15 oct 2021

Meet Måneskin, the Italian rock band that has captivated Gucci, Iggy Pop and Miley Cyrus

Unlike the other winners of the wildly kitschy Eurovision Song Contest, the androgynous Italian rock band Måneskin has conquered the world and the hearts of a generation raised on rap rather than guitars. Meeting.

Alessandro Michele has erected them into the newGucci Beauty muses . Iggy Pop put his voice on one of their tracks. TikTok praises them to the skies (with 4 billion views of their names), as does Miley Cyrus and the brand Etro, which dresses them. And Gen Z sees them as their new David Bowie. In short, it was only Amanda Lear who refused them something : a live collaboration on television because she was not paid. By winning Eurovision last May, the Italian rock band Måneskin (which means “moonlight” in Danish) captured the hearts of its 183 million viewers. Which, in the midst of rap’s cultural hegemony, is a small miracle. With 28 platinum and 7 gold certifications, more than 98 million views for their hit Zitti e buoni, Måneskin can also boast of being the first Italian rock band to reach the top 10 of the UK and US charts with several of their singles. In terms of streaming audiences on Spotify, they even did better, after their supercharged performance at Eurovision, than big names like the Foo Fighters or Kings of Leon.


When we met three of the members of Måneskin in a luxury Parisian hotel a few days ago, the staff proved to be worthy of the one reserved for superstars. Several managers, a bodyguard, not to mention the hysterical fans, who hunt down their arrival not far from the area. However, Damiano David (singer), Thomas Raggi (guitarist) and Ethan Torchio (drummer) – Victoria de Angelis, the bassist, who was ill that day, is missing – are surprisingly simple, voluble and relaxed. If we put aside their exceptional androgynous beauty that gives the impression of being in the middle of the movie Velvet Goldmine, the band seems to us in real life both friendly and familiar. With sexy nonchalance, the charismatic leader of the band, Damiano David, begins by being surprised by the phenomenal success of his group which goes on to promote and play concerts: “We can’t explain it, and that’s what’s cool. Maybe we represent something that has been missing for some time. As a result, our songs that mix glam rock, hard rock and other styles we love resonate as something new for the younger ones while the older ones feel nostalgic listening to us. We probably remind them of old bands that they loved.”

Måneskin in the Gucci Aria @ Gucci Beauty campaign

If the singer is still surprised to accumulate views and likes, he is no less delighted. “We managed to bring our style which was not considered mainstream or “radio-friendly”, he adds, on the airwaves and in the charts. It’s a joyful revenge because everyone told us that it was never going to happen.” And indeed, the rise of the Italians is all the more beautiful because the group formed in 2015 did not experience immediate glory. David, De Angelis and Raggi, who had known each other since middle school in Rome, and Torchio, who joined the group after responding to an ad on Facebook, started off without making any sparks. Unable to find venues willing to host old-fashioned rock bands, the band began to perform in the street, in high schools and restaurants. They then participated, in 2017, in the Italian edition of the show The X Factor. They did not reach the first place, but did not give up on their dreams, attempting the Italian Song Festival in Sanremo last March, from which they emerged crowned. 


“We do this job out of passion and not for the money.”


Insisting a little, the three members of the band who have already recorded two albums and are preparing a third, begin to evoke some clues that could justify the craze around them : “In addition to our music, maybe what we like is the look, the attitude, how we present ourselves, how we interact with our fans, who we are very close to and the fact that we enjoy playing. We do something that makes us happy. And this joy must reflect on others. We do this job out of passion and not for money.” The three artists point their fingers with varnished nails to what makes the band’s immense impact. Yes, their rock songs at the crossroads of genres (we even hear reggae and funk notes) are addictive and their live performances inhabited, fully engaging the body of each musician. This incandescent stage charisma charms as does their attachment to their roots (they still live in Rome and sing in Italian). But above all, Måneskin embodies a madness, something fun, authentic and abrasive at the same time, which has been somewhat lost in the age of filters galore on social networks and Auto-Tune. 

First of all, there is the smell of scandal, as in all good stories. When the rock band won Eurovision, they couldn’t enjoy their victory right away. On the evening of the ceremony, rumors spread on social networks. Many viewers thought they had seen, during a filmed sequence, Damiano David, bent over a table consuming cocaine. Faced with the growing controversy, the singer had to submit to a screening test after the show, which turned out to be negative. To this day, he denies having taken drugs. The leader explains that this is just smoke and mirrors born of prejudices: “The stereotypes of “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” are stupid and old-fashioned. Rock, for us, is music above all. Not a lifestyle. Just because you play electric guitar or wear leather doesn’t mean you’re bad boys. The rock spirit is about being free and staying true to what you believe in and who you are. Don’t let others push you to do things you don’t want to do.”


“Just because you play the electric guitar or wear leather doesn’t mean you’re bad boys.”


If the band prefers cigarettes to hard drugs, the essence of rock as we lived it in the 70s and 80s is well and truly perpetuated by the band. First of all, we find the way the New York Dolls and many other glam-rock idols blurred the tracks of the genre. But young Italians have the intelligence to adapt this seductive art of cross-dressing to their time, translating sexual fluidity into images that speak to Generation Z. 22 years old, Victoria De Angelis, 21 years old, as well as Thomas Raggi and Ethan Torchio, Both are 20 years old, without question, wearing women’s or men’s clothes. It seems to them to be the most natural and sensual thing there is.

Damiano David, the leader of Måneskin, in the Gucci Aria @ Gucci Beauty campaign

On the planet Måneskin, men wear makeup, glitter jewelry, high heels, and alluring underwear. This is not a purely aesthetic choice. Damiano David and Thomas Raggi kissed at a concert in Poland last June to protest against the homophobia that plagues the country. And the way they pose naked on social media sends a message of self-confidence and tolerance. The Romans seem to be telling  us: “Love and accept yourself as you are.” It’s not very far from Nirvana’s Come As You Are . Except that for Måneskin, self-expression should not depend on one’s sexual gender. This exaltation of individuality is the key to the universe of the group who sings on one of his hits: “We are crazy, but we are different from them.” Damiano David analyses: “As we grew up, we realized the discrimination and injustices that exist in our society. Now that we have the opportunity to be seen and listened to in different parts of the world, we have the impression that the right thing to do is to get positive messages across. We know that we can help younger people who feel different to accept themselves.”


In this mission, social networks play an essential role. And Måneskin’s communication on Instagram and TikTok is one of the most accurate that exists in music at the moment. Ethan Torchio notes: “For us, the most important thing is to communicate with our fans, to share our music and what we care about on a large scale. Like a television or a portfolio, the networks sum up what we are doing, our personality, our passions. Of course, we also know that it can be very dangerous. And we don’t read all the comments, otherwise we’d go crazy.” On this point, we can reassure them. Rarely have we read so few negative comments on YouTube or Instagram about artists of this stature. It is undoubtedly the reward, even more shimmering than a Eurovision trophy, that you reap when you fight to be yourself without totally belonging to the cultural canons of the moment.


Mammamia (2021) by Måneskin, Sony, available on all platforms.