Italian singer Patrizio Buanne is currently in Australia promoting his new album Viva La Dolce Vita featuring songs in his native-Italian, Spanish and English including the Tom Jones classic “Help Yourself”. I spoke to Patrizio about languages, Australia, fans and what is next for 2015 …
I imagine song choice takes quite a lot of time to perfect because not only are you choosing songs in many different languages, you’re also taking songs sung in a particular language and changing it. Does that make song choice quite hard when you’re going into making a new album?
The one thing that I’m very very happy about is that I’m allowed to be myself which means that people really buy the music of Patrizio. When I started, I had to introduce myself somehow so my debut album was called The Italian and it basically presented myself as the guy who sings the beautiful Italian songs. With the years, I became known as the ambassador of the Italian songbook explaining that Italian music is not just opera. It’s not just the music that we know from Andrea Bocelli or the classical Tenors but there is a romantic side and a pop-y side of the music.
On all those years that I’ve recorded, the soul of the album, if you want to call it that, is still Mediterranean and it’s still romantic and it’s still Italian but I wanted to go beyond that and I just wanted to offer people my interpretations of any good song really. I write songs myself as well but I don’t really focus on sitting there and writing. I’d rather sit down and think what would make people out there happy, what would they appreciate. I think great songs have been written and are there to keep alive and to share them with more and more people and new generations.
So therefore the new album was not as easy to choose the repertoire as it was on the first, second or the third album. I wanted to go a little more precise, deeper into what I think people would enjoy and we’ve got an amazing album. It’s an album fulled of known songs, Italian songs that have been recorded as well in English, but I recorded a little bit more in Spanish language because the Latin market seems to [have] opened up for me and that’s why i wanted to share this. It’s really really a beautiful album. I’m really proud of it.
Do you change a song based on what you think sounds best in a certain language? For example, saying ‘I love you’ might sound better in English rather than saying it in a different language.
I never thought about it but you’re probably right. The Italian or Spanish language, or even the French language is one of the most melodical languages that we have on this planet. I mean, German is very harsh and very strong. English does sound very nice but I think Italian and Spanish sound more rounded, [has] so many vowels and it’s very open but I never thought about it.
My natural language that I speak at home is Italian and therefore I never thought about this so i can only say if I want to make a song my own then I would naturally translate it into Italian. Even sometimes there are songs on the charts, I know the words and I sing along, and I just invent some Italian words because it comes natural to me. Patrizio is my real name. Patrizio is not a guy that decided to sing in Italian because that’s what works or that’s what sounds nice. Patrizio lives it that way, the emotions I live I translate them into Italian and it works for me, it crosses over, people love it. It’s amazing.
I read that you did musical theatre when you were a kid; have you ever thought about recording a musical theatre inspired album?
I don’t think I would because, let me just brain storm with you, I see myself as an entertainer. I see myself as an interrupter of great songs so I take known songs or original songs that are written for me and I put my own stamp on it. While musical theatre, musicals, you have to play a certain role, you have to play it the way the director and the musical piece requires it. Not necessarily always, I mean there are some singers that have paid tribute and recorded songs from West Side Story and from Grease but those artists mostly that will re-record it will probably base themselves or model themselves on the original recording. Just for example, Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta were the first ones to do Grease and you have musicals that interrupt it their own way but based on the original because you want to show the people that you want to interrupt it as close as possible to the original.
As Frank Sinatra used to say, ‘I did my way’ so I do it my way. Many people tell me that I have the voice to do musical theatre, I could sing the opera and I’ve got the range, so does Tom Jones. Tom Jones has an amazing voice, a big voice, and Elvis has a big voice, Freddie Mercury had a big voice, and I would rather see myself in the legacy, the tradition of a Tom Jones or a Freddie Mercury or an Elvis Presley and not necessarily do musical theatre. But I love musical theatre and I’d always go and enjoy them.
Are you surprised with the success you’ve had here in Australia?
I never expect anything and I appreciate everything. I wouldn’t say that I’m surprised but I would say that it does amaze me being that Australia really is so open-minded and so open-hearted towards so many different genres. In England it would be different I think the British media or the British taste are a little bit more defined when it comes to certain genres where they go ‘that is great’ and ‘that is cheesy’ or ‘we wont listen to that but this is cool’ and ‘this is great’ so as an artist you really have to always think what the UK would like and not.
With Australia, I don’t have to think what you might like or not, you just allow me to be myself and this is amazing because I’m coming to this country and I’m embracing the culture and embracing the variety and all the different things about Australia and Australia does the same to me. ‘He’s Italian, let me listen to what he has to say’ rather than the prejudice saying ‘oh he’s just some romantic Italian singer’, ‘isn’t he cute’, ‘Oh my God let’s have a look at him’. The Brits seem to have that little bit of cynical prejudice and prejudice doesn’t help, so Australia is very open-minded and therefore I’m very grateful.
Have you gotten to the point where you can no longer walk around Australia without being recognised?
It’s been difficult to walk around and not be recognised, to be asked for an autograph and not to be asked to be taken a picture and put it on the Instagram, even though I’m wearing a jumper or maybe have not shaven or my hair looks whatever. But I’ve never been camp or vain about this; in the end I consider myself a singer. I don’t want to compete to Ricky Martin or any people. I’m not a model, I’m a singer so it is difficult but I have to say that Australian people are really really down to earth. And although they know exactly who you are, they stare and they look at you from far, they give you maybe just give you a smile and acknowledge you but they won’t jump on you like ‘Oh my God! Oh my God! You’re Patrizio!’ That’s more in America – In America people are literally falling over me in those territories that I’m known.
From the footage I’ve seen, the ladies clearly love you. Have there been fan moments that stick out in your mind as the scariest or craziest?
Years ago I walked into my room, and I was kicking of my shoes and get ready to feel comfortable and I see a girl in my bed. And I go, ‘What the hell? What are you doing there?’ And I was just contacting the reception and, of course, that person got fired because how was that person in the first place able to get into my room so that’s one freaky thing that fans would do. I stay very relaxed and don’t freak out because some fans don’t even know what they do wrong. They think they are allowed to do certain things.
Generally what happens very often is we get fan mail and they write pages and pages of messages. I don’t read pages and pages. I get messages forwarded which are a couple of lines and I really appreciate it [and] I see the messages on Instagram and Twitter. I wont read all the long ones and then you met that person somewhere sooner or later somewhere on a meet and greet or at a concert and they’re like ‘you never replied to me’ and ‘you never answered’ and all they think is that I’m having a conversation with them so it’s awkward that they think that we are pen pals . I would still encourage them still to write maybe not as much but I still enjoy it.
What’s the feeling like when you step onto stage and see tens of thousands of people screaming your name?
I love doing interviews, I love talking to you and talking on TV, you know channel 7 doing The Morning Show, getting up early and cooking and talking and making jokes and have a photo shoot and I love doing that, although I don’t like looking at myself. I get very embarrassed and self-critical looking at myself but my element really is being on stage. Even recording in the studio I don’t really like it because you’re there in a locked room with the headphones, you got the producer on the other side forcing you to sing the line ten times to make it right because it sounds always different on a recording. You have to make it right, you know when you make a record you try and make a piece of history. Once it’s stamped there’s no excuse.
On stage I can really be what I feel, interact with the people, give them roses, give them flowers, dedicate them a song and make a fool out of myself, be an entertainer, send the people home with a smile on their face, make them move emotionally, like shed a tear, seeing tears in their eyes, happy tears, and make them move. It’s a party, you come as an audience and you leave as friends and that’s what I really love most. They can do what they like, they can shout, as long as they respect me because I really want to be able to work and make sure that everyone gets to see the concert because the star of the show is the concert, it’s not me, I’m the one who gets people in to see my concert but its all about the orchestra and arrangements and all the musicians. I’ve got great musicians, great guitarist, great piano, great drums, it’s just an experience. That’s what we musicians want the people to take with them home.
And lastly, what does the rest of 2015 hold for you?
A lot of promotion on this album. It’s been released now first here in Australia and New Zealand. Next it’s going to South Africa, all across Asia, then eventually I’m going to end up doing a lot of promotion in America. It’s a big continent – you’ve got 22 million people in Australia but 300 million people in America so that’s a tough cookie.
But the end of the year, September-October, maybe November, doing a national tour here in Australia touring Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, of course. I really hope that people will get the album because people want to see a concert of an artist then it’s really based on the record sales of an album so if artists don’t tour it’s because everyone has the album but nobody bought it. The record company and the promoters don’t really promote the show because they didn’t make any profit. Now I don’t make big profit out of it because the record companies nowadays, they invest so much money into promotion, money has to come in first to pay off all that.
It’s a beautiful album Viva La Dolce Vita is the title which means ‘Long live the sweet life’. Why the sweet life? Because there’s so many negative things in the world. My album takes you away, not into the perfect world, but in a world where everything is still okay, everything is fine, where we talk about the beautiful things. If you think about negative things then you attract negative things so don’t think about things that you could have, think about the things you have. Even if they may be negative, you can turn something negative into something positive, you know, the glass is not half empty, it’s half full. Think positive, ‘Viva La Dolce Vita’.
Viva La Dolce Vita is out now.