“In our hearts there’s a fire,
You can see it in our eyes.
We are the revolution, we want it all tonight,
We want to take back what’s rightfully ours
We are the revolution, we wanna stand and fight
Map of our lives, written in scars”
Written in Scars
I heard someone saying that we don’t pick our dreams, they grab us… The first passion that grabbed Jack Savoretti’s heart was writing. As a young boy, instead of playing video games, he was spending hours pouring out words on white sheets of paper. A whole intimate world wanted to come out and he allowed that to happen. Not long after that, music came in disguised as a guitar. He fell in love for the second time… Unable to choose between the two, he ended up sticking to both. As he kept deepening the polyamorous creative relationship, the dream he was destined to embody took shape: he was meant to be a singer-songwriter.
Our interview couldn’t start any better, with a hug and a laughter. Meeting Jack feels like greeting an old friend… The reason might be that we both grew up in Carona, a very special village on top of Monte San Salvatore in Ticino and during Summertime we used to meet in front of Jack’s house and play, chat, watch the night coming. But, I have a feeling that his natural warmth would make anyone feel at home around him. We’re off for a conversation about the sense of longing, the importance of friendship and the readiness to take risks to live an authentic life…
In the past, far too many times I’ve been pushed to work with professionals because they were the “best ones” in this or that field, but the result was never genuine… It’s an aspect of the musical industry, some get along well with it but for me it just doesn’t work. Making music was becoming like any other job and that’s when I thought: if I need to feel safe I’d rather chose another career. I’m not after security, I’m after feeling alive and creating from a place of authenticity… I chose my way. I wanted to keep taking risks, because it’s something that I like, but I also wanted to make sure that we were creating music in a way that I like and with people that I like! If I can’t sit down with you, share a glass of wine and a have a real connection it means we’re not on the same wavelength. That’s how the album Written in scars was born and that’s how I live and make music today in full accordance with producers and record company. This choice has created a boat where every sailor has the same importance. Nobody can talk down to anybody, we navigate together. I’m talking about the guys that are here with me today, the brazilian guitarist Pedro Vito that’s been playing with me for 10 years now and the irish bass player John Bird Jr. Thanks to them, after some very tough years, we’re now going through a beautiful phase…We feel free and everything is growing more slowly but also in a way that is more gentle and respectful to what we feel true to ourselves.
It seems like you like taking risks… what’s the role this feeling plays in your life?
That’s true (he laughs) I’m inspired by the things, the spinning out of control, the feeling of risking it all, of anything is possible… They keep my desire to make music alive! It’s difficult to have a normal life and at the same time to have this hunger to feel, to live emotions and intense experiences. When I end up losing something I realize what I care more for… Sometimes I harm myself but, when things go too well, finding inspiration is harder. You can see that with many artists, when they start having a great success that’s when they stop creating beautiful things. Personally, the beautiful challenge is to create genuine songs. Doing the right thing is too easy, like planning the happy song to make you dance or the love song that gets you romantic. It’s safe but you’re simply coloring a ready-made drawing. What I like is being given an empty sheet of paper, a pen and being told: do something!
What is the role played by the public in this creative process?
From the white sheet starts the adventure… the purpose of it all is conquering those who listen. That’s where the real risk is, when your music meets the audience. You have to step onto the stage with your new songs and meet 800 people, like tonight at Zermatt Unplugged, who want to feel something. That’s when the real fun begins!
In your music we also feel a restless quest for belonging, a tension towards a place you can call home… you have english and italian origins, spent many years in Switzerland and now you live in England, what place smells like home to you?
In Switzerland I spent 10 important years of my life, from 7 to 17. That’s where it all started, I used to sit at the kitchen table while my mother was cooking dinner… That’s why today, when I land in Switzerland, I still feel at home. In reality, more than Switzerland the place that I carry in my heart is Carona. When I go to Lugano to visit my father the first thing I do is going up to Carona and having dinner at one of my favorite restaurants ever, Ristorante La Posta! I had an ideal childhood there and now that’s what I want to offer to my two kids, for that reason we recently moved to a village near Oxford. With its small streets, the smell of chimneys, its artists, intellectuals and eccentric people it reminds me the bohemian feel of Carona. With Italy I have a relationship of hate and love, it’s like a lover to me, I know it doesn’t do good to me but I keep coming back. What I love the most about it is the people, they know how to make you feel welcome. The problem is the musical industry and the cultural situation overall, it’s a real mess. Beyond the physical places, the moment when I feel at home the most is when I’m writing. I go back to my first love, to the kitchen where it all started, there I feel free and totally belonging.
…and how do you feel on stage?
On stage I always feel like a traveler, a tourist ready to discover an ever changing panorama. It’s like getting to a new harbor every night, in a different country with a unique audience and atmosphere. A strange light can totally change the course of a show for better or for worse. Some nights you come out and the audience makes you feel tiny and others it turns you into a giant able of anything. The great unknown is part of the journey, you never know what it’s about to happen!
In Zermatt magic happened! Jack Savoretti, together with his fellow sailors Pedro Vito and John Bird Jr. gave it all to the audience, delivering a wonderful groovy night closing the edition 2016 of the festival…
And I found myself walking around the streets of the snowy town, teaching Pedro and Jack how to hand whistle and make forest sounds! Life is a neverending surprise:
“Stay hungry, stay foolish!
Keri Gonzato for 7sky.life