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He refers to himself as a ‘gypsy’, but he has very clear ideas in mind. Born in 1992 and originally from Milan is Andrea Venerus, or better known as just ‘Venerus’. The songwriter, musician and producer recently debuted his own musical project, after a 5-year academic experience in London. All we have to do is listen to his persuasive voice and discover his whole new sound. Welcome back home, Venerus!
You’re a complete artist. A singer, writer and musician. Let's retrace your first steps starting from the last one of these qualities. What musical instruments can you play and at what age did you start playing them?
Since I was a child, I’ve always loved listening and singing to music. Then, at the age of 15, I took my first guitar lessons, which I used to strum while singing my favorite songs. At the age of 18, I enrolled in the academy where I graduated in guitar. However, over the formative years, I realized that I was interested in the overall vision, rather than the instrument itself. So, I self-taught myself to play the piano and the bass, and I learned to produce. Now, I especially enjoy producing and playing the instruments while I do it.
When did you start writing and composing your first pieces? Tell us the title and content of your very first lyrics.
The very first piece was at 18, but I don't remember either the title or the text. Surely, it spoke of solitude though...
Writing is an innate quality, but it needs continuous and vivid solicitations. Are there authors or literary works that inspire your expressive style?
At the moment, not someone or something in particular. That being said, the way I write now is more a development of how I learned to start writing. As a boy, I read a lot of Russian literature and poetry. Now, I'm reading Gabriel García Márquez and I really like him.
Love, anger, nostalgia or sadness: in your case, what emotion tends to stimulate writing? And what’s the prevailing mood at this stage of your life?
I’d say all these emotions together bring out different shades of my reasoning. In this moment of my life, there’s especially love, and less solitude. Although, when it arrives, it has sharp and very intense peaks.
Let's focus on singing. During live performances, you wear face masks. What do they represent?
In truth, the first and only time I wore a mask was in Milan. I wanted that performance to be more intense, and for me it certainly was. A few minutes before the concert, I thought: “What am I doing?”. Shortly after the concert began, I remembered that I was doing it to enrich my concert experience with my imagination. Surely, I won’t do the same again, but who knows, other ideas will come to me...
What music did you grow up listening to? And what are your Spotify favourites right now?
Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, Chet Baker; my father's discography. Now, on Spotify I listen to everything: lots of rap, house/techno and still a lot of jazz. I have a playlist on my profile that I update regularly, there you’ll find some of the music I'm listening to.
Let us leave music and get to know Andrea better. What do you do when you’re not writing, singing or playing?
I also produce other artists. Then, I go out in the evening very regularly. I also ride my motorcycle and travel whenever I can.
You were born in Milan, you lived in London and Rome. Tell us which neighborhood you prefer in each of these cities.
I came back to live in Milan last summer. In Milan, I’m dedicated to my San Siro district, even though I like the whole city. In London, I love Brixton and Notting Hill. As to Rome, I have a rather intense and beautiful relationship with San Lorenzo, but I like a thousand areas...Trastevere, Centocelle, Piazza Vittorio and so on.
Like so many young Italians, you moved abroad to find your way. How and why did you make the decision to go back home?
I had recorded an album in Rome and, all of a sudden, London (where I had just finished studying) turned me off a little. More than anything else, because I’ve always been a gypsy and I can’t stay in one place too long. Then, generally speaking, the idea of trying to make my journey in my own country, and where I grew up, has become a priority.
Among your London experiences, what memory do you remember most proudly and what experience left you with a bitter taste?
I remember the time spent alone around the city, with my discoveries and adventures. The studying left me a little bitter in my mouth, because I was hoping to find more people like me. Unfortunately, in the academy most people are there for the instrument, rather than the desire to create their own music.
Imagine you have a scale in front of you. On the one hand the self-criticism, on the other the criticisms of others. How much do they weigh in on your growth path?
Self-criticism is much more important. The criticisms of others don’t bother me, they’re more a warning to understand how people react to my work, but they don't really scare me. I know that my research isn’t too fashionable and it needs its time to reach the public, but that's okay for me.
Confess a dream and a phobia.
An international feat or a production with international artists like Octavian. It’s more than a dream, it's something I want to achieve. If you mean more a euphoric dream, then to do a concert in the middle of the sea, without a stage, floating on the water. I’m rather claustrophobic, it often creates problems for me.
Printed cotton shirt
Horsebit detail leather loafers
Skull intarsia shawl
Intarsia wool sweater
Joan Thiele is a young Italian singer and songwriter who doesn’t like certain definitions. A mixture of Colombian and Swiss origins, Joan sings in English and lives a little in London and a little in Milan. A fascinating harmony of cultures that finds expression in her album ‘Tango’.
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