This Charming Man: Interview with Giorgio Tuma

Giorgio Tuma, from Lecce, grew up listening to bands like The  Clash, Stereolab, Nick Drake, The Beach Boys and many others. He began writing songs with all of these influences in mind and his lyrics deal mostly with childhood memories mixed with references to the fantasy worlds of fairs, roller coasters and circuses. After releasing the beautiful pop LP “In the Morning We’ll Meet”,  he produced a number of collaborative singles, working with the likes of Lena Karlsson (Komeda),Laetitia Sadier and Malik Moore of The Lions. He recently released his simply beautiful new album “This Life Denied Me Your Love”, in the process continuing to experiment and collaborate and producing his most mature work to date. There’s no doubt that Gio is an extremely talented and charming man, and self-effacing to a fault – so if he won’t big himself up we certainly will! Check out the new disc and track back to his older works from there, you’ll certainly enjoy your journey.

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Hi Giorgio, I’m really enjoying the new album. It’s got a dreamlike quality and I guess there’s maybe an undertow of sadness or unease – would you think that was a fair description and was that the intention when you started out?

 Yes, it’s a sad album…full of melancholy and with a big desire of beauty and love. Anyway, it’s a blue album.

You’ve got some fantastic collaborators on the record – Laetitia Sadier, Matilde Davoli et al. How did those come about?

I knew Matilde when we were really young, Matilde collaborated with me since my first album, we’ve the same big passion and love for music. with Laetitia I have to say thanks to my label that sent to her my album and then when we met…she appreciated so much my songs and from there was born a beautiful collaboration and a big friendship.

Are you happy with the finished result? what’s your favourite song on the album?

I’m really happy for the result, of course…when I started I never could imagine that one day   I’d been able to do a record like “this life denied me your love”, ’cause I know my limits and my not so big abilities…so, with a lot of patience and time and an important help from beautiful musicians (Mike Andrews, Laetitia, Massi Giannuzzi, Giuseppe Manta, Matilde, Stefano Manca, Giuseppe Magagnino) I finished this complicated album. My favourite track is “Maude Hope”.

Your sound has changed markedly on this LP, was it obvious to you that it was going to be different from the start? was that the intention? 

Of course, my great concern was to not be able to have a modern sound, ’cause today there are a lot of incredible beautiful records with a stunning sound, also closed to my music…and the most important thing, for me today, is to concentrate each effort on the production of sound to enhance the beauty of the song.

What do you mean by “foxes don’t lie”?

It’s a long story that concerns something about a member of fleet foxes ( a group that I totally love).Anyway, nothing of interesting to know (although for me it was important), I only can say: “foxes don’t lie, my dear christian”.

I ask this to lots of non-native English speakers – why do you sing in English? does it seem natural based on the music you loved/grew up with? do you consider working in Italian?

I’m 100% Italian with the arrangements (and you can hear well the big influences of the Italian soundtracks inside my music), but for the rest I feel as a folk singer/songwriter, I’m really sorry for my English pronunciation, I did my best to sing well with the lyrics and I hope to do always better. I totally love English and i want to continue with this language ’cause Nick Drake, The Clash, Brian Wilson, Tim Buckley, Sufjan Stevens sing in English…and me too 🙂

Your sound, across your albums, seems to fit really well with the Elefant sound/ethos – as a record label what are they like to work with?  

I can say that almost all my records wouldn’t have existed without Elefant Records. they helped me so much to make reality of my musical ideas….I have no more words to thanks them and their incredible work and help on my music.

What artists have had the biggest influence on you and why?

The Clash, I discovered them at the age of 12 and my life changed forever. Stereolab – the first song that i discovered was Ping Pong and my life changed for the second time. Nick Drake – I haven’t words to say thanks to this magnificent musician, his music saved my life. Bill Evans – I started to hear his music ten years ago, his  sensitivity is  one of the most important things of my life. Maurice Ravel – his music cures my heart and soul.

What is your earliest musical memory or what is the first song you remember from childhood that you loved?

I tried a lot of times to remember my earliest musical memory – for sure some of these 7″  that my brothers had and that i heard when I was a child  – Claudio Cecchetto – Gioca Jouer, Gazebo – I Like Chopin and Falco – Der Kommissar.

What is your biggest fear?  

I have a lot of fears, a lot…

What song (if any) by another artist do you wish you had written and why?

There are millions of songs of other artists that I would have wanted to write…I think that i never would finish the list if i start it..:-)

Do you feel bands and artists outside of the UK/USA get the coverage they deserve in those countries?

OK, I can tell you I think it’s really difficult to get any airplay in the UK/US or to get ot play festivals or clubs but if a musician is really good then soon or later they’ll find their place and their audience, for example Kings Of Convenience but also many others.

What frustrates you?

To be unable  to make  music my job.

Name a song that makes you happy and why?

Mind Mischief by  Tame Impala, because the sound and the melodies are great and when I hear it I imagine a second youth with a lot of beautiful moments and stories  that never  really existed,  it’s so strange to explain…especially in English 🙂

What are your favourite current artists?

Jamie Isaac and James Blake: two English great young musicians with incredible songs and beautiful vocals.

What, outside of music, influences your art?

The movies are really important in my life. I dedicated two songs to Ingmar Bergman and Elia Kazan on my last record. I watch something like ten movies each month, they make me feel good.

Do you collect anything?

No, I haven’t that kind of passion…but if  I was rich certainly i would like to collect vintage drums.

What songs would you like to have played at your funeral?

Nick Drake –  Parasite.

What question would you like to be asked that you never are? and what would be your answer?

a: If you can choose to be a musician, what musician would want to be?
b:  Pharrell Williams.

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