What an extraordinary sentimental journey Guido Maria Grillo’s new album is. Senso, recorded in direct drive, is proof that masterpieces can still come to life and destabilise us.
Flaring, elevating ourselves, walking impervious paths are just some of the experiences you can experiment while listening to Guido’s unique voice and the enchantment of his lyrics.
In the in-depth interview, he tells us about the genesis of such a timeless - yet necessary - album.
Senso has just been released, eight years after your previous album. In a heartfelt post you explained the reasons for the title of such a timeless work. It seems as if you no longer wanted to embellish the surface to face the listener. How did you manage to reach a satisfying result after years of work?
Senso is timeless in the sense that it does not reflect its time and by this I mean a rich range of categories related to genre, reference, writing, composing, arrangements, narrative and much more.
It has nothing to share, except its physical support which is totally useless these days, with its time because I don’t perceive it as mine, it doesn’t represent me at all with its aptitude, style, sentiment and affinity.
The title itself, Senso, wants to denounce the need to give a meaning to what we are, produce, choose or aim at. This album is certainly a political gesture, if you see it from a commitment perspective. This is the key word: commitment. In my opinion we are living in an era of total disengagement, emptiness, superficiality and ephemeral thoughts. It is a meaningless time, without history or stories to write, with no memory and when there is no memory you cannot built an identity. We float with our uncertain identity, easily subjected to coercion and supremacy.
It is undoubtable that this is a time without identities led by An Unconscious Identity obeying to a supreme laws: market, utility, money.
The first single Nessuna Cura is characterised by your hypnotic lyrics. Can you tell us something about the process that leads you towards such high lyrical levels?
Thank you, I really appreciate that. The creative process is a fascinating path, even if an impervious one. In order to produce art, poetry, Beauty, the instruments of our imagination are not appropriate. The philosopher Galimberti says that poets ‘dissolve’ by pushing themselves beyond the margins of reason to look at reality from a different perspective and to give things a different, irrational meaning. A delicate and dangerous process, because if you escape reason you might enter folly. To produce art, poetry and Beauty you need to be insane, too. From this folly, that inhabits us after all - which is plain to see when we are kids - you need to be able to go backwards, knowing that each time you will end up differently. When Beauty is potent, it shocks us forcing us to become something else. Let us think about the Stendhal Syndrome!
At the same time this folly needs discipline, otherwise it is mere spontaneity.
When you write a song there should be a moment when you find yourself crying uncontrollably, laughing your head off, crying out loud or throwing yourself about like a shaman. If this doesn’t happen, you are not going beyond the margins, you are doing a good job but it isn’t a work of art.
Some years ago, you published the Torino Chiama EP. How do you remember this collaboration experience with other singers and what do you think they donated to your songs?
It was an interesting parenthesis, a window on a reality I knew just partially: that Turin scene that produces, organises, moves and creates networks. The EP is a collection of new versions of songs that had already been published in my previous albums (except one live version). They were re-recorded side by side with each artist of that lively scene: Daniele Celona, Bianco, Cecilia, Marco Notari. The songs were granted a second life which mirrors their different styles. It was important to me to give a second chance to some of the songs I felt particularly bound to.
How do you think your theatrical experiences and your music nourish each other? Let us think about your show inspired by La Buona Novella written by De André, for example…
There is a continuous dialogue between the music I produce and the one I choose to perform. This dialogue is based on the fact I choose by affinity, sentiment, emotional involvement, never out of calculation. The things we care about are usually those that mirror our essence. I am fascinated by poems, lyricism, drama, melancholy, dark tones, fear, goodbyes and revolutions. I always end up there maybe because this is where I come from. La Buona Novella, is a perfect plastic synthesis of all that and while creating that show I simply matched my passion for that album and the period of time I spent studying it, as I wrote my philosophy thesis on the subject. It was entitled Lotta politica e sentimento religioso ne La buona novella di Fabrizio De André (Political fight and religious sentiment in La buona novella by Fabrizio De André).
I would like to end this interview by asking you about the way you will stage the live shows for Senso. What should we expect from the forthcoming dates?
After the introductory concert at the Teatro al Parco in Parma (19th April), the first part of the tour will be a little revolution. The string quintet, piano and voice will play in some of the major cities in Italy, in the squares, between monuments, inside an imaginary theatre called “Teatro di Gesso” (Chalk Theatre); to remind the audience of the material it was built from. It will be an encounter with those wonderful artistic and architectural works we see every day, but we no longer perceive. Incomparable sceneries. We will go back to the real meaning of the word “senso”. An usher will welcome the audience, creating stalls and galleries while we will perform the entire album. It will be organised as a theatre concert but our theatres will be the cities themselves. It is an experiment with an obvious cultural value, by using square and streets as they were used in the past, to share ideas and enrich people, not just as ephemeral paths. The first dates will be in May 2019 (1st Bologna, 11th Reggio Emilia, 12th Milan, 18th Parma) and all info will be shared as soon as available.