Month 17 | Winter
Stefano Schiavo Campo | Musician
‘Music & Sex. Is a supreme gift...and without either one, I would not want to be on this planet’. The words of Mr. Santa himself and I couldn’t agree more. I left Africa behind and arrived back in one of my favourite places on this small globe, Ireland. I think more words have been written about music, than music has been written... I think it would be a stretch to say more words have been written about music, than people have had sex...
The Pixel Trade was with a man who left the fine shores of Italy to embrace the treats of Ireland. Stefano Schiavo Campo is a fine musician and a perfectionist too. Schiavo Campo played a small intimate gig in an old loft in Dublin, a musical setting used more by musicians these days than probably any other setting. There are probably many reasons for this too, but one of my favourite details was the creaking floor when the musicians moved around.
Inteview with Stefano
Describe your most memorable adventure as a child.
I was raised in a middle-class family in middle-classy Milan. This is indeed a very safe place to grow up in, adventure as a kid are hard to find among the polished pathways and regular roundabouts so i guess they have happened within my imagination and dreams more than in real life. My relationship with nature, where i think the true adventures take place, only started as an adult.
Nevertheless, when i was able to stand on my two feet i searched my hometown for some city adventures. My favourite thing was to climb on the balcony of my family house and to reach the roof. From there you could start a great wander all around the block, finding out what the neighbours were at, hanging out with the cats.
I really loved the feeling of uniqueness that breaking little rules gave me in such a tidy and homogenic society.
Was there a moment that you realised music was your thing?
I guess there were many. And then there were moments in which i thought music was not my thing at all. Then i would find some inspiration or interest or a good pile of words i wanted to sing about and i would feel like music is my thing again!
The hardest thing for me is continuity, especially when you are done with a project it is easy to feel emptied out and a bit down. But i'm better now and i always keep a little busy with my music.
Did you have anyone who influenced you in particular?
My dad. He is a massive classical music lover and connoisseur. And also he was 17 in 1968 so for sure he loves a lot of the music from rebel america and he is moved by the words of folk singers.
Thanks to him i had a musicality since i was very young, since i was born i may say. Therefore i can understand basic rules of harmony completely instinctively, which is a great advantage.
What are your three favourite instruments?
mmm. hard one. I am fascinated by instruments that do not belong to western tradition at the moment. Maybe is my eagerness for traveling but i'd love to put my hand on a malian kora. So that would be number one. I add to that the bouzouki and celtic harp. I love plucking strings.
If you could play anywhere just once, where would it be?
The greek theater of taormina in sicliy is the most astonishing stage ever built. What a scenario! The ultimate blue of the deep mediterranean sea. i guess they will have to invite me to play there at some point. maybe when i'll be 70 or something playing from a wheelchair.
What was the most dangerous time of your life?
ah nice one. i wish there had been a truly dangerous time to tell you about, something very deep down to get out from with apparently invincible enemies and crucial decision. i guess it was never really dangerous and always a bit dangerous. Try to survive an irish winter in a 1897 irish house without an heating system!
There was a time in Genoa though that i am very glad i got away from. It was filled with criminals from all over the world, a lot of pain and a lot of drugs. I guess i had a good chance of never to recover from that place. I did it , that's good.
If there was one lesson you could teach children, what would it be?
Listen. Listen. Listen. All the answers are there for you to be heard. Always think of yourself as a complete ignorant, and allow yourself to be surprised.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Dublin. I love dublin. This is probably another not very exciting answer as i do already live in dublin. Here i have found my balance (precariously) and the most tangible and durable of relationship, true friendship.
At the moment i would not change it with anywhere else in the world.
I guess i'd like to retire somewhere very quiet and remote one day. The mountains always struck me with immense peace, given the immense distance. Montenegro or Morocco among the ones i walked on.
What is something you haven’t told someone in a long time?
To fuck off. I always avoid violent confrontation. I guess i will one day tell somebody to fuck off and that will make me feel real great, but for the moment i always try to find something reasonable in whatever people say or do. No matter how hurting that may be.
Obviously if i had the chance of talking with some politician or some hyper influential business man whose decisions have ruined thousands of little lives, those words will just flow out in a very natural way .Fuck ooooff.
Describe your most memorable adventure as an adult.
A couple of weeks ago i was walking down a desertic stretch of path in the high atlas in morocco. The sun was high above, the silence was that deep it had a sound of his own, like a low- frequency buzz at the bottom of my ears.
Suddenly i got assaulted by several wild dogs. They came out of a stoney red hill in front of me, howling, raging, salivating.
I prayed Saint Francis, and the gods of telepathy. Trying to communicate to this evil creatures all the possible calmness and non-belligerant attitude. It kind of worked. They followed me for a few hundred yards, barking and jumping around me and then they let me go. It was one of the greatest emotion i have ever felt in my life, and i felt so strong and powerful afterwards. I put this in a song i am writing at the moment in which the dogs actually ate me alive and i resurrect into one of them, now roaming the desert. All those positive peaceful feeling i held on within me during the attack are now turned into hunger and evil. The point of view of a very underfed dessertic nomadic dog, meeting a succulent hiking tourist. it's going to be a good one.
If you had to recommend a favourite music album, what would it be?
Argh. too many. way too many. As i am about to write one title down all the other good ones pop into my head saying "what about me? am i not as good?"
I do have a few very important melodies that i whistle about when i need to feel myself deeply. They have been very helpful and always will be. The most important ones are the theme from the wedding scene in Stravinsky's the firebird and a tune from Charlie Parker called Laura.
Also Robert Wyatt has a few of those completely trascendental melodies and i always find myself humming them. His album Cuckooland struck me with immense artistic freedom and made me understand my freedom in my musical world. So i' ll always be thankful to him for that. He is so far away from genres and times that he will always be ahead or simply himself.