Interview: Italian Songstress Violetta Zironi Releases Tender EP
Earlier this month, we covered singer-songwriter Violetta Zironi's sweet ballad "Toast." Today, she releases her tender new EP, Half Moon Lane, six tracks of gentle, lush folk gems, and we're here to gush about it.
"Toast" opens Half Moon Lane, a lovely Americana-tinged introduction to the rest of the EP, which follows suit with equally soft tracks to sway to. Next comes the title track which focuses on Violetta's gorgeous vocals delivering a warm performance atop a minimalist guitar rhythm. On "Song With Felix," Violetta experiments with a dreamlike sequence of deep thumps interspersed with soaring sparkles, a decadent lullaby arrangement. "Muddy Fields" takes a quieter approach, a melancholy but melodic arrangement bounding beneath breathy vocals before the track picks up speed with the entry of subtle outlaw-country tones. Next, the piano-based ballad "Don't Make Me A Fool" once again finds Violetta's emotional voice in the spotlight. She's powerful here, expertly giving equal time to airy, morose delivery and soft swells of matured vocal variety. Half Moon Lane is complete with "Let's Get Lost," a sugary love song led by tropical ukulele plucks and clear-as-a-bell falsetto.
On Half Moon Lane, Violetta Zironi shares her saccharine stories, as told by minimalist folk arrangements and silky vocals calling to mind major Norah Jones vibes. With coffee-shop ballads and delicate lullabies, Half Moon Lane is a soothing EP to lull you to sweet dreams.
Listen to Half Moon Lane below and read on for an exclusive interview with Violetta right here:
The Music Mermaid: First, can you tell us a little about yourself and your music?
Violetta Zironi: I am Violetta Zironi, I'm 22, and I'm Italian. I grew up in Reggio Emilia in the north of Italy and now I live between London and Berlin.
My music is a mix between what I love and what I am -- between folk and Americana music, which I am really passionate about, and my Italian roots. Italy has a wide musical background; especially back in the 60s, [Italy] had incredible songwriters that have influenced a lot my songwriting skills.
TMM: What is the music scene like where you grew up in Italy and how has it influenced your work?
VZ: The music scene where I grew up in Italy was not particularly wide, but my dad is a blues musician, and he introduced me to this genre. I started hanging out and playing with some old timers from [the blues scene], so that definitely influenced my musical taste. In fact, that's how I was introduced to country and folk as well.
TMM: You're a traveling troubadour -- you've adventured to London, Berlin, across the United States, and more. Where have you felt most musically comfortable? Where would you most like to return to?
VZ: To be honest, Berlin is the place that has made me feel most comfortable. Although when I first got there, I didn't find it welcoming at all -- the more I got to know it, the more I learned to love it. It's giving me many chances of doing what I want (and differently) than anywhere else I've been. I feel like this city is extremely open to anything and doesn't care what one's background is. London has been very inspirational as I got to work with some awesome musicians and songwriters. And I really loved Austin in the USA -- I'm really happy I'll return there in March for SXSW!
TMM: What was the production process like for your latest single, "Toast," off your new EP?
VZ: The production process for "Toast" was very interesting. In fact, it might sound like a proper Americana or folk song, but actually the reference we used to start with its production was a bossa nova instrumental piece from Morricone. We created the rhythmical pattern on the samba base and than developed it in a more folk-y / jazzy way. I'm really happy with it!
TMM: What is the songwriting process like for you? What are some central themes you tend to employ?
VZ: The songwriting process for me is usually a collaboration with other artists. I love sharing themes and musical ideas with other songwriters and I take a lot of inspiration from them. I think I learn so much from those collaborations, and this allows me to write even better songs when I'm alone. I usually write about myself and my life experiences -- usually I feel the need to write a song after an intense period in my life; after I went through a strange or exciting time.
TMM: Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear ASAP?
VZ: Three musicians I think the world needs to hear ASAP are Lasse Matthiessen, a songwriter from Copenhagen, Hudson Taylor, an amazing Irish duo, and finally my beloved favorite Italian old-time songwriter, which I'm not sure the world has heard yet: Luigi Tenco.
TMM: What are some other passions or hobbies you have that our readers might not know about?
VZ: I also love acting. I have had drama classes in the past and I played a main role in an Italian film last year -- it should come out [early this year].
TMM: Who in the music community would you consider a "secret mentor" to you?
VZ: I would consider a secret mentor to me to actually be my mum! She's always ready to support me and she's not afraid of letting me know when I do something that she approves, but at the same time she can be very harsh and direct, but always with the purpose of making me stronger and hoping I take her criticism productively.
TMM: What has been your most memorable musical moment so far?
VZ: My most memorable musical moment so far has been... Surely the moment I had the honor to duet on a very big stage in front of 8,000 people with the legendary Ben E. King on his [iconic anthem] "Stand By Me". I will never forget the moment when he asked me to join him on stage and play his song on ukulele and sing with him. He passed away only a few months after that, and I feel so lucky [to have shared that experience].
The Music Mermaid: Finally, what's next for Violetta Zironi?
Violetta Zironi: I just released my first EP called Half Moon Lane. Then I'll be very busy promoting it in Europe and America -- I'll be playing festivals and a support tour. And in the meantime, I keep writing and producing more and more music :)
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Photo by Puria Safary.