The Other Side

An Interview with Italian violinist Vito Gatto

Where does the melancholic nature of a violin's strings come from? Is there a difference between the musical climate in Italy and the one on »the other side«? Such questions, and more, are discussed in this interview with Vito Gatto, written by Profet's Chief Ideologue Filip Lindström.

Christmas time is not so different around the world apparently, at least it’s quite similar in Italy to what it is in Sweden. Food is consumed in large quantities, and depending on where exactly the Christmas is celebrated, the celebrators have opinions on what the weather should or should not be like. Christmas has just passed when I speak to Italian experimental violinist Vito Gatto, based in a currently snow free Milano, about the reception of his newly released EP »Wood and Meet«
        - It was released just two weeks ago, the 15th of December, so I’m here to know about how people receive the EP, says Vito over the phone. But for now, with the premieres around the world I feel that people appreciate the work.
        - Would you say that people have a hard time understanding what you do?
        - Yes, me too. I have to understand more elements in my work, so I don’t pretend that other people understand something that I’m going to study at the same time that I’m doing it. It’s like a treatment and a study for me to study my trying to be original, by mixing electronic and classical.
        - Are you focusing more on the rest of the world for this EP than you have done before? Or have you always tried to reach out, outside of Italy?
        - For this solo project, where I started publishing pieces in June this year, I have a really good agent and we decided to use the rest of the world and not Italy, because it’s more difficult in Italy. Italians are really not interested in instrumental music. There are a lot of people that are more interested in songs, maybe because of the culture we have in Italy of words, speaking and singing. We like words here, we like to sing and people associate music with singing. It’s better to go out of Italy and come back to Italy from the other side. This is not the time for instrumental music in Italy, not if you’re a new artist making this music. Italian music is not inspiring, so for natural reasons I’m going to search for inspiration or artists that can give me something new, from the outside.

The cover of »Wood and Meat«

Following a question about whether Vito thinks there will ever be a time for instrumental music in Italy, he says that it is difficult even for a singing Italian performer to grow, if the lyrics are too complicated and uneasy to sing along with. Apparently, Italians want something they can join in on easily, and that is not certain with an instrumental track. Vito’s decision to rather share his music with the rest of the world is a wise one, given that his ambitions are more clearly understood in other places. His decision has not made him leave his country though, he feels that he wants live there while being active elsewhere.
        - Physically, I am okay here, but not for my art. I don’t see the situation as a problem, it’s only a reflection. You can make music here or in South Africa or wherever you are, and send it all over the world. I have contacts here, I record strings for other projects and now I’ve started doing it for the other side. For example, a DJ from Ibiza asked me a couple of weeks ago to record some strings on his track, because he had listened to the EP. So, I sent him the recordings, and it would be the same if I moved to Berlin. It doesn’t depend on where you are physically.
        When Vito keeps on referring to the world outside of Italy as »the other side«, his thoughts on Italian music culture are more obvious than ever, and he uses Berlin as the prime example of a city that is open to more musical experimentation. His answer to my next question might tell you why.
        - Do you take the most inspiration from electronic music or from classical music? I ask, wanting to know which one of Vito’s wells he most commonly drinks out of.
        - Electronic, he answers without a single second of doubt, explaining: I spent years of studying classical music. It’s inside me, okay? It’s my mother language. It’s my first interest and real language, but in my interest to take this study and use it in my own way, I naturally prefer to go to electronic worlds. Before this, I made rock music and tried to take violin and classical music inside another box. That ended when I understood that playing between a drum set and a guitar wasn’t really interesting. Now, I’m trying to understand another world, the electronic. I prefer to study ambient music or go to a techno party and to try to mix the percussion of one style with the sound of another style. I think it’s electronic music that gives you the possibility to mix all this, and to make it alone. That’s the important thing, I’m making all of the work by myself.

Vito Gatto

Vito’s work method, and in some ways his sound, brings me back to an interview I did with Swedish cello player Aina Myrstener for Profet (in Swedish). She makes somewhat electronic music, entirely based on sounds coming from the cello, making her tunes extraordinarily atmospheric and melancholic. Just like Christmas is celebrated similarly but yet a bit differently in Sweden and Italy, Vito and Aina are alike in some ways and unlike in others. Both artists use a classical instrument which normally is associated with symphonic and orchestral music, and instead they put the instrument in an electronic environment. The melancholic feeling is present in both their recordings, and Vito says that it has to do with the nature of the strings.
        - Every instrument has its own personality. All people that I know who appreciate the violin or the cello feel this melancholic element. Of course, it depends on the music that you´re playing, I can make non-melancholic sounds with the violin but its nature is to make you think or cry. It’s a very romantic instrument, more than, I don’t know, the saxophone.

The thorough studies of classical music that Vito Gatto has gone through seems to have made him sincerely sensitive to which chords certain instruments strike in the scale of human emotions. I feel how his knowledge makes him one with his violin and allows him to understand his control over its power. With his recent leap to the musical »other side«, I’m sure he can master the sentiments affected by electronic music as well.

11 January 2018