Toronto crazy for Italian rapper Jovanotti Conquering the global scene, he will release his first North American album Italia 1988-2012 in August
Italy’s best-selling singer, songwriter and rapper, Lorenzo Cherubini, most famously known by his artistic name, Jovanotti performed to a packed audience on June 15 as part of the Luminato Festival.
Whether those in attendance were long-time fans or hearing him for the first time, one thing that is certain is Jovanotti’s ability to get the crowed pumped. “I love Toronto,” he said as he took the stage. Energetic, infectious, and a natural performer, Jovanotti wowed with his famous songs and spoke about his genuine like for our city, even noting that he went for a bike ride admiring the different Italian shops he came across. While only his second time performing in Toronto, his at-ease demeanor with a new fan base made it seem as if he’s been here a thousand times before.
“I want to dance with all of you,” he told the crowd at his Luminato performance. And that he surely did, getting off stage singing and dancing his way through the packed crowd- fans evidently thrilled. Without doubt, this is likely one of the most energetic and diverse performances of Luminato 2012.
While Jovanotti’s name and music is just beginning to gain recognition here in North America, his fans around the world have been following him for years. Jovanotti is one of Italy’s most popular contemporary artists, with an impressive eight consecutive number one albums. He’s collaborated with some of the world’s most respected musicians including Ben Harper, Beastie Boys, Bono, Sergio Mendes and Michael Franti- whom he was able to catch up with while in Toronto. In 2011 Jovanotti continued to prove his number-one musical status in Italy when his 12th studio album, Ora debuted at the top of the charts, selling over 500,000 copies followed by over 50 sold-out arena and stadium dates.
Jovanotti was introduced to U.S. audiences in 2009 and instantly sold out concerts from coast to coast. In 2011 he affirmed his North American appeal when he performed at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee. Jovanotti was the first ever appearance by a new generation Italian language artist at a major U.S. rock festival. His performance not only captivated the audience, but also music critics and industry leaders, including those at ATO Records.
This discovery led to where Jovanotti is today with a new North American label association with ATO Records. His debut album, Italia 1988-2012 will be his first album of studio recordings to be released in North America, and the first time much of the material has been released here in any format. The album, which will be released on August 7, will be a career retrospective that will also feature 4 new tracks including new songs ‘New York for Life’ and ‘Con La Luce Negli Occhi’ and complete reworkings of Jovanotti’s songs ‘La Porta É Aperta’ and ‘Mezzogiorno’. Some of these new tracks feature Jovanotti in the purest form, just him and the guitar.
This new approach is something Jovanotti confessed to Tandem as really liking. The album is produced by Ian Brennan who selected and remixed what he considers to be Jovanotti’s most representative material and sets him apart as a distinctive musician. To promote the upcoming new album, Jovanotti and his band set out on a round of US concert dates in March with club shows in various cities offering a preview of what’s to come for his North American audience.
Tandem had the opportunity to sit and speak with Jovanotti before he took the Luminato stage n Toronto.
Welcome to Toronto. How do you feel about performing at such a well-known event like Luminato?
I’m happy, I love this town and I’m always happy when I have to perform in general, wherever I am. I can say it’s one of the biggest places I’ve been to in North America. This is great and I’m glad to be here.
On August 7 you will be releasing a new album (Italia 1988-2012) under ATO Records, which is your first album to be released in North America. How do you feel about this accomplishment?
I feel curious and I want to know what’s going to happen. I feel like somebody is watching me from the outside. In general I take care of all my projects from the top to the end while in this case there’s somebody who is picking my music and doing his own thing.
What can fans expect from this album?
They can expect to know and get in touch with a different kind of Italian music. In general if you say Italian music to a North American audience they have three words, Opera, Bocelli, Pavarotti and it’s cool, these are three beautiful words. My music is different, it’s another thing…it’s a guy who grew up in a global culture.
Do you think this makes you more relatable?
Bocelli’s music for example is more accessible because it has strong melody and a beautiful voice- the Bel Canto. I’m doing music that’s more rhythmic. I’m expecting everything with this new album so I don’t know what will happen, but what I know is that when I play in front of people that don’t know Italian language, they actually have fun, they like it, so I’m going to keep on pushing in this sense.
The album is produced by Ian Brennan and will include some of your greatest hits from 1988 to now, including 4 new tracks. How do you feel about the choice of songs that were selected?
I was surprised because there’s actually not so many hits included. There are some of the hits, but mostly the new album is made of album songs that he liked and he wanted to put on the compilation. If I would come out in Italy with a ‘best of’ album, I would never choose some of the songs that he chose. What is good is that he listened to my music without any kind of prejudice positive or negative, in a virgin way. I like it…it’s cool. I don’t know how many artists in this world have the opportunity to be chosen and to be released in another country.
How does it feel to be an Italian artist who has such an appeal to fans here in North America, some who might not even understand the Italian language?
I feel good. My dream when I was a child was to play music. I’m 46 and I’m still in the centre of my dream. This is what really makes me feel good, the fact that I can play music no matter where I am. North America is important because modern pop culture is here. Playing here I say is like a priest doing a mass in the Vatican. Melodies for me are very important in songs and the reason why a song exists, so it’s strange that somebody doesn’t understand my lyrics, but it’s ok.
How do your North American fans differ from fans in Italy?
Totally different because the Italians grew up with me, they are like relatives. Some of my concerts I look at the first rows and I know everybody, I know their faces. Some come to the concerts with their children now, I like it. Here I know nobody and no one knows me (he laughs).
What do you have to say about your Canadian fans and the support you’ve received from them?
It’s cool. What’s really emotional for me is to meet the Italian people outside of Italy, Italians of maybe second or third generation that know the language. This is something that sometimes also makes me cry because you see that in every single person there is a story, there is a world. Every family is a world, and I’d like to get to know where they were born, what’s their story, why they left Italy. Every personal story is so original and so amazing, and this is great.
If you had to choose one lesson you’ve learned so far from your successful career what would it be?
To take care of the details. When you take care of all details then let yourself go, anything can happen.
If you missed your chance to see Jovanotti live in Toronto, the Italian superstar says he’ll likely be back in the winter with a club performance. In the meantime, fans and beyond will be able to get their hands on his first North American album later this summer.