Somojo Magazine

Vittorio Tolomeo - Prize Day

As solo artist, “Prize Day”.

Hi Vittorio, how are you?
Good! Hope you’re well

Which instruments do you play?
I sing and play guitar live. When I write songs, I enjoy to play bass, drums, keyboards and everything that can generate a sound!

What made you decide to be a solo artist and not want to be in a band?
Well, I played in some bands in the past. Particularly with one of these, Noema, I’d been playing for almost ten years. When we splitted up, I started out my solo career.

Do you work with the same musicians when recording as you do when performing live?
Yes. I play live with the band that worked with me during the recording sessions of my album Prize Day. They are great musicians, and friends, of Italian indie scene. Among the others, Andrea Viti, the bass player, who played with Afterhours, Mark Lanegan, Greg Dulli.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
It’s a crossroad where the romantic obsession of the new wave meets the rhythm and energy of funk and the sweetness of soul, with some folk electroacoustic forays.

What have you been up to recently?
Promoting the record with some showcases, interviews.

What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
A new record obviously! I’ve already worked on some new songs in the studio, but first, I’m working with my manager on setting up a tour in Europe and in the US.

Did you always want to be in a musician/singer when younger?
Yes I did!

What music did you listen to while growing up?
A lot. It’s an endless list. Starting from the Beatles when I was a child, passing through punk, post punk and new wave era. I used to listen frequently to the people who changed my life, Patti Smith, Velvet Underground, Bruce Springsteen, Joy Division, Sly & The Family Stone, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison….

What was your first music making experience?
When I was at school, I wrote a song while I was doing my homeworks in my room. I knew just three chords…that’s what you need to write a great song!

Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
I’m self taught. The records have been my teachers. I used to play them for hours until I found the chords and all the parts.

Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
I believe very much in the stream of consciousness, in every single spark that a sound, a word or anything can turn into inspiration. It’s a random process, I start to play whatever instrument I have within reach or start to sing a melody and then I overdub something to see where I’m going

Would you sign with a major record company?
I signed with an indie label in the past. I also signed with a major, but it was just for a compilation, they had just included a song of mine. So I’ve never had a real deal with a major, but I think I would sign. There are still so many things that an independent artist can’t do by himself…

Do you have any new recordings planned?
Yes, next month I’m going to record four or five new songs that will be in the new record next year.

Vittorio Tolomeo

How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
I’m completely involved in arranging and producing the songs. Usually, I collaborate with a musician/producer who plays in my band. I love to see how a song develops and takes shape.

Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
I’d really like to produce an artist who gives me a chance to work creatively in his music. Without barriers between musician and producer. It’s the same thing I do with my music when I work with a producer. Everyone should be ready to follow every attempt to see which is the best way to get on with the work.

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
I think that we are so lucky now, because we have so many musical weapons that were previously unthinkable. The software help to be speeder and creative at the same time. The recording process is enjoyable because we can easily record several takes and then decide which version of the song we like. If we use them in the right way, that is a creative way I suppose, we can enjoy more and more the technical side of making a record.

Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
Recordings and live performances are two worlds apart. The environment of a studio and a stage get your adrenaline going in quite different ways. For me the studio is about finding the right sounds in that particular moment. Once my sonic world is going, everything is much easier. After recordings end, I try to figure out how to play the songs live as faithfully as possible, especially regarding the sounds. And because of that, I tend to use the same equipment in concert.

Do you have any favourite tracks on your album?
Yeah! It’s eleven songs…I love them all and, depending on the time, there are some I love particularly. Now I have Migrant Soul, Love Insane and You Don’t Stop as my favourite ones.

Do you write songs/tracks only about personal experiences?
I think that every songwriter, even if he is writing about a war or a friend addicted to drugs, writes about himself and for himself. The main theme of a song it’s always blended with personal experiences anyway. In this album, Prize Day, the inspiration has been taken in the first times I moved up from Sicily, my homeland, to Milano.
Milano, like all the big cities is the portrayal of a place where all seems to be available but at the same time everything is so fleeting. A kind of trap in our time…the virtual world, the intrusion of advertising in our lives, the improbable chances they give to us… Everything and the quite opposite of nothing. I felt confused and started to think about human relations in this age. A lot of questions came to my mind, and they were about relations between lovers, friends, parents and sons. All these things have merged into the first song of the record, Migrant Soul, in which the prize day represents the day of our salvation, the way out that will help us to escape from the fear to be abandoned while things and places we love are changing so fast. It could be a person, a place, a song…..

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Sometimes it looks like easy but it’s not…It’s always difficult to write a three minute pop/rock song and to build and to describe a world in it…

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
Now, I’d say, writing songs with Beck and performing with Bruce Springsteen.

Who are your favourite songwriters?
Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan in no particular order…

Which countries have you gigged in?
Italy, France, Switzerland.

Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
The one’s where I have a large fan base. US, UK, Germany.

How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
Trying to get airplays on radio and web stations, internet….waiting for a tour that is still the best way to get new fans!

Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?
My music is on these sites but I prefer Myspace. It’s still a great site for musicians.

Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
Definitely. Thanks to the internet. I’ve got a lot of airplays in Europe, US, Australia, Japan, I have my album physically distributed in the US and Canada and I knew my manager.

With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit the lesser-known artists?
I don’t know…there’s such a mess…a lot of cheaters on the web are ready to earn money from the dreams and the will to be heard of new artists…talking about the big websites, it would be great if also the musicans could earn something from the streaming for example…but maybe something is going on…I need to update… nowadays, the musicians have to be great web surfers if they want to survive!

How do you relax?
Reading and travelling. Sometimes playing guitar!

What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
My best experience is when I feel that the songs are getting straight to the audience. The worst is when it doesn’t happen…

Do you get nervous before a gig- how do you calm down?
Always get nervous until I walk on stage!

What else do you do apart from being a singer/songwriter?

Would you like to be a full time working musician or are you happy with things as they are?
I’m a full time musician. It’s tough but that’s ok!

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Not yet. I really hope to have some song included in a soundtrack. I love soundtracks and I see my songs in motion, a kind of a cinematic way to describe things.

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