Andrea Van Cleef has released his new album titled ‘Horse Latitudes’ via Rivertale Productions. Feeling almost like a concept as much as an album, ‘Horse Latitudes’ takes a signature sound and amps it into a more personal sonic journey meant for the every-listener. Taking bits and pieces of a life lived and lessons learned, with bits of rock, folk, americana, and other forms of music, Andrea takes the culmination of everything he’s become and paints it upon a canvas of bright, dirty, dingy, and delightful chapters of this book of sonic soliloquies with the presentation of a true troubadour.


Tell us about how the new album, Horse Latitudes came to be, from writing to recording and release.

I started thinking about this album in the summer of 2022. I wanted to record another solo album, but this time I needed a more focused sound, the former solo albums were too eclectic, and that got in the way when it came to presenting the whole thing to the audiences. That’s the way it works today! I wanted an album that could be perceived as a coherent sum of its own songs. Then I went to Texas for a couple of week at the end of 2022 / beginning of 2023 and things really started to work, thanks to the amazing musicians who helped me shape the sound I was looking for. Coming back to Italy, I started working on new songs and arrangements and I produced the whole thing with my favorite sound engineer here, Simone Piccinelli. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It was released by my beloved label Rivertale Productions.

    How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?

    I write short stories with an acoustic guitar and I use a whole lot of mostly acoustic instrumentation to make the characters charming and lure the listeners with dark and sexy sounds.

    What are your primary influences?

    I have been playing stoner rock and heavy psychedelic music for many years, so of course every time someone is asking me what my influences are the first answer that comes to my mind is: BLACK SABBATH! But wait, things are different this time, so the answer would be different, too: the first names that come to my mind right now: Johnny Cash and Morphine. And books, by the way. Books are a great influence. Cormac McCarthy, Jim Thompson, Joe Lansdale. I could have a different answer any given day, by the way.

      How did you get your start in music?

      I’ve always been a big fan of recorded and live music. When I was a teenager, I wanted to become a comic book artist, so I was constantly drawing, all the time. At one point, I picked up a guitar and before I knew how to play it, I started writing songs. Writing a song is telling a story, and you can do that even if your ability to play an instrument is very, very low (years have passed, I hope I got better).
After a couple of years I joined a band in a garage as a bass player, nobody wanted to sing, so after a couple of months I started singing, and I haven’t stopped ever since.

      What would you consider your favorite, or best, track, on the album?

      It’s always difficult to answer this kinda question, it’s like if someone asked you to choose among your children to pick up a favorite one. Anyway, I think that many people would consider “A Horse Named Cain” the best song in the album, but I’m a sucker for “The Real Stranger”, I wrote this song years ago but I couldn’t find a way to really make it work until the last year; and this song gave me the opportunity to work with Dana Colley, the amazing saxophone player from Morphine. His sound will stay with me forever.

      Now that the album is out, what are your next plans? Writing? Touring? Videos?

      I’m always writing new songs, it’s something that you can’t really stop or quit, in your head you are and always will be a musician, even if at some point you’re going to stop playing. I’m already touring to promote the album in Europe, and I hope to go back to the US at the end of the year. We’ve already made a very good video for “A Horse Named Cain”, but we are considering ideas for a new one. I’m playing shows with a great band, 6 people on the stage, to tell these stories the best possible way.

        About Andrea Van Cleef

        The new record represents a turning point in the career of the musician, divided between heavy-stoner rock with his previous bands Van Cleef Continental and Humulus, and “Americana” driven songwriting, veering toward more southern gothic atmospheres, indebted to Johnny Cash’s “American Recordings,” with in addition a distinctly European, especially British, dark touch.

        “Horse Latitudes” is a work matured and recorded in two times and two places, Texas and Italy, which reveals the great fascination and inspiration that western cinematography has meant in the artist’s formation, combined with the concept of folk music. A reflection on the meaning of existence and one’s path through imagery filled with totemic and archetypal symbolism.

        The first sessions begin during Andrea Van Cleep’s Texas tour in late 2022 early 2023, at Rick Del Castillo’s Smilin’ Castle Productions studio. A guitarist, musician and producer, Del Castillo is a collaborator with Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez on the soundtracks for “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” and “Machete,” as well as on the version of “Malagueña Salerosa” that appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol.2. Production of the record’s Texas tracks involves several local musicians, one above all the master and living guitar encyclopedia Matthew Smith, sessionman legend from Austin. In this journey made of live and full-time production, a series of songs with country, folk and blues structures inevitably sees the light of day, in which Van Cleef’s typically European approach is mixed with the real roots sound of musicians from the Austin scene, the capital of U.S. live music.

        Back home, Van Cleef finalizes the work with a second session at Buca Recording Studio in Montichiari, with sound engineer Simone Piccinelli. This is where the musicians with whom the artist has been playing steadily for some time come into play, as well as the important featuring of Dana Colley, saxophonist of the late Morphine, the quintessential cult Boston band of the 1990s from which Van Cleef took inspiration for more melodic writing.

        Anticipating the album, the release of the first single, “A Horse Named Cain” with the black-and-white video directed by Angelo Maffioletti, a homage to cult noir cinematography that winks at contemporary Nordic production. Prescient shamanic visions alternate with snippets of shots among evocative snowy forests where we find Van Cleef with his black horse in front of his white female alter ego.

        Born at the foot of the Italian mountains of Vallecamonica, Andrea Van Cleef moved, after his university studies in languages, to Brescia, where he still lives and produces his music. Although he has performed in several European and national stages in recent years, Van Cleef says that it is in the Brescia territories that he makes his “home.” Guitarist and enthusiast of stringed instruments in general, voice with an intense and recognizable timbre, Andrea Van Cleef composes, sings and plays his own songs, for some time producing for other artists as well.

        In 2012 the first solo album, “Sundog” is the ultimate revelation of his expressive and compositional skills with an international scope. He sings and writes exclusively in English, but with the creative and visionary Italian approach, as well as the pragmatism, also from a sonic point of view, of his Valleys. And it is this unique and personal style of the self-produced “Sundog” that has garnered interest among insiders and fans of the genre, so much so that it has become a mini-cult album and earned several reissues, following collaboration with the Rivertale Productions label. The most relevant and inescapable part of Van Cleef’s musical activity is undoubtedly his live performance.

        Not only “Sundog” was presented in tour through Italy, Switzerland and Germany, but the live shows intensified at a very fast pace, about 90-100 concerts annually, with the subsequent albums “Tropic Of Nowhere” (2018, Rivertale Productions) and ”Safari Station” (co-written with blues-folk Diego Deadman Potron, 2021, Rivertale productions/ Timezone) and the EP “135” (2020, Rivertale Productions). Van Cleef took part in several international stoner-doom rock festivals – among the albums with Humulus “RHINO” (2017, Kozmik Artifactz) and “The Deep” (2020, Kozmik Artifactz) – and several openings at blues-rock concerts, including Ben Harper and opening solo at The White Buffalo’s sold-out Italian show at Alcatraz in Milan. From solo, acoustic duo, to more structured and complex ensembles, Van Cleef’s shows know how to engage and capture attention of the audience.

        Featured image by Michele Aldeghi.