LEVANTE

LEVANTE, BORN CLAUDIA LAGONA, IS A SICILIAN SINGER-SONGWRITER WHO HAS LIVED IN TURIN FOR FOURTEEN YEARS WITHOUT SEVERING LINKS TO HER MOTHERLAND. IT WAS THE SONG ALFONSO AND THE HARSH, REPEATED DECLARATION CHE VITA DI MERDA (WHAT A SHITTY LIFE) THAT LED TO HER EXPLOSION ONTO THE POP MUSIC SCENE AFTER NINETEEN YEARS OF ATTEMPTING A MUSICAL BREAKTHROUGH. HER LATEST WORK, ABBI CURA DI TE (TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF) IS AN IMPERATIVE AND A TOUR, WHICH STARTS FROM MILAN’S ALCATRAZ ON THE 13TH OF MARCH AND THEN TURIN’S CAP10100 ON THE 31ST

 

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Abbi Cura di Te: your second album, and then a tattoo; or was it vice-versa? What should you do to take care of yourself, and how should you do it?

The tattoo came first, then the album, but I knew that Abbi Cura di Te would be the title of my second work. This is because, when I was recording Manuale Distruzione I got a call from my former singing teacher, and just before she rang off she said to me: “Abbi cura di te” (Take care of yourself). No-one had ever said that to me before. That statement was like a punch in the stomach, but in a positive way. I was struck by it and I thought, Wow! Yes, I really should do it.

This is the way things went after my first album, which I arrived at following a sort of adolescent status post phase, in which I showed my anger, and I poured into my music all the frustrations of a young woman and her past love affairs. Instead, here I decided to talk about happiness, to shift the focus onto something positive.

I follow my instinct; I act on intuition, I’ve been really lucky in life because through my taste, feelings and emotions I am surrounded by people who really love me. This is the first step towards taking care of oneself. The rest is life, choices and small actions that can help you realise what you want to become. I really believe they are little endings, a sort of sum total of the things you do, and that lead to a positive result.

The heart, the organ that beats, is on the sleeve: why? Do you use your heart a lot or do you prefer to use your head?

I’m a warm-hearted person. Then, in reality, even if I let my emotions speak, and I’m a very dynamic and instinctive person, also because I come from a fiery land, my head is fundamental to my actions. But, for me, happiness is emotion and, often, this cannot be controlled by reason. This is why, even when I’ve made mistakes, I’ve never regretted the things I’ve done. Yes, I always wear my heart on my sleeve.

The courage to take risks: do you often take risks? And do you feel now that you are more of a winner than a loser with regard to the things you have attempted in general?

I say it in Abbi Cura di Te: but what is the point of living in fear without ever having the courage to take risks. Well, until now, with regard to the fact that I’ve been faced with sad situations in life since I was a child, having lost my father early on, I’ve found that little by little life has given me back a part of what it had taken away. I truly believe that I’m beginning to redress the balance. Taking stock, I feel I’m in more of a winning phase than a losing one. I seek out positive things, even though this doesn’t mean that I don’t have my down periods. A while back, during an interview, I happened to compare happiness to food, saying that it’s like chocolate: you eat a small piece and it has a lot of calories. Life is like that, too. In life, happiness corresponds to many kilos of unhappiness, but it is a good thing because without the opposite you would never have the synonymous.

In 2014, your album Manuale Distruzione was released: I really like the title and the play on words. Where did you find the key to moving on so successfully, in spite of the adversities?

When I lost my father, I remembered something my mother told me: Claudia, remember that life is beautiful because it always gives you the chance of redemption. And she was absolutely right. You find the strength in your character. I’m a very proud person, so I never bend in any way, rather I break. Also, thanks to a very strong mother, I’ve been able to face life with my head held high. One thing that has helped me a lot has been music; I started to write music when I was nine because I didn’t go to a psychologist. Music therapy has had a powerful effect on me, and so I didn’t need to, or maybe I would need to for other reasons. How many psychologists tell one to write a diary? Talking to a blank sheet of paper is the situation in which, perhaps more than any other, you find yourself being honest. Much more so than with a friend. There, you unravel the knots, and music helped me to do this. Then, that same music has also been a reason for feeling really down because I’ve become well-known at twenty-six but I’d already been doing music for thirteen years.

You are a very sociable girl and always smiling. You seem to be very approachable. How do other people see you, and how do you usually describe yourself?

How do other people see me? I don’t know; I really have no idea. I think other people see me as the greatest poser of all. In reality, I also have a dark side. Look, I’ll show you something. Yesterday I posted this photo: Let the party begin! It’s total depression, but some people didn’t understand it.

In the independent scene they pull my leg because I’m the one who uses a selfie stick. They say to me: Go on; you snap as you’re the expert! I’m not ashamed of my narcissism; if there’s a day when I feel beautiful and, luckily, I want to take a photo of myself, I do it. Then there are those times when I dress like a sack and I don’t want to be seen by anyone. The important thing is not to be a hypocrite. If I publish a posed photo I won’t write underneath it that I want to talk to you about a sad story, and neither will I say that I feel really ugly.

Finché Morte non ci Separi(Until Death Us do Part ) is a song that keeps you pressing the play button. Then, the video is elegant and heart breaking, but one continues to watch it because sometimes sad things can be really beautiful. And you and your mother are partners and very alike. Who first had the idea of the duet? Is it hard or liberating to transpose a certain type of heartache into music?

Romana Meggiolaro was really good. This is a sad song for the epilogue of the story itself, but actually it’s beautiful. It’s the story of a sixteen year-old girl who climbs down bed sheets from a first-floor window to join the boyfriend who will become her husband and the father of her children. I talked about this because it has always been more usual for me to talk about my father and the injured party and about what is no longer there. It is easy to talk about being sad with regard to what is missing, without, however, realising that perhaps we should lose ourselves more in appreciating what is still there. So, I wrote about this strong woman who was an example of life, intended as vitality, sun and the desire to live, certainly not translated into survival. So here you have my Mum, who is the maximum expression of life. A woman of exaggerated enthusiasm, a contagious smile and undeniable warmth. The idea was mine and it came to me while I was driving back to Turin on the motorway, and I thought of one of the two verses that I could have her sing and, as she never holds back, she was enthusiastic. She was really good; she sang better than me and she was really expressive.

There are people who live permanently with problems and are not able to talk about them with anyone. I’m a very expansive person and in music I’ve really found a key, so for me it’s not difficult to open up, above all in the writing phase. The music helps me, but I would define myself as a writer who sings, because it is the writing that has brought me to the melodies. .I’m not talking about the composition itself because, in that case, the mood always derives from the guitar, but there is a story and it is the words that I have inside me that come to the music, and they meet halfway.

I consider that you have already achieved success, although you are described as emerging. Aside from the specific definitions, someone like you, beautiful, talented, warm and persistent has caused annoyance and given rise to rumours? So, are you someone who annoys people?

More than someone who has emerged, I’m a survivor, in this disaster. I’m still elbowing my way into what seems like the war of the poor. I have achieved some results, but it’s success over two years of work, and of tours, thanks to which I’ve never stopped: two discs – one a year – and interviews. I’ve been super active. Anyway, I think I annoy the new people more than the old ones. Intelligent Italian pop appreciates me a lot, and working with men is just easier because they are the majority. Women find it difficult to work together and this makes me really unhappy. Besides, I’m a woman with a masculine attitude and I don’t feel any rivalry. I do mine and I don’t find it comparable to anything else. I’m me; I’m a singer songwriter; I don’t have any song-writers who write texts that could resemble those by anyone else. There’s my pen, my music and my three harmonies.

Sicilian, Turinese by adoption, a wanderer. You are the sum total of how many places and of which ones? Where do you feel at home?

I don’t feel at home anywhere. When I go back to Turin I say: Ah, I’m home. I’ve lived here now for fourteen years. When I go back to Sicily, I say the same thing, but this means that I am going back a number of years and it’s like going into an old film. I feel good but it’s also suffering because, yes, of course I always miss my motherland; I’m a Sicilian and no-one must say I’m Piedmontese: I just don’t accept it. But it’s painful for me to immerse myself in photos and old things; after a while I have to leave.

I’m eternally dissatisfied, wanting to go everywhere. Lately, I like Rome and I like Florence, but they are places I can’t go to now because I have a group in Turin and it would be inconvenient. We’ll see where life takes me.

Let’s say that, at the moment, I have the awareness of Abbi Cura di Te, but I’ve come back to the attitude of Manuale Distruzione, so, the need for change. And I’m dangerous when I’m like this because I create big disasters. But, musically it is certainly the ideal mood in which to be particularly productive.

Plans for the near future? And while we’re on the subject, what about the final dates of your tour?

The tour should have finished in September, but there were a lot of requests and we started again in October; then we added other dates. There’s always someone who asks you to go to their house! I’ll be on tour in 2016 and ABBI CURA DI TE will finish with two special dates: the 13th of March I’ll be at the Alcatraz in Milan and on the 31st of March I’ll be in Turin at CAP10100.

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