IT is not often I get to interview...
a six-piece band that plays Gypsy music and is influenced by the circus. That is the case today as I talk with Tarantola about their single, Rogue Rouge Circus; they discuss their future musical plans and what is coming up; how they found one another and which rising acts we need to follow.
I ask if there are tour dates coming up; the albums the band are inspired by; what advice they would give to musicians coming through and whether they get any time to relax away from music – they each select some great music to end the interview with.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, everyone! We are good and feeling very exited for the upcoming release! Our week was amazing...also very busy as we are preparing next Saturday’s show! Plus other projects we are working on for the future releases.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Hailing straight from the boot of Italy…Tarantola is a London-based Folk-Rock/Gypsy band that brings ‘Taranta’, the traditional music of Salento, to the British music scene.
We are six energetic musicians who come from different corners of the world including Italy, Spain; England and Brazil who share their diverse musical influences with captivating circus performances exclusive for their upcoming album entitled Rogue Rouge Circus - containing four singles that will be released one by one monthly from next Friday, 18th January, 2019.
Each song is an episode of an intriguing and provocative story about all the mysteries, relationships and adventures behind the circus curtains, which you can watch and follow in the next live shows .
Rogue Rouge Circus is your debut single. Is there a story behind it? How did it come to be?
Rogue Rouge Circus is the first episode of four. It talks about the circus as a metaphor for the routine of life; for the limits that we create by ourselves in life and the wrong belief we don’t deserve anything better; getting stuck with the same job, the same relationship; the same place and the same environment. As for all the other songs, it comes from an idea of Mauro, our singer and songwriter, who had this vision about the circus and its meaning.
Are you already planning more material? Might we see an E.P. soon?
We already planned more releases during this year. Rogue Rouge Circus is an album (CONCEPT) entirely dedicated to circus and a live show related to this, both visually and sonically entertaining. We will release one song each month. All of them are connected together to form at the end an E.P., formed by four singles.
We also have many other songs we are already performing live that will be officially released later on this year, perhaps in autumn/winter. They are slightly different from these ones being released in the next couple of months. They have a different approach to songwriting and content and we are very excited about them!
Do you already have plans for 2019? What can we expect from you guys this year?
We will keep exploring new genre and themes. We love to try out new musical territories and make our sound even bigger and more powerful. We intend to perform in many countries such as Italy, England; Spain, Greece and Portugal etc. We are looking forward to perform more in the U.K. out of London, especially festivals. Step by step, we will get to that point. We work really hard to prepare everything and to make sure we are 100% ready to take on bigger challenges. We want to make the show always more entertaining and exciting and reach big stages and big festivals!
How did Tarantola form? Were you all bonded by similar musical tastes and ambitions?
Tarantola was born from an idea of Mauro while he was in his homeland Salento in Italy. Once he got back to London, he met Paolo and after a year they started this adventure. Tarantola was meant to be the connection between our Italian home and London and a strong need to expand and carry in another reality the legends, the story and the culture and music of South Italy. One year later, Edoardo joined the band and, after with new members arriving and a few leaving, we have finally reached the perfect formation that you can see today. All the musicians have a different music background - as we came from different parts of the world – but with the same ambitions and desire to express our music!
The reason why we chose a very multicultural band is to give first of all a clear message that we love intercultural connection and also because we wanna expand the limits of our music by being inspired by different cultures - and the only way to do so is by playing with people who come from different backgrounds.
Could you describe your sound and aesthetic to anyone new to your work?
Our sound is authentic tambourine rhythms grooving with enchanting whistles, sax and violins…reminiscent of the circus, the sea; the tradition, the legend and the mysticism belonging to "brown skin people" of the Mediterranean lands. We also have a strong Hard-Rock input and all this blends together creating an explosion of energy on stage that you simply cannot resist to!
We have circus performers in our show which is very important in order to create a feeling of wonder in the audience during our show…even though we want to promote equality, make our audience sing along and dance with no rest; make sure that perfect strangers become your best friends, sharing a laughter; a cheering, a cry and a shout; deep feelings of love, hope; of wonder and joy altogether in the same place.
There is not a lot of colour and festivity in Pop right now. Is it time, do you think, that the scene embraced sounds like yours?!
We believe that Gypsy is the new Pop! We love colours and emotivity even though we chose to be represented mainly with red and black. The red stands for passion, love; sex and friendship mixed with the black that stands for depression, routine; alcohol, orgy; violence and bad habits inside the circus. Our stage costumes are mainly red and black to give more intention and significant to the metaphoric sense of this colours. Our songs are energetic and uplifting but there is always a deep contrast with the lyrical meaning as they carry important social, moral and cultural messages.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Surely the summer of 2017 when we toured Central and South Italy on a full D.I.Y. tour, organised in the previous months just ourselves - thanks to our contacts, friends and families. It has been an amazing experience that taught us a lot in terms of living together as a family-band, playing to big crowd of hundreds of people and facing last-minute issues on the road.
Also, I have to mention the slot we have been offered at the KOKO in London in May 2017: performing in such a legendary venue was a great! I believe that finally recording these singles (May - August 2018) for the Rogue Rouge Circus E.P. has been an important accomplishment for us all and we are really excited for you to be able to listen to them very soon!
Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)?
This is a tough question to be honest! But certainly our most important influences are artists such as Gogol Bordello, Manu Chao, Dubioza Kolektiv; Ska-P, La Pegatina; Goran Bregovic, Che Sudaka; the Italian Kalascima and Sud Sound System. But, as mentioned before, we all come from different musical background. I would say here records such as Crash and The Central Park Concert (Dave Matthews Band); Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike (Gogol Bordello); Happy Machine (Dubioza Kolektiv); Baïonarena (Manu Chao); Eureka! (La Pegatina); El Vals del Obrero and ¡¡Que Corra La Voz!! (Ska-P).
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Supporting Dubioza Kolektiv would be just fantastic for us at this stage. I think playing together in the same bill with a great upcoming act such as the Rock’n’Roll band The Second Sons would be interesting!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Always believe it! Even though it is difficult, believe it and make step by step accomplishments. Surely, aim high; work hard, have a strong belief in what you do every day; choose the right people to work with in your (any) project and make sure you sharpen your skills. Oh, and, as everyone in the music industry says, make contacts and be kind!
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
On top of these two gigs, we are working on confirming some more in the near-future! Stay tuned for that!
IN THIS PHOTO: Kate Lomas/PHOTO CREDIT: Tiposilvijah
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Surely The Second Sons. Then, emerging artists we personally know such as Maike, Hide Your Mother; Killit, Twiceful Minds; Kate Lomas, Begut; Rival Karma, Cristina Hart; Marianna Zappi, Big Peyote and Romances. There are many more, though: London is bursting with talented musicians and interesting original acts. I might be forgetting some here.
IN THIS PHOTO: Cristina Hart
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Ah! Not much! Well, we are a band of six pieces so there’s always one of us working for the band sake. We all have different ways to unwind, actually. Some of meditate and do relaxation; some of us have different projects going on...we are a hard-working band, especially at this stage! Though, we of course love to hang out ‘outside the band mindset’ for a pint or to watch football matches or to go to gigs.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Edoardo: Roots and Culture - Mikey Dread
Mauro: Maché bécif – Dub Inc.
Paolo: Don’t Leave I Lonely - Mellow Mood
Kimberly: Tigancusa esti frumoasa - The Gypsy Queen
Bruno: No Rain - Blind Melon
Serena: Stop It - FISHER
Nacho: The Rhythm Changes - Kamasi Washington