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In this historical period where everything is fluid and there is a tendency to dare and not to label, where gender boundaries no longer exist, Alex Britti puts in the acoustic album Mojo his very advanced rhythmic and harmonic sensitivity with the unmistakable style and uniqueness of the sound of his guitar, takes its cue from the blues, but drawing heavily from any genre both past and present, thus recreating a sort of melting pot of fluidity .
Alex finally an acoustic album: how long have you thought about it?
For many years. If you think about it, I’ve always put some instrumental between one song and another. I felt the need more and more and then I realized I was more prolific musically from an acoustic point of view especially in recent years. The songs are in the drawer. Mojo it is also taking stock of the situation: you know I have a 5-year-old son and I haven’t released an album for 5 years. Now I’m ripe for a guitar record. I want to please everyone and playing for many years in clubs was a great experience: the audience was made up of only men and everyone was looking at my fingers, so it was mostly guitarists. Now I want to make music for everyone.
Were these pieces born over a long period of time or the result of a recent creative urgency? The slow pace of the pandemic was instrumental in achieving it Mojo?
The pandemic has nothing to do with it. I always write and produce. They were born a little before the pandemic. But the drawer is full of both songs and unreleased instrumental pieces.
If a teenager asked you what Blues is and who is a bluesman what would you say?
First of all not to speak in the present because as a philosophy it still exists but as a musical genre probably not. Pure blues looks to the past. Purists do things that have already been played and arrangements that have already been arranged. It existed until the 1970s. Muddy Waters or BB King was not looking back but to the future. Miles Davis and John Coltrane are the precursors of that Jazz which today is the good living room that looks to the past. Today the Blues is experimentation. The closest thing is American rap which has new sounds.
Because Mojo? Is it a reference to the concept of prayer that comes from Africa? Or for the magic they gave him, among others, Muddy Waters and Johnny Winter?
The second. Mojo catapults you into a very specific world: blues but also one of experimentation. It is the South of the United States. That South is still now a melting pot of cultures, those who later became Americans come from there. There were French, Hispanics, Africans… cultures that created chachun and tex mex. It was not sought, it was spontaneous experimentation as I believe mine is.
In the first passage, S_Funkthere is a distorted voice in the background: is it the submission of the voice to the guitar?
There are a lot of noises to me, including a vaguely sexy woman’s voice. It is the start of a record that embraces many sounds. For me it is the voice of the station and the airport, it is the moment of departure.
I can say that Insomnia is temporally the most crossover song on the album, in the sense that it is a time travel from the past to the present?
It is the typical citation of a traditional blues revisited with ironic sounds. My irony becomes dissonance. I like to smile and think about when you can’t sleep and all thoughts that are ordinary during the day become negative and distorted at night.
Sweet Swabian it seems to have the pace of an allegretto in some passages. Seeing the title, does it have a dedication?
It starts from my harmonic research, a game between blues and classical music. You’re right, the Operetta is there. I aim for classical sounds which for me is Giuseppe Verdi but also Ennio Morricone. The atmosphere is sweet and gentle. I was looking for a title and I listened to it in the car with my son: he always asked me for it but not having a title to make me understand that he wanted to hear it, he hummed it to me. I asked what he would call her and he told me sweet Sveva who is her school sweetheart. Even their teachers know it.
The Train to Rome gives me the sense of the challenge of the train to Yuma: it seems like a journey from your adolescence to today, leaving a city with international sounds and making it truly caput mudi.
Absolutely. With a feeling of well-being and contentment. The title represents the train home. When you are out and about every day take a train and go conquer the city where you will play, in a good way of course, go have fun. But when you come home, the feeling is one of joy and healthy rest after a victory. It is a chromatic piece.
Amsterdam, Rome and Tuscany: three special places for you?
Yes. Three important places. I lived in Amsterdam as a boy, I have friends and children of friends who have grown up. Rome is my city. Tuscany has it all, it is the real center of Italy. Geographically it is Rome but culturally the Roman is a little more South, Italy changes under Florence. Tuscany has it all.
The river Po carries with it an important blues tradition: today it remains a point of reference in your opinion or is it history?
There are many places for the Blues, even Rome is in good shape. Milan is more Rock and psychedelic. In Rome we had a talent like Roberto Ciotti.
On a song like Breath Didn’t you want to put a voice in it, even if only made up of voices without words?
No. It was already full of guitars.
About West & Co: in Leone’s film would you have been the Good, the Ugly or the Bad?
I don’t know … a little bit of all three. Like when I play blues guitar. Blues is a deliberately bad sound.
A curiosity: how many guitars do you have and how many have you used in Mojo?
I am about 60. Now I have calmed down, I have even reached a hundred. Some I sold, others gave away: I don’t collect them, I use practically all of the ones I have. In Mojo I only used one: when I will listen to it again in a few years I want to remember it also as the album of a specific guitar.
What will happen in the summer? Do you have any plans as a songwriter?
I’m around Festivals with Mojo but I also do something pop. I have two bands with two repertoires. For now, nothing is in anticipation of songwriting. I let my ideas and instincts settle, I took notes until recently now I think about the tour. After all, we’ll talk about it again in the fall.