In last week’s interview with Piero Lombardo of Camera Soul, readers discovered the groups deep admiration for the works of Earth, Wind & Fire, how the rehashing of old tunes often lead Piero and his brother Pippo to come up with exciting new melodies and how working on their latest album, ‘Not For Ordinary People‘, saw the Italian group collaborating with Kathryn Ballard Shut of TimKat Entertainment in the USA.
In this, the second part of that interview, I speak with Kathryn about what lead her to work with the Lombardo Brothers, how they overcame the cross-continent challenges and her future plans with Camera Soul.
KB: I first met Piero Lombardo in the spring of 2012. He was promoting the group’s debut album ‘Words Don’t Speak’ to Jazz and Soul fans on Twitter and shot me a tweet. I get hundreds of tweets on a weekly basis asking me to listen to music but out of curiosity I went to the jukebox on the Camera Soul website and was immediately blown away by the performances, songwriting and production quality! The horn lines sounded so fresh, I excitedly wrote back something like – ‘This is such great stuff – did you write this? I love the horn lines in your work!’ Piero’s response was ‘At least you know what a horn line is!’ and that became the start of a great Twitter friendship and mutual respect for what Piero, Pippo and Serena were doing with Camera Soul.
Listening to their albums, I realized just how professional their outfit was in every way and fell in love with where the brothers were going with their writing. I could hear the evolution between songs that were previously written for Marchio Bossa and how it moved into a more soulful, funky movement with Camera Soul. Piero describes his brother Pippo as an ‘arranging fiend’ and he is exactly right! Not only is Pippo a prolific horn and song arranger, he is easily one of the best in the business, allowing his background as a Jazz pianist to guide his complex and fun horn lines.
A short while after, Piero asked if TimKat might be interested in being an American agent for the two groups which he and his brother Pippo had founded. The brothers, together with producer Marco Rossi, were set to release the last Marchio Bossa album ‘Radio Bossa Channel‘ and wanted to expand their reach to North America. There were initial concerns on my part over the funds to support them but after thinking things through thoroughly and realizing the power of CDBABY, the deal between TimKat Entertainment and the Lombardo brothers via their label, Azzurra Music, was sealed.
As our friendship continued, I decided to work on some new material for a future soul album of my own. I had some beats, chords and ideas but got stuck on a melody line of one tune in particular. Out of sheer curiosity if the brothers could help, I sent an mp3 of the track. Within a day or so, both Piero and Pippo had heard it, but instead of just simply supplying a melody line and moving on, they wrote back that they loved the song and asked if they could use it on the next Camera Soul album! Because of my admiration for the caliber of their work, I was floored to say the least! That track became ‘Locked Inside‘ and is, in my opinion, one of the strongest songs on the album. Afterwards the brothers would send me samples of songs they were working on, asking for some ideas for English lyrics. ‘Not For Ordinary People‘, ‘My Heart’ and ‘Time Fades Away’ (with lyrics to the latter written in about an hour due to time constraints) were the songs on which I contributed.
MV: What problems did you face with the collaboration and how did you overcomes these?
KB: Modern technology has made it extremely easy to share musical ideas regardless of where one records a demo. He or she can save it to an mp3 file and then either email it or place it in DropBox for partners to pick up. Email also makes communications easy as you can read them on your computer or phone from anywhere. Google Translate though, I’d have to say, has been a godsend on both sides. I will often write something to Piero in English and he’ll answer in Italian! Being able to throw both languages into the translator is great – we’re learning each others language little by little.
For Piero, the language barrier can become a bit of a problem when a Radio show host or interviewer is interested in speaking to the group directly. As their English is not yet on par to handle a full-length radio interview, they make do with blogs (like Musicvein) forums and various social media outlets to publicize themselves. If they do get stuck though, I’m always happy to help – I don’t believe that language barriers should keep people from being able to make and market incredible music.
MV: What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
KB: I am obviously biased because I’ve written but one song on the album in both music and lyrics – ‘Locked Inside‘ but if I’m going to write one song, I’m glad that the collaboration with Pippo made it a damned fine one! I am proud of all four of my lyrical contributions on the album because each one has a little autobiographical truth inside – either about my own life or that of someone close to me – and to hear those stories come to life, set to some of the finest music out there, is indescribable.
MV: Tell me about your future plans with Camera Soul
KB: Well at the moment we’re submitting songs for this years Grammy Awards. ‘Locked Inside‘ has been submitted for ‘Song of the Year’, ‘Best R&B Song’ and ‘Best Improvised Jazz Solo’ from guitarist Francesco Palmitessa – It’s a really exciting and nerve wracking time for us all.
Also, in an effort to supplement high expenses such as small tours and concerts, TimKat is sponsoring a crowd-funding promotion. Since Camera Soul is a large group (over 10 members!) and based in Italy, touring is currently not in the budget. The brothers are also planning and writing their 3rd album, even in advance of having sold copies on ‘Not For Ordinary People’, so crowd-funding could help them not to enter a project in debt.
With a beginning contribution of $20,000 TimKat could afford to bring the group to the USA in some target areas (Denver, LA, New York) to generate interest in the album. So if anyone out there would like to hear more from Camera Soul, please visit our campaign and show your support. Reiterating what Piero has said, we are truly thankful for the support received and glad that our music has touched the hearts and souls of so many. Camera Soul are an amazing band and I, like so many others, would like to see them go far.
To support and make a donation to future Camera Soul projects and to also send them on tour, please visit their campaign page
— TIMKAT Entertainment (@timkatent) August 20, 2013
- A Conversation with Piero Lombardo of Camera Soul – part 1 (musicvein.co.uk)
- Album Review – Not For Ordinary People by Camera Soul (musicvein.co.uk)