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Exclusive Interview with CUSCINO
by RJ Frometa for Vents Magazine

Los Angeles, CA November 5, 2013

Can you please introduce and tell us more about yourself (history)?
I am CUSCINO. I live in Los Angeles and write scores for films and create music. I have been writing original music, recording, performing live and so on since I was about 12 or so. I remember the days when my dad had to drive me to a show I’d booked and promoted for a band I was in at the time because I wasn’t 16 yet.

Ever since I was young, I’ve been a cultural and music sponge, always seeking out the next thing…the most daring, the most progressive, the most unique approaches to art.

In those early years, I was really into fairly progressive electro acts like Massive Attack, Underworld, Goldie, Portishead, Tricky (I definitely wore out my CDs of Pre-Millennium Tension and Maxinquaye) and the like. And let’s not forget Future Sounds of London, I loved those guys too.

But my love of music never started, or stopped, in the electronic realm. I’ve always been just as much a fan of classic jazz, hip-hop old and new (from Black Star and Nas to Jay-Z and J Dilla) and even have some deep roots into the alt/hardcore/metal scene (Mastodon, Baroness, Fugazi, Mogwai, Deftones, Sonic Youth, Shai Hulud…I could probably go on forever with this list of influences).


What’s the story behind your stage name?
My stage name is actually my last name, which stems from my Italian heritage. While I was 100% born and raised in the U.S., I’ve always felt a deep connection to my European roots and tastes. From fashion, to food, to design, to Europe’s embracing of new artists and music — that’s where I always want to be — on that progressive bleeding edge of culture, arts and music.


Who are your musical influences?
My musical influences have been fueled from artists and visual culture of many different kinds over the years, not just musicians.. So my early days watching dark films like Darren Aronofsky’s Pi over and over, or Memento, or Marc Singer’s Dark Days (DJ Shadow’s scoring of this was brilliant), or Requiem for a Dream, combined with my love of comics (the Dark Knight side of the Batman franchise, Punisher, and Sandman mainly), combined with my fascination with street art and vinyl toys, combined with growing up playing classical guitar…it’s an influential blender of epic proportions and why I ultimately, for better or worse, never like to sit comfortably in one specific genre. I’d rather push the edges out; it’s so hard not to.

These days, musically, I’m listening mostly to what’s coming out of LA here, soaking in my local culture. There’s so much great stuff going on here musically, though I’m never limited to only what’s going on here. Specifically, I can listen to anything from Flying Lotus, TOKiMONSTA, Teebs and so on any day of the week, and anything coming out of the Brainfeeder and Alpha Pup camps is typically rad. While there’s electronic elements there, there’s also those tangible, organic hip-hop and jazz influences in much of it… It’s like a new wave of jazz to me almost. I just call it “future music” — stuff I can vibe out to — and I love that much of it can’t be defined or bound by a specific genre.

I’m also finding a lot of influence from artists ranging from KAWS to Kendrick Lamar to directors like Nicolas Refn. I friggin loved Only God Forgives.



What you enjoy the most about scoring films?
This might be funny to some, but I still remember the very first time I saw the video for Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. I was a little kid when that came out and some babysitter had MTV on, though she wasn’t supposed to be letting me watch it (per my parents). I think there was some kind of intensity in that feeling I got while watching it that I’ve constantly been chasing ever since. There’s such a build-up in that song, and how the video told it the story visually, the moment when that semi-truck comes over the hill while the kid’s in the bed — man, you can’t help but not react physically to that.

And that feeling, reaction, emotion I think is what I enjoy most about scoring films, and doing it around a well-written story told visually. Getting a film telling a narrative story where there’s no music at all, and I have a blank canvas to paint from, and a story to paint around with the textural and spatial angle I come from, and then channeling and controlling the viewers’ complex emotions on screen through music. It’s really the sum of all my life’s influences and my path wrapped into one. It is what I was built to do.



“Eternality” – How was the recording and writing process?
I recorded everything in my home studio, about 45 songs in all over the last year, year and a half. I decided at some point, in between my film scoring work, that it was time to release some of these tracks to the world and get back to performing live, which I love doing, and so the idea of Eternality was born.

I wanted this first release to be more of a taste of what’s to come, rather than some long-winded magnum-opus, which is why I went with the shorter-form EP rather than LP route with this first one.


What’s the story behind the title?
In choosing a title, I wanted to find something that conveyed what these tracks were the sum of, both in how they came to be and the times they came to be in in my own life, as well as what they were saying towards the future.

There is a sort of tapestry being woven here, and nothing resonated more with me than the idea of eternity, or being eternal — timelessness within the space of time. It is something I’ve always both struggled with and identified with at the exact same time, a paradox that stems from my upbringing and roots. So Eternality as a title holds a lot of meaning, though it is only one word. It made sense as a musical, almost score-like capsule of those thoughts, if they were music set to an unmade film of scenes from my life.


Where did you get the inspiration for the lyrics and songs?
All credit for the lyrics on “A Little Black” and “Walking in the Garden” goes to Sarah Magill, who leant her beautiful voice to the first and last tracks on the EP.

We’d been in bands together in the past, and I always had her in mind to use for some tracks when I got back into my solo work. So as Eternality was coming together, I gave her a few tracks and asked her to write from what she was hearing in the mixes as I didn’t want to give her too many limitations. She did exactly that, better than I could’ve hoped for. It made producing the tracks in their final form very easy to do.

The songs themselves come from many different times and places over the past year and half. “Walking in the Garden” first started on a plane, and “Tonight, We Dream” was initially written for a feature film. I treat each song almost like a miniature score for a scene in a film, while also working to keep them accessible. This is something that will play out more in my live set as well, as it involves film + music paired together to give people something to both experience visually, as well as soak in sonically.


Any plans to tour throughout Canada, North America, the world?
Yes, definitely. I am in process of putting together the right team to make this happen early 2014.


What’s happening next in CUSCINO’s world?
Right now I’m putting finishing touches on my live set, and I just finished scoring a beautiful film called “Sun up Sun down” out of the UK for Crimson Black Productions, which should be hitting the international film festival circuit in the months ahead. In early 2014, I’ll be scoring the feature film Heavener, also being shot and produced in the UK, and touring and pushing out another release as well.


Where can we find out more about your music? is the best jumping-off point and Facebook ( for the very latest on everything like tour dates, new releases and so on.

You can also pick up the new EP Eternality at iTunes, BandCamp and Amazon, to name just a few.

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