It is with great pleasure that I am going to present this interview to a person who has put his heart and soul into what he believes to be a remarkable recording studio.
I’m talking about Federico Pelle who is told in this interview:
1) How did you approach music? how was your passion born?
The Passion for Music I carry it in since I was born. From an early age, I was “educated”, so to speak, to music. It was thanks to my maternal grandfather (Renzo), thanks to whom I held the mandolin at the age of 4. I learned the trill technique and became the first musical instrument I learned to play.
After a short time, at the age of 6, I fell in love with the piano, and my parents bought me a Bontempi air keyboard. It wasn’t really like a piano, so I made my complaints and after months of “hard-nosed”, the piano arrived! I started going to class, but it turned out to be rather boring, enough to make me stop. But I didn’t stop playing, indeed!
I took my favorite author, Scott Joplin (the greatest exponent of the American Rag Time, a forerunner of what would lead to Jazz), and I memorized the most famous pieces: in a non-simplified version. In short, I learned to play the piano with Joplin and I started to experiment with the composition because even then I enjoyed writing small pieces in Rag style.
Those were the years of “FAME – Saranno famosi” (the real one …) and Bruno Martelli (Lee Curreri), my myth of the time. The Commodore 64 was my first computer to make sounds: I bought some dispensations from Jackson Books that were called Music & Computer and I enjoyed doing … I don’t know what, but I made synthetic sounds and it made me very euphoric! I would say that everything started from this. A mandolin, a piano, and a computer.
2) Was it easy to follow this passion for you, or did you have difficulty? If yes, which ones?
A thousand difficulties, of all types. First the family skepticism. It is difficult to explain to a parent who wants to live about Music, also because we are talking about the 90s, years in which “entering the tour” was impossible, especially if you lived far from the important centers like Milan, Rome or Bologna.
Those were the years of the dream of going to Sanremo, but I couldn’t think of basing my life on this! My room had now become a real study. The mixer (A Soundcraft Series 200 from the mid-70s) was great when my bed but had 16 channels. The computer was a Pentium 133 and the sound card a 20-bit Gina Event. I arranged the songs with my Korg T2 EX keyboard, recorded with Cakewalk Pro Audio (it was version 4) and I had an AKG C3000 (which I still have!) To record my voice. Obviously, all this took me away from the law studies and the thing is that my father (who today is the most feline father in the world for my life choices) went very well. But so be it!
At three exams from graduation, I turned around and tried to pursue my dream. I went from Criminal Law to downloading service trucks as a porter, in exchange for the possibility of being a sound technician: they had a porter and a sound engineer, but they only paid one fee. I was fine, basically, I had to cut my teeth!
Another problem was a reflection of my choice, that is the chorus of voices that, not even too softly or behind my back, heard “what do you think you do?”, “Where do you think you’re going?” And similar things. Voices that inevitably made my parents suffer too, but frankly I managed to put aside, continuing on my way.
3) What is your biggest success? And what made you most happy?
I believe sharing the Stage of the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza with my brother Marco (choreographer in New York), bringing to the stage our first American show: Solitude. It was an event that even ended up on some books, sold out of two dates in less than two hours and an important audience (the public cd for special occasions) present and ready to scuttle every single movement and every single note! Here, on that stage, during that long applause, that first period of the “test bench” ended and a different, more conscious phase began.
It was as if in a single moment everything found place and meaning. It was the signal that the road traveled was precisely the one to go!
4) Have you collaborated with other successful artists? important collaborations?
There are many important artists, but some are the pillars of my being.
First and foremost my brother Marco, a multi-award-winning choreographer in New York. He leads me first to enter the world of the most committed composition and uses my music over the course of his career over and over again. I owe him a great deal and what binds our artistic components is a magic that is often difficult to describe. Solitude was so inside each of us that he often didn’t ask for the changes he wanted, but I sent them to him and the music, including breaks, was exactly what he needed! All in about 30 minutes of original music.
The second person is certainly Patrizia Laquidara(who needs no introduction), who is an immense Artist, for whom I feel unconditional esteem and affection. We’ve known each other since 2005, but the first collaboration comes when he decides to rely on my studio (The Basement) for the mix of his album “Il canto dell’Anguana”. This is a new milestone in my career. Many things happen during the album’s months, including the recording of his voice in a couple of pieces. For me, it is an immense honor and here I can reveal a small anecdote. We were going up the stairs to go to my parents’ house when Patrizia sang a melody. He stopped and smiled again. I turned around and, looking at myself with this aura of her own, she said to me “But you know that the reverberation of these stairs is very beautiful! Can we put together a couple of pieces? ” The mix was practically finished and had to be delivered, but Patrizia is like this: she has a very precise vision of what she wants and even if she has only one hour available she wants to try anyway! So there are two tracks on the record where the reverb isn’t the usual Lexicon, but it’s … the stairwell of my parents’ house. It was also an opportunity to learn about the sound engineer of the project, Dario Caglioni (former sound engineer of Fabrizio De Andrè, Renato Zero, Bertè, Consoli, etc). We become great friends as well as “confidants” for everything concerning the world of recording: hours and hours talking about machinery, programs, and small or big secrets of our profession. there are two songs in which the reverb is not the usual Lexicon, but it is … the stairwell of my parents’ house. It was also an opportunity to learn about the sound engineer of the project, Dario Caglioni (former sound engineer of Fabrizio De Andrè, Renato Zero, Bertè, Consoli, etc). We become great friends as well as “confidants” for everything concerning the world of recording: hours and hours talking about machinery, programs, and small or big secrets of our profession. there are two songs in which the reverb is not the usual Lexicon, but it is … the stairwell of my parents’ house. It was also an opportunity to learn about the sound engineer of the project, Dario Caglioni (former sound engineer of Fabrizio De Andrè, Renato Zero, Bertè, Consoli, etc). We become great friends as well as “confidants” for everything concerning the world of recording: hours and hours talking about machinery, programs, and small or big secrets of our profession.
A person to whom I am very attached, is the Maestro Federico Zandonà, professor of composition at the “Dall’Abaco” in Verona. I owe everything I know about music and composition. We shared many stages together, many musical adventures (including my album “Small secrets under the Light” released a few days ago, the first of the three that I would like to publish this year) and a deep friendship was born that still supports every planning. I owe him so much! If today I am a teacher in the Conservatory (I hold the Electroacoustic Chair at the “Steffani” in Castelfranco) I owe it to his foresight. If I had not met him in my professional career, perhaps today I would not have done many things that I could do instead.
5) In the course of your musical career have you understood what people like or understand it is like the search for the sacred Grail?
Look, let’s say the music I write or the arrangements I make must above all please me. I do it with great honesty: some things are good for me, others are bad for me. I have the courage to tell me and not to use them, starting from scratch. I have been writing and composing for 15 years now and I realized that honesty in conveying one’s feelings, through music, is something that the public immediately recognizes.
In my opinion, the failure in writing is always around the corner when trying to please the taste of the public: the true Artist (and I don’t say I am, for goodness sake !!!) is what goes in search of his path, of the feeling of his vibration. Whoever has the luck and the courage to find it will have conquered their own public. People like to get excited, watch a performance and try “something”. Basically, I think it’s like a dialogue: you have to know how to be convincing. But to convince you you must be stretched out, because the lie does not come or, if it comes, it has short legs. Who makes music must do it, in my opinion, for himself and not seek the satisfaction of a clapping.
6) What do you think about today’s music scene?
Sore point. I wonder if there is still an Italian music scene … It seems to me that everything is so fragmented and unregulated that I find it difficult to think of a “market”, understood as a whole and meeting of demand and supply (with relative economic value).
It seems to me that the American and English mainstream empires, in which we can insert only the most famous names of the Italian melodic tradition (I think of export artists such as Pausini and Bocelli, among others); a national high-end pop market (Lorenzo, Cremonini, Zucchero, Ferro etc.) and rock (Vasco and Ligabue in the first place); all the rest that is the independent market, in which there are interesting proposals in the most varied musical genres.
And then there’s the TV and everything that comes from the talent. My intransigent position on talent is rather well known: I am not part of the group that is in favor, let’s say. For several reasons. First and foremost is that they make you feel arrived when it should only be a starting point. Then because it has cannibalized any other way of promoting, and this has affected the whole market: if there is no TV in the middle it is very difficult for some majors to focus on you and this is not right, in my opinion. Talents should be ONE OF THE OUTLETS, while it has become the only way to promote. The radios have not been freed for a long time now, so today the artist remains only the self-production, the concert route, and visibility on Social and video portals like YouTube or Vimeo. I do not express a judgment of merit, I do not mind asking myself if it is right or wrong. We need to consider how the market moves to move in the market.
Today the successful band is the one that manages to live on music, concerts, festival participation. The “blow hunchback” of notoriety is perhaps a chimera, today it is today.
7) What does it mean to you as a musician?
Working in Music means feeling privileged! I know how many I want to do and I see how many people follow me, thanking me for what I write on my FB profile. I feel that this desire does not change as the years change: people like Music a lot, they like to listen to it and like to do it. In my small way, I represent the paradigm of how an enormous sacrifice leads to personal fulfillment, and in fact, this knows of a “dream come true”. And as such, it is very pleasing to those who cultivate the same dream, because it sees in you the concrete possibility that things can go well even for us.
Of course, over the years I have realized that not everyone realizes the kind of sacrifice it takes to make a dream come true in Music. But believing in a dream is an incredible spring to go on and always give the best. It’s been like that for me all my life.
Music was my dream and it still is.