A Chat with Piers Faccini
London-Born, France-Residing Singer-Songwriter Comes to SOhO in
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
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
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.