Hard Rock bassist Alba Nasoni, known as The Mess Mistress, participated in this year’s World Burlesque Games. Adorned with purple feathers and armed with a bass covering the heavy Jimi Hendrix artillery – “Purple Haze”, Alba looked amazing in her split-screen video of her performance which she released on YouTube.
Alba told us about the event, her experience at it, and a lot more. And as usual, we played a nerd game to get to know her more. Enjoy this interview with The Mess Mistress!
Hello Alba. I’m really pleased to chat with you. How have you been?
All good here, thank you! Recovering from the Christmas holidays & all the booze and chocolate that comes with it, ready to start this new year with a kick.
Brilliant! Your project ‘Bass & Burlesque’ was among the performers of this year’s World Burlesque Games. First, would you like to explain a bit for our readers about this event?
World Burlesque Games is a UK based event exceptionally hosted online in 2021 for its 10th anniversary. I was actually very excited to be invited to perform and I was already working on my Purple Haze act when I got the call, so I said “Perfect timing!” and said yes. The competition lasted for the whole month of November and in this time viewers could buy a virtual pass and watch all the performances online with the chance to vote for their favourite act both in the professional dancers and newcomers category.
How was this experience for you?
I believe the experience was very good for me as an artist and as a person as well. I worked really hard to put the act together and the outcome went definitely beyond my expectations. There are a lot of skills involved in what I do that include not only music but also design, sewing and dancing. What can I say? I did not win the competition in my category and rightfully so: I only feel lucky to rank very well among so many other talented performers. Yes, nobody does the kind of act I chose to do, but trust me, there are some incredible minds out there too.
What influenced your choice of Jimi Hendrix’s masterpiece ‘Purple Haze’ as your song?
Rock music is my background and it will always be my safe cocoon. I am a musician first and foremost, that’s where my core identity is. To shake a sacred music god like Jimi Hendrix is a pretty strong statement, I feel people are always either too scared or too confident to approach the songs that made rock history. I wanted to show it is possible to find a good balance by simply having fun, which should always be the main reason why we pick up an instrument and play. On a more material-girl-like level, however, I would say I needed some song that could give me a valid excuse to make myself giant purple ostrich feathers!
Oh, these purple feathers looked amazing! In order to get to know you better, and to have some fun, how about we play a game? I will give you a certain scenario in an alternate universe and you will have to react. Ready?
I was born ready, bring it!
In a universe where you’re the ruler of a country, what would be an interesting law you’d make?
I would introduce a mandatory language test for any musician who wishes to write or/and sing in another language. I’m not talking about a grammar test though: each performer should submit their material and work on it with native speakers who will need to give the green light for publication/public performance. Being Italian with a true devotion to the English language makes me witness an unbelievable number of barbaric language abuses made on a daily basis. And it’s excruciating.
That’s indeed interesting! In a universe where humans are born with superpowers related to their personalities, what would your superpower be?
I would definitely say teleportation. I am that person with a severe wanderlust that can be a bit overwhelming for others sometimes. If someone tells me “I’d like to taste some real Guinness someday” rest assured I would reply with “I’ll look at flights then”.
In a universe where you bassists are worshipped as gods and goddesses, what would your festival be like?
I’m not sure I can handle this much daydreaming, you know. I guess there would be people offering expensive packs of strings all dancing around a bonfire made with voodoo dolls of all the former band members we kicked out of our bands.
That’s hilarious which will make the next question interesting 🤣 In a universe where the currency is the person’s sense of humour, how rich would you be?
That’s how I see myself when it comes to humour (and many other things in life actually): pure Tuscan breed with a very British finish. So given this evil mix, I would say Queen of England-rich-like would be quite appropriate.
Not surprised. In a universe where aliens with superior technology invaded Earth, and it was found that the only weakness they have is the sound of the bass guitar, which song would play to defeat the invaders?
Oh, I would so go for Black Sabbath’s “Die Young”. I think it is one of the most incredible bass lines ever made, it blows my mind every single time, so it must work on aliens as well. Yeah, for everyone’s sake I suggest humanity always rely on Geezer Butler.
In a universe where the senses of taste and hearing are mixed up, what would your favourite music taste like?
My favourite music would have the taste of a mouth-watering Scottish shortbread. Call me old-fashioned, but good food, just as good music, is only made with a few simple ingredients. Pick quality stuff, mix smoothly and put it in a highly heated environment. Give it the right amount of time et voilà, something 100% genuine is served. (Ok, I’m hungry now, thank you very much.)
🤣🤣🤣 Sorry! Thank you for playing, Alba! I really enjoyed your brilliant answers. What is one music-related memory from your childhood that means a lot to you?
I guess that would be where it all started. My family has never been much into music so I can’t say it’s something that runs in our genes. However, when I was 8 my brother decided he wanted to learn how to play bass. I remember I used to stare at him for hours while he was practising and thinking “wow, bass is so cool, I wanna do that too”.
Lovely. Do you remember the first time you performed in front of a live audience? How did it feel?
How can I forget! I was 14 at the time and I was finishing up my first year at the music academy I was attending. My teacher was actually a double bass genius and he also taught bass guitar to make some extra money. At the end of the academic year, the school hosted a show where all the students could take part and play. I was very young and the stage looked like a really scary place so I told my teacher I didn’t want to do it. He told me “You are more than qualified, I’m gonna sign you up and you are going to do it. Want to be a performer? The sooner you face that stage and the people in front of it, the sooner you’ll realise you are untouchable up there.” My 10 minutes of glory were squeezed between double bass, cello and English horn students, all in their 20s and 30s. And then my turn came. I stepped on stage with my bass, everyone was so silent you could hear their breath. I started with my slow solo “Lullaby for Ugo” and then…my teacher pressed play on the CD player: the song he chose for me was “Anarchy in the UK” and he was right, I was definitely going to make an impression. People turned from deeply shocked to amused and suddenly I no longer felt scared, I was feeling a thrill I never tasted before. Later, the school director came to my teacher and told him “you have a rising little rockstar here” and he replied with a grin “I sure do”.
That was brilliant. Thank you for sharing! Have you ever been treated in a sexist manner? How would you have sexism and what advice would you give to young people who deal with any kind of discrimination?
Well, I must say that was something that used to happen to me a lot more in the past than it does now. Of course, I was told all sorts of things since I debuted in the music industry: from the most popular nicknames related to prostitution to something a bit more career-obsessed-oriented like “nazi bitch”. That’s what has mostly been like for me: grown-up male musicians who couldn’t handle the threat of a 16-year-old teenager. You know, I do believe irony is the sharpest weapon of all and as a response to those gentlemen, I used to step on stage at that time wearing nothing but a corset, short pants, fishnet tights and 4-inches heels. With time I learned how to surround myself with professionals who couldn’t give a damn if one is male, female or alien, they gave me their honest feedback and supported me for the person I am and surely not for the sex I belong to. Needless to say, I am very in touch with my femininity and yeah, hormones got stormed every time I went somewhere to play (not only those of males btw), but it’s sheer human nature and it’s ok as long as it’s a polite compliment or a question I am free to deny. So here’s my suggestion to all the other girls out there: be yourself, go naked on stage if you must, Flea did, why can’t you? Covering your cleavage won’t protect you anyway and being someone you’re not will be much more painful in the long run. There will always be idiots around you, in my case I stood up to them and like the cowards they all are they just disappeared. I can’t see any of those big rockstars playing Wembley, are they?
Thanks for this brilliant take and thank you for the interview, Alba. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Make sure you stick around, something big is about to come out in a couple of months.