It’s the final Monday of April and we’ve got a brand new Track of the Week. BIMM London Alumnus Alessandro Valente has been releasing a song a month for his EP O – each song is named after a season. We’ve had ‘Fall’, ‘Winter’, and the latest release ‘Spring’, and can’t wait for ‘Summer’ to be released soon.
Take a listen to his releases so far, and discover more about the EP below.
What was your inspiration when you began writing the EP?
The EP is called O (circle) and is composed of four songs. The concept behind it is the relation between the flow of seasons and my mood.
I wrote ‘Spring’ first, but I didn’t have the idea of the entire EP until I wrote the second song, ‘Fall’. I realised I didn’t want to be sad and closed in on myself just because the sky was grey and the rain was falling down constantly. That rain became a shower for my soul. I tend to forget that I have a mind full of colours for me to paint the world as I like.
The EP has hidden meanings. Each season could be related to a period of my life. Spring is my childhood, Summer goes from adolescence through the present. Fall and Winter are postcards from my future.
At the same time, I used seasons as allegories for emotions and feelings. Spring is the joy of curiosity, an explosion of colours, Summer is interior happiness, a nostalgic memory. Autumn is the acceptance of sad moments as they are part of a bigger picture in the circle of life. Winter reflects how the power of love overcomes the coldness in my mind.
All these faces of this project reflect my constant pursuit of happiness that led to the resolution that it is within myself and the people I love. It is a perspective. A state of mind.
Are there any artists that inspire you when writing?
I don’t usually have a reference track or artist when I write a new song. I prefer to follow the vibes of the theme I want to write about.
I believe that when we listen to music, our brains analyse and subconsciously learn the songs we love. I listen to many different styles of music. When it comes to writing, I try to write songs I would add to my playlist. Sometimes, I play a chord progression for a new song and then I realise I already heard it in some famous song, so I mess things around to make it original. It isn’t a direct inspiration, but more of a consequence of being a curious musician/songwriter and a music listener in the same life. Can you guess my playlist by listening to my music?
What is key to your sound and how do you make your music stand out?
I consider myself a producer as much as I am a songwriter. I love to experiment and write/produce music in different styles. People say the main reason why they stop by when I play my street shows in the centre of London is the timbre of my voice. I don’t have a powerful voice and I am not a virtuoso; I focus on my sound and interpretation to compensate that.
I use alternative tunings and percussive fingerstyle technique on the acoustic guitar. Alternative tunings allow me to have new voicing and colourful chords. The main characteristics of my sound are chords, the melodies that those harmonies bring to my mind, and the smooth and calm timbre of my voice.
I adapt the genre and instrumentation to the theme of the song I’m working on. For this EP, I wanted to reproduce the sounds of the woods and the sounds of the city, so I mixed strings, uilleann pipes, acoustic guitar, and piano, with hybrid drums and sparkly synths.
How does your songwriting process work?
My songwriting process could take many different paths. I write my feelings and thoughts in the form of poems and poetry. Usually in Italian.
A phrase can lead me to a new song. Sometimes, I want to write about a feeling or a particular topic, but I don’t have strong lyric ideas in the first place, so I start from chord progression and melody. Then, I start singing random words that remind me of that topic, and finally, I end up with lyrics. Other times, I simply jam with my guitar and I find some melody or chord progression that brings me to a new song idea.
I am a visual learner and I feel a lot through images. I always try to create scenes in my lyrics and arrangements as if the song was a movie in the listeners’ minds.
Describe your sound in 3 words…
Colourful, honest, fresh.
How has studying at BIMM helped you develop as an artist?
Before moving to London and my experience at BIMM, I felt alone with my guitar. I never had a chance to play with other good musicians before. At BIMM, I met talented people among lecturers and students. People with similar passions and dreams.
I learned some new songwriting techniques that I sometimes use to write new songs. Thanks, Andy Platts! I also learned how huge and chaotic the music industry is, and that like every other carrier path, the first thing you have to do is be fully committed and passionate. Before BIMM, I felt like there was a massive gap between me and my dreams that only external help could fill, like help from a label or a talent show. Now, I’ve realised that music is emotional and concrete. There are many little steps that I can do now to end up living my dream.
What’s next for you?
I am making long term plans while living my life day by day. I have dreams and goals in mind, but I am ready to adapt as life is unpredictable.
My next single ‘Summer’ will be out in late June to conclude this EP. I’ve also written another EP about a book by a famous Italian writer and an album about mental health. They are in the production process. I have planned the releases to happen over the next two years. I am also producing cover songs and taking them into my style – I will start posting these very soon. I continue to write new songs too.
Since I graduated last year, I’ve started to work as a freelance producer and songwriter for other artists, both in London and Italy. I play gigs in little venues and I busk in London. These are my tools to reach new people with my music and earn money in the process, but I understand it is not enough. My next move will be to find a job as a producer in a professional studio.
I also want to be more present in the world of the web and use it more on a professional level. Being heard nowadays is not simply a matter of writing good music; it is more about the brand you are. It is about being constantly out there catching people’s attention in all ways possible so they will listen to your music. After years in London, I know many emerging artists – the more successful ones are not the best or the most original ones, but the ones who use social media constantly and create a sort of fil rouge on their pages. I saw social media as an enemy, but now I understand its value and I want to exploit this powerful tool in the most creative way I can.
Speaking about the future, I’d love to travel the world and play live shows, meeting new people and cultures, and then realising we have the same feelings and emotions. That is the singer-songwriter part of me speaking. The producer part would be very happy to compose music for movies or simply own a studio and produce songs for important artists I like.