22-year-old Italian folk singer Violetta Zironi started writing songs at 16-years-old. Since she has since toured with Italian-English solo artist, Jack Savoretti. Her latest release ‘Toast’ is her new single from her upcoming EP ‘Half Moon Lane’ produced by Tim Tautorat (The Kooks). ‘Toast’ is an emotive track exploring the fear of vulnerability, expressing a frank and playful story. Violetta will be performing in America for the first time at SXSW festival in Austin in March and will be performing the Zermatt Unplugged festival, Switzerland in April.
Hi Violetta! To start with, how did you start making music?
Hi! I started playing piano at the age of 5 under advice of my dad. He is a musician as a hobby, but very passionate about it, so he always gave me inputs. I played piano for 11 years and in the meanwhile I approached the guitar and started singing. At the age of 16 I started writing my first songs and performing in small venues.
Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with music when you were growing up?
Music was really important to me while growing up. I used to look up at singers and artists and wanted to be like them. I remember the first time I realised I loved country music was after watching Back to the Future, the scene where Marty McFly plays Johnny B. Goode. I must have been 7 back then and watching that scene just made me dream. As a teenager I listened to a lot of rock’n’roll, and that was a way for me to learn English as well. As a teenager it wasn’t always easy to follow my musical dream, as people my age would just see me as a bit of a freak, and wouldn’t really be supportive. I spent a lot of time in my room practicing and listening to a lot of records. Where I grew up is not really an artistic/musical area, so making original music and having some ambitions could have been a bit weird.
Who are the artists that you listened to growing up that you feel have really impacted your music now?
Growing up I listened to a lot of country and folk, as in Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, but also a lot of blues and rock’n’roll. These genres have definitely effected my music now. And believe it or not I was a big punk rock fan! Green Day, Ramones, The Clash etc. When I got a little bit older I discovered my Italian musical background and stared listening to Italian songwriter from the 60’s, such as Luigi Tenco, Gino Paoli, Bruno Lauzi.
How would you describe your music to someone who’d never heard it before?
I would tell them to imagine folky sounding songs with a pinch of Italian romance. Telling stories about travels and adventures of an individual in the world.
Can you tell us about the first song you ever wrote? Do you remember when you wrote it?
I wrote my first song at the age of 16, and it was for a competition I want to participate with the band I was playing with. It was a bluesy sounding tune and I remember it talking about my first day in a new school. It wasn’t very good at all but my mum still says she loved it!
You’ve been on tour with Jack Savoretti – what was it like embarking on a big tour? What was the best part about it?
Touring with Jack has been one of the most exciting adventures in my life. It happened almost randomly as I was writing with his guitarist, Pedro, who introduced me to Jack, who then invited me to join me on tour with him, first as a support act, then as a special guest for a duet with him on stage. Touring with Jack made me aware of a whole new world of music that was happening outside of Italy. It made me realise that there would have been also a different path to follow to achieve my goals. Until that moment I was completely unaware of the international music industry, and how a professional tour works, with an amazing crew and really good musicians. have to say the best part of it at the time was that touring with Savoretti and his band made me feel a bit like a real rockstar!
Jack was one of the first people to ever believe in me as an artist, and he gave me the chance to perform on some of the most important stages and introduced me to people that have changed my life.
What is the story behind your latest single ‘Toast’? Can you talk us through the lyrics?
‘Toast’ has a funny story behind it! The original idea was written 5 years ago by my boyfriend. He told me he was just having a bit of a lonely time in his life and really wanted to finally meet someone who would “stay for breakfast”. Last year he told me about it and gave me the lyrics. I really loved them and felt I really represent them. So together we decided to finish the song. I adapted the lyrics myself and composed a nice rolling riff that would express the honesty and melancholy of the concept behind the lyrics. This song is about being emotionally removed from any relationship, being afraid to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there. When stealing hearts, all you really want is someone to steal yours.
You’ve travelled quite a bit over the last few years – how do you think you’ve developed as an artist throughout this journey?
The more I travelled the more I learned. Not only about new cultures, places, people, but also about myself. Getting to know other ways of living and being makes you reflect about yourself and understand better the peculiarities of your background. And once you know very well yourself it will be easy to understand and relate to other different people. Traveling has taught me this. It hasn’t always been easy, things turn out scary and unexpected sometimes, but that is some kind of lesson too. Music wise, during my travels I had the chance to collaborate with lots of different artists, write songs with them and learn from them. That has been incredibly important for my artistic development.
You spent some time in London between your travels, which inspired your latest EP ‘Half Moon Lane’ – can you tell us about this?
London was my home between 2016-2017. I lived in the beautiful area of Herne Hill, in South London and my road was called Half Moon Lane. It already is a really poetic name for a road, but it also looked like it just came out of a fairy tale. In the train station there was a colourful painted piano that anyone could play but no one really dared to, except for an old man wearing a wig and used woman’s clothes who would just play you a song every time you’s walk past. And a big tree at the start of the road was constantly enlightened just like if it was always Christmas. When I wasn’t traveling I was staying there and I would call that place home. For me it represented comfort and a happy place that reminded me just of my old home town back in Italy. I also many of my songs during my stay at Half Moon Lane.
Who would it be your dream to collaborate with and why?
My collaboration dream would be a duet with Sir Paul McCartney. I just love the honesty of his songs, his smooth voice and I just think he managed to change the history of music.
What are you most looking forward to that’s coming up this year? Where can we catch you live in 2018?
I am definitely looking forward to performing in America for the first time at SXSW festival in Austin in March. I will also play Zermatt Unplugged Festival in Switzerland in April, which should be very cool as well! And finally I cannot wait for my first EP to be out in February.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out in music who wants to do similar kind of things to you?
I would just suggest never to stop learning. We might think we know what we want and who we are artistically but it takes a lot of research and knowledge of different things before we actually figure out ourselves. I think I have learned that honesty and truth in what we say and do will just do us the best, better than any built up character.
Thanks so much Violetta!
Listen to Violetta’s latest release ‘Toast’ below: