London-Born, France-Residing Singer-Songwriter Comes to SOhO in January
Born in London to English and Italian parents and raised in France, where he still lives, Piers Faccini is a worldly influenced songwriter. His new album Tearing Sky is on Everloving Records, the label run by Ben Harper’s manager that debuted Jack Johnson. Piers comes to SOhO on Wednesday, January 10. Here is the edited bulk of a recent interview with The Indy’s Matt Kettmann.
Are you in Paris right now? We’re not far away. I used to live in Paris, but we live in the south of the country now, near the Mediterranean. But my mom lives not far from Paris, and we are all here now for Christmas.
Does your worldly upbringing give you better insight into songwriting? The music that I do is influenced by a lot of different kinds of music from around the world. It’s a very kind of eclectic music, which I’ve been listening to ever since I was 18 really. I don’t know if I could say definitely [that it makes me a better songwriter], but the fact that I wasn’t in one country, that I moved around speaking more than one language, that made me an outsider constantly. I know how England works, I speak the language, but I don’t feel English. I go to France, I don’t feel French. I go to Italy, and I don’t feel Italian. That gave me more a sense of whit and scope for when I write songs. I don’t feel limited to any particular format.
You’re also a painter. Does one art inform the other? I think that they’re such different things, but certainly people who have seen my work and listened to my music, they say one reflects the other.
What kind of painting do you do? It’s so hard to describe painting with words, so you should just see my website. But they are very nocturnal scene, very empty landscape. They are essentially about light in a way.
I read your diary and it said that you had a bit of a confrontation with a drunk the last time you played at SOhO? That was funny. When I write in my diary, I try to make it not like totally uninteresting. I try to make it slightly entertaining. And this guy was a knucklehead, but our sax player made it into a really funny joke, very light-hearted, and the guy decided to back down. It was an example of the barroom mentality and you get that all over the world—it’s the same deal in a bar in France or a pub in England, when a guy decides that he wants to take that moment to be macho and tough guy. I thought it was really funny.
So it didn’t give you a bad taste for Santa Barbara, then. No, no. I really like Santa Barbara. I’m looking forward to coming to California. It’s pretty cold here as well.
It’s cold for us here too right now. Yea, but cold for you is still okay for us.
What can we expect at SOhO? Generally what I try and do is represent the songs in a way that is true to the songs as possible. But also, what you do on album in a studio and what you do live are such different things, you should be able to adapt it for whatever occasion it is. If it’s a good enough song, then it’s flexible enough to go down that road. My live shows tend to be more dynamic than the album. For example, I’ll be playing mainly songs my CD Tearing Sky, but I’ll play two or three others from the album I did two years ago. And jus playing to American audiences is always kind of a pleasure, because, while I play in England and Ireland sometimes, I play a lot inf France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria. People don’t necessarily speak English, and if they do, they don’t necessarily hook onto the lyrics and understand what you’re trying to say. So playing in front of an English speaking audience is nice, because you get to see people captivated by what you say.
I’ve always though it interesting that people in Europe are okay with listening to words they don’t understand whereas in America, foreign language music isn’t so popular. The thing is that basically English and American music is played all over the world, so people who don’t speak English will listen to that music, because that’s been the main form of popular music over the last however many years. Even if you’re from Bulgaria or Italy or Russia, you’re used to listening to that language.
I think it has to do with people in Europe being more multicultural, at least when it comes to language. Yea, when you have such a huge country and everyone speaking the same language, it’s easy to take the language for granted. But in Europe, there are so many, you don’t have to travel very far to find a different language.
Do you ever sing in other languages? Well, English is first language, my mother language, and it’s definitely the language I like to write in. I don’t sing in French, and occasionally I’ll sing some old school Neapolitan songs, to throw something different in. But they’re very intimate, so it depends—if there’s that kind of vibe, maybe I’ll sing one. But generally speaking, I feel part of an Anglo-American tradition of songwriting. I may have brought in influences from Brazilian music, African music, but my structure is fundamentally the English-America form of songwriting.
411 Piers Faccini comes to SOhO on Wednesday, January 10. See sohosb.com or call 962-7776 for more.