“We’re all stars now in the dope show
We?re all stars now in the dope show” – Marilyn Manson, The Dope Show


Last November, the live performance of the electro-pop duo Sem and Stènn had made to discuss during the second live show of X Factor Italia. As two surgeons in a clinic of horrors, they sang The Dope Show, a song by Marilyn Manson from the ‘98 cult album Mechanical Animals.

Only four months have passed since then. Despite the early elimination from the famous television format, our two boys imposed themselves on the national and international music market quickly becoming favorites of younger generations. To help them an unconventional research of sound and that their aspect of good guys a bit ‘smart.

We met them during the video processing Baby Run, their last single. This is what they told us.

FUCKING YOUNG! – Hi Guys! We immediately break the ice… What does music represent for you?

SEM AND STÈNN – For us, music is the most important communication and expression channel. We started to feel really ourselves when we started our project. We feel alive on stage, we feel free when we write.


F.Y! – The genre you propose is the exquisitely electro-pop and finds its roots at the turn of the ’70s and the’ 80s and its consecration in the 90s. How did you manage to contextualize it and make it contemporary, sometimes innovative?

S&S – When we started writing and producing, we had no idea what could come out of it. We have a super varied background: from The Doors to the MGMT, from Aguilera to the Goldfrapp, from The Basement Jaxx to Robyn. There’s really a lot of stuff. We have a weakness for the bass and a timbre similar to Pete Burns, so it was a moment to find ourselves in the synth-pop / dark wave in some respects, the rest of the other influences make it ours anyway.


F.Y! – Sem, a quality and a glitch of Stènn. Stènn, a quality and a glitch of Sem.

Sem – About Stènn I only say borderline. He knows he is the most beautiful person in the world, as well as the most terrible person.

Stènn – Sem is too good and generous but speaks too softly.

FY! – How two different souls like yours merge to become a single body and a successful duo? When and where does the compromise take place (if we can speak of compromises)?

S&S – Actually, there is not so much a compromise. We have two different souls and let’s make them live together, making them both express. Sem is uptime and Stènn is the ballad, so to speak.

F.Y! – Baby Run is the last single of which you have finished shooting the video in recent days. Do you want to talk about it?

S&S – Baby Run is the first song we wrote 2/3 years ago. In an out-of-wave, we sang her to Manuel and did not fall madly in love. When we decided to duet on a piece of the album we said: what other songs if not Baby Run? When Manuel Agnelli (voice of the Italian brand Afterhours and our mentor during the show) arrived in the studio and began recording the first take the song became even darker. Our voices (which were already so dark) looked like the voices of two girls in comparison. The end-result was crazy. He added the icing on the cake. It is absurd to think back to how much willingness and enthusiasm Manuel has put in collaborating with us on the song and the video. It was like having the expensive doll you always dreamed of and being able to do what you wanted.


F.Y! – Next April 6th will be published your first album OFFBEAT. Why this name? How did you arrive at the realization of this project?

S&S – Our path, before X Factor, has always been hindered precisely because it is not definable and can be traced back to something that already exists in Italy. Or you’re indie, or you’re commercial pop or you’re trap or rap. We are not one of these things. OFFBEAT contains a series of meanings like “against nature”, “upstream”, “different”, “syncopated”. We are each of these things. Our diversity has never deterred us, indeed. It is in diversity that you can be authentic. And authenticity is the first value we want to communicate as artists.


F.Y! – Surely. the participation in X-Factor Italia 2017 has contributed to your success. Would you like to tell us about your experience?

S&S – It was all very beautiful from start to finish. We had a fantastic team who understood us both humanly and artistically and never thought of plotting us into something more reassuring, indeed. As independent we looked at every aspect of our lives alone (Styling, makeup, art direction). Having a team of professionals at our disposal was really rewarding.

F.Y! Next dates? Where can we come to listen to you?

S&S – On March 24th, make the first stop in Naples, we will pass for Rome, Bologna, Turin, Bari, Lecce, Foligno, Treviso, Brescia many other dates that we will announce until May 19th at the Ohibò in Milan. Ah, of course, there will be the opening at the Afterhours’ concert in Assago on April 10th. The sold-out has been made official and we can not wait!


F.Y! – The future?

S&S – Tours all over the world, lots of music, lots of collaborations, a beautiful attic and an experience in cinema, with Xavier Donal or Luca Guadagnino, maybe.


Photos: Silvia Tofani