About a month ago Sergio and I had the pleasure of meeting a Venezuelan band called Charliepapa (during SXSW in Austin). They have a very interesting alternative rock sound with beautiful lyrics and melodies that lately has gotten them a great deal of attention in their home country, as well as a Grammy nomination in 2015.
One day after SXSW was finally over (wheew!!) we hung out with two members of Charliepapa, Mattia Grespan-Medina (singer) and Jonathan Bellomo (guitar player), who were getting ready to leave Austin the next day. Mattia saw that Sergio was wearing a hat and a hoodie of the Roma team, and asked Sergio if he was Italian.
Sergio smiled and said: ‘no, I’m not but she is’ …. and pointed at me.
Turns out that Mattia is half Venezuela and half Italian!
His mother’s side of the family is from the Veneto region of Italy. He considers his Italian side to have a great influence in the way he appreciates music and writes songs. He grew up listing to Zucchero (Blues & R&B) and 883 (Pop Rock), two very well known Italian bands. (Click on the links to hear some of their most famous singles.)
Currently, Mattia is spending some time in the mystical city of San Luis Potosi in Mexico with his mother and aunt (both Italian). He’s immersed in Italian culture in the middle of Mexico!! For the ITAL blog, I decided to give him a call to catch up with him and talk a bit more about his Italian connection with music. We ended up chatting about many things; he mentioned that he had been watching the Texan Italian Stories documentaries! (yay!), and obviously, we also talked about music.
Mattia used to travel often to Italy to visit his mother’s family. When I asked him about how he thought those trips had influenced his songwriting he said:
“Italy has always been a great place to write music. I’m completely disconnected from everything and my mind works differently there. I get great ideas when I’m in Italy”.
His last visit to Veneto was in 2013 and he stayed there for three months. During his stay he improved his Italian, took in the amazing culture, and most importantly… wrote many, many songs. In fact, two of the songs he wrote while in Italy are in Charliepapa’s latest album titled Charliepapa Y/0 - “Merlina” and “Fe y Razon”.
Lately, Mattia has noticed that being in Mexico is producing the same effect on his songwriting that he felt back in Italy in 2013. “I’m not in my comfort zone” he explained. “when I’m not in my comfort zone, I write!” Mattia also finds himself missing his home country quite a bit and he thinks about that feeling of longing is filling his head with melodies, lyrics and arrangements, which are slowly turning into a new collection of songs. Mattia's home town is Merida, Venezuela is located in the Andes Mountains. “I think it's the best city in Venezuela, not just because I’m from there but it’s really a beautiful city and it’s a calm city”. It’s very similar to northern Italy he explains, the climate, the architecture, many things remind him of Italy when he is in Merida.
To finalize our chat/interview I asked him, “ok, so what’s next for you now, Mattia?”
He told me that right now he’s taking advantage of his time in Mexico to focus on writing new songs. He has also been asked to collaborate with many other musicians and producers who live in the U.S., therefore he may be traveling back to Austin at some point soon to share with us his beautiful music once again!
I leave you with a short video that I shot of Mattia and his band mate, Jonathan, who is also half Italian (from the Campania region of Italy). It is set to the song La Cima, their latest single that has been blasting the Venezuelan radio airwaves. For the video we rented a few B-Bikes in Austin and had a good time riding around. Mattia reflected that something as simple as riding a bike at night is currently very hard to do in Venezuela because of the violence that his home country has experienced in recent years.
It goes to show you everything we take for granted living in the U.S.
Hope you enjoy the song!!! Maybe you can notice the influence of the great Zucchero in it!
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Jonathan (left) and Mattia (right)