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Intervista a cura di Beatrice Bomio (Inglese)



The scent of your own land

Let's face it, every Ticinese would be able to place Marco Zappa in the swiss musical context, remembering, perhaps from childhood, some of his features - beard and earring - and humming some of his melody. This author born 1949 has still come a long way, and the many who remember him become perhaps fewer when compared to his more recent works and his evolution.

However, there are many audiences that he has addressed throughout Europe and a great deal of care and complicity that he manages to build with them, trying to speak their languages and above all by proposing music and lyrics that are both local and universal. This ability of his also has its reason for being as regards his training in psychology and pedagogy.

In the meeting we had at his home in Sementina (CH) he confesses to us that he has never abandoned Rock music, even if it is now more linked to a more acoustic spirit - it is no coincidence that his group was called "Musicaldente". Of course, the ethnic influences are truly numerous and enrich the musical fabric, for example thanks to his interpretations with the Greek instrument bouzouki or by integrating other international musicians, in addition to his children Daria and Mattia.

His wife Elena comes from Albania, and collaborates assiduously on his latest works and tours.


• Two very frank questions to start Marco Zappa: classical music or rock while the second Beatles or Rolling Stones?

My mother would have wanted to make me a classical musician but two years of piano and my aunt's guitar and voice confirmed to me that my decision was to follow that music that was in the air in Ticino, for example played by Trio from Gandria, with my guitar and harmonica. From the start every opportunity was good for making music: I sang everywhere and even the older kids looked for me to play their favorite songs.

Then came Celentano, a truly particular voice as well as his very real lyrics and his whole way of doing things and then the Beatles: I was struck by their way of singing all together, they no longer needed orchestras or choirs, theirs was total music, think of the expressiveness of those electric guitars! My affinity for the sounds of the Beatles is unparalleled. The Rolling Stones sound today as they did 45 years ago, while the Beatles' research leads them to make extremely different albums with truly surprising results. We haven't finished discovering them yet: the hits we all know represent only a small part of what they did. Returning to the type of music, my children have instead chosen to embark on the long and difficult career of classical music, playing stringed instruments. As soon as possible they play with me again and it is always a great pleasure and useful comparison. They bring to my music everything that I don't have: the classical aspect, all the coloraturas of the strings, their ability to improvise, a bit like the Beatles.


• What about this double CD of yours on the Beatles?

In this work I tried to enter these sounds once again, but also to make them more mine, so that they also corresponded to my tastes and my way of composing. So I literally took up this music, 32 songs, reread almost as if they were my own music, detaching myself from the sound of electric guitars and getting closer to the themes, structure and beauty of these pieces. It is acoustic music interpreted by me, my children... and other guests I care a lot about and on tour - for example this week in June in Milan on the Pirellone - it is very nice to alternate a first part of my compositions with these interpretations of Beatles.


You promotes, one might say, from A to Z, a truly colossal undertaking! Can you also explain how you compose?

In this way I feel totally free to build the "musical product" that I have desired and I do everything to ensure that it truly reflects this dream. It's a truly exceptional thing that doesn't happen to all musicians, of course on the other hand I also carry all the responsibility for it but, it's part of the game. With respect to how I compose, I start from the theme, from the text, I decide the language to use, the melody and the type of rhythm, and then arrive at the instruments to use, last but not least it is also necessary to think about the type of audience... It is a very long and complex that ends at the moment of the feedback I have from the public. I like to think that it's a job a bit like a painter: he doesn't ask someone to create the background, choose the subject to shoot, the colors... and so on.


• Mr. Zappa, you are able to communicate at any latitude, your audience today is perhaps to a lesser extent that of Ticino.

Let's say that I like to amaze the public, to introduce new things, I am not interested in being a musician who goes on stage and reproduces what he has created on the CD or even propose the same music that he is used to hearing around him. As always, it's like starting all over again, I like to know the type of audience first and then I try to create an atmosphere that best suits them. Also for the concert I held on the evening of the award reception in Geneva, I tried to imagine the readers of Pro-Ticino as an audience and therefore I tried to build a setlist of songs that had to do with Ticino, even a little ' playing on nostalgia, but talking above all about today's Ticino with its new habits, problems, opportunities... I don't even dream of talking about whores... the public was able to compare itself with a Ticino that it didn't have the opportunity to know or only knew in part.


• His connection with this territory seems to be essential, yet his catchment area and the places where he performs cross the Ticino border. How much does the Ticino public see it evolving and accept this comparison of a singer-songwriter who speaks and describes his own country, perhaps with slightly different accents?

First of all, I am not nostalgic and talking about Ticino is also possible from a modern perspective, furthermore an author has very distinct musical phases and sometimes it is a little difficult to carry a sort of indelible label for my previous productions. However, it is a challenge that every artist must accept: I could never make a song that doesn't have the scent of my land and I say this after 60 years of making music. I don't want to imitate anyone, not even the Beatles that we've talked about so much, what I'm aiming for is that behind all my productions there will be without Marco Zappa. Speaking of our local problems, I also get echoes in Germany, as well as in Greece, the themes are those of here but with a much broader scope and they also seem to coincide with those of the others. My musical choices have never been based on the sale of records, but rather on the tours and shows that have always followed and which are fundamental for me. By traveling and doing concerts, including at the theatre, I try to make my stories reach every audience, so I speak all the languages where I am, but I don't change the songs, they must remain as I originally wrote them. I like to think that I can show a slightly different Ticino which however we all need to see, perhaps we have less desire to see the reality that surrounds us than the others that are more distant and less annoying than ours, it would be nice to always let ourselves be a little surprised .


Interview by Beatrice Bomio Amichi

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MZ Sound Studio
Via Locarno 62
CH-6514 Sementina, Switzerland





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