Italian twins Jacopo and Lorenzo, plus Giulio their bass player form reggae band Mellow Mood. We caught up with the group to talk about Mellow Mood's new album Large, consumerism, being yourself and working with Paolo Baldini.
Tell us a bit about the history of the band's name Mellow Mood?
Giulio: Bob Marley’s 'Mellow Mood' is one of the songs from the Jamaican legend that the twins Jacopo and Lorenzo loved most when we were forming the band as teenagers, especially the version featured on the collection The Complete Bob Marley & The Wailers 1967 To 1972 released by JAD.
When did your passion for reggae start?
Giulio: It hit all of us at different times and different stages, but I think what unites us is that reggae music has an energy and vibe that we all relate to, even though as teenagers we all came from different musical background. The twins found out Marley’s music through their mother (who was casually whistling 'No Woman No Cry' one day).
Do you see yourself as the new generation of international reggae versus the traditional generation?
Giulio: I think when reggae music really went international at the end of the 70s throughout the 90s, there has been a first wave of international reggae artists who integrated reggae music in their own national/cultural/musical heritage. Italy provided bright examples with bands like Africa Unite, Sud Sound System and Pitura Freska, but the same happened all over Europe and in the other continents too.
Over the past 10 years, there’s been a rising wave of reggae artists hailing from all over the globe who started doing reggae music in English and Patwa and who greatly benefited from the new means of communication and information to learn about this musical culture and to share their music in return. So in a way, we’re part of that new generation.
Do you see any contrast between both generations?
Giulio: I think there is no contrast because without the first one we wouldn’t have the second one, so we are very thankful and respectful towards the pioneers of this music. And of course, Jamaica is the place we look at the most and respect the most because this music was born there and from that tiny island it continues to draw strength and inspiration.
What was the inspiration behind the song 'Large'?
Lorenzo: Nowadays most of the music that gets airplay carries a wrong message. You have young kids singing about making money, moving from the suburbs and being able to buy all fancy brands and stuff like that. That’s the motto of our consumerist society where we are all the same except for how much money each of us can spend. I was tired of hearing the same craziness over and over again so we came up with a simple song that celebrates the simple life which ultimately is the only life this planet can bear.
We love your voices, reggae is all about the lyrics and the message but also about memorable vocals, tell us how your work out the blend of reggae music with your voices, and how you use it to match your message?
Lorenzo: That’s a very unusual question! Thanks for the compliment we ain’t so mad about our voices, Jamaica has the best voices in the world, God knows what we would do to have Buju’s voice! But you have to deal with what you were born with and as far as people resonate to that, it’s fine! When you are younger you wanna sound like that artist or another but then you realize it’s all about being yourself, no one can be you and people wanna hear and see YOU.
Talk us through your new album?
Lorenzo: It’s pretty hard to sum up the meaning of 12 tracks, each one tells a different story. But with this album, we were finally able to say what we truly believe in without having to cut corners. The songs are explicit, all of them, both the ones that talk about politics and the ones that talk about our private life. Also, this is our 'most reggae' album and that proves that reggae music can talk about everything, not just those two topics the European crowd likes to skank to lol.
What are the two most spiritual songs on this album?
Lorenzo: I believe 'Call Back The Love' and 'Place Called Home' are the two most intense songs of the album. I look at them as two prayers and they help me understand where our spirit’s at right now. This album was written in a tragic moment for our world, hopefully, a moment that will lead us to a positive change, and like those two songs say there’s a need for love and a need for a place called home right now.
What is it like being with Mellow Mood for 24 hours?
Lorenzo: Well it really depends, if we are on tour then it’s gonna be 24 very noisy and energetic hours, but if we are home you can expect the exact opposite!
It has been around a month since your album has been released, how is the reception so far?
Lorenzo: Feedbacks are very good both for the record and the new live set! We couldn’t be happier about it.
So what can we do to live a more simpler life, like it is promoted in the song 'Large'?
Lorenzo: First of all stop dreaming THEIR dreams, stop needing what they tell you need! All you need is food, water, good health, a roof over your head and LOVE. And most of all TIME to enjoy all that..if you waste your time seeking for stuff you don’t need you are wasting your wealth.
You just created a sub-label to the La Tempesta Dub, how is this new adventure treating you?
Giulio: It’s fun and challenging. So far we focused mostly on releasing the works of our team, which includes our producer Paolo Baldini and whose album and documentary DubFiles at Song Embassy, Papine, Kingston 6 was released in April 2016. Its promotion kept us busy for quite a long time. We pressed a number of 7 and 12 singles (including Hempress Sativa’s hit 'Boom Wah Da Da Deng') and now we’re about to release the second album of the Italian act Forelock & Arawak, which will come out at the end of the summer.
We are curious to know about the reception of reggae music in mainstream Italian music?
Giulio: Well reggae is really an underground music in Italy. We try to do our best in promoting it at the highest levels and trying to eliminate the stigma that for a long time was connected to reggae musicians and listeners, but it’s a hard job. I think everyone likes reggae in Italy but since it’s not conveying a commercial message, the mainstream media are not interested in promoting it at the moment.
So, tell us, if you could be prime minister in Italy or anywhere in the world, what would be the first law you’d abolish?
Jacopo: I'm aware that being prime minister, I would have my hands tied someway somehow. It is difficult to be a good minister when you are part of a way more articulated scenario. I think the thing that I'd try my best to do would be to first respect and follow the constitution. We have a good constitution in Italy, it's the fruit of different minds that came together after the Second World War and I think we should at least respect that. Just following that a lot of laws would come down and be abolished as they do not respect the constitution.
Have you ever done a show in Jamaica and if so how was the reception like?
Jacopo: Yes, we did a showcase at Black Am I Ghetto Festival in Tavern, Papine, Kingston6 and another show with Paolo Baldini Dubfiles at Kingston Dub Club. It was just great, both shows. When you're a reggae artist coming from Europe, one of your biggest dreams is to share your music with Jamaicans, and if they support you it's even greater!
Before you become Mellow Mood, what were the worst jobs you’ve ever done?
Jacopo: We started playing at a very young age, I have to be honest and say that we didn't work so much before becoming Mellow Mood, cause we were studying at that time. Some of us still do other jobs (i.e. our keyboard player Filippo is a web designer), personally, the last job I did before starting tours and stuff was the assistant for disabled people in a centre in the city I live in, but that was nothing but beautiful!
Your proudest moment?
Jacopo: The proudest moment with Mellow Mood was probably the work we did in Jamaica with Paolo Baldini and the shows we had there. As I said, playing in Jamaica for Jamaicans was one of our biggest dreams. Plus, when people come to us and tell us our music makes them feel good or helps them and so, that makes us very proud of what we are doing!
Favourite song of all time?
Jacopo: 'Redemption Song'.
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