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Saturday, October 2, 2021

The Fantastic Fellinis - Introducing The Fantastic Fellinis

German Label Soundflat records recently released the debut album of THE FANTASTIC FELLINIS, a californian duo featuring Kenneth Wessel and  Vitta Quinn.

Evoking the reverberating vocals of a Motown hit, funky grooves of a '70's exploitation cinema soundtrack, and tight fuzz guitars of a garage punk freakout, THE FANTASTIC FELLINIS are an ultrasonic mod/soul pop explosion! Originating from the star-emblazoned, sleaze-worn sidewalks of Hollywood, California, the FELLINIS' sound storms in with a blend of vintage vibes and modern pop sensibilities.

Their rendition of BOB DYLAN's 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue' is absolutely brilliant and worth alone the price of admission. 

1) What would you tell to the viewers of this blog about The Fantastic Fellinis to introduce the both of you, the history of the band (how did it all start?) and also your body of work (what have you both done prior to The Fantastic Fellinis)? 

Kenneth: My previous projects include The Beat Killers, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Electric Mind Machine, and Dr. Savage and the Shrunken Heads, among others. A couple years ago I was hired to compose the music score for a Spaghetti Western film “Incident at Guilt Ridge”, where I did my best to invoke the spirit of Ennio Morricone. There was a montage sequence that needed a song, so I wrote “Whistling Steel,” a sort of Marty Robbins meets the Pogues folk/rock number. I recruited Vitta to sing the female call and response vocals and the results were pretty magical. We worked so well together we decided to follow up with a recording project. Along came the Fantastic Fellinis.

Vitta: I’m an actress/songstress by trade. A few years ago I produced and self-published an EP, Vitta in Vaudeville, an avant-guard, experimental offering. Kenny and I had known each other a few years before any talk of collaborating musically. The Fantastic Fellinis spun from “Incident”’s theme song.

2)  About the debut full length album, "Introducing The Fantastic Fellinis",  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" recording in the studio  or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? 

K: This was a track by track process. The rhythm tracks laid the foundation. I wanted to make sure the beat was in the pocket. Many of my previous projects had more a frenetic ahead-of-the-beat energy, but I wanted this to be a more solid, almost behind-the-beat groove which was dance able and would have a certain cool vibe to it. Everything else was layered on in separate tracks. I think this helped us to experiment a little more and shape the direction of the music rather than getting locked in by live tracks. After that came organs, guitars, and vocals. We allowed ourselves some overdub tracks to fill out and polish the sound, but didn’t get too crazy.

3)As far as the recordings of this debut album are concerned, did you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios?

V: Ironically, for lovers of all things vintage and analog, this album was recorded using the nowadays digital tech.

4) What is your favorite topic/theme that comes easily when you write the lyrics to a new song?

K: I’m not sure I have a favorite topic but more a favorite approach to writing lyrics. I think many songwriters fall into the trap of telling you their own personal feelings or emotional state. I find it unrelatable and and self-indulgent. You can’t “tell” people what to feel. You need to “show” people how to feel through visual language, cues, symbols, metaphors, etc. If you can create a visual image in someone’s head, it is much more powerful than spitting out some abstract emotions. When I was young, a local songwriter I looked up to told me “a song should be like a 3-minute movie.” That really stuck with me.

V: …and I’m the self-indulgent lyricist over here. Ha! My favorite topics are New York, the plight of booze, panic attacks, and Catholicism.

5) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers and does it still influence your today work?
What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

V: The Pixies, the Smiths, Abba, The Cars, Liz Phair, Hole, the Ronettes, The Who, Sex Pistols, Pogues, Nancy Sinatra, Julie London, Billie Holiday, and Brigitte Bardot. When I was a very little lass, whatever came in the family Columbia House 8-track order. Cher, Glen Campbell, Don McLean, Blue Swede.

K: In high school I initially gravitated towards punk. The scene in Los Angeles was pretty off-the-rails. I loved the energy and fierceness of it all. I got a job at the local Rhino Records store that had a label that was putting out forgotten archives of ‘60s psych and garage bands. When I heard things like Love’s “7 and 7 is”, The Zombies “She’s Not There”, Stones’ “She Comes in Colors”, or the Chocolate Watchband, it really changed the direction of my music moving forward. I loved the depth, style, and imagery of the songwriting. That’s what really stood out to me at the time, and still feel their influence.

6) Do you have a video on youtube featuring a track of the debut album?

V: Yes. We have two official videos up: One for “Nightmare”, and one we just released for “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. We shot “Nightmare” during lock down, partly as a submission to Roger Corman’s Quarantine Film Festival. I love this video’s fantastical look. I wanted a Metropolis dystopian silent feature feel-meets-a Seventies super-8 disco’d home movie mood. 

K: Vitta directed the “Nightmare” video, and I directed our cover of Bob Dylan’s “Baby Blue”. I felt Vitta’s vocal performance on this track warranted a video. She really killed it. With the Mellotron sound I felt it evoked the Beatles a bit, so I wanted to capture dreamy Peter Max style scenery juxtaposed with the trippy psychedelic graphics projected on the band. 


7) Are there any artists in The USA today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?

K: I can’t think of any current bands that we sound like, but I think there are bands that are doing it right, that inspire me…even if they may be a quite different sound from us. One is the Schitzofonics from San Diego. They put on the most electrifying live show out there. 

8) Do you plan, some time in the future, to perform the songs of the album live with a full band?

V: Definitely. Now that venues have started opening back up, we’re focusing on developing our live act. We hope to be hitting the stage very soon!

9) How do you split the work? Is one of you composing the music and the other writing the lyrics or is every song the result of a "4 hands" work?

K: For this initial set of songs I developed most of the music, and we split the lyrics between us. I had a clear vision for the sound and was able to nail down the style quickly. For our next record I see Vitta taking a larger part of the music writing side. Her sense for melody and harmony is powerful.

10) Can the Fantastic Fellinis be described as a ‘60s influenced band or do you consider there is way more than this? If so can you explain?

K: I think a “‘60s influenced band” is an excellent way of phrasing it. I have experienced projects that are very regimented in traditional ‘60s garage and psych. I admire when a band can really capture the sound and style of era. With the Fantastic Fellinis, I wanted to have the influence of the '60s, pay my respects as you would say, but not be afraid of taking liberties and cross over into a new genre all its own. 

V: I'm super-proud of The Fantastic Fellinis' genre-bending sound. It’s everything and not one thing and all at once and not at all. It’s Mod, pop, soul, funk, garage, and…all and none of the above. It’s a secret sonic circus.

11) What are the plans for the rest of 2021 as far as The Fantastic Fellinis are concerned? 

V: Rehearsing for live shows!

12) The album is released on vinyl by the German Label Soundflat. Do you think that the kind of music you are playing is better perceived in Europe than in the USA? Is there also a CD version released somewhere else in the world (USA, Japan?)

K: Very perceptive question. From the onset we had it in our minds to target a European audience. We shopped the LP mostly to European labels, as we feel European garage/mod/soul fans are keeping the scene alive. There is a lot of great garage music coming from America, but everything is spread out and fractured.  Many cool underground bands get lost in this noise. I think Europe is much more connected and allows more access to the music. 

There are no CDs for this release. Vinyl LPs are available in Europe, Japan and the U.S. (as an import), and digital platforms everywhere.

13) Anything you wanna add?

V: Buy our ultrasonic album, Introducing the Fantastic Fellinis! ♦️🏁🎪

In Europe you can purchase a physical copy HERE

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