Progstravaganza Questionnaire: Aequilibrium

Giuseppe Rotunno started playing piano at school at the age of six. His music teacher (and pianist)  realized he had talent, and gave him private lessons of classical piano for eight years. Although he was achieving good results, Giuseppe felt (erroneously) classical music was not his musical genre, so he stopped playing piano and started learning how to play guitar as an autodidact. In this period he got close to rock, but his “classical vein” kept reemerging until he listened to “Firth of Fifth” by Genesis, and fell in love with progressive rock. Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, Rush, Dream Theatre, Elton John, Gentle Giant, Kansas became his preferred bands, and gave him a lot of inspiration. In May he released his debut single, Aequilibrium, but his mind is full of creative progressive ideas waiting to be transformed in shining and intense instrumental prog tracks.

How did you come to do what you do? 

Well, I would say a mix of things. After studying classical piano, I’ve decided to start playing covers and this helped me building up my musical skills, and tastes too. I initially believed classical music wasn’t my deal, and I got charmed by the energy and power of rock (who didn’t?). Nevertheless I felt something was missing when I was playing rock tracks. It was a sunny day, and I was in my father’s car when I listened on the radio for the first time “Firth of fifth” by Genesis. It was shocking awesome, very catchy, powerful and still harmonically perfect, an incredible mix between rock and classical music, and I fell in love with progressive music.

What is your first musical memory?
I was born in the name of music, my father played guitar close to my mother’s pregnant belly! He loves classic rock bands such as Dire Straits, Bruce Springsteen, Lucio Battisti and others, so I grew up listening to those band while playing Bach, Mozart, Chopin. One of the first (and funny) moments I had in my musical career which I’m pleased to remember was at a classical music competition: I was terrified, my hands were sweaty, and I felt I was going to blow up everything. I actually did it, because when I made a mistake, I whispered something like “Damn…”, but my voice was apparently too loud, all the audience heard it, and started to laugh. It was such an embarrassing moment!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I must admit, I don’t know where my inspiration comes from. I just start playing piano or guitar, do some chords, and if they sound good, it becomes a project. I like to think it is a sort of natural process, a “musical flow” coming directly from my subconscious. Although I know my musical background has a big role in this process, I think this “musical flow” is pure emotion. It’s metaphysical, not rational.

What message does the song on our Progstravaganza compilation carry?

“Aequilibrium” has a meaning, tries to tell a story without lyrics, just music. I believe every moment in our lives, and maybe life itself, follow a pattern: we have good times, unforgettable moments full of happiness and serenity, but then something wrong or bad happens, and we must be strong in order to overtake it and finally achieve the renaissance. That’s what my songs tries to explain, it’s a song about renewal.

Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?

After I get inspiration, and the melody or the basic chords are set up I tend to give the songs a structure in relation to the story I want to tell through it. It’s not a restriction to the inspiration flow, but an important process. Maybe this is the most difficult (but satisfying) part about composing instrumental tracks, as they don’t have lyrics, because you have to make the song ready to tell the story to anyone listens to it. Anyway this doesn’t mean all the songs follow pre-defined patterns, as each song is completely unique.
What is your method of songwriting?
I generally start with good sounding chords, melody, sounds, arpeggios all come later. Although the melody is one of the most important part of a song, as it has to be catchy and easy to remember, I prefer having a chord structure to work on before.

How do you see your music evolving?

Well, I’m very open to all musical genres, I don’t discard anything and although progressive rock remains my preferred one, I think my works will be influenced by other genres, like jazz, blues, pop. I love to discover and listen to ethnic music too (african, persian, chinese music for example), so maybe some of my future songs will include some ethnic sounds!

What advice would you give to other musicians, trying to make inspired music and get it out in the world?

Never give up. It’s hard to get heard and build a real fan base, but keep it going. If you’re talented, if you think your music is good and comes directly from your heart and your soul, you have all that is needed. Music is just a different language, capable of get right to your soul.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m currently working on a lot of projects, and have a bunch of other ideas waiting to be transformed in progressive songs. I would like to build a solid fan base, get in touch with other artist for collaborations and expand my musical capabilities and tastes!