Finding comfort and catharsis in the darker spheres of life, Canadian-Italian twin siblings Emmalia and Sarafina Bortolon-Vettor create music inspired by everything from Italian folklore to the gloom of post-punk. Performing under their moniker Bonnie Trash, the duo have recently released their deliciously droney debut album, Malocchio, which translates as “hex” or “curse”. Inspired by the stories that their grandma Nonna Maria handed down to them as children, their record is a potent and commanding blend of metal, shoegaze and gothic rock, released via aptly named label, Hand Drawn Dracula.
We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Bonnie Trash to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired their song-writing techniques. Check out Emma & Sara’s choices below and listen to their new album, Malocchio, here.
1. The Smashing Pumpkins – Gish
Sara: When I was a teenager, around 13 or 14 years old, I was emotional as all hell and needed to release my sadness, my anger – it’s like all of a sudden I was finally feeling everything all at once. I was just beginning my journey into 1990s grunge like Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Alanis Morisette. Then I heard, ‘I Am One’ by The Smashing Pumpkins and it blew my mind. It was loud, heavy, and had hints of heavy metal. That drum opening drew me right in and I became an instant fan of Jimmy Chamberlin. At the time, I was solely playing the drums. I didn’t even think about singing until I was around 16. As I listened to Gish on repeat for a few years, it didn’t take long until Billy Corgan’s lyrics and voice seeped into my bloodstream, and inspired me to sing and write. There are truly painful, sad, and quiet moments on this album, and they are almost always followed by dramatically explosive arrangements. I instantly fell in love.
2. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands
Sara: This album is a post-punk gem. It’s gorgeous. Those smooth, noisy, yet soft grooves that make you want to slow-bop along to it all – it’s pure bliss. There’s a sensitive nature to this record, and it bleeds out through the vocals and lyrics, backed up by pop-sensibilities. The drums hit hard and are super robotic, as the guitars float on top. Darklands sparked my love for drum machines and electronic percussion. And the lyrics? They’re macabre, sad, dark, and at times joyous: “And I awake from dreams, to a scary world of screams.” Combining these contrasting lyrical themes are beautifully-haunting. What’s so cool about this record is that it’s got this overall bubblegum pop sound. Darklands continues to inspire my love for electronic drums, writing pop-structured songs, and singing about dark subject-matter in a (sometimes) joyous way.
3. Godspeed You, Black Emperor – Yanqui U.X.O
Emma: I encountered this album after a hard drive swap with my bandmates/friends about 10 years ago. I religiously listened to my iPod on shuffle to hear how songs were related to each other. ‘Motherfucker = Redeemer’ came on and my world was transformed. It slowly repeated and grew in intensity, yet gave so much sonic space for emptiness to shine. This album forever changed my guitar playing. It made me want to expand on noise and texture while keeping everything I wrote simple enough to be repeated, droned, and transforming. I changed the way I use a slide and it made me pick up a bow. Yanqui U.X.O is the soundtrack of major horror and disaster, telling a story of how deep our formations of capitalist structures eventually funnel into the corporate hands of bomb making and war-feeding. It tells the tale of how the little things really do add up.
4. Nine Inch Nails – And All that Could Have Been
Emma: This is more of a recent discovery and a moment of excitement in re-igniting a creative spark. I’m not normally into listening to live albums but this one is exceptional– the 2000 Fragility 2.0 tour that took the world by storm. In this sonic capture, you can hear every instrument in its live element embodying the heaviness of each song with even more depth; you can feel everything vibrate and sense the sweat. This was the first time in a long time where I picked up my guitar and played to each song, pretending to be part of the band. ‘Wish’ hits me the hardest on this album because you can hear an entire audience singing, “Wish there was something real, wish there was something true / Wish there was something real in this world for you.” And in this time, I cannot help but wonder how many of us are reciting these very same lyrics.
5. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
Emma & Sara: The feeling, “Is that it? Is there more?” is a ghost that haunts humanity. Don’t pretend it isn’t. Even the most joyous person asks this question from time to time. Unknown Pleasures in it’s most turmoiled, poetic existence, illuminates the truths behind our being. It adds some sort of comfort despite the demise and perhaps, in this struggle, we find ourselves again. Let there be disorder, lose control, fuck your day of the lords, and fall into the interzone. This chaos is the beauty of existence and with it comes hope, a monster to have faith in. There is more. You are more. Make your fate. Unknown Pleasures is a classic because it allows you to pick your personal scabs and come out transformed. It has inspired our love for the macabre, sorrowful, and of course, post-punk.
Thanks to Emma & Sarah for sharing their Five Favourites with us!
Watch the video for Bonnie Trash’s single ‘Silence Is A Killer’ below
Photo Credit: dana Bellamy