Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?
First of all my family, when I was a kid my mom strongly believed that music should have been a fundamental part of my life, and that was important for me to understand classical music and listen to it. When I was very little I used to spend time in a old music instruments shop across the street. The owner was babysitting the kids of the neighborhood, singing and playing to us, introducing us to music.
When I was slightly older my mom used to take me every sunday to see the rehearsals of the “La Scala” orchestra. I was enchanted. I guess that was my first imprint, which somehow forged the path that followed.. And my father, who was a big fan of Keith Jarrett, Brian Eno, also introduced me to rhythm and blues, soul, rock, jazz..
Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?
Television, Traffic, Miles Davis, Brian Eno, Nino Rota alongside with the poetry of Lord Byron, Dylan Thomas, T.S. Elliot, Goethe.. And many more..
What have been the greatest challenge of your career so far?
Always trying to reach down to my deepest thoughts and be able to translate them into music.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?
I think it’s great to fall into someone else’s vision, weather a film, a ballet or a theatre piece, pledging myself as a composer for the project. When the two ideas are matching, it’s magical.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?
Sharing the stage or studio with other musicians is just a big pleasure for me, It’s another kind of emotion then being solo. I was born as a band member, played in many bands before starting my solo project. Thus I had to adapt to be alone..
Recently I worked with a string orchestra which is a whole different thing, to be surrounded by a great wall of sound is sort of warming, protecting..
Of which works are you most proud?
All the pieces that I wrote are part of specific moments or transitions in my life, so all of them have great importance to me. But I think my last album “ By The Deep Sea” is the one that, so far, represents me the most.
How would you characterise your compositional language?
How do you work?
Usually I have a picture in my head or a thought that I want to define and craft into a musical piece. It’s a sort of meditation moment. It all starts with a simple improvised melody and then slowly everything else is building up around it. I tempt to work with tapes instead of digitally cause this way I pay more attention on being precise, giving the right touch, mood, to the playing. And the quality of the sound is so much better of course.
Who are your favourite musicians/composers?
The list is very long. I love music in all its facets, every genre as long as it’s good music. Among my top 10s surely, Vladimir Horowitz, Harold Budd, Brian Eno, Sakamoto, Miles Davis, Pastorius.. and many, many more.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Being able to follow your own path without compromises, always trying to add a little brick to your musical research, growing as a musician and a person.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Be consistent and modest, and don’t worry much about what other people say. Follow your ideas with consistency. And most importantly do what makes you feel good!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To see my son grow up, and be able to be a good guide for him.
What is your most treasured possession?
My NAGRA III Reel to Reel Tape Recorder.
What do you enjoy doing most?
Playing music, drinking good red wine, cooking.
What is your present state of mind?
Under pressure, but excited!
Federico Albanese’s new album By the Deep Sea is released on 23 February 2018
Federico plays at The Vortex on 4 April 2018 – https://birdonthewire.seetickets.com/event/federico-albanese/the-vortex/1179547/
(photo by Beniamino Barrese)