LEGGI IN ITALIANO

Roberto “Lobbe” Procaccini, Roman composer, arranger, producer and conductor. Under both American and European skies he has faced music in its various guises, ranging from cinema, to theater, to TV. For him, the concept of beauty in art seems to be linked to that of subtraction: the more you explore and live different experiences, the more you can select, choosing your music with greater freedom and awareness. Lobbe has worked with directors such as Arnoldo Foà, Massimiliano Bruno and Sergio Rubini, to name a few, while in music, he boasts collaborations with Carmen Consoli, Patty Pravo, Max Gazzè, Marco Mengoni, Bandabardò, Marina Rei, Otto Ohm and many others. Feeling discographic but romantic, releasing the first album after many years of activity and remembering that the blunders of the web are always around the corner.

 Either a talent is revealed or a failure comes out of the network

Roberto Procaccini

Your story exists on various plains and seems to encompass multiple lives, with a single true protagonist: music.

I feel like a person of innumerable inclinations probably because of the many places I have visited. I would say that my versatility comes from curiosity. I started as a composer when the years of writing coincided with those of my American education and experiences, between jazz and classical music. I had won scholarships that allowed me to live in Boston for two years, attending Berklee College of Music. While back in Italy, I took the role of producer, first dealing with studio and live, then with cinema and theater. Since these are all very different worlds, I must admit that it wasn’t easy. In fact, it seemed like starting from scratch every time. However, experiencing all this made me free, sincere, and with a deeper understanding of music. Only in recent years have I returned to composing, and this first album of mine was born from the need to tell the various stories and stages of my journey.

Between Italy and abroad there is a different way of approaching music. What are your thoughts on this matter?

I think it’s a problem of mentality that, not by chance, also emerged during this pandemic. In Italy, and not for lack of talent but rather the absence of respect from the ruling class on the subject, there is no cultural basis that allows you to appreciate real music. In fact, our cultural system fails to validate the art of music. In the United States, kids can choose the instrument they want to play right from high school. This allows both the training of excellence in time and even more importantly, the musician’s ear. Unfortunately, the reason for not looking beyond national borders stems from a profound ignorance on the matter. We’re exposed to what comes from outside only because, if not through traditional channels, we are unable to discover a path to those more deserving in our own country. Musically speaking, Finland or Sweden are far ahead of us. There your virtue is recognized and you get the feeling of really being listened to. If the concept of the starving artist was reversed in Italy, the situation would change radically. It is a deep discussion of foresight, inevitably interconnected with political decisions.

As an artistic producer, how do you react when you encounter a very unique talent, different from those in the mainstream?

Meeting such an artist should always arouse gratitude. I can say that I am one of those producers who are interested first in content and then in sales. It is certainly a more romantic way to work but I understand and respect those who choose otherwise. Nothing rekindles my passion like listening to a talent different from those I normally hear on the radio.

Roberto Procaccini during 'Arnoldo Foà' exhibition opening, Rome, 2016
'Arnoldo Foà' exhibition opening, Rome, 2016

Musician and Producer are often opposing forces, even though one is necessary for the other’s survival. How might an artist dial into the process and stay connected?  What rules do you follow or recommend?

There are no rules but a lot of variables. How long you can last as an artist depends on many things, but above all on you. It is known that this road is among the most difficult that exist and requires great determination. The character of an artist is as important as his talent. Together they help write his destiny. You also need brains and respect for others. I believe that as a producer, mutual respect must never be taken for granted. A producer should never impose himself, being at the service of the artist, deserving his trust, and allowing them to be guided. If each person is convinced that they know more than the other, without any elasticity, growth stops. It must be emphasized that music is made up of moments, of “vibes”, and if you don’t seize them they may never come back!

Every year it seems we always hear the same music. What do you think of the young talents who, victims of popularity or the will of the record companies themselves, surrender to the needs of the market, risking approval?

Respecting the fact that everyone has their own tastes, I try not to classify the music as “good or bad”. I prefer to say that the music “makes sense” or not. I think it’s important to perceive the value, depth of breath, and honesty of a song or an album. All this is often not seen. Above all because by homogenizing, the artists become bearers of the same idea. In the end those same original supporters of the idea get bored. In my opinion, the best approach doesn’t ride the present without knowing that, in a moment, it has already passed – so create something never heard before. Regarding artists who try to maintain a minimum of intellectual independence, despite submitting to the laws of the market, I say attention: trying to stay with two feet in one shoe, very often, won’t get you very far. We are in an era in which, to live outside the herd, you need character and a strong stance.

Roberto Procaccini during a live concert with Zero Assoluto, 2011
Roberto Procaccini, Live Zero Assoluto, 2011
Roberto Procaccini during a soundcheck, in tour with Carmen Consoli, 2015
Soundcheck, Live Carmen Consoli, 2015

Although the internet has increased the chances of getting noticed, there are many artists who unfortunately continue to remain in the shadows. What would you recommend to them?

It is nice that someone born from the internet, like Sfera Ebbasta, has managed to reach important numbers, even bypassing those of the record labels. This phenomenon has created a channel of visibility that didn’t exist before. We can say that for better or for worse, the Internet has disrupted everything, removing the barriers between those who create and those who listen. However, I would like to emphasize two aspects; The first concerns the quality of the songs, which has dropped considerably. The second, the saturation of content due to the lack of selection. It is too complex a topic to be dealt with exhaustively in an interview or to attempt giving advice. The reality is that what works in one case doesn’t necessarily work in another. Everyone has their own way. My feeling is that either a talent is revealed or a failure comes out of the net.

Can you leave us with an anecdote?

Sure. For more than three years I had the honor of playing with a diva of distinction, Patty Pravo. I consider her one of the most iconic figures in the history of Italian music. We are talking about a magical evening in 2014, a concert at the Cavea Auditorium in Rome. Our band got used to always paying attention to any changes Patty might require on stage. So on that night in concert, during a brief silence between two songs on the setlist, Patty turned to me and whispered: ‘We won’t play this one’. I was amazed and said: ‘Why ?! Come on! ’. ‘Are you sure?’ she asked me,‘ Yes, of course! ’. Then she exclaimed to the audience: ‘I wasn’t going to do this next piece, but my pianist says we should, so let’s do it’. Being one of the most famous pieces of her immense repertoire, I earned the ovation of everyone present. The only problem was that, perhaps due to the emotion, she introduced me to the audience as “Roberto ProcacciOni”!

Share the interview