Constantly looking for new musical incentive, guided by an insatiable thirst for curiosity, Giampaolo Vicerè is an eclectic accordionist, madly in love with world music. The musician from Campania traces a path of his life, from the first steps.
You approached the music like a game, creating a battery with buckets of paint, pots and other makeshift materials. From that moment on, did you realize that becoming a musician would have become a real profession?
Actually no. It was just a fun, a way to spend time happily. I simply followed my instincts, perhaps inspired by musicians watched on TV or during the concerts I attended accompanied by my parents.
Your family, specifically your father, has played a fundamental role in your path of musical growth. Above all thanks to listening, records, great classical musicians and important Italian pop music artists. Has this background really helped you in the rest of your career?
It was my first approach to the reality of sounds and music. Certainly, it was a great help in educating me to play. However, the strange thing is that my parents, whom I thank for this, have never forced me or pushed me to learn an instrument. I have discovered this inclination towards music in a completely natural and spontaneous way. And always in the same way I tried to cultivate it according to my passions and my instincts.
At the age of 14 you started playing the guitar. At first alone and then together with some friends. Is this instrument still an integral part of your artistic life?
The guitar, although it was one of my first instruments, today I rarely play it. It happens to take it during informal and festive moments, or during the ensemble music workshops for children that I lead to the “Alma d’Arte” civic school of Sant’Angelo a Cupolo.
You have a very profound conception of music. You consider it as an art with an aggregating spirit, which allows you to socialize with your neighbour and to explore old territories, as well as to dream of new scenarios. How exactly do you express your sensitivity?
I express this sensitivity simply by preferring musical projects in which the meeting with other musicians is a fundamental part of the same projects. I cannot imagine, nor I am comfortable, performing alone. Moreover, I am always looking for new incentives and new music. Today, we are lucky to be able to find it more easily, thanks to the network. For me, the most important works are those in which there is a great attention in making music together, collectively, combined with typical aspects of music from certain areas of the world. For example, right now, I am very fond of Fela Kuti’s Afro-beat and the new sound of the Brazilian Bixiga 70, discovered thanks to the Ariano Folk Festival. Here, they make music with a minimum number of elements ranging from eight to go up, remaining always rooted in the typical African sound combined with that funk of American or otherwise Western.
Doing research, even if sometimes I cannot go as deep as I would like, being kidnapped by other cultures. However, I always try to follow the instinct and the feelings that an artist or music inspires me. In my musical life, whether you want it or not, the music and the real artists have always been those who proposed something authentic, born from the desire to express themselves, to affirm their presence in the world, concretizing it through the sounds of the place from which they came. In addition, today, the experiments of melting pot music, starting from a strong cultural base, are nurturing my interest.
After starting with the guitar, you experimented with bass and African percussion. Subsequently, the lightning strike with the accordion, a particularly fascinating instrument that continues to explore constantly. What was the triggering factor that led you to this choice?
The accordion arrived late and not even for my direct choice. I had a close contact with her at the age of 10, a time when my neighbour was the one to play it. I saw it hard, almost a mirage and I could not understand how it was possible to play it, especially for the left hand, without having the opportunity to look at the fingers that pressed the keys. So, I had no ambitions for this instrument. At 23, from my dear friend Gennaro (whom I will thank for life), I was offered to accompany him, during the Christmas period from December 16 to 24, in the performance of the Christmas novena, in some villages in the area where I live. Normally, the Christmas novena is performed by pipers, precisely playing bagpipes and ciaramella, but historically, by us, being places little deputies precisely to the bagpipe, but more voted for the accordion, this tradition has always seen a duo formed by accordion and ciaramella. So, in Naples I bought my first row at twelve lows and after a week I was on the street in front of the houses playing with Gennaro for the Christmas novena, for nine days, not less than ten hours a day. A fantastic experience, that I still live today, but playing the bagpipe.
After having undertaken, as an autodidact, the study of the accordion, you are interested in traditional music, French, and then shift the focus on the Balkan, full of odd metrics and genres belonging to the eastern area. What is the characteristic of this charming mélange that affects you most?
Most of us, on this side of the Adriatic Sea, define Eastern music as Balkan. But it has a heritage and very numerous peculiarities. First of all, this immense legacy of traditional music fascinated me, starting in Ukraine and ending in Turkey. In addition, what has always captured my attention to these genres is their natural characteristic of representing joy, happiness, love for life, lightness. I am passionate about this style especially thanks to listening to these carefree trends, but at the same time with a precise meaning at the base, as well as listening to the bands of Balkan winds. Later I tried to perform this music.
Following the attendance of an ensemble music workshop in Berlin, you learned how to mix different instruments and melodies belonging to tradition, especially that of Eastern Europe. What specifically does this intriguing stylistic syncretism consist of?
Four years ago, by chance, I discovered this German training, exactly Berlin: the 17 Hippies. They, an almost unique and rare case, each year offer their skills and musical passions for two days of workshops, aimed at performing songs composed and arranged by them belonging to the musical traditions of the whole Earth, from South America to Spain, from Ireland to Italy, from Ukraine to Greece. Thanks to the participation of one of these workshops, a world has opened up towards a way of practicing music that fully responds to my needs and passions of the time and of today.
The band does not have a precise repertoire or anyway easy to classify. The initial idea, however, was to make music together, starting with traditional melodies all over the world, a bit like the German training I mentioned earlier. In fact, the first album entitled “Rosmarinus”, produced by Riverberi by the great Luca Aquino, faithfully reflects this classification. Inside, in fact, there are references to the Italian music of Nino Rota. Over time, however, the silent repertoire, as well as the people who participate in it. Therefore, having a very open idea about participation in the project, but also about the kind of music to perform, it is difficult to define specifically the band’s repertoire.
Is your mind projected towards new record projects?
Yes! Currently, with the Banda del Buko, we are working on new original compositions written by some young members of the band. The idea is to self-produce a record consisting entirely of pieces of our pen, which reflect a bit ‘this multifaceted personality, varied and colourful typically linked to the group. I think it will be a very autobiographical CD, with a touch of irony and poetry. If everything goes well, we will register it in April and then present it at the beginning of next summer.
This article is available also in: Italian