A bit of music nostalgia never goes amiss at GIGsoup. We got the chance to catch up with Riccardo Vino – an Italian musician and his band who are bringing classical 20s – 50s Italian music to the centre stage with some quirky surprises. With a background in theatre and composition tied under his belt, Riccardo Vino will release his debut album soon. Read on to find out what the YouTube generation make of him, what lies behind his ‘Retro-Bilingual-Mashups’, and a thing or two to learn from the past…
It was pretty unique your performances ‘Al Dente’ and ‘Hits Amore’. What made you want to make a theatrical spin on your music?
I started making music from as young as 5. My grandma taught be how to read it, even before I could read letters. Music runs throught the family, I guess; my grandpa was a violinist and composer. That’s where the music DNA comes from. I put music aside for a while to focus on acting – those theatre days have helped me a lot with my stage presence today. There’s a lot of character to my shows.
What kind of fans do you see at your performances?
Well, my audience is incredibly diverse. But I always find it very exciting when at the end of the show, young girls in their early 20s come and ask for an autograph… This has happened quite often actually. The thing is that I sing old stuff, but my musicians and I are all quite young. We love to bring a soulful energy to the stage – we don’t do cheesy nostalgia!
What do you enjoy most about performing?
I guess it’s those moments when you know you’ve connected with the audience and they’re having a good time. And if they’re having a good time, then I’m having a good time as well. It’s a great deal for everybody!
You’re currently living in Berlin. Describe life living in Berlin vs Italy. The food must be a contrast to start with…
Berlin is quite an amazing place if you look at its history. It was the most free, provocative and modern city in the 20s and 30s. Than came the dark WW2 times; when the war ended the city had to be rebuilt from scratch. Then came the Cold War and the Berlin Wall. Everywhere you go, you see testimonies of this intense past. This makes Berlin today a vibrant city, full of dynamism and, where even an Italian like me who sings music of pre and postwar tunes is welcome on stage. It’s pretty cool.
The food… ehmm, next question?
Your music is available on digital platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud – do you feel your classical style works on modern mediums?
On Youtube I have a channel called ‘Hits Amore’. It’s actually something meant as a joke at first but kind had a following. The idea is quite new and bizarre. What we do is to pick one Italian hit and combine it with an English (or American) one. We create a mashup with cool retro vibes arrangements, and we record it live in studio with only acoustic instruments (double base, sax or trumpet and drums for example) and voilà! You could call it a ‘Retro-Bilingual-Mashup’ project… We haven’t done any new videos for a while as I have been particularly busy lately, but I’ve got a couple of pretty groovy mashups that I can’t wait to create. Stay tuned…
Tell us a bit more about the rest of your band that makes up Riccardo Vino – what instruments do they play?
My buddies are all great and very smart musicians. Some come from the classical background, some from the swing, some from jazz. It’s a nice and playful combo. In the band there’s now a contrabass, a piano, and sax/clarinet.
Are there any modern musicians you take inspiration from?
I love good modern pop music, but I like diversity. I’ve never gravitated to just one genre. Just look at the music library on my iPhone – it’s schizophrenic! Judy Garland, Sting, Beyonce, Richard Wagner, David Guetta, Mina, U2, Electro etc etc. I like to play them randomly. For me it’s all music, they all use the same 7 notes. I am pretty sure I take inspiration here and there but I just let it happen at a subliminal level I guess.
Do you have any advice for young musicians who want to make a career in 30s – 50s Italo music?
Well I personally have a lot of fun. So, my advice is, if you like those old vibes and sonorities, just go for it. What I like about the previous eras is that songs had a very clear melodic line. There was no technology at the time, and don’t get me wrong, I love technology and I think music producers nowadays do amazing stuff in studio. But at that time, all you had, or needed to have, was a great song with a strong catchy melody, great arrangements and great musicians. No big post-production, no tricks. I love melodies, I write songs myself and they’re all pretty catchy; it’s my thing. That’s probably why I get so fascinated by the old tunes. So, if you guys feel that music, well it’s in you, embrace it and have fun with it.
A classic questions but it has to be done – if could pick a musician or artist, dead or alive, you could perform with – who would it be?
Great question, and honestly, never thought about it. That would have been my grandpa, who I never met as he died too soon. He had founded in Italy a quite famous orchestra in the 40s, and the same songs that I sing today, he was playing them with the original Italian singers of that time who made those tunes famous on radio. Yes, travelling in time and getting to sing with my grandpa’s orchestra, that would be the coolest thing ever.
Tell us about the debut album you’re working on: what should GigSoup readers expect to hear?
I am a songwriter myself too and I am about to complete my first album. I would call it melodic pop. It’s my opera prima as an author (I wrote both music and lyrics) and it’s very personal and autobiographic. I put a lot of myself in the songs, especially when writing the lyrics. I am very curious to see if people will love them as I do. My friends are all, hey it’s a hit, oh this is a hit too. And I laugh. Friends, you know…
Riccardo Vino will release his debut album soon. For details go to www.riccardovino.com.