Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Music: Interview with talented Italian Singer and Songwriter Francesco Liccari


We're pleased to introduce Francesco Liccari, an Italian musician who sings, composes, and plays the guitar. Find out more about this talented singer/songwriter by reading his interview and listening to his songs!

Please tell us a little about your background and where you are from.

I’m from Trieste (Italy), a border city where different cultures meets together. There, I started taking lessons of classical guitar when I was a child. Under the guidance of my teacher, Andrea Massaria (professor of Jazz guitar at Venice conservatory), I’ve learned almost everything I know about music. 

And since you’re been playing since you were a child, what made you fall in love with music?

Listening made me fall in love with music. I’ve always listened to a lot of music since I was a child. I began with the artists my father listened to (the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd) and then with the ones my brother listened to (David Bowie, Queen, Cat Stevens, Fabrizio De AndrĂ©, Donovan). Then, I found my own tastes, listening to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Woody Guthrie, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, Velvet Underground, Francesco Guccini, Edoardo Bennato, to name a few. At some point, I felt the need to write my own songs and so I did it.

You’ve mentioned several of your favorite singers. Can you consider any of them as your greatest influence to follow in the music career? Why?



At the beginning, it was Bob Dylan. His lyrics taught me the importance of words and feelings, and through his music I learnt my own way of writing. The second greater influence is David Bowie. He taught me how to change, how to make my music different. As a songwriter, I can find my way of writing music and then continue all my life with it or I can change it, like Bowie always did. This is the most important lesson, do not copy what you have already done but strive to always be different.

That’s a really good lesson for every artist. I’m assuming you also write the lyrics and compose the songs?

Yes, I do. I love to create something new every time, writing the right words for the right music. 

When was the first time you performed live and how did you feel?

The first time I performed live was in 2009. My songwriting project had yet to come and I was playing in a cover band at that time. I felt scared and also excited, and it was funny but totally awful! The first time I performed live as Francesco Liccari was in 2010. I played just a couple of songs I wrote the year before but was definitely better than my first performance.

That’s great. Is there a specific performance you feel was your best so far? If so, where and why?

No, there is not. Certainly playing at Sofar Sounds was a nice experience and I also think I did some really good performance after Enrico Casasola joined my project, playing bass. However I can't pick one as the best. I usually perform trying to share my feelings (through music) with the audience; if I succeed, that is a great performance. So every performance is different; it can be good or bad, but a good one can't be better than another good performance.


It makes sense. What do you enjoy the most about your interaction with the fans? Who is your audience?


Talking with them after a gig, or on social network. It is extremely important to me to get to meet my audience not only in general, but every single person. They give me strength and the reason to keep playing. Music is made for listening; without my audience, my music would be useless. Who is your audience you ask me? People with something in common with me; they find something in my music that they also feel. I see that like an invisible thread linking each other.

It’s a wonderful thing when your music resonates with your audience. And how do you draw inspiration to write your music? 


Everywhere: from real life, from stories I hear, from my lucid dreams, from the emotions I feel. A mix of memories, time and irrational. The inspiration for the lyrics I write comes to me like a stream of consciousness, all at once.

What are you working on now and what are your plans for the future? Where can we find and buy your music?

I’m working on my third EP. I'm going to reveal the title in a preview to you; it will be "Four letters: love". Its main theme will obviously be love. However it won't be a collection of love songs but a reflection about love.
You can find my previous EPs on Soundcloud, you can buy them on Bandcamp and you can find some videos here: http://francescoliccari.it/video/
I hope you’ll enjoy them!

I’m sure we will, and thank you so much for revealing the name of your next EP to us! That’s special. And is there anything else you'd like to add?

Support independent music/musicians, we have a lot of independent music out there. Do not let the majors choose which the right music is for you. Same goes for movies, books, paintings and all the arts. Don't let others decide for you, choose by yourself.
Finally, and in conclusion, I would like to thank you for the interview!

Thank you for your time, Francesco, and we wish you much success in your music career! 

To follow Francesco and find out more about his music, click on the links below:
 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Franz_Liccari

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FrancescoLiccari/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/francesco-liccari

Bandcamp: https://francescoliccari.bandcamp.com/

Website: http://francescoliccari.it/

 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Books: Interview with Historical Fiction Greek Author Lefki Sarantinou


We love a great historical novel and just found out one of the newest releases by Quest Publications is an intriguing tale in the times of the Crusades. Read on to find out more about this great Greek author!

Tell us where you are from and a little bit about your background.

I was born in Rethymno, Crete (Greece). My family adored everything related to music, art, and books. My parents were teachers of math and biology, so I learned to love studying from an early age. Our neighbors were both history professors in the University of Crete. My elementary teacher and these neighbors were the ones who taught me to love history. 

You were born in a country that has so much history, too. When did you realize you wanted to write and when did you start writing?

The truth is that when I was a young student, I wanted to become an author, but as I grew up, music took over as my future occupation. So I forgot my “childhood dream”. Then I studied history, along with music, and read many historical books. When I was twenty six years old, a book about the crusades inspired me to try to write my first historical novel, but when I started it, I didn’t know that this would become a published historical novel and that I could write more novels, history articles, book for children etc.

So your childhood dream came true! Although you already mentioned above, can you tell us more about the book that inspired you to write your first novel?

It was Steven Runciman’s history book “A history of the crusades”. I found this part of history and the author’s narration very amazing, so I thought this part of the history with the battles, the sieges and the rivalry between the Templars and the Knights of Saint John could become a fascinating historical novel. That was how “Hamsin, wind of the east” was born.


How much research did you do to ensure there’s historical accuracy in your novel?

A historical novel that follows faithfully the historical accuracy demands a lot of research and studying. I attempt, in my novels, not to write anything that goes against proven historical facts, and this makes the whole process even more difficult. If it is necessary to make a change in a particular historical fact, I always mention it in a footnote, but I try to avoid it and follow the row of history in my plot. I intend to make the plot from history and adapt the plot to it, not the opposite.

I’m sure that requires a lot of research but it’s worth it. What is your favorite quote and who wrote it?

Unquestionably “Carpe diem”! I try hard, every day, to live by this motto, which means I live and enjoy every moment of the day! This quote comes from the Roman poet Horatius who lived between 65-8 BC.

That’s a great quote! Do you have a favorite author? Who? Has this author or their books influenced your writing in any way?

Many authors are beloved to me, Greeks and foreigners alike. But I think that the way Ken Follett writes influenced my writing. Ken Follett has written many fascinating historical novels that teach and amuse the readers about history. Another thing I appreciate in Follett’s books, which I try hard to do also in my writing, is the fast, cinematic plot. Furthermore, in Ken’s work, you will not find unreal facts that are part of his plot and that’s something you will not find in my work either.

Wonderful influence and advice. If you could be a character from any book, who would you like to be and why?

Definitely Scarlet O’Hara from the novel “Gone with the wind”, written by Margaret Mitchell. I admire the courage, the independent spirit she had and her dynamic character, all these I don’t possess, so I admire it a lot when I see them in other people!

What a great character indeed! What are you working on now?

I have just finished the second part of “Hamsin wind of the east” which concerns the two sieges of Rhodes when it was under the rule of the Knights of Saint John, from the Ottomans in 1480 and 1522 AC. Simultaneously, I write Greek mythology and ancient Greek history for children.

That’s fabulous. I love Greek mythology and history. Your new book sounds exciting! Where can we find more about you and your writing?

At the homepage of Historical Quest and Quest Publications, my publishing house.

 
Is there anything else you ’d like to share with our readers?

I think that all the people must study History, so they can understand the present global events. I advise them to read, first of all, history of course, and books that can leave a stamp, in any way, on their souls! Reading, art, and music make us better persons and spice up our lives, so we ought to keep ourselves busy with these things as much as we can!

Excellent advice! Thank you so much for your time and we wish you a lot of success in your writing career!  

To purchase this great novel, click on one of the links below:



 
 
 


Monday, March 12, 2018

Music: Interview with talented UK musician Matt Steady



We have a great interview today with Matt Steady, a talented musician from the UK. Read on to find out more about his work and upcoming release!



Matt, tell us a little about your background and where you are from.

I’m from Leicester (in England). I’ve moved around the country all my life with my Dad’s job, but when I went to university, I met my wife and settled down here and we’ve been here ever since! I had a successful career in IT for 20 years, but 18 months ago I took the plunge and went full-time as a musician.

That’s fantastic and good luck with your leap of faith! What made you fall in love with music and play?

I was brought up listening to and loving music – from classical to jazz to the Muppets! Eventually I started finding my own tastes, moving through the Beatles to Dire Straits and Pink Floyd. Every few years I’d discover a new genre and devour it! Blues, metal, folk, prog … I haven’t collected everything yet but give me some time and I’ll get there!

There’s so much to listen to! Who was your greatest influence to follow in the music career?

So many to choose from! I think the biggest inspiration that actually made me get off the sofa and start playing in front of people was Damien Rice.


Do you also write the lyrics and compose the songs?

Yes. I occasionally do covers, but I much prefer to write my own. They mean more to me and I can perform them better as a result.

Indeed, I’m sure it’s much more rewarding playing your own music. When was the first time you performed live and how did you feel?


The first time I sang in front of a large group of people was when I was very small singing “If I was a
butterfly” as a solo in church. Haha! I can remember it now. There’s one line that says “If I was a fuzzy-wuzzy bear, I’d thank the Lord for my fuzzy-wuzzy hair” or something similar, and one of the band members, who was very bald, started rubbing his head. Everyone was laughing and it put me off a bit!

I sung and played in choirs and orchestras for years, but the first time I played solo as an acoustic artist in front of people was in my 30s at a barbeque. I did a mix of covers from Martyn Joseph to Eric Clapton. I muffed up a guitar solo and was mortified!

That sounds like fun, though! And now you can laugh at it. Is there a specific performance you feel was your best so far? If so, where and why?

I think my best performance so far may have been at the Fuse Theatre in Manchester. The evening had a whole load of wonderful artists all brought together by a guy called John Reed to celebrate music together. I did my own set which went extremely well, but the funny thing was I somehow ended up playing fiddle with pretty much all the other artists and bands. Brilliant fun – exhausting but brilliant!

Must have been a great performance! What do you enjoy the most about your interaction with the fans?

I love showing people that I’m as normal (or completely non-normal!) as they are. I’m just a person, and I love to encourage other people to get singing in front of other people, or paint, or read, or work at their job, or enjoy their holidays or whatever it is that they do. You meet some wonderful people when you’re in the music business, and I’d say that most of the people I talk to end up as friends rather than faceless fans.

What a wonderful thing to meet fans like that. How do you draw inspiration to write your music? 

There’s inspiration everywhere! I was in the car this morning and heard the start of a program on the radio talking about the “Highland Clearances” in Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries and immediately my brain started whirling! I don’t write a lot of love songs – I prefer to be inspired by scenery and history and people and events. There are a million and one love songs, but there’s not many about the Magna Carta being signed at Runnymede, or the moon landings. So I prefer to be a bit different and cover tackle I haven’t covered before. Whatever I write about, I try and link that back to everyday life and things in our own lives. It has to be relatable.

How unique! What are you working on now and what are your plans for the future? Where can we find and buy your music?

I’ve got a new album coming out in a couple of weeks called “Echoes of Albion”, which I’m so www.mattsteady.com if you’d like to listen to and/or buy the music. Everything is available in the normal places like iTunes etc., but I much prefer it when people buy direct my site – there’s more of a connection and it doesn’t end up feeding half the money to the massive corporations.
excited about. I’ve spent 7 months crafting it – it’s an earthy mix of Celtic Blues, which is a sound you won’t hear very often. It celebrates the landscapes, people and legends of Britain from ancient times to today. Pre-orders are open still for a very short time. It’s best to head to

Congratulations on your new album. Sounds great! Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Support independent and local music – musicians and venues! Without the grass roots, we’ll have nothing left. Don’t be content with listening to what commercial radio force-feeds you. There’s some amazing, wonderful, almost unheard-of music out there that will suit you much better. All you’ve got to do is take the time to find it!

Thanks for your time and we wish you much success with your career!

To follow Matt, click on the links below and support his music: