Spiritual forces guided Luca Zambelli’s work as a musician and multidisciplinary artist, known as Bais, that really jumped out at us with his unique and original songwriting, vocals, and compositions, at the same time graces us with poetic and starling lyrics while we’re listening to APNEA, his first EP released last October for Sugar Music.

The canon of music that features on this project further cements Bais as one of the most promising Italian artists with a rich and sophisticated palette, fusing elements of pop melancholy, R&B, smooth and alternative sounds.

Apnea is an aquatic disc to be listened to with the head in the air and the feet off the ground. Apnea is a dive inside oneself to discover a world that is still unknown and too often forgotten. An immersion holding our breath and trying to go to the bottom, where the boundaries between the real and the surreal blur, letting us swim in a new, unexplored universe.

The instrumentation is lovely, rich, and deep tone emanating through what I assume must be some badass vintage electronics. I am literally in awe of the guitar tones. Lyrically, the songs are wrapped around the emotion of finding something new within and for oneself. Combined with some slight pop moods, Vudù is an atmospheric opener, so smooth, naive, and reckless. Mina is a delicious song with mystifying sounds in hushed funky tones, meanwhile Alghe feat. Tatum Rush is nuanced with visual soundscapes and dreamy pop sounds. In Limousine is a moody ode to after-hour calls and late-night melancholic thoughts, which travels on the wave of winds and some more intimate moments. The ep closes with Dove si va (a finire), which speaks precisely of the end, with “my whole life in the background”.

Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation?

I started playing guitar when I was about fourteen years old, watching one of my best friends who started playing before me. I was madly into Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan at that time. Later on, I discovered the Beatles. Then I started playing in a band called Zebra and began writing songs. That was the turning point where I knew music was the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Your first single ‘Milano’ sounds like a theme where the main character must decide if will step into the adventurous unknown or back into its comfortable, protected bubble. Does this song show a vulnerable side of yourself?

Yes, I think every song I write shows parts of my vulnerable side. ‘Milano’ is one of the first songs I’ve written in Italian and I remember this strange feeling while writing it, I felt naked and exposed but also glad to have just started digging into myself.

How your single ‘Deja Vu’ evoke the emotions you initially wrote for the single? Did you wonder if it’s going to have an impact on other people or did you write it purely as a thing for yourself?

Deja Vu was a long labour. I’ve had this guitar riff for quite some time and I think one year after I tried to develop it into a song and started writing some words on it. A lot of thoughts come to my mind when I’m writing a song. I don’t usually think about other people when I’m writing it but when a song comes out, of course, I hope it will have an impact on the ones who will listen to it. I want my music to have, on others, the same impact the music I love has on me.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you took when putting songs together for APNEA, your last EP?

I don’t have a process, unfortunately, and fortunately 🙂 I love the idea that I can’t explain how a song comes to life. Sometimes, when I’m not inspired, it’s kind of struggling and I wish I had a process, but when you have a blissful day and you create music, that joy overcomes every bad day you had before. APNEA was born (in my head) during the first lockdown last year. I wrote a lot in that period. After that, when lockdown ended, I started going to the studio, jamming with other people, and developing new ideas together.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

I get inspired by so many things. It’s always a mystery, sometimes inspiration can come out of literally nothingness. I love to sit by the river and play guitar or just think and let my mind flow with the water.

Usually, I find myself the most creative when I’m moving, walking, or driving. I have a deep relationship with nature, it’s a need and an addiction, but I always try to spend some time in the opposite environment, in the city, like Milan. I like to change my habitat drastically from time to time.

Is it important for you that all the songs have a common thread or a theme or from a certain period?

Not really, I think there’s always a reason why songs come out and manifest themselves to me. And that reason is beyond my knowledge. I’ve never wanted to explain this process or to try to find the boundaries of a song. Maybe because they don’t have limits.

What inspired you in writing Vudù and what is the message behind it?

Vudù was born from improvisation. The first element that came alive was the guitar theme, which I doubled with my voice later. There is no message, I think about this song as some sort of old photo book, dusty and washed out. The lyrics are very spontaneous and free, I didn’t want to overthink it. Anyway, I put inside this song a lot of references to my life and past experiences, in a psychedelic way.

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

Of course, playing live and interacting with people is one of the best experiences you can have if you play music, even more after this year and a half of nothing but live streaming. I love studio work because it is something you can do everywhere, not only in a recording studio, and it’s magical, you can never know what might come out from a studio day. For me, the production process starts in my head and in my heart.

How do you feel the pandemic situation has impacted your music career and how did you overcome it?

It has impacted our life, not only our careers. I don’t want to think about how it could have been or what could have happened without the pandemic. As artists, we must feel privileged and lucky that we can still work and express ourselves through our art. There are so many people working in the live music field that lost their jobs and who knows when they will get it back.

What has been the most exciting part of launching your latest video ‘Alghe’ and was the creative process behind it?

It has been very exciting seeing this song accompanied by a visual story. Almost everything in this process was new to me. The idea came from the two talented directors Daniele Zen and Vernante Pallotti. They reached out when Alghe, the song, came out and ask me if I wanted to work with them for this music video.

What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music?

Before falling in love with music I played basketball and wanted to become a pro player. Apart from that, I am a photographer, so I would say I would just shoot pictures.

What is the most memorable feedback you have had on your music?

A lot of people told me my music is melancholic but serene and light. I always find it funny that the saddest and darkest thoughts can turn into light melodies.

What’s on your current playlist?

A lot of different music! These last few days I’m listening to Jon Brion, an amazing composer, and producer. He produced Mac Miller’s latest album, which is one of my favorite records of last year.

As a musician, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the creative process and the business. Is there anything about the music industry that you would personally change?

I would like to change something about streaming platforms: I’d like them to be more focused on music rather than on statistics and social media features. Also, what good does all these views/streams euphoria to the music? I would erase all those useless streams and views and let people be free to listen to whatever they like without caring if it’s being followed by 10 or 10 million people.

Break down the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

I’m writing songs for my new album, which will be my actual first album. I hope we will have the chance to play gigs this summer, I can’t wait to play Apnea with my band in front of a crowd.

Imagine you must write a letter to your future self. What would you write?

Dear Luca, hope you’re doing good! I hope you’re living in better times than we are now. I also hope you’re satisfied with the music you’ve created so far. Have you learned to play the piano properly? Love, Luca.