“European music mirrors our way of being together”
Jack Savoretti, a British author, composer and interpreter whose album Singing To Strangers earned him a global recognition, talks about the symbolic reach of his latest work Europiana, his musical dream, ranked at the top of UK charts.
By Bettina Bush Mignanego05 août 2021
While Made in Italy is often mentioned, Made in Europe is scarcely spoken of. The recording artist Jack Savoretti, a European citizen in the literal sense, managed to do so. Born in London and raised in Italy, he recently finished his latest album titled Europiana (EMI Records / Polydor X Universal Music), ranked at the top of UK charts. Confirming his one-of-a-kind talent, he had already been recognized with his previous album Singing to Strangers, launched in 2019. With Europiana and its eleven titles recorded at the famous Abbey Road studios, Jack Savoretti shares his most intimate thoughts on the hopes he nourishes, his concept of living together, his nostalgia of a childhood spent on the shores of the Mediterranean. In an exclusive interview, he shares what drives his enthusiasm towards what he calls European music.
You left a strong mark while creating and recording the song Everything will be fine, live on Instagram during lockdown, alongside your fans. This song accompanied us all during the toughest months of 2020. You have this ability to unite. Does your European spirit drive this energy?
My roots are multiple. My father is Italian, my mother is British with German, Jewish, Austrian, and Polish roots, I lived in Switzerland, in Italy, I feel one hundred per cent European. Now, if we move from my intimate roots to music, what we can call European music has its own attributes. It’s a different genre from American music, which is based on freedom and often accompanied with a political message. In Europe, it’s different. Music mirrors a way of being together, of celebrating, of remembering. It’s what makes it unique. And as for its inspiration, you turn to America to find blues, rock, jazz, funk, disco. But what underlies European music is different. It conveys values of inclusion, culture, union. Yet, it has often remained in the shadow of American music and was little understood. From Mina to Patty Pravo, even to Julio Iglesias or the Gipsy Kings! I wanted to give a name to this music genre, and Europiana was born, from a word I invented.
You qualified this album as a journey full of hope: why?
It’s what I needed when I wrote it, and it begins with hope. In Europe, over the last few years, the dividing discourses became a majority. Those discourses tended to exclude. I wanted to adopt the opposing view, to tell how alike we are. I thought about those who voted in favor of Brexit in the UK, celebrating parties and weddings with the music of Abba or of the Gipsy Kings… Ultimately, music exists to celebrate and unite. And I always admired those who wanted to unite people rather than separate them. I feel like a child of Europe. And the more I travel, the more I am astonished by what Europe managed to accomplish. There is peace which does not exist in other parts of the world. Therefore, Brexit was difficult to go through…
Were you in the UK when you wrote this album?
Yes, in my house in England. I finished the album with the song War of Words, which I dedicated to my children. The first sound of the album begins with the voices of my wife and ends with those of my son and daughter. They are the foundations of this soundtrack, which I imagined as the journey we were not able to take because of lockdown. A journey towards places that are dearest to me, towards the most beautiful music related to my most treasured memories, to childhood. This led me to the Mediterranean and Portofino. That’s where I was baptized, in the Divo Martino church. I spent summers of my childhood there, I listened to my first songs, at the Scafandro Bar, today the Portofino Bistrot, with the barman Mauro who played his cassettes for me. He was my first music teacher.
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Has music helped during tough times?
I believe the first thing it can offer is hope. Music connects you to people, to something greater than yourself. Music makes you think, calms you, makes you travel in time, helps you to remember and to look at the past to better understand how to move forward. I don’t have a lot of imagination. I write about what I have seen and lived. My creative functioning can be similar to a photo reporter’s rather than to a novelist. I think like a journalist. I like telling about states of mind, sadness, love, melancholy.
How did you go through this pandemic?
In many ways. With fears, of course, while trying to make music that could resonate positively in these difficult times. My father told me that Italians, over the first weeks of the pandemic in 2020, felt abandoned, and very alone. He then suggested to do something for my fans. To not let them down. I had the idea to write this song with them on Instagram live. It was created in only two days.
You transitioned from guitar to piano on this album. Why?
I don’t know exactly why. Sometimes in life, we take off our sneakers and put on a nice pair of leather shoes. For me, guitar represents this easiness, while piano is like putting on a jacket, it makes you into another person. This year, I devoted myself to piano, to improve, practice, but I do not consider myself a musician, I don’t know the keys. I use music to express myself, to work.
What is your next big milestone?
It is very difficult to organize a tour at the moment. We will do it in 2022, starting with Milano and then other Italian cities, including Genova of course, and then Europe and many dates in the UK. We will certainly improvise a bit according to timing…
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