I had the pleasure to see Alessandro Ciminata playing live at Camden Assembly, a few days ago. It was the ideal occasion to get in touch with him and his music, listening live to his latest offerings and exploring more in-depth his production. I couldn’t help it, I wanted to ask him a few questions about his life, his way of making music and telling stories you can literally feel yourself part of. He’s a guy like me, after all, because he decided to pack his life and move from Italy to London. It’s been a journey, for him as for each of us, who took the same tough decision at some point.
London gives you the high of being part of such a huge melting pot. However, there are demons, all around, and for Alessandro these fears got shape in his last single released a few weeks ago.
“‘Demons’ is the second single I shared in 2017, the follow-up to ‘Last Call’. I tried to work on my sound following a precise direction, keeping it consistent with the idea I had in mind, although it’s a song that speaks a different language, for many reasons. It’s a very personal song, a metaphor to tell a story about fears and that anxiety we struggle with on a daily basis. You might have experienced the same, living in such a big city like London. We need to be independent, and face our life with a good dose of bravery. It’s not easy, to fight off our demons, is it?”
It certainly isn’t. We are also living tough times, don’t you think?
“Uncertainty is the leitmotif of our days, and this affects me to a certain extent, being myself a quite insecure person. ‘Demons’ is a more introspective song, if compared to the previous single, and reflects what my songwriting is at this stage of my life. ‘Last Call’ is a love song, where someone was simply asking to be loved a bit more. Something that naturally happens in a relationship, when things are not at their peak. I write music about what I would like to listen to, that’s my principle. So, yeah, we live uncertain times and this is made clear in my songwriting. Also, I find it quite curious that what years ago was considered more alternative as a way to write music, nowadays is definitely more present in our culture and in music production too. My next single will follow this path too…”
Oh, there’s a new single coming up soon, then. What will that be about?
“… I can’t really tell you anything. Not yet.” (He smiles)
Anxiety, besides mental health, seems to be a hot topic for bands and songwriters nowadays. Do you feel aligned with some other musicians writing about this specific aspect?
“Fear plays a major role today and I can see bits of my songwriting drawing from artists I listen to, as well as my own experiences. There’s a lot going on in the world, and I can see, as you mentioned, a lot of artists genuinely talking to the heart of people out there about mental health, anxiety, a not better-explained fear of not making it. The video for ‘Demons’ itself is a breakdown of people and their way of hiding or expressing their feelings and, sometimes, their struggle.”
Eyes can hide demons, that’s a fact. Moving to Alessandro Ciminata as an artist, I was wondering how you started being a musician and a songwriter. Could you tell me something more about this?
“I started as a songwriter and then kind of reinvented myself. I moved to London nearly five years ago and I found in this city that overwhelming source of influences and inspiration that made it the most amazing place, probably in the whole world. There’s everything for everyone, in here. Of course, it’s not easy, especially when you want to do it yourself both as a musician and to promote your image around. You’re a tiny voice and you try to be heard. And…”
“I can identify a change of direction – musically speaking – after the first batch of songs I had released in the past. I was determined by an event in particular. I bought this little sampler from Amazon on a special offer. I didn’t even know what that was about. That’s when I started thinking about a different way of writing music. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my guitar as a faithful companion, although now I play around with loops and riffs and I love that dark sound of synths you might have caught in my latest tracks.”
What’s in the background? Do you have any artists you always carry around as part of your influences and favourite stuff to listen to?
“I always say I became a singer-songwriter because of John Mayer. I listened to him every day for ages. His music inspired my songwriting and I cannot deny I started learning how to play guitar because of him. I slightly changed my angle once I moved here in the UK. Being exposed to a huge variety of bands and artists helped me to expand my listenings. I remember going to my first gigs here and seeing the likes of Alex Vargas when he was still unknown and used to play little stages with his acoustic guitar only. Starting from there I got to know other artists too, such as Jack Garratt, who was actually playing drums for Alex. I am a big fan of the label Communion too, so I try to be at as many of their gigs as I can; my producer works with Communion’s Joseph J. Jones, another artist I’m listening to quite often, lately.”
How does your writing happen?
“I write music starting from a feeling. I try to put it down in music. It’s almost never happened to me, to start from the lyrics, that comes after, and the storytelling is influenced by the sentiment of my music. When I wrote ‘Demons’, I thought that was meant to be part of an EP, although ‘Last Call’ changed a bit my perspective so I’m still not sure whether these first tracks will be part of something more solid in the future, or not. I guess I will keep working on my ideas for now, and see what happens.
As I like to say, your life is in your hands.
“Definitely! It’s a journey, full of intricacies, but I am excited to see what is on the horizon.”
Alessandro is a smiley guy, full of hopes and – despite those demons knocking at his door from time to time – he is determined to see what will happen next. Starting from a batch of new live dates, first of which will be at London’s The Islington on July 15th (click here for details). Go and see him playing his music live, you won’t be disappointed.