Nachgehakt: Violetta Zironi

Die Italienerin Violetta Zironi ist der Geheimtipp des musikalischen Freitag Abends im schon schön. Ihre wunderschön warme und zarte Stimme begeistert das Mainzer Publikum. Im Interview mit Fauves spricht sie über ihre italienischen Wurzeln und wie es zur Mainzer Besetzung der Band auf ihrer aktuellen Tour kam.

I love the fact that you travel so much. In what way does your travel-experience shape your music?

Oh, in every way possible. I think if I didn’t travel this much, I wouldn’t be able to write the songs that I write. I started this non-stop journey two years ago and I’ve written the best songs I’ve ever written. Before I was just staying at my hometown in Italy.

Why is that?

It is just that I observe so much from everything that I do, every person that I meet and every new person that I see. Obviously these experiences I make are amazing, although sometimes they can get very scary and unpredictable, in a way that I don’t know how to face them. At some point you are not completely in peace with yourself and that’s when you have something to write about, when you start reflecting yourself in light of other people and cultures. I really absorb life experiences from everyone. That’s why I was so excited to come to Mainz because I’ve never been here before and now everything is inspirational for me.

Would you be able to give an example? I know that you’ve been traveling the USA for quite some time. What influence did the trip have on your music?

I’ve only been to the USA twice, once I stayed there for a month and I did a road-trip in the South. That trip was quite a shock for me because it is a very different country compared to Italy and Europe in general. When I came home from that journey I wrote a song straight away the next day. I remember that I was walking through the streets of the old city center of my little hometown (which kind of has the same vibe as Mainz) and I heard someone playing the piano, Bach, from some window. That made me emotional, after all what I had seen. I am back here and and I feel so much more connected to my roots.

The development happened really quickly and recently, last year and a half, I believe, when I started traveling, meeting new people and getting to know other genres of music. When I went to the USA, until then, my biggest influence was country/folk style music. That’s why I actually wanted to go to the USA because I wanted to see where it came from, how it was. When I went there I realised that I am not from there. I can’t pretend that I am, so there is no point in trying to pretend it – that is not authentic. However, I’m still able to keep my passion for that genre of music and sort of melt and mix it with my roots and origins.

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What are your roots?

I’m from Italy, actually I would call myself a Mediterranean. Italy has such a big background of music, specially until the 60s. Italian music from the 60s consists of chansons and song-writers like Luigi Tesco, Paolo Conte or Gino Paoli. I started listening to those song-writers with a different perspective. After staying outside of that Italian environment for a bit, I learned how to appreciate it more. I sort of looked at it with the eyes of a foreigner and I could see the beauty and value of it which I just took for granted before. I decided that I wanted to express what I love in my music, which is country/folk combined with what I am, which is the Italian background, basically. I love melodies a lot. Country/folk has a very straight melody, rhythmical, while the Italian music -because of the language which does not allow you to be very rhythmical- is very melodic. That is what I do with my songs, melodic country/folk.

How are your experiences visible in your lyrics?

I write about myself a lot. One of my last singles that I released in April is called “Half Moon Lane”. I produced it in London while I was living at Half Moon Lane, that’s how I came up with the title. I have a lot of memories about this place.

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Yes, I read those lyrics before the interview. You say: “take me back to the place / Where I spend those days” …

… the more you travel, the happier you are. However, what I say in those lyrics is that it is the memory of a dear place in your head that gives you strength to face difficult situations. Half Moon Lane was an important place for me. When I think back of this place, I feel warmth. The song says: “What’s gonna meet me at the corner scares me”. I don’t know what’s around that corner but in my head I take myself back to Half Moon Lane and it reminds me of where I come from and what I have been through already.

The cool thing is that you did the gig at schon schön with Kevin (sound-technician at schon schön & singer of Melody Connor, Mainz). How did that happen to be?

Kevin played for another artist that I know, Joel Sarakula. They played together in the USA, South by Southwest (SXSW), last year. I was looking for a bass player and he named Kevin. Kevin was willing to do it and excited. We played just three shows together, in Hamburg to showcase my EP, Berlin and now here in Mainz.

Coming back to your roots and your childhood in Italy. How did you find access to music?

My father is a Blues musician, he does that as a hobby. When I was six he forced me to start learning the piano (laughs) and I did that for 11 years. So I have a classical background. My parents would listen to a lot of music at home all the time and I grew up listening to Blues and Bach, which I still love. They were always very supportive and also pushed me, they believed in this whole thing.

How come you now moved to Berlin … why not Rome? 

I’ve tried. When I started doing this professionally, I was in Italy … like 2-3 years ago. I tried to make a career out of this but it is extremely difficult for the genre of the music that I play. Italy has got a strong and proud music culture that is attached to its own Italian roots. So whenever you sing in English it isn’t really going to get through. I feel like Berlin is giving me a chance. People over here are very open and interested in music and I found a good environment to work with, people who believe in it.

What’s next after Mainz?

I will go back to Berlin and I’m going to write. My EP will come out in February!

How can we picture you writing your songs, in what environment do you do that?

I constantly write with other people. I do song-writing sessions where you get together with someone and you come up with a shared idea. That way I have a broader perspective and more ideas. I like doing that because very unexpected songs come out of these situations. One song that was written like that is on my EP which is not out yet. The song is called “Song with Felix”. I have played it yesterday at schon schön. It was the first time I wrote something with Felix. I had this lyrics-idea and he had a guitar part. I told him I would love to make a kind of lullaby out of this and then we worked on it and it became a nice song.

Violetta, have a safe trip back home and nice meeting you! 

Photos: (1) Fauves ; (2) Violetta Zironi Press

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