May 23, 2024

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Interview with Emanuele Fizzotti: I don’t know if music is related to the spirit… Video

Interview with a bad musician, problematic person, blues as if guitarist Emanuele Fizzotti. An interview by email in writing. – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Emanuele Fizzotti: – I’m originally from Biella, a small town at the foot of the Alps in north west Italy. My parents are not professional musicians but you can say I come from a musical family in a way. My father and my sisters played the piano, my grand father the violin and my grand grand father from my mother’s side, Arrigo Tassinari, was first flute at La Scala Theatre in Milan with world famous conductor Arturo Toscanini. I remember my dad listening to Benny Goodman and other swing records when I was a child and my mum had a huge collection of 78s from the 40s and 50s.

I started playing the guitar when I was about 14 years old and having lessons when I was 16. Back then I was listening to the famous rock bands from the 60’s and 70’s such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Free, Van Halen, Deep Purple, Ten Years After, Cream, Rory Gallagher and so on. Through Cream and Eric Clapton I discovered John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers and through them  the great american black blues artists such as Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Buddy Guy, BB King, Albert King, Freddie King, Elmore James, Jimmy Reed and I just fell in love with the music.

I started playing professionally shortly after graduating from high school and I never did any other job in my whole life. Sometimes it’s been tough but I consider myself very lucky to have always been able to do what I like for a living.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

EF: – I really don’t know. I suppose I got better during the years as it obviously happens to anyone who plays all the time! I think there are two sides to anyone’s own sound: one is the actual tone you get from your guitar and the other is the phrasing and the kind of chords and rhythms you play. About my tone I’m a Fender guy, Tele or Strat depending on the song and old Marshall amps, no pre/master volume and no high gain. I really like Fender amps as well, but I feel that Marshall amps follow the dynamics of your touch and  the volume on the guitar better.  I tend to use very few pedals in between and I’m still searching for the Holy Grail of tone I guess! About my phrasing I try to come up with something original mixing up the styles of my favourite players (which changed over time):  Albert King, BB King, Freddy King, Ronnie Earl, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Robert Johnson, Wes Montgomery, Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, Alvin Lee, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page just to name a few. I also spent a lot of time listening and trying to copy horn players such as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon and Miles Davis.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

EF: – To be honest, in the last few years I’ve been so busy that I very seldom do any exercises at home. If I practice, and it doesn’t happen very often, I play along with the records I like. When I was practicing regularly I used to  play different scales, hammer on/pull off exercises, sightreading and chords.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

EF: – Some phrases are still the same but some others are no longer there and there are some new ones. I think it has a lot to do with what I’m mainly listening to at a particular time and I suppose it’s an evolution. The older you grow the easier it becomes to organize your knowledge and your feelings while you’re playing and to come up with something original and, most of all, nice to listen to!

JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

EF: – I don’t do anything special before I perform, I just try to not be distracted by anything and to concentrate on the music and the band’s playing while I’m performing.

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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

EF: – Ideally you should use both when your practicing and just your soul when you’re performing but sometimes it might be hard to do.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

EF: – I think that when you play for an appreciative audience you are obviously stimulated and tend to give the best of yourself and doing so delivering the emotion they long for.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in blues when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

EF: – I teach guitar and ukulele in primary schools and I can tell you that children don’t really care about how old a song is as long as they like it. In fact most of them get really excited when they hear old blues and rock songs even from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. One of the songs I’m asked to teach more often is “Johnny B. Goode” and it was recorded in 1958! The fact that it’s in the movie “Back to the Future” might have something to do with it though. With teenagers it can be a bit more difficult because they are more influenced by what their friends are listening to and what is trendy on Spotify nowadays.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

EF: – This is a tough one. I don’t know if music is related to the spirit… I definitely feel that it brings emotions, both playing and listening to it. Sometimes it can really be overwelming.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

EF: – A lot of  blues, classic rock, jazz and from time to time classical music.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

EF: – I don’t know, let’s say that I play from the heart and I try to make the audience feel the emotions I feel while I’m playing.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

EF: – I would love to go in the Swinging London of the mid to late 60s! What a fantastic place to be for the music! Lots of blues, American artists coming over all the time and fantastic revolutionary new music being made by the English bands of the moment!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Can Italians play the blues? You bet! – GLOBAL RHYTHMS

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