Onga – “You think it’s difficult to get a CD from that tall tower? I tried to reach it and I almost killed myself”

Onga Boring Machines (1)

A shoe rack packed with what I guess are hand-made black boxes full of CD sets, with a one meter tall temple of other CDs, all made nearly unreachable by fifth cardboard heavy boxes replete with LPs.
In the miserable day when you feel like listening one of the CDs on the upper left corner of the room, what do you do (apart from swearing)?

Not exactly a shoe rack, but a former desk that I have since I was a kid, just imagine how old is it and how shitty my life could have been having this object as a desk. The black boxes are definitely self made, covering with spray paint some branded boxes that I stole in a previous job when I was a kid, because when I still was a kid I already had my first job, this put it straight on how shitty my life as a kid has been. Those boxes are larger than the normal CD racks and they have been very useful to store all the extra sizes, handmade CDRs that I collected during the years. There has been a period, late 90’s – early 00’s when you mostly bought hand made stuff from noise musicians, curious formats released in 123 copies just because it sounded funny.
Then the LPs came back and they take so much space! I love them, but they take so much space that I didn’t know where to put them. Boring Machines HQs are so small that I developed vertically at the beginning, there are more CD racks around the room than the ones I pictured. So the LPs stay in boxes on the floor, there’s another six of them hidden around the room, under the (new! yay!) desk, behind the chair where I sit.  I almost reached the total occupation of the room with CDs, LPs and books.
This has nothing to do with the Boring Machines label records, all those are my records, the label ones are stacked in another, bigger room.
You think it’s difficult to get a CD from that tall tower? I overestimated my height more than once, last week I was wanting to listen to the eponymous CD from Labradford, my favourite band ever, and it’s way up on the left, that CD stack is all Kranky. I tried to reach it: I almost killed myself, then accepted the fact that I would have to move the LPs from there. That involves really a lot of energy and swearing.

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Well, I agree that listening to any Labradford record might deserve swearing and sweating! By the way, you made me laugh a lot with your answers…One of the thing I’ve always thought about you/BM is that the overall ‘brand image’ in terms of band names, LP titles and of course music is often dark, gloomy, and it’s widely appreciated for instance in the ‘very serious’ reviews on The Wire. But I always see a lot if irony in you, in the artists you published, like the guys of Piramide di Sangue (“Blood Pyramid”), the coolest and funny guys ever, or Toni Cutrone/Mai Mai Mai, that I’ve always seen joking. And the top can be My Dear Killer, your first epic release. So this takes me to that HUGE box of Frankenstein Junior that reigns above everything else…

Ah, the boxset. “Young Frankenstein” is one of my favourite movies ever, both in the original language than in the italian dub. I know every single bit of the script and i could dub it myself. The box contains the extended edition with cut scenes, interviews, a coffe mug, a cap and an umbrella because you know “could be worse, could be raining”.

You know, the payoff for my label is “Quit Having Fun”, it’s my personal response to that attitude which still permeates also the underground to think at music only as a medium to be lighthearted, happy, ironic. I prefer the darker side of it in terms of sound. But you’re right, funny people don’t necessarily make happy music or art in general. Boring Machines impersonates that gloomy feeling and elaborates on all the different darker shades of grey when it comes about music. There are exceptions, with slightly lighter sounds, but they all come around a general desire on not being here, not being now, not being.
The red thread is “escape”, be it in space, in far away deserts, or anywhere you won’t find traces of the pains of everyday life. I think I set the route right from the beginning with My Dear Killer: his record is uncomfortable, desperate, shattered but at the same time he’s extraordinarily intelligent and witty and can be extremely funny.
Amongst all the record you see on those shelves, there’s a lot of very dark, meditative, uneasy music. Many times I had the chance to meet the players and in most cases you would be surprised how funny they are in person. Right, some records come directly from desparate situations, personal tragedies and losses but that doesn’t mean the artist isn’t humorous in general.
One day I will have bigger shelves for the records and I will put them in order based on how funny the artist is. I just need to wait until the label’s sales are very profitable. See? I’m humorous.

You are one of the last generation of label managers that works alone and is not a musician. You take your job in Boring Machines very seriously, and I see three red and yellow document binders. Do you keep the administration papers of your label there?

Nope, a so called “administration” for Boring Machines doesn’t exist. When I have money, I release records, when not, I wait until I have some buck to release a record. There’s no distinction between me and the label, we are one. Those binders are for dayjob documents (yellow), health-related documents (red) and speeding tickets receipts (red). I get a lot of speeding tickets, all earned while I was furiously driving to a concert in some part of Italy. In the last ten year they costed me more or less like releasing a triple LP with a pop-up figure on the cover.

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Cool! So your artists maybe impersonate the exactly opposite attitude of comedians such as Peter Sellers (or the Goons in general) that are very funny in their artistic career but deeply depressed people when they come to daily life? …even the same Gene Wilder as far as I know. This brings us to the last question about the howl: you have a rather big one over the other shelves. Why THAT animal? A funny but at the same time creepy creature of the night? Or it’s because you know that sometimes he eats his own children?

Maybe Boring Machines artists are, as you say, the opposite of some comedians who were in fact depressed. I wish for good that apart from the occasional ranting everyone of them just look depressed but is not. Being really depressed is tough, I just know that.
The antidote is stocked in those boxes and shelves, which are ever expanding, to keep me sane.

I love owls of all species, when I was a kid I thought eagles (no, not the band) were cool, but nothing beats the nocturnals bird of prey.
I got that one in Poland, while I was there for a festival. There was this street market with the usual boring local handicraft, then this old man in a corner who made only owls of all species and sizes. I bought many of them, some are in the kitchen or in other rooms, but the bigger one is here to guard my record collection. His name is Bob. 
I didn’t know they use to eat their cubs, but I’m absolutely with them. You can’t waste years of malicious reputation being a good parent.

Today is Christmas day. Do you have any Band Aid-like message for the maniac readers if Concrete Shelves?

All we are saying is give pizza a chance.

Onga, aka Andrea Ongarato, is the founder and only manager and owner of Boring Machines, a label that over the years published some of the most appreciated records in the field of experimental, rock, ambient, electronic and especially ‘occult psychedelia’ music.

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