Piers Faccini: the organic farmer of the music world
Singer-songwriter Piers Faccini's latest opus is a four-track EP Hear My Voice. And what an original voice it is. He chats to us about his artisan approach to making nourishing music, doing it his way on his record label Beating Drum and how unpleasant years at Eton public school probably helped forge his unique musical identity.
Anglo-Italian singer songwriter and guitarist Piers Faccini launched the Hear My Voice project in 2018 as a way of giving a platform to talented artists with distinct and somewhat atypical voices.
"They have very distinctive voices," says Faccini. "And that's the notion of Hear My Voice, it's about using Beating Drum to put out and highlight the kind of voices that might not always be heard.
"Newt, for example, is a singer-songwriter who decides to sing in the Neapolitan language as opposed to Italian. Twi Mamaki is a New Zealander, but she fell in love with Bulgarian music and traditions. Horsedreamer, Roger Robinson, well we're super proud to have worked with him because he just won the T.S. Eliot poetry prize. So he's kind of the new big thing in poetry in the UK."
The fourth Hear My Voice release is Faccini’s own. And while previous albums "I dreamed an Island" (2016) and "Songs of time Lost" (2014) with cellist Vincent Segal, explored songwriting without borders, the Hear My Voice EP is more inspired by British and North American folk.
"I wanted to go back to my first inspirations in terms of songwriting. So the songs are very much coming from the African-American blues traditions and English folk music."
Faccini's characteristic broken falsetto voice soars on the song Hope Dreams.
"The idea of hope dreams was simply the take on the idea that when someone's desperately hanging on to love and to a broken relationship, it's just completely hopeless. There's a sort of addiction to the idea of hope.
"I love canto flamenco and that whole very dramatic, nostalgic way of singing about love that you hear in the Mediterranean and also in southern Italian music. So I'm sort of taking that kind of language but using it in English."
Vintage Faccini, the song offers comfort even as you drown your sorrows.
Faccini was an artist before he became a musician so in addition to recording and mixing his music in his home studio in the Cevennes in southern France, he also does all the artwork and packaging.
"I've identified myself as being a painter who plays music so when I started making music, I did everything that image-wise would be associated with putting out a record: from the record sleeve to a poster to making an animation video. The idea was just to go as far as I could down that line of trying to do as much myself but also just doing it in the most lovingly detailed way."
A way of not being slave to the music industry.
"You're like 'I really want to do a gatefold vinyl, and when you open it up there's an inner sleeve, and then I want to put my paintings and so on. And then the guy from the record company is like 'yeah, that sounds great, but we can't do that, we ain't got the money'. And then you have a bit of plastic with a CD or you have the cheapest vinyl."
The love Faccini puts into crafting his musical and artistic universe invites comparison with an organic farmer who's spent months tending the crop and then takes it trimphantly to market.
"When I started the label, I wrote a little Manifesto called 'Why music is food'.
"The basic idea is that art and music is a form of nourishment. And it's like when you buy oranges at the market, and they've been sort of mass produced and pumped full of pesticides and chemicals, they may not have the same nutritional value as ones that are grown without pesticides... in the sun as opposed to under artificial lights. So I was drawing on that parallel.
"And the parallel of a farmer who decides to be independent from perhaps a supermarket chain and decides to produce less, but better.
"The idea with creating the label is to be able to have a kind of platform where we can really share ideas and a kind of enthusiasm about making objects, making art and making music with the people that follow us."
Faccini has worked with a myriad of musicians over the years, including Malian ngoni player Badje Tounkara on The River.
It feels like the blend of English folk and ngoni were meant to come together. Music bred in very different soil but the graft took and it makes for great listening.
Faccini's Hear My Voice is out on Beating Drum records. The new album is due out this Autumn. In concert at Le Trianon, Paris on 16 November 2020.
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