Matteo Gabbianelli, Kutso frontman, has a clear vision – especially in the studio – and speaks bluntly on the topic of music. Eclectic to say the least (singer, composer, producer and engineer), his career has forged ahead in a constant search for balance between sound, originality, and experimentation. To date, he can claim with certainty that he’s lived some significant musical experiences; from the Sanremo Festival to various tours with Fabrizio Moro, Nobraino, Motel Connection, A Toys Orchestra, Marta sui Tubi, and Linea 77 – all of which have allowed him to construct a decisive point of view on the many structures of music. Let’s get to know him better.

I am an anarchist iconoclast who is not enchanted by Authority

Matteo Gabbianelli

You are a multifaceted figure. I guess you have a hard time defining yourself…

In my career I have been forced to play an infinite number of roles, including that of the manager. I have rarely found teams or people capable of managing complex dynamics while also taking care of my interests. It was tough at times but it provided me many advantages: now, in fact, I’m at ease in any situation. However, the priority remains the project which we’re working on – it always requires members with a spirit of self-denial, intelligence, and the desire to grow together. It’s not important who the artist, producer, sound engineer, or manager is: everyone must collaborate so that the final result is fulfilling for each member involved.

More and more aspiring musicians seem to be trying to take the path of television talent shows. Do you think the major labels are not doing enough for them?

I think of the majors as “reservoirs of money” and nothing else. Perhaps the early RCA could represent something different: a cenacle in which artists were free to meet and cooperate. But this is a historically isolated case. It has been a long time since the record label giants have delegated the task of discovering and nurturing artists to those independent labels that have
the desire and the means.

You’ve been to MEI recently, what’s the climate like in the world of independent music?

The last five years, in my opinion, have been the best for the indie scene. At least since I started. There are artists who can fill sports halls and stadiums without big radio or TV exposure. I must say that there is a lot of excitement all around. Despite the changing languages and production tools, creativity is more alive than ever. Of course, the pandemic has currently frozen the market and caused enormous damage, but it is a problem that mainly concerns the large concentrations of power. Ordinary people (including the next Bruno Mars and De André) have not stopped churning out content, nor will they.

How can you make a living from music today?

By throwing yourself into a sea of a thousand good things simultaneously and often holding your nose. We must take every single opportunity in the hope of having the clarity – and the luck – to understand when we are in front of something or someone special. It is not easy at all.

Matteo Gabbianelli, Perpetuotour, 2014
Matteo Gabbianelli, Perpetuo Tour, 2014

How much does the current context affect the artist’s present and future choices? Are you ready to give advice on this?

One cannot fail to be influenced by the reality that surrounds us. The important thing is to believe in your own story and carry out an idea (perhaps even “wrong”) in order to make art outside of current trends. Things belong to those who take them. For an artist to be in the right place at the right time, you need determination and a hypercritical but proactive spirit.

Five years ago you participated in the Sanremo Festival and experienced first-hand what is considered by many to be the pinnacle of Italian music. But is it really so?

I am an anarchist iconoclast who is not enchanted by Authority. Least of all I refer to adolescent myths. I certainly saw the Festival as a great opportunity to promote my musical project, given that Sanremo still remains a point of reference for the entire Italian discography. There is little to do: the majors’ annual work plans revolve around it. We can therefore define it as the “Italian Musical New Year”. For seventy years, everything begins and ends there. Fortunately, returning to the topic of the independent scene, music travels underground through other channels (social, word of mouth, etc.).

Share with us the creative process of KuTso.

I compose all the songs by myself, on the guitar (which by the way I don’t know how to play). Then, singing over some chords, the melodies just come out. At a later stage, I move on to writing the lyrics. Once the fundamental nucleus of the song has been realized, I arrange it in a rehearsal hall with the band, while already having clear ideas in mind.

Matteo Gabbianelli ed i Kutso
KuTso band
Matteo Gabbianelli with Alex Britti, Concertone Primo Maggio, 2015
Kutso with Alex Britti, Live at Primo Maggio, 2015

How much attention do you devote to sound research and how do you know when it’s time to change direction?

In the past I worked a lot on writing and arranging; now instead, I experiment especially in the electronic field. However, the “solidity” of the piece remains essential – at the core of the production process, it must also work when sung at a bonfire by an out of tune fan strumming an out of tune guitar. Both with KuTso and the artists I produce, the first thing I analyze is the song, musically and verbatim. The sound represents a next step. If I play the role of the producer, I have a strong relationship with the artist so that the final result fully reflects his personality.

What are you working on at the moment?

With KuTso we are finishing the production of a new album. Ten tracks were ready before being interrupted by Covid, but we resumed. I’m also following various artists: from Yvan (already under INRI label – Levante, Dardust, Linea 77), to Clairedemilune (a young pianist and singer-songwriter torn away from classical music) and Aenea, a new promise of Italian Pop who I think will make a lot of noise in the future.

Can you leave us with an anecdote?

Of course, I propose a ” two-for-one”: the second time I performed at the May Day Concert with KuTso, I shared the stage with two guitarists disguised as ZZ Top, one of which, unbeknownst to the public, was Alex Britti! That same day I also experienced the intoxicating sensation of hearing over 100,000 people sing the chorus of ” Io Rosico” at the top of their lunges. I felt like the Italian Freddie Mercury! You can find evidence on Youtube.

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