Part 1

Name: Matteo De Vito
Occupation: Songwriter, composer, drummer
Nationality: Italian
Recent release: Matteo is one of the musicians on C'ammafunk's Bouncing, out now via IRMA.
Recommendations: John Coltrane: A Love Supreme; Herbie Hancock: Possibilities (book)

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

Music has been part of my life since I was a child. As I matured over time, I realized it was music that chose me. I’m saying this because I remember having perceived, in a very natural way, a strong attraction and an innate predisposition towards music and in particular towards the drums, because of a natural sense of rhythm. And so this instrument, since the age of 6, has allowed me to approach the world of music and grasp more and more of its infinite nuances.

Studying and dedicating myself to the drums - an instrument with infinite powers - has also helped me elaborate concepts and thoughts that relate to and have an impact on other areas of my life too. So I believe that this path has also been influential in a whole series of ways and will continue being so. Regarding composition, I’d say that the desire to write and produce music grew over time, initially as a curiosity, regardless of a genre or a specific sound.

I would say that music was my first passion. It is no coincidence that music is defined as a universal language and that’s why people of different ethnicities can draw the same emotions, but also arouse unique sensations from it.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

I can only agree with your statement!

Thanks to the power of music and its universality, each of us can perceive different sensations and emotions that can turn into objects, shapes and why not, even landscapes (for example, one of the last songs I worked on for C’ammafunk is called "Thunder").

Comparing this approach to the creative / compositional part, it happens that sometimes I feel the duty of wanting to first establish a  subject / atmosphere / mood etc. and then build around it all the necessary musical architecture.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

As a 23-year-old, it feels like I still have a lot to learn, but at the same time, there’s a lot of vitality and energy that converge into the desire of improving.

In our current society we are constantly faced with challenges and insidious situations we have to navigate though. On the one hand, they make development more difficult in terms of innovation and individuality and therefore the ability to identify and pursue a "personal voice".  On the other, this society and its advances bring advantages and possibilities that weren’t possible in the past.

Personally, I think that just the process of facing, as I said before, daily challenges - in general, not necessarily in your creative field or career - can trigger an evolutionary process. So to be honest, I’ve been putting myself proactively in a position to face as many challenges as possible for a while now.

When on the other hand circumstances are favorable, it’s always best to approach things in the most humble way possible, so as to truly grasp the benefits they carry.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

I will tell you only cause you asked so politely!!! Just kidding …

I think an artist / person’s strength is given by their ability to express a strong sense of identity through everything they do. I think of this as a virtue or rather, a strength ... a value that each of us must strive to develop, learning from the greats of the past and of the present.

Consequently, day after day I try to increasingly develop my sense of identity and therefore the awareness of my own means as well as the awareness of what needs to be improved.

With regards to music and the musician’s job, I would say that this experience as C’ammafunk, which has challenged me constantly in terms of creativity, innovation, sound design and everything that has to do with a new project, truly enriched me, and I know that it will continue to do so.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

Well, I’d say: dedication, sacrifice, study, and the desire to get involved.

To quote the genius Keith Jarrett: always feed the "fire" that burns inside you, taking from it the energies to be more vital. These are the "key ideas” that have been guiding my approach to music for years.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

Well, I think that these arguments represent two sides of the same coin and so they each deserve consideration.

Being still in a formative phase, I find myself striving for a balance between these two sides, as I believe that in order to innovate something, it’s necessary to know as much as possible of its "tradition". Of course, in my opinion, we should not make the mistake, I would say the naive mistake, of always being bogged down in timelessness. Personally, I am more inclined to do something original, rather than embark on a path that entirely follows tradition.

Having said that, I find myself unable to define a real difference between originality and innovation. Or rather, I assume that innovation is something higher and more sophisticated than originality (just think that every human being is different, and this already brings with it a principle of individual originality).

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

The first essential "instrument", so to speak, for my development was to have a real teacher of music and in particular of the drums. Then, broadening the field of "instruments", I’d say that the theoretical and the harmonic knowledge of music are the basis of proper development, (though I still have a lot to learn!)

Finally, the ability to reap the benefits of technology has certainly been another key aspect. Just think of the ability to use music software, the DAWs to be clear, and the possibilities they offer; or tools such as social media - real multimedia showcases - which allow you to have all your activities at your fingertips, like a “shop window”.

This is kind of an entrepreneurial activity too, you know … the selling ability of every musician, and therefore this should be another key “tool”.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

For a healthy lifestyle, and I would say also for healthy brain activity, I make sure to always make time for physical activity. In addition to the physical benefits, it is also a way to “unplug” your brain, even if it’s just for a couple of hours. Another part of my life that I consider fundamental is socialization.

It must be said, however, especially in terms of productivity, that I personally need periods of time where I focus mainly on just a few things in order to carry them out in the best possible way, avoiding distractions. Ultimately, it depends on the particular timeframe and therefore I usually alternate days, or rather periods of days, that are similar and "monotonous" with others that are more “recharging”.

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