Smooth-crooning acoustician Jack Savoretti has a pleasantly cosmopolitan heritage – his latest album isn’t called Europiana for nothing – and even if he hasn’t any Welsh in him, its populace has been down with Jack Savoretti from day one, or thereabouts. Emma Way conversed with the singer-songwriter ahead of a bumper-sized concert in Rhyl.
How was it to finally play your album Europiana live on this past tour?
It was amazing. I’ve never appreciated it more in my life. Being able to feel people again, actually feel the energy off of a crowd. During lockdown, musicians were able to still make music, sort of, but making music with people and for people is definitely why I do it.
I think it even made me realise how much I used to take life for granted – re-evaluate the whole experience and the power that a crowd can give. It was amazing to see people’s facial expressions, you know, how people react to it right then and there. The whole experience was actually very moving.
The Cardiff show was a big success.
Yeah, that was wild. In Wales in general, we’re having a great time every time we play: the shows and the crowds are getting bigger and bigger.
What’s your favourite memory of playing in Wales?
I think this last tour was pretty epic. But I remember the first shows we ever did in Wales. It would surprise me back then that we had an audience. It’s always like that whenever you travel! It still surprises me to this day – every time we, you know, cross the border, and then people show up to our show. It always impresses me whether it’d be Wales, Poland, Italy, England, Scotland, they always are so lovely when you go into a different country, and you can see people singing your words.
That’s the good thing about Wales too. Everybody can sing! I know that sounds like a cliche, but genuinely, the crowds in Wales always sing amazingly.
What was the first album you bought?
My first album was quite an obscure album called Talking Timbuktu by Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Touré, who is an African musician, guitarist, singer. The reason I bought it was because the cover was just so cool – they say don’t judge a book by its cover, well I did and it paid off because it’s a great album.
The first sort of singer-songwriter who really hit me was Ben Harper, and then a friend of mine gave me a Simon & Garfunkel album. Those are the two… three commandments. I was very into Michael Jackson when I was a kid too.
Was it a conscious decision to make Europiana a concept album or was it something you decided halfway through writing it?
That’s a good question – I don’t think I set out to do a concept album, I think I realised there was a concept behind the album while I was writing it; then I started leaning more towards that idea. I was digging for treasure, and then once I found what I wanted, kept digging in the same place.
The concept excited me, not just for what we could make but for us to be able to talk about European music in a way that doesn’t get talked about enough. European music is so varied and magical. It spans from Julio Iglesias to Daft Punk; Giorgio Moroder to Gypsy Kings to Abba. It’s about appreciating it and celebrating it. European music gets a bad name a lot of the time; I do think Eurovision has a lot to answer for that. Eurovision is sometimes great, but sometimes it really isn’t. More to the point, it doesn’t really represent music: it’s a TV spectacle.
What’s happening musically across Europe is not really represented anywhere. There’s no European Album Of The Year at the Grammys or the Brits. There are six different awards for the best Americana country album and Americana folk album, but nothing for European music.
In your opinion, how can we champion European music more in the UK?
Getting rid of the expression ‘world music’ is a big step. I hate that term – people go “oh, this is very world music,” which basically means it’s not sung in English. That suddenly becomes world music to them. Whether it’s Ali Farka Touré or Oasis, it’s world music. Music of the world.
Radio is influential but not as influential as it used to be because of streaming and various forms of communication. It’s a much more globalised world. You can see that with the likes of K-pop or reggaeton – how they’ve spread around the world and all these different kinds of music that aren’t English language or origin are growing. Måneskin, an Italian band who won Eurovision, have become global. That wouldn’t have happened many years ago. So I think the barriers are coming down.
People assume that all the music we listen to from Europe is European music, but it’s now very American- and English-driven. And I think that’s got to change. There’s some amazing stuff happening in France, Spain, even in Italy. The Italian music scene is having a real boom, and it’s really fun to watch.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
We’re crazy busy, doing loads of festivals. We’re going to go to countries we’ve never been to before, which I’m really excited about – cities like Vienna, Prague, Istanbul. It’s really fun being able to travel again. I can’t wait to play outdoors in the summertime.
This album is a soundtrack for the summer. When I made Europiana I wanted to make the perfect soundtrack for the holiday that we couldn’t go on. Hopefully, we’ll have a really sunny day when we come to Rhyl and then it will just all make sense. And if it’s raining, the music will make the sunshine.
Jack Savoretti, Rhyl Events Arena, Sat 9 July. Tickets: £45. Info: here
words EMMA WAY
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