Any Other is the moniker of Adele Nigro, an Italian native whose second album, Two, Geography, was recently released on 42 Records. It is an intensely personal record, composed and performed entirely by Nigro, and it expands greatly on the rock-solid songwriting foundation of her 2015 debut. Her experimental tendencies for the first time get the chance to truly run free on Two, Geography, as she weaves warm and private sonic landscapes that envelop the listener, simultaneously comforting and uplifting its audience.

As she came to the end of her first UK headline tour, we spoke with Nigro about the album’s writing process, her influences, the decision to leave university to commit to music and the surprising absence of Italian acts internationally.

You’re just finishing up your first headline tour in the UK. Is it what you imagined it would be?

I would say yes. I always try not to have expectations from stuff, because I don’t want to be, “ohh no, this is not what I expected”. Don’t expect anything and everything is a plus! It’s going really good though. It’s really different from Italy, for sure.

How is it different?

I mean, the first thing is the language, because Italian people do not know English. I know it sounds really silly, but people generally don’t understand what you’re singing about. So to me, when I’m here, it’s like, “oh my god, people are getting it!” This is so great to me, to be understood!

Are you used to life on the road at this stage, or can you not wait to get home?

I think it really depends on the gigs, but generally speaking, I love being on tour. I’ve been touring non-stop for three years now, first with my old record and then I was working as a session musician live for other Italian acts so it’s just something that I constantly do. When I stop for more than two weeks, I don’t know what to do!

Home is Milan now, you went there for university?

Yeah, when I finished high school, I told my mum that I have to go to Milano for studying. She asked why, but the truth is my best friend who I was playing with at the time in a group called the Lovecats told me she was going to Milano. I knew if I stayed in Verona, which is my hometown, I wouldn’t play anymore. And I wanted to play so bad! So I moved to Milano and university was good, but it wasn’t my actual interest.

It’s not really what you went for.

Yeah, to be honest. I actually quit university at the beginning of this year, and it was the best decision ever. I was a little scared, I knew I had to become a real person, I had to get a job. I’m lucky enough to be able to do music-related things at this moment of my life.

Has it been your plan from years and years ago to make a living from music?

I started when I was in high school, it was just something I wanted to do. The thing with doing music for a living, it’s not about, “I want to be successful” or “I want to be famous”, but “I want to be able to just do my thing”. But of course, if it’s your job you need to make money, so if you can make it to do this as your first job, you get money for doing what you love. So I’m just focusing on this, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.

Is Milan a good place to play music, is there a community of artists?

It’s weird because it’s one of the biggest cities in Italy but it’s the fashion city, a little arty, but regarding music, there’s no actual indie rock or rock music scene. There’s more electronic music and some jazz and psychedelic stuff that’s really good, but there aren’t a lot of bands in Italy at the moment.

Is there something stopping that from happening?

It’s really weird. It’s as if it’s not cool anymore to have a band. The biggest indie acts are singer-songwriters, and everybody writes lyrics in Italian. The language you write songs with is really an issue in Italy. I get asked every time why I write in English. This is not a question people ask in Germany or the Netherlands, it’s just obvious, it doesn’t matter. But in Italy, it’s really an issue. The only bands actually being paid to play in Italy make music in English.

Why is it an issue? Is it political?

I don’t know. I think we’re pretty conservative, as a country in general. So we are conservative in music too. We’re not really open to things that we’re not used to. So when we see something that we don’t immediately connect to – writing in English, or bands that are not white males – it’s like, “oh, this is weird, I’m not interested in that”. So we lack the spaces to make these things happen.

Are there Italian bands whose success you look up to as something you’d like to emulate?

Actually no. Not because there aren’t great acts in Italy, even at the moment. There’s this songwriter now called Maria Antonietta and she’s really good, she’s a great songwriter and performer, but she just performs in Italy because it’s Italian music. She’s so good but I don’t want to be like her because she’s not playing abroad. I can’t think of Italian acts who managed to play abroad a lot.

Is most of the music you listen to in English?

Yeah, I have to be honest. Most of it. That is one of the reasons why I play the music that I play. I’m interested in all different kinds of music. Lately, I’ve been listening to Brazilian pop singers from the '60s because to me language is just one part of it. You wouldn’t go to someone who plays guitar and ask them why they don’t play piano.

Your second album Two, Geography is out. Does it feel good to have it out there and get the feedback?

I’m conscious of a lot of stuff that I wasn’t aware of when I made the first record, both on the inside and on the outside. I’ve been working on it for three years, so I’m so happy to let it roam free. Everything’s going really well. I’m seeing a lot of people are coming to me after the show telling me that it’s helping them or making them feel less low. To me, that is like, “wow”. I feel grateful for that. Also, aesthetically speaking, I’m really satisfied with the outcome.

It’s really different to the first album. This is a true solo album, you did everything! Is this you finding the voice you want to put out in the world or just things organically changed in your life, so the music changed?

I think both. One of the things that annoyed me the most with the first record was people telling me that “oh, you’re good, but you’re just a kid. You’re so young, you’re not really that good a composer”. And I was like, “oh yeah?”

Challenge accepted!

Exactly. And I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this. I knew I could sing and play guitar, but I said to myself, “no, you’re going to study and learn how to do things!” I’m really proud of the work that I did. Also, I’m a multi-instrumentalist and I really wanted to put that in this new record.

You played everything on this album?

Not quite everything. I played some of the drums but not all of them. And I didn’t play the strings. But it did compose, play guitar, I did some drum programming, electric and acoustic piano, vocals, saxophone, a lot of stuff.

Were there other records that you had in mind when you were creating the intimate landscape of this one?

Yeah. Eureka by Jim O’Rourke comes to mind. That record is a folk record, but it’s not really a folk record. There is rock music alongside 80s pop music, a song with a sax solo. And I like the fact that it’s really warm but it’s in the middle of a lot of music genres and I wanted to capture that. I wanted this album to sound super warm and cuddly. I love art pop – St. Vincent, Dirty Projectors, stuff like that. I like when indie rock or indie pop songs turn weird. But yeah I love Jim O’Rourke, he’s an amazing guitar player and producer, he goes from pop to noise. To me, that’s the best attitude. It lets you do so many different things.

You always seem to get mentioned alongside Waxahatchee.

Yeah I know. But I don’t know why. I feel like my old record sounds like it could fit with that, but I don’t think this one fits. I really don’t know, I think we’re very different. But it’s cool!

The track ‘Geography’, it’s slightly further outfield, more experimental with a jazz influence. When you make a song like that, do you go in with a gameplan or does it just happen naturally?

That song has a specific history. It was really indie rock-ish originally, there was a guitar-strumming all the time. I was recording the drum demos and Ale, who played drums on the record, said he didn’t feel that comfortable with the drumming part. The fact that he told me that got me upset, and I literally erased all the tracks on the ProTools session, and started again from the beginning. I made the drone and I sang the chorus there and then. I was going home on the underground that night and I was listening to ‘Look Around’ by Tune-Yards, and it was not rhythmic at all, which is unusual for her, it’s so open. So I got home and opened the track with just the drone and vocals, and I realised the old version was so wrong! And I got crazy making it the next afternoon, adding brass parts and everything. I’m really glad Ale told me he didn’t feel like playing the original version. I’m usually really protective of what I do, musically speaking, but maybe something about the old version wasn’t convincing me, because otherwise I would’ve just said, “no, this is the way that it is, you’re going to play it anyway!”

We mentioned the Lovecats, your first band. What were they like?

It was really sweet. I don’t think we sounded twee pop, but we were twee. We were sixteen. I only started playing guitar when I was eighteen, so I was just singing in that band. We started just playing covers – Bob Dylan, The Cure, Kimya Dawson. It was so random. There are a lot of YouTube videos out there. There were just two of us going around not knowing what we were doing. Cecilia is an illustrator now, and she’s a huge fan of Any Other. Any time I play Milano, she comes and she’s crying and filming me on her phone.

So what happens next. Time off? Album three?

We have a lot of stuff for 2019 already. We’re playing Eurosonic in January, which should be really nice. I think we’re going to tour as well, I think we’re going to come back to the UK too. Writing-wise, I don’t have that much time! I do have some material that I do want to release, so I’m thinking about that too.