Textura (August 2015)

Textura. Questionnaire (2015 August 22nd – September issue)

Sardinia-based composer/pianist Stefano Guzzetti has contributed to compilations and created soundtracks and sound design for movies and video-games. But the two recordings most representative of his melodic neo-classical stye, however, are arguably the solo piano collection he issued on Home Normal in 2014 and the just-released Ensemble (Stella Recordings), a collection designed to physically capture the live performance of his quartet.

My latest recording: Ensemble, a straightforward studio rendition of what my Ensemble and I play at our concerts. It is a deluxe limited-edition of 250 copies, featuring a six-page booklet, two postcards, and a download ticket. Everything is inside a 300 gram ivory-hammered cardboard folding sleeve, which is then bound by an external obi / fascia. All the copies sold out in a few weeks, but in September there will be another deluxe treatment of this release. It will be a double ten-inch vinyl edition (200 copies), featuring the design of Vaughan Oliver and artwork of Shinro Ohtake. It will feature very precious materials as well so it will be beautiful and lush, I’d say nearly more an art object rather than a music physical format.

On the horizon: At this moment I’ve just started the writing process for two soundtracks. At the end of the year, or maybe at the beginning of 2016, I will release my new album, entitled Leaf and will play some concerts in UK and maybe some solo-piano sets in Japan. In September I will also start writing a new body of work, possibly for another album in late 2016.

The biggest change in my music since my career began: Not being interested anymore in electronic music. In the next album, for instance, I use some sine waves in just two tracks, and they are simple colours, not functional elements in the arrangement. There is still so much to be said with acoustic sounds, rather than tweaking parameters in this Ableton Live era—at least for me. I am not judging anyone’s position of course, nor I am feeling superior, and I say this having a degree in Electronic Music at the Conservatory of my town. It’s just that the older I get, the more I love simple things. Less is more, someone said. And to me this is something I deeply believe.

The thing that most distinguishes my music or sound from others: In one way or another, my Mediterranean origins and belongings are always there.

The thing I’m most trying to communicate in my music: Consciousness of the soul. At all levels, from the darkest to the lightest ones. Possibly the wider palette of emotions.

What musically I’m most proud of: A recent thing I’m proud of is that I asked the Manuel De Falla Foundation permission to include our version of “Nana” in the Ensemble release (it’s one of our encores). So they asked me to listen to the track before granting its use, and they really loved it. To me that piece of music means so much; it makes me cry, it makes me think about my mother, so being able to make it someway mine makes me really proud. Another recent thing I am proud of is my signing to Mute Song Ltd.

A favourite piece of music when I was a child: J. S. Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor.” An obsession still.

A piece of music I wish I’d written: Arvo Pärt’s “Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten.” No words needed here.

A memorable concert I attended: Wim Mertens and his Ensemble in 1998. I was literally in tears, especially when they played “As Hay in the Sun” (from the album Jardin Clos). Since then, it was quite clear to me that one day or another I had to reach a point where I was able to write and produce that kind of music.

The artist with whom I’d love to collaborate: Hildur Gudnadóttir, but also Christoph Berg. I’d better let them know, anyway.

The artist or musical piece people would be surprised to learn I love: I really have a soft spot for ABC’s “Be Near Me,” which, to me, is a sort of perfect pop song. But I consider The Cure’s “In Between Days” more or less the same. Or Scritti Politti’s “Wood Beez.” Mmm, now that you make me think about it, this list could be very long… What about Propaganda’s “Duel,” for instance? Okay, let’s stop.

Who I’ve been influenced by most: I’d say J.S. Bach, Erik Satie, Arvo Part, Wim Mertens, Vaughan Oliver and Nigel Grierson (23 Envelope), Ivo Watts-Russell, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Éric Rohmer, Nanni Moretti, Erich Fromm, Italo Calvino, Yukio Mishima, Haruki Murakami.

The best advice I’ve received: When I decided to make music as my only job, someone told me: “Whatever will happen, don’t be scared; it will be okay anyway. Just keep doing what you have to do.”

What I’m listening to now: Again, for the millionth time, Cocteau Twins’ Victorialand. A timeless masterpiece.

My idea of perfect happiness: To look in they eyes of someone and not needing any words to communicate.

If I could time-travel and give my fourteen-year-old self one bit of advice, it would be: This world sucks. I’ll build my own one and it will be much better. (Ah, youth… )

The music I want played at my funeral: This Mortal Coil’s “Ivy and Neet” (from the album Filigree & Shadow). This is basically a track by Simon Raymonde (back then bassist and a third of the Cocteau Twins, nowadays head of Bella Union).

My motto or philosophy: Just don’t worry. Sooner or later, it will always rain.

(Ron Schepper)

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