Beginning to write music at the tender age of sixteen, Violetta Zironi has already forged an earthy sound that draws inspiration from folk and americana. Her sound however, is a reflection of herself. Though passionate about these inspirations, she comes from a completely different background. Born and raised in Italy, her sound is directly affected by those traditions; “I feel very close to Italian songwriters from the 60s”, she said as we began to speak. “Luigi Tenco, Gino Paoli, Paolo Conte, and of course the great Ennio Morricone. I would say I take a huge inspiration from those artists in my songwriting and the arrangement of my music”.
Her latest release, ‘Toast’, is taken from the recently released ‘Half Moon Lane’ EP. Produced by Tim Tautorat, it’s clear to see how her continental folk roots have blossomed. ‘Toast’ is a swirling, emotive track laced with frank and playful storytelling. Speaking about the track, she said “It’s about being emotionally removed from any relationship, being afraid to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there. When stealing hearts, all you really want is someone to steal yours”.
Music has been part of Violetta Zironi’s life for as long as she can remember. “At one point I just figured out that there was nothing else that I loved doing more than playing music”, she said. “I always had a crazy admiration for musicians in general. They were able to produce something that would really connect with people. The turning point was one day at school when my music teacher tried to teach us a life lesson during class. They said, ‘Instead of looking up to your favourite idols and just adoring them, thinking about them as it they were gods,if you really love what they do, just do it yourself! It is possible!’. I took it literally and just went for it”.
Despite growing up in Italy, Violetta’s influence from the country came to her strongly after leaving, more so than it did whilst she was living there. “I would say it’s very common to understand and appreciate something more after you don’t have it close anymore”, she said. “After leaving to go abroad, I learnt to appreciate my own tradition a lot more. And sort of look into it beneath the surface. So growing older and seeing different places, allowed me to better understand who I am and where I came from. My family has always been really passionate about music and supportive to me. My dad is a musician himself, he plays blues harmonica. Although it’s just as a hobby”.
During the summer of 2016, Violetta Zironi embarked on a journey across America where she would meet local musicians in places like Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, and picked up myriad inspirations along the way. Reflected in this latest body of work, Violetta Zironi said the reason for the road trip around the south of the United States so that she could see, with her own eyes, where her favourite genre of music came from. “We drove across Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and discovered the roots of the blues, country and folk music”, she said. “I had the chance to work and collaborate with different people. Amazing musicians and songwriters, people who grew up in that background, who were really authentic. I realised that those places and the culture were completely different from myself as a person and as an artist. But I still felt connected to it somehow”.
Unarguably, it helped developed her sound and songwriting. She likes to write about episodes of her life; “Maybe more so than actual facts”, she said. “I take all of my feelings about certain circumstances, after they happen, and write them all down. I think that way, people are more likely to relate to the lyrics because they might have felt the same way at some point in their life. My life has been pretty intense over the last couple of years”. Not only has Violetta Zironi been travelling, she has come across unexpected situations, crazy adventures and unpredictable mistakes. There have been different people and places, different ways of life, that have substantially effected her way of thinking. “I think life is definitely an adventure though”, she added. “An endless path, a story worth telling”.
“The concept of my ‘Half Moon Lane’ EP is exactly that”, she said when I asked her about the story behind the new collection of work. “It contains my memories. The memories of a girl that, with the aim of discovering the world and talking to people through music, decides to leave her home to find a way of doing it. It tells the tale of the road ahead and behind me. The fear of what’s to come, and the hope of being able to always smile with the help of the memory of home”.
Notably, her latest track, ‘Toast’, is about being emotionally removed from a relationship. “It’s about resuming the feeling you have when you are really trying not to be affected by things”, she said. “Cause, you think it will make you feel better, just building up a wall so that things won’t get to you. But in the end, you realise it’s not possible. That when feelings come, you can’t stop them. And all you want is someone to share the feeling with you. All you want is someone to make you breakfast. Only then will you be able to be honest to yourself”.
Reflectively then, it would seem that people are afraid to be vulnerable. People are afraid to show their feelings for the fear of getting badly burnt. “And when you get burnt, it can be difficult to get back to normal”, Zironi added. “But in the long run, not being emotionally connected to anything can be more hurtful than letting your feelings flow. Being emotional can lead to very beautiful things. Like being yourself and not being afraid of showing it to people. That will only lead to good things”.
In the four years that Violetta Zironi has been pursuing music she has learnt to know herself more than she ever has. She has found herself relating to different ways of life, and realised the reasons for mistakes that she’s made. “I found myself making the same mistakes over and over again, and finally understood what I was doing wrong”, she said. “One of the main things I’ve learned is that it’s not enough for me to do the things that come naturally. It’s important for my own development to constantly challenge myself with things out of comfort zone”. And although there’s no set five-year-plan, her dream is to keep travelling the world and playing her music. “I want to keep sharing it with people, people I make music with and people I simply play it for. It’s a constant exchange of feelings and that is my life dream”.
‘Half Moon Lane’ is available now via iTunes