Top image: Photography by Matt Hass
“It’s not the easiest thing to explain what songs need to evoke emotion, but you know it when you hear it. It strikes you and you feel it,” says Gianluca ‘Luca’ Buccellati, frontman of LA-based trio White China, trying to dissect the intricacies of emotive songwriting. “Writing from the heart” emerges as the base level catalyst, and it’s one that feeds White China’s sonic ethos.
Consisting of Luca, his brother Sanj, and Aaron Bernards, the band formed when Luca recorded a series of demos in his Brooklyn apartment and sent them to Aaron and Sanj in LA. Soon the trio established a slick working pattern and one grounded in the mix between NYC urban grit and LA daze. While Luca’s background in production has seen him help conjure soundtracks to other people’s thoughts, White China sees him dig into his own mindset, exploring the rough and tumble of life, love and lust.
Here we exclusively premiere the band’s latest track, Shake – a track about giving someone an orgasm.
Clementine Zawadzki: What inspired the band to form?
Gianluca Buccellati: I wanted to make a project where I was singing, so I recorded a handful of demos and sent them to Sanj and Aaron. They showed enthusiasm to be a part of the project so I asked them if they wanted to start a band. They were up for it and we continued to work until we finished an album, decided on the name White China and now here we are.
CZ: What’s your background in music?
GB: Sanj and I grew up in a town called Katonah. I was always in bands, so I started writing songs pretty early on and in my early twenties I co-wrote and produced music for my friends to help their projects get off the ground. Sanj is probably one of the most brilliant musicians I know, we both play loads of instruments, but Sanj got into jazz at a very young age. He can pretty much play anything. Aaron is from Portland, Oregon and moved to LA after high school to start modelling. I met him on a trip to LA when he was starting to get into guitar – he was always playing the coolest songs. I truly respect his music taste, which is why I originally sent him my demos.
CZ: Does your taste in music differ?
GB: I think there’s a common ground to what each of us likes to listen to. We probably differ in some areas, but we’re always showing each other songs. I’m not sure how our differences blend into the sound, but in some way, somehow, they do.
CZ: What can you tell us about Shake?
GB It’s about giving someone an orgasm. Shake is one of the darker songs.
CZ: How so?
GB: There wasn’t a conscious choice to have Shake be darker than the rest, it just turned out that way. I wrote four songs when I started the concept behind White China’s sound, Shake and Reputation were the ones that made it to the album. I have other songs in the same vein, but Shake was the one felt right for the album. I think each song on the album has it’s own unique thing going on.
“There’s a pressure when you’re dealing with someone else’s artistic identity, it’s like outfitting their sound. “
CZ: Does coming from a production background influence the way you see music and then create it?
GB: It’s hard to tell. I can produce the ideas I hear in my head fairly accurately, I find there’s more so a responsibility to know when things feel right, it’s all subjective.
CZ: In what way does White China differ from other projects you’ve been a part of and worked on?
GB: There’s a pressure when you’re dealing with someone else’s artistic identity, it’s like outfitting their sound. They trust you to make them look great and trust your sense of fashion. I didn’t have another producer helping me but I got feedback from Sanj and Aaron when I’d send them songs.
CZ: Where are you going to take White China?
GB: I think we’ll play shows at some point. Right now we’re focusing on releasing our first album and writing new music.
Follow White China on Soundcloud.