Skeeboo is a composer and arranger from the Venice area of Italy who creates a mixture of sounds, from delicate orchestral compositions to more animated dance-floor electronica, and with a few jazz flavours added to the mix too. Separated into two distinct projects; Moods and Modes, which is a collection of short instrumental tracks (of which vol. IV has just been released), and Tableaux Électroniques, which is the umbrella name for various remixes, he has created both a wonderfully tender as well as hypnotic array of music. So read on to find out more about his music recordings, plus producing, mixing… and potatoes!
~ Tell us about Skeeboo? Is it a solo project, or something else?
Skeeboo was born as a solo project (“Skeeboo” was actually my childhood nickname), but it has gradually seen a growing contribution by a group of live performers and friends. You can see this in my latest “Moods and Modes vol. IV” EP where 4 tracks out of 6 are a collective effort, and this trend is definitely going to persist in the future!
~ You’ve recently returned from a 25-year hiatus, so what led to the long break, and what influenced the return?
What took me away from music composition as a young man was a combination of life, work (I started and still have a quite busy “day job”) and technical limitations: now you can have a virtual symphonic orchestra in your laptop, but back then it was much more difficult to get a performance and a recording of the multi-instrumental music I kept hearing inside my head.
In 2018, during an enforced break while recovering from an illness, I installed some modern musical software and was amazed at how easy it is now to hear a pretty good rendition of your musical ideas. The support and positive feedback of some musician friends convinced me to publicly share my works and here we are now, 4 published EPs later 🙂
~ You’re currently splitting your music into two different projects; ‘Moods and Modes’, and ‘Tableaux Électroniques’, so tell us about both, and why you have separated them?
“Moods and Modes” is a probably never-ending collection of short instrumental (and mainly acoustic) sketches, each one exploring a different musical scale and the feelings or moods it inspires to me. As of today, there are 24 of these two-minutes-long vignettes of quite different musical genres, collected in 4 EPs.
Those little sketches have received some interest from electronic producers (mainly members of a friendly and vibrant musical collective called the Electronic Music Alliance) that used them as raw material for electronic remixes. Coming from a classical background, all this “remix culture” was something quite new for me; I was intrigued by that form of creative expression and this year I started a new project called “Tableaux Électroniques“, with longer compositions that mix acoustic melodies and accompaniments with an electronic rhythmic backbone. The melodic material is taken from “Moods and Modes” sketches but it’s recorded anew, so they are citations more than remixes.
So, while the “Moods and Modes” pieces are small and coherent little ‘musical worlds’, the “Tableaux Électroniques” are more complex works marked by some stark contrasts.
~ What’s your usual song writing / composition process?
Well, I generally start with a particular atmosphere or mood in mind and start building an arrangement that conveys it. When I feel this sort of background is sufficiently suggestive, I start improvising over it, usually on the piano. The improvisation stage could last for days until a defined melody begins to emerge; I write it down using old fashioned pencil on staff paper and that pretty much ends the composition stage.
I then record or produce the single instrument parts and mix them. At the moment I self produce and mix all my work, while I have help from a friend for recording the live instruments.
~ Does living close to Venice have any influence on the music you make?
I currently live in a small town in the countryside near Venice, but I am definitely in love with the city! I don’t know if it has an effect on my music but maybe the curiosity and willingness to study and learn from different musical cultures and genres is well suited to a former commercial and now touristic hub like Venice.
~ Which famous song (or piece of music) by another artist would you love to have written yourself?
Oh, there’s really a bunch of those! The first that come to mind are “No Quarter” by Led Zeppelin, “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane and pretty much every Mahler symphony. But Charles Ives once said that he looked forward to the day when “every man, while digging his potatoes, will breathe his own symphonies”. So, while I love and admire the way several artists have “breathed” their work, I think I will be satisfied only when I’ll have spoken my soul and found my voice in music. In the meantime, I keep digging my potatoes!
~ Aside from music, do you have any other creative skills? (or obscure talents!)
I am afraid not! I like curating the artwork for my releases, but I am aware I should limit myself to music! 🙂
~ What would you tell your teenage self?
I’d suggest him to keep making music every day, otherwise he will feel the urge to start again while older, rustier and less in contact with his raw emotions.
~ Red wine. Italian or Spanish?
I could be politically correct, but I’m not, so Italian it is!
~ Who are your musical Guilty Pleasures?
I have quite an eclectic taste actually… I am recently digging the whole Stereophonics discography, but I don’t feel so much guilty about that! 🙂
~ What do you have planned for the rest of 2020?
“Moods and Modes vol. IV” was released on July 3rd and I plan to release a full “Tableaux Électroniques” album in the autumn, collecting the first tracks of the project together with some of the remixes made by my producer’s friends.
Finally I am working on a string quartet based on my “From Dusk Till Dawn” track, since I feel there’s still something to be said (and some genre boundaries to be crossed) using classical acoustic ensembles and popular music structures.