Reservoir Media Management - SONGWRITER Q&A: LOCO IRONICO
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Reservoir caught up with Loco Ironico, the brainchild of longtime collaborators Joe Cang and Matteo Saggese, to chat about their latest project Carpe Afternoon, while taking us back to how they met 25 years ago. Read on to find out how the duo continues to connect with audiences in an ever-changing musical landscape.

Loco Ironico is only the latest collaborative project between the two of you, singer-songwriter Joe Cang and composer-producer Matteo Saggese. How did you link up with one another originally?

Joe Cang: I first met Matteo in London through an Italian artist who knew the MD of Arista records, with whom I was signed to at that time. Matteo had heard my first album and liked it and I heard him play and thought wow, this guy is serious! Although our lives were very different, we started hanging out, sharing a mutual love of music, and naturally began writing songs together. Through many tides and changes, we always come back to that shared love and belief in music and each others talent.

Matteo Saggese: Twenty-five years ago, a friend of mine gave me an incredible album called Navigator from (a then) unknown artist called Joe Cang. It became the sound track of our group of friends. We all wondered, who’s this incredible and original artist? A few months later, I was asked by an A&R at Chrysalis to work with an Italian artist, who I talked to about this album we were all into and it turned out her A&R was also Joe’s A&R! Through a long journey of joy and pain, we’ve become close friends and special partners on our musical journey.

What does 'Carpe Afternoon' mean to you?

JC: Its a play on the famous phrase Carpe Diem and what I often say when the day doesn't seem to start until around lunchtime: ‘seize the afternoon!’ But it’s also a positive outlook on not stressing too much about achievement, as the chorus says “too late to seize the day, but there’s another one coming soon.”

MC: Apart from the title track, "Carpe Afternoon", which suggests people having a more relaxed and wise approach to our hectic lives, for me Carpe Afternoon is the highest achievement in my musical and songwriting career…it’s the summary of my musical and life journey, so far.

There are an incredible number of talented musicians credited on Carpe Afternoon. How did you bring together the group’s unique backgrounds, and what particular sounds or other factors ultimately influenced your writing and performance on the album?

JC: The album was written with a sense of minimal spaciousness being key. We knew we wanted Jerry Boys to record the record, as he is a master of capturing natural, acoustic performances and that as we would record all live in the room, sensitivity was very important. Danny Cummings, Davide Mantovani and John Parachelli are extremely elegant and thoughtful players and all the guests from Phil Manzeanera, Sarah Jane Morris, Steve Sidwell, Peppe Sevilo, Dario Deida, and Tony Remy were chosen for their own unique flavour, which they added beautifully.

MS: Joe and I have being writing various genres of music for a long time and we are both very lucky to have collaborated with a number of great artists and musicians over the years….so the choice was quick and simple. We had the band (Joe, me, drums, bass, and guitar) and we added the guests as we went along, quite naturally. We had an idea of the sound but it was only at the very end that we realised we had created a very personal flavour and our own style, so we’re told!

Why was it important to you to record each song in one take?

JC: I think we’re both at a point were we really only want to make authentic music and the process of recording all together, more like a concert, allows the magic to happen and be captured in a way that is often lost in the piece by piece overdubbing process.

MS: We decided to do an album where we could use all of our previous experiences and to do it in a way to keep the music, both the writing and the recording, “real” with no tricks or safety nets. So we went to my house in the South of Italy, set up a studio with the help of Jerry Boys, a legendary engineer form the UK, and asked our favourite musicians to join in. In 3 days, the album was recorded live, with no separation or click tracks and most of the track are just one take. Even the little mistakes became part of the uniqueness of this album.

Which is your favourite song on the album and why?

JC: Very hard question! But if I must….”Beautiful Land” has a special place in my heart. Its one of the first we wrote for this album and the mood is so strong, it always transports me. Also “Its Possible," which came out of a dark time. I can still feel the sadness and hope that inspired it whenever we play it.

MS: Its a tough one! They are all quite unique, different, and very dear to me, but probably “Always Remember You”.

As friends and collaborators of 25 years, you must have a unique dynamic. Can you describe your collaborative process?

JC: We do! I feel we’re very lucky. Matteo at the piano, me with pen and paper, letting the song arrive is a kind of sacred space. Once we find a form, melody, and mood, Matteo will play, expand, and develop the music as I listen for the lyrics, and the story. It gets kind of telepathic and when the magic happens, we both know it and its equal exciting, humbling, and moving.

MS: Joe is one of my best and closest friends and is a musician and songwriter that I respect greatly. We started 25 years ago and our friendship and partnership has grown ever since…today he is my other half artistically. Even with quite a different approach to life and music in general, we have made our differences a strength that has helped us to grow, and we are still growing! The process of writing is quite magical. Words and notes just flow and it seems so easy!

You said in a recent announcement about your Carpe Afternoon crowdfunding campaign that “authentic, genuine communication with the audience is what’s powerful, rather than a simulated, hyped, distant impression." Why is the connection between artist and fan more important now than ever?

JC: For most of us in music now, theres far less distance between performer and audience. And as the business side is so changed and dispersed, its more of a shared journey whereby the audience can directly support the artists, enabling them to create and promote more of what’s drawn that audience to them and keep the creative cycle rolling.

MS: This is a great way to produce and market in the future, where an artist can promote his own music with no artistic or marketing restriction, but just with the power of the music itself, together with the audience. Its an amazing tool!

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