s all about intoxicating mantra-like psych grooves. Like a mind-expanding mix of Velvet Underground, The Dandy Warhols and Spacemen 3. Far-out stuff!

2. I Don’t Care Anymore by BIG TIME KILL (Boston, US)
This raging electro-duo produces inflammable firework to go berserk to on the dance floor. This cutting cracker comes from debut LP ‘Shock And Awe‘. Read all about it here.


3. ‘Bar Stool Warriors’ by GARETH SAGER & THE HUNGRY GHOSTS (Scotland)
This is what happened when longtime post-punk chameleon Gareth Sager invited the ghosts of Captain Beefheart & Frank Zappa for a cup of tea and a rad jam. Full result here.

4. ‘Turn The Knife’ by PALM GHOSTS (Nashville, US)
A feverish mixed emotions pop pearl build around a stellar melody with layers of sparkling guitars and elevated by the enrapturing effect of duet vocals. Both dazzling and haunting.

5. ‘Money Money’ by RICHARD ASHCROFT (England)
Closing track of the legend’s brand new album. Hottest, hookiest and rockiest cut of all.


6. ‘The Witness’ by HERSELF (Italy)
Most upbeat, most funky and most vibey stroke on new LP by singer/songwriter Gioele Valenti aka Herself. Find out more about the whole album ‘Rigel Playground‘ right here.

7. ‘Pastel Blues’ by THE ATTICS (Melbourne, Australia)
You’ll feel groovy, you’ll look groovy and your swaying hips will make other people go groovy when you’re walking the streets with this earworm on your headphones. Ace!

THE ATTICS: Facebook

8. ‘Beacon’ by THE MIGHTY ORCHID KING (St Albans, UK)
Expect kooky guitars, a pulsating rhythmic tandem, an overall buzzing resonance, echoing vocals and karma-like 60s harmonies. Yesterday is the new today! Time to chill out! Yeah!


9. ‘Secret’ by VAUREEN (Brooklyn, NY, US)
As much decibels as My Bloody Valentine, as dark as Killing Joke and with Lydia Lunch‘s enigmatic spirit on vocals. Outcome? Like a pitch-black Neil Young hurricane. Puzzling!

10. ‘Victoria Park’ by RED TELEPHONE (Cardiff, Wales)
Melancholic melody, starry-eyed vocals and an overall gratifying warmth that makes you long for happy-go-lucky childhood days. Reminds me of romantic popsters Scritti Politti.


11. ‘Dream Apartment’ by OH FOR (Finland)
This humdinger’s jazzy bass warmth, its twinkling orchestration and its intimate vocals will make your thoughts drift away to the room in your mind where you can freely fantasize.

OH FOR: Facebook

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See/hear you next month for another knockout team

GIOELE VALENTI Aka HERSELF Leads Us Through His New Majestic Album ‘RIGEL PLAYGROUND’ – Track By Track…

19 October 2018

HERSELF is the moniker of Italian multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Gioele Valenti, who’s also making psychedelic waves with his terrific Juju project. Today sees the release of his new magnificent Herself LP entitled RIGEL PLAYGROUND. An intimate and delicate record with profound reflections and gripping reveries about different puzzling aspects of mankind, about the meaning of life, about schizophrenia and karma and with one magical Mercury Rev touch. Music that warms your heart and thoughts that enlighten your soul. Of course, the only person who knows all the details about this glowing work of sonic humanity is the author himself. Gioele Valenti will reveal anecdotes and stories about all the songs, right here, track by track…

Here’s the music
Here are the anecdotes & stories

“A song I would call naive. Very strange and intimate. It’s a metaphor. We are permanently driven by our brain. But our mind, is it really our property? I think we live controlled by others, constantly. “They made me run in circle in my brain“, says the song. Christianity and all religions put an alien in ourselves. Schizophrenia is the rule.

“It’s like a lamentation or, if you prefer, a prayer… humans are a particular kind of animal. We can roll ourselves in the mud, but with good roots planted, we can take a leap in the light. This aspect of things is very interesting to me. From Jewish Qabbalah to Buddhist asceticism, the debate between matter and spirit, light and shadow is substantial. The barking of a dog, as the howling of the wolf to the moon, expresses at best an existence
in balance between nostalgia and unknown.”

“Very pop(py). I think about John Lennon, when I hear that song. The light that keeps on shining at the highest level, when you’re in a deep well. It’s about karma rule: “So at last,
all the things you gave turn back”.

“Folk, traditional, with a bit of wave underneath the skin. Phil Oach? Donovan?
I don’t know. Played in a wood.”

When I wrote this song I immediately thought about Mercury Rev and their incredible vox, Jonathan Donahue. A true poet and a magician. So I asked him to collaborate. He liked the song very much. (He. Said. Yes.). For me, it’s a miracle. Mercury Rev it’s the best band ever for me. That song is the reason I’m gonna be touring with them, so you can understand what that song means for me.

“It’s the song I wrote for all the victims of the Bataclan tragedy in Paris 2015.”

“A childhood song. Purity, clarity, softness, with a T-Rex sauce.”

T-Rex nostalgia

Thank you Gioele Valenti for the intriguing info.
May the road rise with HERSELF!

Album available here on iTunes

(photo by TUTV!)

TURN UP THE VOLUME’S Knockout SEPTEMBER Team – Eleven Killer Tracks…

Eleven killer tracks on repeat this past month…

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Eleven killer tracks we played on repeat in September!
A crazed fusion of roaring rippers and galvanizing grooves
energizing all of our senses and our limbs this past month!
Here’s Turn Up The Volume‘s Knockout September Team!

1. ‘Dark Stains’ by EXPLODED VIEW (Mexico/Berlin)
A truly booming dance knockout. Its ongoing menacing and eurhythmic vibrancy is simply irresistible and will put a spell on your senses. New album Obey out today. Stream here.


2. ‘Dirty Boy’ feat. Barry Adamson by A CERTAIN RATIO (Manchester, UK)
The veteran Manchester post punks still make your hips sway uncontrollably. With special guest (ex-Magazine) Barry Adamson you can hit the dance floor and funk yourself dizzy…


3. ‘Danny Nedelko’ by IDLES (Bristol, UK)
A moshpit punk uppercut from the band’s smashing new longplayer Joy As An Act Of Resistance. It will catapult this hot-blooded gang of misfits into the premier rock league.

IDLES: Facebook

4. ‘Get Along’ by FADE AWAAYS (Toronto, Canada)
This loud-mouthed corker, made to energize mad crowds, confirms that guitar rock is still alive and kicking! Expect uproarious riffs, a pumping bass/drums force and a killer chorus.


5. ‘Bigfoot’ by DIANE GRACE (Belgium)
Demonic and exorcistic, yet catchy as bloody hell. Hot boiling ripper from this up and coming punk desperados’ debut EP ‘Panic!’. Stream/buy the whole shebang right here.


6. ‘When We Left’ by SOMEDAYS (London, UK)
Its glowing drive, its tenacious pace and its confident dynamic will vitalize your adrenaline’s stream and will activate your nerves. The Strokes are dead! Long live Somedays! Damn right.

SOMEDAYS: Facebook

7. ‘Graphite’ by TWIST HELIX (Newcastle upon Tyne. UK)
Here’s a wholehearted, passion injected synths power stroke. Ardent, blazing and totally infectious. An anxious crackerjack strongly intensified by frontwoman Bea Garcia‘s vox.


8. ‘The Present’ by MOVIESTAR feat. Professor Elemental (Oslo, Norway)
This is a funky hippy-hoppy party humdinger featuring the wacko steampunk-rapper Professor Elemental. Its funny, trippy, poppy, dancey and totally contagious all the way.


9. ‘The Beast Of Love’ by HERSELF Featuring JONATHAN DONAHUE (Italy/US)
A stirring ballad feat. Jonathan Donahue, angelic vox of legendary New York dreamers Mercury Rev. The song resonates like a sensitive symphony growing fuller along its starry-eyed path. New LP by Herself aka Italian singer/songwriter Gioele Valenti out 19th October.

HERSELF: Facebook

10. ‘Young Fools’ by SMALL MILLION (Portland, Oregon, US)
A highly charming pop pearl with singer Malachi Graham‘s gracious vox turning the sticky melody into a moony reverie. Ryan Linder‘s poetic guitar play adds magic to this beauty.


11. ‘As One’ by SUEDE (London, UK)
Grand and epic symphony. It’s the magnificent opener from the glam rockers’ new album ‘The Blue Hour‘. There’s a phenomenal choir in there that just blows my mind. Top score!

SUEDE: Facebook

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See/hear you next month, music junkies

HERSELF Returns With New Sensitive Symphony ‘THE BEAST OF LOVE’ Featuring MERCURY REV’s Frontman JONATHAN DONAHUE…

Daily fuel to load your sonic batteries…

6 September 2018

Multifaceted Italian singer/songwriter GIOELE VALENTI is a dedicated 24/7 musician.
Last year, the one-time Lay Llamas member released the mesmerizing psych groove
album Our Mother Was A Plant with his psychedelic collective JUJU and next October
the softer, more soulful side of Valenti will enchant us with a brand new LP by his other project called HERSELF. Ahead of its release here’s the first track, entitled ‘THE BEAST
‘. A beautifully orchestrated mid-tempo ballad featuring Jonathan Donahue,
the wonderful and angel-like vox of legendary New York pop dreamers Mercury Rev.
The song resonates like a multi-instrumental symphony growing fuller in sound along
its starry-eyed path while Donahue‘s meditative voice floats all over it. You’ll definitely
need more than one spin to discover all the delightful layers. Capture the heartfelt
ardor right here and drift away, carelessly…

HERSELF: Facebook

THE BEAST OF LOVE – available, digitally, 7 September via UrtoVox

HERSELF will play on MERCURY REV‘s Italian shows (12-15 September) of their world
tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their masterpiece Deserter’s Songs

(photo on top by Turn Up The Volume! Ghent Belgium – 2018)

10 Questions For A Kaleidoscopic Psychedelia Gruppo Without Frontiers – Here’s… JUJU

Discover thrilling artists in 10 questions

From the beautiful city of Palermo in Italy, here’s… JUJU


Experienced and eclectic singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist GIOELE VALENTI
is the ingenious mastermind behind spellbinding psych collective JUJU. Valenti is not
only an exquisite musician but also a fascinating, broad-minded human being with
a multicolored vision on mankind’s past, present and future. The way he combines
astonishing soundscapes with profound reflections on our troubled planet is nothing
less than remarkable. Last year Juju released OUR MOTHER WAS A PLANT LP. A trippy
work of transcendent vibrations. From cinematic Pink Floyd echoes to Hawkind‘s spacey escapades and some king-sized Massive Attack jams in between. After seeing/meeting signor Valenti last month in my hometown Ghent (Belgium) where the band played an impressive set we got in touch for this interview. Let’s start the acquaintance first with
one of the highlights of the LP…

Welcome Gioele at Turn Up The Volume!…

1/ You were in several bands before, Gioele. When and why
did you start the JuJu project ?

“Back in 2015. The reason is always the same, I think: to make music without frontiers.
In this case, I just wanted to say something on the migration of masses we’re facing in this
particular historical moment. Sicily is one of the poles of the crisis, in the Mediterranean, we have been defined as the ‘gate of Europe‘… a term with a very ambiguous semantic value, because it could conceal a discharge of responsibility from a political point of view. Anyway, I think that migration of bodies, languages, symbols are a very fertile soil
for an artist’s imagination.”

2/ What’s the story behind the project’s name?
Juju is a West African word. It refers to a system of belief. JuJu can be a spell, can be incorporated objects, amulets… It sounds good, with its powerful witchy meaning. I love playing with symbols.”

3/ When did you know “this is how I want to sound, this is
what I want to tell the world”?

“Mmm, it’s quite hard. Riding on a highway with God as co-pilot, facing the hell of passion and the transcendence of a free-form spirit. I’m a songwriter, and I’m a drop in an ocean, so I’m just following the path of my predecessors, with a light in my head and an abyss of shadows behind. Sorry, I know it may sound a little naïve, but I cannot define myself better than this.”

4/ Only two months in the new year and I already saw two great Italian bands play Belgium (Secret Sight and JuJu) and I interviewed two (The Bankrobber and Japan Suicide). Is that a coincidence or is a new Italian wave on its way to conquer Europe?
“When I hear “conquer” I’m scared. It has to do with a tradition with which we have
to break. I feel closer to the spirit of Renaissance. Sweetness, otherness proposal, brotherhood in the beauty. As an Italian, I can only claim an aesthetic supremacy
over the pettiness of politics. Anyway, it’s great to see great Italian bands around,

5/ Which song would you pick as Juju’s signature track?
“‘In A Ghetto’, I think. It’s the one with my friend Capra Informis from Goat at the djembé.
I think it incorporates all the magic I’m just trying to express with JuJu. I hear on that track the feminine power of soil and a mood that is close to a Mercurial point of view. The transformation is the point. We are all living in a ghetto, in a way. Call it drugs, sex, technology… we are not free as human beings. It’s sad.”

6/ What’s the story behind the album’s title ‘Our Mother Was A Plant’ and how is it related to the music and to the image on the LP’s front sleeve?
“I was reading a lot of beat literature. I love the lysergic aspects of life, and I think that we should demonstrate more respect for plants… they are very ancient beings, more powerful than we think. The relation with the cover instead is more subtle. If we’d be able to expand our consciousness over a routine world, we would find a deep connection. No separation, no sexism, no racism, in a word brotherhood. There’s a Maya greeting called ‘In Lak’ech’, it means ‘I am another yourself‘. The ‘A Chosen Few’ was the first motorcycle club made by black people. They opened to white people. I think that is a very successful experiment of integration. Al those meanings mixed together make sense to me. Tout se tient, they say in France.”

Artwork album

7/ JuJu’s music covers a whole range of psychedelic genres and is influenced by several decades of mind-expanding music. Is it also a reflection of your private record collection?
“Definitely. I love music and I live through rhythm. JuJu is a tribute to the great music
I have grown up with. From Mozart to Joy Division, Tom Waits, John Zorn, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Billy Idol, The Cure, Janis Joplin, The Jesus And Mary Chain, The Telescopes, Procol Harum, The Doors, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Angelo Branduardi, Ligeti, Ennio Morricone, Grieg
and so on and on…”

8/ What movie would you pick to visualize JuJu’s music on
a big screen on stage when playing a show?

“Lord Of The Flies, 1963. The human being is flexible and adaptable.
The deepest fears are the same everywhere.”

9/ If you could go back in time on which artist’s front door
would you knock and ask to have a selfie together?

“Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The hard part would
be to explain the concept of a ‘selfie‘ to the master of portraits!”

Selfie-portrait of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

10/ Plans for 2018?
“I’m desperately planning to not make plans! As Woody Allen
once said:’If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.'”

Many thanks for this highly interesting and rich interview, Gioele!
Mat the road rise with you and Juju

JUJU: Facebook –  Twitter

(concert pics by TUTV!)