I was excited to get the chance to submit some questions to Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari, who goes by “Lef”. He is the vocalist and keyboardist for O.R.k., who recently released “Ramagehead” on the 22nd of February through Kscope. Take a look!
The Prog Mind: What does O.R.k. mean to you, as in the acronym? Does the small “k” mean anything?
Lef: It’s definitely an acronym… how about Offensive Random Knowledge ?
TPM: What does O.R.k. mean to you, musically speaking? The band seems to maintain a balance between various genres. Do you see the band as anything in specific?
Lef: I can’t really pinpoint specific genres. We influence each other more than what we’ve listened to and produced in the past. We follow our instincts and luckily we seem to be on the same page, that’s probably what makes our music reflect the contradictory nature of our surroundings
TPM: Are you a grunge fan? Many prog fans cannot stand grunge; but I love it, and I feel like I hear it all over this album.
Lef: I’ve always loved different things music-wise… rock, jazz, electro and I got also a degree as opera singer. But I’m definitely a 90’s kid in the end… the grunge music is just a part of it.
TPM: Who are your vocal influences? I’m sure you’ve heard the comparison between your voice and that of the legendary Chris Cornell. Do you try to channel him? Who are your favorite singers?
Lef: The comparison with Cornell is flattering but is not a conscious influence. I’ve always treated my vocals like an instrument, focusing all my energies in communicating my feelings without filters instead of working on a particular sound or style. That’s why I’ve studied opera as well as overtone singing… I just wanted to have a complete control of my instrument, that was for me the right way to get rid of all the preconceived ideas behind different music genres.
TPM: I think one of the unsung heroes of “Ramagehead” is your keyboard performance. I loved the ambient sound to the keys. Can you comment on your approach to keys?
Lef: Writing scores for films has changed my approach to music in general. I love the way that visual art and music complement each other, you could probably interpret the O.R.k. discography as music for yet to be shot films… that’s the way we see it anyway.
TPM: Speaking of “Ramagehead”, what exactly does that mean? How does it relate to the lyrical content?
Lef: It describes the underlying feeling of being stuffed full of information from every angle. Our lyrics are usually related to our thoughts, feelings, concerns around our lives. We prefer not to be very specific and leave space for the listeners to build their own interpretation
TPM: O.R.k. offers something that I really like and often crave: raw emotion. How important to you is the angst and unfettered emotion that I hear on this latest album?
Lef: I’m glad that you hear that, as said it’s exactly what we’re looking for. We always try not to overproduce our music and to keep the spontaneous ideas developed but intact.
TPM: What is it like working with Serj Tankian? He often comes across as the wise and benevolent supporter of small acts, but he’s also had more than one disastrous interaction with bands in the past, like Fair to Midland. Is he a friend?
Lef: Well, let’s say a new friend.. I did this Hypersomniac record with Bill Laswell, and other cool guys from Norway. Bill passed a copy of the record on to Tankian who was so impressed, he then checked out all my stuff website and other material. This led directly to Serj and I connecting and discussing potentially collaborating at some point – it was just at the time we were working on Ramagehead, so of course a suggestion had to be made. He’s not just a music god, but also an incredibly amazing person. It was great and so easy to work together, we’re indeed planning to score soundtracks in the near future.
TPM: I was surprised to see that Kscope, a label devoted to post-prog, has a band like O.R.k. signed. That has me curious. Do you think Kscope would consider O.R.k. to be post-prog? Why?
Lef: The simplest answer is that they felt the album was quite strong, and despite being a bit harder and more “rock” perhaps than some of their other acts, we were still a good fit for the label. The connection was of course made by Colin and his illustrious past with Porcupine Tree.
TPM: Any chance of playing in the US?
Lef: We are considering offers from US for the next fall, but I think we’ll do another Euro tour later this year and plan a US run for the 2020.
TPM: Thanks so much!
Find O.R.k. online: