Once again, I am indebted to fellow music lover and writer Gabriel Mazza for introducing me to Italian-born, Maui-based multi-instrumentalist Gianfranco Pescetti. From ‘The Wake’ and ‘Stopless’ to ‘Clownspunk’ and now ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL’, we’ve been closely following the musical journey of this seriously gifted artist.
Intrigued to know more about the musician’s backstory, I was thrilled when Gianfranco agreed to an interview! Chatting with us about building his own recording studio, his love for Scottish rockers Cocteau Twins, and what he wishes he could change about the industry, please give a big welcome to our friend Gianfranco Pescetti!
Hi Gianfranco! I’m so excited to re-introduce you to our ever-growing audience! Your debut release ‘Love Is Rain’ came out just over ten years ago and I’m wondering if you could give our readers a brief overview of what has led you to where you are today musically.
Absolutely! After the 2014 release of ‘Love Is Rain,’ which was largely informed by all my experiences playing with rock bands during the 90s and early 2000s, I found myself at a crossroads. After that release, life got majorly in the way, and I sort of hit a creative wall, having serious doubts about continuing to make music. I went back to college, got a degree in Landscape Architecture and started working in that field, all the while thinking that this huge part of who I am (making music) was suffering. It felt like I wasn’t done and that I still had something to offer. It just took me accepting that, which led me to build my own recording studio, pick up my bass again, and get updated with all the amazing new software available now.
‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL’ has taken me out of my musical comfort zone and I couldn’t be more appreciative! I’ve really fallen in love with the album! How proud are you of the release and who do you think it will resonate most with?
Thank you! I really appreciate that. It’s good to come out of one’s comfort zone. I’m proud of this album, and I love listening to it. So far, the response has been great! From my understanding, this album has been liked by people with all sorts of different musical tastes, which makes me happy because the last thing I want is to be put in a box with a label on it.
You’ve said that music, to you, is something fluid. What do you mean by that?
I mean, personally, I don’t think of myself as belonging to a specific style too rigidly. I don’t think I could, even if I tried. When I start a new track, generally, I have a basic idea of where I want to go with it, but more often than not, by the time I’m done, some major shifts will have happened, sometimes in genre too. I just follow the flow and let the track tell me what it wants to be. I don’t have a lane. That’s what I mean by fluidity.
You’ve mentioned contemporary chillwave acts and bands like Depeche Mode and The Cure as being influential on your sound. Is there anybody else you would credit, or give a shout-out to, for helping shape your musical soundscape? Who did you grow up listening to?
There are plenty of amazing artists who have had a profound impact on me growing up. As a child, my initial exposure to music was through the records of one of my brothers, who was heavily into Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, CSNY, and some prog rock. So, that was a good influence and foundation.
In my early teens, when I was finally able to get my own records, I got into the whole post-punk scene – Cocteau Twins, to this day, are my number one favoured band. But I also love David Bowie and Kate Bush, and how they both were able to create their own fantastic world. And Donna Summer’s early records with Giorgio Moroder. Particularly the insanely timeless masterpiece ‘I Feel Love’ from 1977, which paved the way for today’s electronic music.
Could you tell us a bit about your songwriting process? Not specifically for any song but just in general. How do you take an idea and turn it into a piece of music?
I don’t really have a preset way of starting a song. Sometimes, I work out a chord progression on my bass or keyboard and take it from there. Occasionally, I start looking for sounds in one of my plugins or DAW and develop chords based on the vibe I’m getting from the sound which is more like working on a collage or a puzzle until the pieces fit together. Other times, I hear a melody in my head and go with it.
Typically, the end result is miles away from the initial approach, and I like that. I’ve also learned that after the initial development of the track, it’s good to let it “cook” for a while and leave it alone. Usually, when I go back to it with a fresh mindset, I always hear new things to add and a lot that needs to come out, which is the hard part because I tend to overdo it. But I spend a lot of time making sure that things don’t step on each other and that there’s zero muddiness.
What is one thing about the music industry that you would change if you had the power to?
If I had the power, one crucial change I would implement would be to overhaul the compensation system for musicians utilizing streaming platforms. Independent musicians struggle to earn fair compensation from their streams due to the current payment structure of streaming services. They basically pay you nothing. By increasing the compensation for musicians, we could have a more just environment where talent is accordingly rewarded, enabling artists to thrive and innovate.
Take us through a non-music day in the life of Gianfranco Pescetti. What keeps you busy and what do you enjoy doing?
I’m fortunate to be living on a farm, so I normally try to have my hours be a blend of music-making and tending to various farm chores. I’m out there landscaping, taking care of our animals, and getting my hands dirty in the soil. We grow some of our own food here, which adds a layer of work but also brings awesome satisfaction. There’s always something to do. Hiking is also a big part of my routine and I love cooking.
OK, Gianfranco – desert island time! You’re allowed to grab 3 albums before being stranded on an island. Which do you go with?
That’s a rough one!
‘Victorialand’ – Cocteau Twins
‘The Kick Inside’ – Kate Bush
‘Disintegration’ – The Cure
Thanks so much for chatting with us Gianfranco! What can we expect from you next?
Absolutely! I’m in the middle of writing my take on a cover song from The Psychedelic Furs which is turning out quite cool and I know who I want to sing in it. I hope they say yes!