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Slivovitz

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Slivovitz from 2018

MSJ:
Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a "highlight reel?"
Derek Di Perri:We have been playing together for some years now. In the very beginning we started out more as an ethno – funk band, but we eventually added some jazzier element in the mix. We’ve published five records so far (four of them with Moonjune Records), and we’ve been blessed to play in some great and exciting venues in Europe (Sziget Festival, Nisville Jazz Festival, for instance) and beyond. We are currently putting Asia within our target.

Riccardo Villari: I started as a young kid playing classical music. Then as a teenager I got involved in blues, jazz, rock, electronic…and eventually  in whatever I music I liked.

Pietro Santangel: My father’s a doctor but he has always played piano. My older brother plays guitar, and the little one plays drums. I’ve never known life without music and started to play saxophone around the age of 10. I remember the first time I play with Marcello Giannini, it was a summer on the beach. I was 21, and he was just a couple of year younger. Then we met again in Naples the following autumn. He told me that he had recently formed a band with some guys, one of them (Riccardo) was already a friend of mine. Guess what was the name of the band?

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Derek Di Perri: As I actually do work as a lawyer. I’d probably be doing the same kind of profession. I don’t know if I were doing it in the same place, though. Moreover, I’d devote much more time to other interests of mine.

Ciro Riccardi: I would be an activist in some political movement.

Riccardo?Villari: I’d probably be a teacher or a lawyer.

Pietro Santangel: I have a degree in Physics. I definitely would have been a scientist.

MSJ:
How did the name of the group originate?
Derek Di Perri: During our very first rehearsals together, an Hungarian friend of ours brought us a bottle of Slivovitz as a present. On that occasion it was unanimously decided to adopt it also as the name of the band.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
Derek Di Perri: My main musical influences are The Rolling Stones and John Popper. With Slivovitz I play stuff which is very different from those artists' output, but at least I try to convey their kind of attitude in my playing.

Ciro Riccardi: classic Neapolitan music, Miles Davis, psychedelic rock from ‘60s

Riccardo Villari: Hendrix, Indian classical music, Balkan music, Coltrane, hip-hop.

Pietro Santangel: I grew up listening to classical music and Neapolitan songwriters like Pino Daniele (the saxophonist James Senese was an outstanding feature in his records…) with my father. Then my brother started to play guitar. and someone give him as a gift a videotape which featured different footage of both BB King and the whole live concert Does Humour Belong in Music? by Frank Zappa. That kind of music shocked me. As I grew up I was easily attracted by jazz music, as a result of my studies as a saxophone player. I’ve loved all the Masada works by John Zorn.

MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
Derek Di Perri: Reviewers have often been very kind with us. I was struck by a reviewer of the record All You Can Eat writing that: “Hearing this album is like turning the corner of a busy street and walking right into the one you’ve awaited all your life” (Gary Travis Jr – The jazz Owl).

Riccardo Villari: “I’ve done countless wonderful f***s with your music on."

Pietro Santangel: I don’t remember when, but after a concert a guy came to me and said :“the package was delivered." I don’t know why but it was so fulfilling.

MSJ:
What's ahead for you?
Derek Di Perri:That’s not easy to say for the time being. After having played in Thailand, we’d really like to break in also in other parts of the far east, where we have a feeling that a broader audience could appreciate our work. But let’s see. 


Ciro Riccardi: Beautiful music

Riccardo Villari: recording a new album and getting better and better as a musician…and maybe as man.

Pietro Santangel: the future.

MSJ:
I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Derek Di Perri:That’s another difficult question to answer. In fact, in the band we’ve never set a particular kind of music to be the one that the band should focus on. Everyone in the band has his musical preferences, and finding a common ground in the compositional and/or arrangement process is always a tricky and fascinating experience.

Ciro Riccardi: breathtaking

Riccardo Villari: eclectic.

Pietro Santangel: I personally think that our music is “deep” and try to go “deep." I always hope that I can write a bassline and a theme that intrigues people, so that they initially start to think, asking “what am I listening to?” And while they're trying to answer this question they eventually find themselves “dancing."

MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?
Derek Di Perri: I think it would be very interesting to play and/or to meet with Deti Picasso and/or Inna Zhelannaya, for instance. There are the first ones that came on top of my head, but, as everyone else in the band, I could name hundreds of other musicians.

Ciro Riccardi: I would like to play with many musicians, but if I have to choose one I would say Herbie Hancock

Riccardo Villari: Kendrick Lamarr, Boban Markovic.

MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
Derek Di Perri: I enjoy very much the idea of digital distribution system, because it makes even more obscure music much more reachable. However, if we look at the figures, the piracy practices connected thereto led to a big damage for the music industry, which as a matter of fact is shrinking. Therefore, in the end illegal downloading practices are more likely to be a hindrance rather than a help.  


Ciro Riccardi: I think that downloading and streaming of music, legal or illegal, is a fact. Musicians like us don't earn much from Spotify or Youtube, not a big difference with illegal downloading. So I think that in this historical moment musicians use it as a promotional channel: the more it spreads, the better is for an artist.

Riccardo Villari: neither.

Pietro Santangel: It depends on the musical genre.

MSJ:
In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
Derek Di Perri: I don’t think that’s a big issue as far as such recordings are not carried out in a professional manner so as to be in direct competition with the products released by legitimate rights holders (which are often the artists themselves).

Riccardo Villari: I like it. I don’t like too many people recording with their smart-phones because honestly they look dumb.

Ciro Riccardi: This is slightly different, because that material is not selected by the artist, not approved. It is a bit annoying, even more if somebody earns money.

Pietro Santangel: I prefer when they just enjoy the show

MSJ:
If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Derek Di Perri: Anyone using samples for the sake of it and without any real artistic purpose.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Derek Di Perri: First of all Charlie Watts on drums, because his playing is simple, subtle and powerful at the same time. Then I’d say Howard Levy, who I personally rate as the best musician on planet Earth. In the guitar slot I’d do Jack White.  This trio would be really interesting to hear on stage, wouldn’t it?


Pietro Santangel: Man this is so hard to decide…

MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Derek Di Perri: If I were artistic director of some festival, I’d try to invite interesting European artists such as Deti Picasso, Lajko Felix, Inna Zhelannaya, Iva Bittova, and.. Slivovitz

Pietro Santangel: Sons of Kemet, Rabih Abou Khali (world stage) – Ellery Eskelin, Steve Coleman (jazz stage)  - Krokofant, Causa Sui (rock stage) – Anderson Paak, Thundercat (rnb stage)

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

Riccardo Villari: Childish Gambino


Pietro Santangel: Sons of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?

Derek Di Perri: Yes, mostly essays on politics, economics, history or literature. There are two books that I suggest to read, and possibly one after the other: an essay by Timothy Snyder entitled “Bloodlands”, and a novel by Vasilji Grossmann entitled “Life And Destiny."

Riccardo Villari: I’m reading “Le rouge et le noir” by Stendhal.


Pietro Santangel: The Omnivore’s Dilemma - Micheal Pollan,  Neuromancer - William Gibson

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Derek Di Perri: The last memorable one is The Rolling Stones in Paris last October. The opening act, Cage The Elephant, was really impressive, as well, and I thoroughly enjoyed their show. I probably went to some other gig afterwards, but, to be honest, I don’t remember any of them!

 

Riccardo Villari: Sandro Joyeux, a franco-algerian-italian griot singer (Mali music)

MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
Derek Di Perri:I remember the first rock concert. That was of an Italian band called "Litfiba," which is still going strong nowadays. I’d never experienced such an atmosphere before. Ot was really a revelation. But I think that this feeling applies to anyone attending for the first time a proper rock gig (unfortunately to my understanding such kind of gig is getting rarer and rarer). 


Ciro Riccardi: Vasco Rossi, an Italiana rock singer in 1982


Pietro Santangel: My mother took me to see James Senese in the 80s

MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
Derek Di Perri: The “Harp Shield” pedal by Lone Wolf Blues Company seems to be very effective in preventing feedback on distorted harmonica. So far, so good, I’d say.


Ciro Riccardi: My new Carol brass flugelhorn is just amazing.


Pietro Santangel: I’m deeply into my new Korg Minilogue synthesizer, and I’m studying a little bit of clarinet I bought in the street for a few Euros.

MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Derek Di Perri:I like several songs by The Verve and Richard Ashcroft, but maybe that’s not guilty enough, is it?


Ciro Riccardi: Dancing loud reggae music on the beach until dawn


Pietro Santangel: Singing loud “Best of My Love” by the emotions, alone in my car.

MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Derek Di Perri: I suspect this moment has yet to come, but may be not so far!
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Derek Di Perri: One of them would definitely be Silvio Berlusconi. One other maybe Charlie Watts. And the third would be George Orwell.


Ciro Riccardi: Herman Melville, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Thelonious Monk


Pietro Santangel: Richard Feynman, Juddi Krishnamurti and John Coltrane

MSJ:
What would be on the menu?
Derek Di Perri: Italian food, of course!


Ciro Riccardi: fish soup, white wine, mussels

 

Pietro Santangel: Penne all’arrabbiata and red wine

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Derek Di Perri: Yes: always double check your sources, people! Media are very, very manipulative these days!
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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