Peppe Voltarelli, a Calabrian artist between “nomadism” and “belonging”

Peppe Voltarelli x Ariel Sabatella

We are about to exchange a few words with the songwriter Peppe Voltarelli, who founded the band Il Parto delle Nuvole Pesanti and was their front man for fifteen years. With them, he released seven albums, contributing to the renovation of Italian rock music in the ’90s. Since 2007, he has been pursuing a solo career.

He has taken part in important events and festivals, such as the 1st of May Concert in Saint John’s square in Rome, the Tenco Prize, the Ciampi Prize and the Salvo Randone Prize. Apart from his frequent collaborations with musicians such as Teresa De Sio, Claudio Lolli, Davide Van de Sfroos, Roy Paci, Carlo Muratori, Ettore Castagna, Antonello Ricci, Amy Denio, Giancarlo Onorato, he won the Tenco Prize shield for the best album in dialect in 2010.

On the silver screen, he has been the protagonist of Doichlandia, a documentary about Calabrian immigrants in Germany, and The true legend of Tony Vilar, a movie which, contriving the ruse of a search for Tony Vilar (the Italian Argentine singer who mysteriously disappeared from the scene in the ’60s, after having turned the song “Cuando calienta el sol” into an international hit), presents the audience with the splendors and miseries of today’s Italian immigrants, in Argentina as well as New York.

The works of this wandering Calabrian musician have been released in no less than 15 countries. On March 16, 2011 he participated in the Notte Tricolore – the Tricolored Night – in Turin, a celebration of 150 years since the Unity of Italy during which a concert was held in Piazza Vittorio, where he represented Calabria. Now, he has recently come back from a tour in France, where he was even commended by the newly-elected president François Hollande.

You started off with Il Parto delle Nuvole Pesanti, later on embarked on a solo career and finally you moved on to cinema and the theatre stage. What were the most meaningful moments on your path?

Focusing on quality projects, which sometimes means keeping off the beaten track of what is commercially palatable, has made me stronger and more aware of my own means, my own story, my language.

I will now quote the title of one of your productions: “The Journey, our Fathers, Belonging”.  Let’s try to expand on these three words.

The journey is still ongoing;Voltarelli1

Our fathers will always stay alive;

Belonging means being vowed to a pleasant condemnation, one that can sometimes yield great rewards, like love for example.

Suspended between irony and surrealism, the South and Calabria are constantly referred to in your works. What is your idea of the “Mezzogiorno”?

I think of it as a land I’ve never stopped loving. A land that I wish to know and explore in all its extraordinary beauties.

The theme of emigration is another of your usual references. What kind of Calabria can be encountered away from Calabria?

Calabria abroad is a proud woman, who drives her car for sixty kilometres out of her dedication to a two-hour radio programme that broadcasts poems and songs in Italian. She has two kids who study at the best college in town and she’s never given up her love for life.

One last question: what lies ahead in your near artistic future?

I’m writing new songs and… a book.