A few months have passed since Italian Prog metallers, GARDENJIA released their impressive second full length, “Materia Oscura.” That’s why it’s so astonishing to find out they’re just releasing a brand new album. Titled “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” this recording is basically a re-interpretation of the soundtrack for the Japanese movie of the same name by iconic filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki. Beyond any doubt, it promises to be a new milestone for this brave independent band.
We interviewed guitarist Rafaelle Galasso (who’s also GARDENJIA’s visual artist) about the origins of this album and the making of the cover art, which features his own version of the main title character.
You released “Materia Oscura” earlier this year. So, “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” will be you second album of 2014. This is quite an achievement. It seems that GARDENJIA is more productive than never. What let you to record this second album?
A long list of reasons. The first is definitely a passion for all the works of Hayao Miyazaki. At first the idea was to make only a cover of the beautiful theme of Joe Hisaishi, but while recording “Materia Oscura”, listening to the entire soundtrack, I realized that it could be a nice experience to rework almost all the songs, looking for a new thread that would unite the various suites. In a week I rearranged all the work, and we started recording just the job for “Materia Oscura” was finished… It was a thrilling experience.
Nausicaa is a great masterpiece, for its message, the representation of the characters, it is an epic story with a great soundtrack, a rare magic to recreate, the same magic that we see and hear in the films of Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone. I believe that the message of the film, and the purity and determination of the Nausicaa character are gems to share and hand down over time, especially in a time like this, when the world is slowly eating itself.
Both the music and cover art of “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” is based on the Hayao Miyazaki film. “Materia Oscura” was also based on another Japanese classic animated movie “Ghost In A Shell.” Is there an ongoing pattern/concept going on here? Are these albums conceptually related?
No, to be honest. It was a long time that I wanted to make a tribute to Hayao Miyazaki and Ghibli film studio so I took advantage of the fact that we were recording “Materia Oscura.” We were well trained, we just doubled the length of the recordings! But it was worth it, we really hope that listeners can appreciate the effort.
You’ve been designing GARDENJIA’s album covers for a while now. Is that, in your opinion, the obvious thing to do given that you’re a member of the band?
Surely it is as you say. To be a person with a bit of experience in design and graphics and simultaneously be a member of the band allows me to know exactly how to artistically represent our album. But I’m sure there are plenty of artists who could do a great job for our band. Doing it ourselves is also a matter of saving time.
Who came up with the idea/concept for this cover and what exactly inspired it?
The cover is my idea. There is a very famous picture of Nausicaa while she is holding a sword surrounded by flames, this is the image that I used as a reference and I kept it present while drawing, even if the result is way far from the original. The album art shows a “grown up” Nausicaä in a post-atomic context, she has also developed some special faculties as the third eye. She is still fighting. I tried to create an image of Nausicaa a bit different, mostly to respect the Master’s work because the original character is untouchable.
Were there any other concepts that you took in consideration?
No, the only image used to develop the cover art was only the original Miyazaki image mentioned above.
Can you tell me more about the model you used as reference for this character?
The model I used for reference is a stock photo I found on deviantart. I digitally redesigned the subject completely changing the face expression, the hair and the make up that is inspired by another Miyazaki character, Princess Mononoke.
What technique/media you used to create the art? Can you explain in detail the creative process?
I started drawing the main character with my graphics tablet on Photoshop. Once I was happy with the result, I started working on the background. I chose the main color that was to dominate the landscape, and then I worked with an enormous amount of paintbrushes on Photoshop, both free and custom to reach the dreamy and ethereal atmosphere I wanted.
Your artwork usually look and feel extremely ethereal. This is also the case with “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.” Any comment about that?
I think it’s closely related to the way I perceive the art, which is also reflected in our music. We love to experiment with sounds to create sonic landscapes. I love the simplicity but I also love the details. The cover for “Nausicaa” was built as a kind of framework that contains a high number of items visible only several times.
Why is blue the predominant color palette on the cover? Does it have any particular significance?
Blue is simply a sky reference. That is always present in Hayao Miyazaki works, and in Nausicaa the sky is also a living character that plays a role in the anime as the others characters, so it was natural for me to choose this color.
Where can people buy/listen to the album?
All our releases are here https://gardenjia.bandcamp.com “Nausicaa” will be out on December 21 2014
Are you as graphic designer, open to work/collaborate with other bands/projects creating new artwork?
Yes, Absolutely, you can contact me on the band’s page and here: