AND THE ITALIAN AUTHOR SONG
Interview by Roberto Sironi
Let’s start from the beginning: who is Luisa Melis?
Roman, class 64. Classical studies. Up to the age of 30 I was interested a little in all musical genres, from rock to pop to songwriting, following the artists both in the studio and live.
Then I entered as a Booking and Management manager in a record company that has always dealt mainly with world music. There I had the opportunity to grow a lot and to deepen my knowledge of the management of an artist. At the same time I took care of the artistic direction and organization of various festivals up to the De Andre´ Award, which I have been following since 2004.
Your father, Ennio Melis, was one of the most important personalities in the Italian discography, father of songwriters, directors of the Italian RCA for many years and much more! What did he represent to you besides being your father?
A man who has always stubbornly followed his “artistic intuitions”, a man of great culture and broad views.
He knew how to surround himself with collaborators who were equally “enthusiastic” about their work. He was also able to create synergy between the artists themselves, which was not very usual in Italy at the time.
Just think of Ennio Morricone as an arranger of pop songs.
Many of the great Italian songwriters were born and raised with him: Conte, De Gregori, Venditti… He had a strong ability to see beyond, a rare gift like that of never giving up on first failures. I always like to remember Piero Ciampi, an artist he has always loved and supported, unknown in life and today instead celebrated for the great poet he was.
Lastly, I have always admired his intellectual honesty and sincere passion in everything he did.
What is the author’s song for you today? Does it still have a future or has it slipped into the shadows of Italian music and beyond?
I believe that the songwriters, who then make the “songwriting” in its most classic definition, that is with a particular attention to the “text”, are there and are also good. However, I believe that a musical fragmentation is being experienced, in the sense that many new musical genres and new approaches to music and the way of communicating have been born. Many are the “fashion” of a moment, others are or are taking root with more force. I think some of them do “songwriting” but leaning on different rhythms.
Do you think there is a difference between a songwriter and a poet?
Well, the singer-songwriter writes, not always, poetic texts. The poet writes poetry. Sometimes the two things coincide.
In your opinion and your experience, what are the musical novelties that have an important weight in this current situation?
Honestly, I don’t see any big news at the moment.
Is music in general still a noble art or is it just a market? What idea did you get?
I believe it is both. There are artists and there are “entrepreneurs” in the sense that they hope to make money without knowing even a musical note.
In recent years, at least as I see it, in Italy women in music are more complete and I would say even better than men… They have a more pronounced personality, more imagination and charm! If I’m not mistaken in the last four editions of the De André Prize, three have been won by women!… What do you think?
I think in the end the situation is quite balanced.
Speaking of the Fabrizio De André Award, let’s talk about it!… How was it born?
The Prize was born 20 years ago in Rome. It is an award that tries to give voice, also through a whole series of collateral initiatives, to new songwriters, free to express themselves through their favorite musical genre. Over the years we have grown a lot and I believe that the Prize is now an important event in the Italian music scene, just think that in 2020 more than 1800 applications for participation were received.
The Prize includes two other sections, one for painting and the other for poetry. Why?
De Andre´ was a poet, songwriter, but certainly a poet. So the “poetry” section has existed since 2004. Over the years I have also wanted to add painting, because ‘De Andre’s works are very suitable for reinterpreting on canvas.
Could the Award include other Sections in the future?
Yes, we’re actually thinking about it. The next one could be “photography”, but I hope more will be added later.
What advice would you give to young Italian artists who would like to pursue a musical career?
To fight !!!