A Conversation with Piero Lombardo of Camera Soul – part 1

Since falling quite literally in love with the music of Marchio Bossa and their now newly formed group Camera Soul (pronounced Kam-era remember to roll the tongue on the ‘ra’) It’s been on my mind to interview them. However with the group not speaking very much English and my Italian not stretching much further than the pleasantries I’d put it off for quite some time – that was until Kathryn Ballard of TimKat Entertainment USA gave me a wake-up call by working with the group on their newly released album ‘Not For Ordinary People‘ and proving that through the power of the internet and the wonderful digital age that we’re living in, there are no barriers which cannot be broken down.

So armed with Google Translate I wrote to Piero Lombardo of ‘Camera Soul’ and have a wonderful interview to share with you all.

In the first of this 2 part interview, Musicvein delves into how ‘Camera Soul’ do what they do so effectively and Piero talks about the groups influences, inspirations and aspirations for the future.

MV: Tell me about Camera Soul, who are your musical influences and how have they influenced your style?

PL: From an early age we (Pippo and I) listened to a lot of Soul, Jazz and Funk music. Artists like Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, George Benson, George Duke (RIP) and Al Jarreau – have been the types of musicians we love and have been influential in the way we compose our music, where as artists noted for their extreme forms of jazz – Brad Mehldau, Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays (both from the Pat Metheny Group) have given us a deeper understanding of Jazz and even inspired Pippo in the way that he arranges some of our music.

MV: Great, so if you could play alongside any artist from the history of music, who would it be and why?

PL: Ah there are so many! But it would have to be George Benson, Stevie Wonder for his vocals and approach to composition, Earth, Wind & Fire for their basic rhythms and also the crazy horn sections that they are notorious for!  and Brad Mehldau for his unique and progressive techniques.

MV: Excellent choices Piero. You’ve been in the business for over 10 years, made a number of albums as Marchio Bossa and now here you are starting again as Camera Soul. How do you keep your music so fresh and un-repetative?

PL: Good creative spirit (he laughs) I don’t know, we probably have a wealth of untapped knowledge between us all in the band. The huge amount of music heard and played over time has ensured that both Pippo and I know a great number of  melodies and harmonies which have been added to our well established library of compositions. Often playing about with these and remixing them makes us create something new – but that something new always has the sweet sense of ‘Deja Vous’. When creating music Pippo and I work individually on our ideas. I work on the guitar creating chord progressions and feeling the melody while Pippo works in the same way on the keyboard. It gets competitive though when one becomes the judge of the others work and we have to select the songs for an album (brothers will be brothers afterall!) But I would say that the results to date show that we ultimately care most about the quality we’re putting out as a group.

MV: What was your inspiration behind making the album ‘Not For Ordinary People’?

PL: Well we wanted continuity to the first Camera Soul album ‘Words Don’t Speak’ while also giving a more personal album, so we created 12 brand new tracks (no covers) which has a beautiful reference to the music of Earth, Wind & Fire. Our sound engineer did a fantastic job – the rhythm work is exceptional and the album sound, aggressive and sweet at the exact desired times.

MV: What’s your favourite song that you’ve written on the album and why?

PL: I personally love ‘Time Fades Away’ for many reasons, although it is not the song that characterizes the band. I like it because it is very sweet and reminds me of the beautiful slow songs of our first group Marchio Bossa, but above all that I love the trumpet section – amazing!

MV: How did the collaboration with Kathryn Ballard of TimKat Entertainment come about?

PL: Through the most powerful means of communication in the world – the Internet! It breaks down the walls of distance with a single click. I’m sure Kathryn will have great pleasure in telling you all about what gave us a beautiful and unusual collaboration and friendship.

MV: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

PL: There have been two moments, 1 when we reached the number one spot in the jazz charts of Asian countries Korea and Thailand, and secondly the moment we’re living in now, because thanks to the hard work of Kathryn on ‘Not For Ordinary People’ we’re entering the Grammy awards in 11 categories!

MV: Wow! I wish you every luck with that you deserve to win. So Who would you like to work with in the future?

PL: I think the musicians we work with now are among the best ever! However we wouldn’t say no to a collaboration with Jill Scott, Esperanza Spalding or Joss Stone!

MV: And finally what are your plans for this year, where can people find you playing live?

PL: Camera Soul are already working on the 3rd album – there will be some surprises I can tell you that! not so much in sound but in the choices of musicians. We consider ourselves to be primarily a recording project, we would love to tour but often the cost of doing this prohibits us. For now though we enjoy some fantastic evenings at the best jazz clubs in Puglia, Italy. We would like to thank all the people who are following us and appreciating our music. This appreciation is our reward which spurs us on to make more music for you. For Camera Soul making music is not about getting rich in money but rich in spirit!

Next week we hear from Kathryn Ballard on what made her decide to work with Camera Soul and how she broke down the barriers to do so.


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