Interview by Laura Cabiscol
Slon is the latest project of Mediterranean-born, Berlin-based artist Marco Mercuzio Peron, a masked, undetermined and shape-shifting persona. Through and with it, the artist merges sound, storytelling, sociology, performance and various visual languages. A truly performative act in which interrogations of everyday life are posed. Slon is a new creature in this world, a blank canvas, asking us why we choose the things we choose, why we feel what we feel, and what roles we play. Although it struggles to grasp everything, it is a good observer and a patient listener.
Despite being a new creature in this world, it’s a creature of its time and therefore has Instagram. “The more I understand humans, the more I feel plant”,; reads his personal statement. This assertion, which hints at Slon´s alienation from reality and others and speaks to their going through the world as a mere passer-by who, by accident, experiences everything that happens to human beings, is the creative starting point of the EP, ‘Majestic Mind Safari Show’, released as part of the –OUS imprint.
The artist´s sonic background is a “noisy Mediterranean family”, a constant stream of sound where different elements are carried through space, overlapping and creating new patterns. “Neighbors, friends, people passing by for never-ending coffees, a constant soundscape from the radio, TV and vinyl playing”. Similarly, Slon´s EP is a myriad of layered sounds and meticulous compositions, creating worlds within worlds.
To achieve Slon´s naive perception, the artist tried to undergo a personal process aimed at avoiding preconceptions and worked solely with sounds created by the artist himself through field recordings, foley and processing. Visual elements play an important role in the manifestation of Slon too. The green face is just one of the many codes from a whole world the artist is building and can be followed on dontbelievetheclaims.com; there, we find a whole storyline and other characters that inhabit Slon´s surreal multiverse.
So together with the visuals, the floating and harmonizing vocals and sounds of the EP tell us about ourselves from the point of view of an outsider anti-hero figure, a volatile and fluid character very fitting to our current times. “Wearing a mask is no longer a matter of culture, lifestyle, religion or socialization. Now that screens have become windows, and fear is used to entertain, what’s the real difference between person and persona?” — Slon.
For those who may not be that familiar with your work, could you tell us a bit about your background and inspirations?
My sonic background is a noisy Mediterranean family: a small but overcrowded house, neighbours, friends, people passing by for never-ending coffees, and a constant soundscape from the radio, TV and vinyl playing. A stream of sound where multiple elements are carried through space and overlap each other to create new patterns. Mainstream pop, the 60s to 80s rock/disco, ancient regional folk songs and TV series.
It was a day like any other, a typical home party with cocktail sauce, prosecco, shrimp, a husky and relatives whose names I didn’t know. We had been eating for three days, and my tired jaw fell on an olive. We Mediterranean people love to eat ‘aperitivo’ stuff before, during and after the meal: beware, olives and pickles cannot be missing.
No one could have imagined that this specific olive was radioactive. From that day on, my “oily sense” accompany me; they warn me when I am in the pickles, and I manage to throw pits at unimaginable distances before. I am grateful; in return, I just lost my normal pale pink, gaining an oily green.
Musically talking, my powers led me to explore further, regardless of the genre. I spent ages hanging out in squats, pubs and bars, mashing punk, hardcore, electronic music, Italian dance, and MTV. I absorbed music night and day until I finally started reproducing the sound I had in my mind the first tools I had at hand: were a tape recorder and a guitar.
What brought you to decide to start a new project under a new name? What does the innocent and curious being that is Slon represent to you?
The conception of Slon grew out of a desire to have no personal background, to observe from the perspective of an outsider. But thanks to my new old powers, I can now slip through time and see I needed to break out of that wall of sound that, with the previous band, we were very good at creating; I felt the need to climb over. What I found then is the possibility of silence, a past that speaks to the future (which, however, answers in a way that is not always understandable) and Cigsboy, a strange guy who is constantly about to quit cigs, but this decision stresses him out and smoking helps him to chill down.
Run us through your creative process for the first release; how do your songs come to be? In terms of lyrics, composition, software…
Well, Slon is a clumsy figure intent on experiencing the world he inhabits for the very first time. With a blank mind and confusion by what he sees in the real world, he accumulates chunks of reality to overlap and rearrange them according to personal poetics. And that’s also what happened during the composition of the tracks.
I set a series of rules and stuck to them in order to find new inspiration. As I once said, it reminded me of a movie by Peter Greenaway called “Drowning by Numbers” in which various unusual, invented games are played by the characters as if they were ancient traditions, strictly following a list of relatively odd rules. In my case, I locked myself in the studio with my DAW, Organelle, MS20, Sp404, Harmonium, Mics, part of a drum, guitars, a piano and quite a good amount of effects, then I composed one layer after another, continuously muting the previous layers, all to one same click – the only point of reference.
Relying on my brain’s memory and a natural need to harmonize, once the blind processing came to an end, all of the layers were combined to reveal these sorts of dense multi-layered compositions. To me, this method forces fragility into rigid shapes, while limits and rules become fluid for the body’s balance to shift and reach a new equilibrium. Someone called the results ‘hymns for solitary dances’, and I kind of like this definition.
How’s the process of finding the visual identity of a new project, and how involved were you in it?
Well, in the case of Majestic Mind Safari Show, the two things were born together. The character took shape as the sound grew, and the two parts of the work developed and triggered each other. It was almost natural for me to constantly work on the visual aspect.
Marco Proserpio, the director of the video Filefragile (still to be released), took the character to a new level of existence, of awareness. From there, the story certainly took a new shape, and it is here that Giulio Vescovi and Mathias Forbach were able to translate it into a logo and cover.
I think it is essential to meet the right people on your path, with whom you can have an open dialogue so that you can feel free to let go of your creations and make them also become the works of others. Different minds, experiences, and visions add elements that alone would be impossible to see, and usually, it is a process that enriches all the parties involved, but to do it without misunderstandings, it is necessary to surround oneself with people in which one believes and with whose vision is estimated. To me, these are Iokoi and the whole ‘familia’ –OUS.
What’s the idea behind “Majestic Mind Safari Show”, which is introduced in the file-fragile music video? How does sociology come to play in this project? What aspects of everyday life are you interested in exploring?
It’s a Majestic Mind Safari Show. It is something that could really be happening, or it could be all a tale. But as one person once said to me, Every Story Is The Truth, so it doesn’t matter what it really is because it exists. Whether it’s on the front page or in your room.
We read stories every day, we identify with them, and we move away from them; some have the form of a novel, a post, a news item, or a bulletin. And it’s very hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. We respond to algorithms that sigh sweet phrases into our virtual ears, but we often don’t respond to messages for days from people who ask us questions about the everyday world.
Of course, history teaches us that superheroes will save us, but at the moment, they are too busy making ASMR videos and then there is Slon. An anti-hero who trusts everything he sees is afraid of whatever living thing, imitates everyone and displays the full spectrum of emotions at the same time. He’s running away from something unknown and struggles to understand human behaviour. Yet, he’s a good observer and a patient listener. “The More I Understand Humans, The More I Feel Plant”, he says.
Have you gotten to perform any of these songs live, or is it something you would like to do? Why?
So far, I never played this Ep live, but it will probably be very similar to the Mediterranean house party I was talking about before a layering of inputs and information, some of which are reworked, others that will trigger new stimuli. An inevitable gestural component that lays on a background of saturated colours. All to result in a magmalike stream of sound, where multiple elements are carried through space and overlap each other to create new patterns.
Solitude or loneliness; how do you like to spend time on your own?
Solitude. That calm and constructive solitude that slips to make room in the daily chaotic
stream and in which things take shape, creating a new space rather than occupying it in the
You couldn’t live without…
Love. And a recorder in any of its forms.