Saturday, November 14, 2015

Simone Massaron 13 Questions

Simone Massaron was born in Milan (Italy) in 1971.

When he was four years old he started learning piano with his father Sergio, who was an orchestra director. In his first fifteen years he practised different instruments (piano, guitar, drums), playing in different local bands among the many in his neighbourhood, thus creating the background of a poly-instrumental talent that will enable him, later on, to spread his musical views.
When he was 16, he focused on guitar and went abroad playing gigs through Europe with a rock local band.

The following years are then dedicated to jazz only, attending classes with Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, and Mick Goodrick.
His eclectic way of relating to guitar puts him through the smashing musicians in Longsong Records. That is the label, in Milan, of his first recording “Breaking News”, together with his hero Elliott Sharp, and it will give him also the opportunity to mix his guitars with Nels Cline, Marc Ribot and to perform in different recordings.

His style on the instrument shows all of his eclecticism and his pleasure in crossing over genres, such as radical improvisation, avant-garde free music, looping and live electronics but also pre-war blues, live sountracks on silent movies and contemporary. All that is possible thanks to the great instrumental technique, which allows him wandering in unknown guitar repertoire areas. Simone Massaron is one of the best fretless-guitar player in Italy and he attended the 2006 “Fretless Guitar Festival” edition in New York.

“Dandelions on Fire”, second recording by his name for Longsong Records in 2008, featuring Carla Bozulich, meets critical acclaim and it is voted one of best recording of the year by many music magazines. In that summer he also performs live with Marc Ribot as a duo. Since 2008 he´s a member of El Gallo Rojo, italian musicians´ collective.

In 2010 he recorded The Big Empty, a guitar solo album.

Musicians he has been playing with are Marc Ribot, Elliott Sharp, Nels Cline, Carla Bozulich, Tiziana Ghiglioni, Steve Piccolo, Gak Sato, Leena Conquest, Xabier Iriondo, Giovanni Maier, Tiziano Tononi, Daniele Cavallanti, Jenny Scheinman, Zeno de Rossi, Massimo Pupillo, Piero Bittolo Bon, Craig Green, Scott Amendola.


Which was the first and the last record you bought with your own money?

I don't remember exactly but I think that it was Song X by Ornette Coleman and Pat Metheny.

It's a funny story because I knew Pat Metheny as a jazz guitarist and I was very interested in the jazz guitar, but I had no idea who Ornette Coleman was. After having listened to the record the first time, I was literally speechless: I started understanding that it was a different music because it was free music and that it was possible to play like that.

I think that this record has completely changed my musical life.

How's your musical routine practice?

That's a good question: I would like to split it in two different questions. What do you think your daily practice should be? And what is you your daily practice?

I think that every guitarist should spend some time every day in practicing his sight reading skill, scales and technique and then dedicate other time to improvisation. But I realize that this is very hard. My daily routine practice is made up of all these things, at least when I can do it. Generally I spend 10 minutes doing my warm up, sometimes also without the instrument, only trying to relax very well the arms and the back. Then I read something, if possible at first sight, and then I alternate the study of the fingerboard to some improvisation moments. As I am mainly a teacher (I spend 70% of my time teaching and fortunately I love to teach), I often study the same arguments that I make my students study. For instance, the daily practice on the fingerboard singing the notes before playing them is one of the topics I love to teach and to study the most. From this to free improvisation is just a short step.

Why do you need music? Can we live without music?

Every aspect of my life, every single moment of my day is involved in music. I think that it's been like this since ever, since I was a kid and I used to pretend to play a toy guitar in my room. As time passed by, I evolved from wanting to be a guitarist to wanting to be a musician. You are a musician in your thoughts before you are that in your actions. There is nothing is my daily activities that I involuntarily don't lead to music. In terms of photography it's like having a filter on the lens.

I need music because I am made of music, it's my material. I need people who live on music around me (not necessarily intended as a job), my girlfriend is a guitarist too and I couldn't be happier, also because I became aware of the borders of my environment.

Let's imagine a village of native Americans or a small town in the centre of Italy or of France: they are, or used to be, small happy and healthy communities, simply because they living together could be sufficient to satisfy every physical, emotional and intellectual need. You see, I need music because it's my environment, my habitat. I think that it's important in the life of a musician to be aware of the limits of his emotional and social borders and then understanding that inside these borders there is infinite space.

I understand that it may be easy to interprete this matter as I see music and musicians as members of a cult or of a magic village with elves as guards, but it's not like that. I never forget in which world we are living in and how important art is to improve it, but my place is made of art and sounds and I can just speak from this point of view; but I know that it's not a pulpit. It's just a chair, a comfortable chair.

Depict the sound you're still looking for, or the sound you'd like to hear.

I am looking for a sound that comes to life every day, the sound of a guitar that is like a speaking and living voice, which describes what it sees and feels: the sound of the ordinary guitar. Something that is primitive and new at the same time, the most natural and immediate sound that one could ever imagine. I can't explain it in a better way.

How do you feel listening to your own music?

I have the habit of recording every single thing I do, may they be concerts, rehearsals or simply lessons and so I can count on a wide musical archive.

Sometimes listening to myself is very helpful for my mood because usually I am very demanding and discriminating towards myself, and so every time I play I think I have not been good, but then I surprisingly notice in the recording that it was not that bad! Concerning the musical “recorded notes”, I like to discover that an idea left for years reveals itself as a great starting point for a composition. In the didactic field I need a lot to record, so I can check the arguments of the lessons and do a constructive self-criticism to my way of teaching.

What special or extrange techniques do you use?

I am always more in the prepared guitar. I study every day to get myself skilled in the alternative techniques and I always try to invent and discover something new. I work on my way of preparing the instrument and I attempt to insert all these sounds in any context I have to play in. Recently I played as a sideman in a pop record and I moved a lot the producer with an afro sound that I obtained simply with a piece of plastic between the strings. It also happened to me to do a pair of workshops regarding the prepared guitar techniques: I listed all the possibilities that are given us from the objects and I invited the students of the masterclass to go shopping, looking for things that they could insert in the instrument. I also incited them to look around, classifying the objects depending on the sound they may produce on our instrument.

Now I am working on a sort of “prepared guitarist body”, simply putting some resonant objects on my body, so they can sound depending on how I move while I play. This produces an interesting combination of sounds between what you played and the sound you produced for playing. I am interested in how the gesture made to produce a sound on the instrument can become a sound on its own.

Can you describe a sound experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a musician?

When I was 4 years old my dad, who was a pianist and orchestra conductor, saw me at the piano, trying to hit the keys, playing it just as a kid could do (punching!) but surprising myself for the sound that was coming out. I was amazed that he didn't scold me (the piano was of course a notable object at home, but we had two pianos and I was punching on the ugliest), but in fact he told me that I should have kept doing that but imaging a story too and trying to set it to music.

What is your relationship with other art disciplines?

I have always been very passionate about photography and I am an amateur photographer. I love analog photography and particularly street photography. I think that there is a close relationship between street photography and improvised music, because in both these arts you shoud be able to react to the moment in which things happen, or be able to make something happen exactly in the moment in which you are ready to shoot or to play.

Where are your roots? What are your secret influences?

I think that they are many many different things: books, 20th century American literature, the passion for '50s cars.. but if I have to speak truly and sincerely I would say the television I used to watch when I was a kid. The Italian generation I am part of grew up with the first American TV-series and I think that this is one of the strongest influences I have ever had. I am aware that there is nothing “classically” cultured in this, but I think that it's possible for everyone of us to raise the level of everything, simply charging it with our thoughts and our sensations. These additions can obviously glean from another cultural structure of our inner ego.

Which living or dead artist would you like to collaborate with?

Derek Bailey, Ornette Coleman and again Marc Ribot.

What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?

Never park the car with instruments inside it.

What projects are you working on now and what does the future hold?

I am working on a new solo project which I want to be the right continuation of what I started with my record “The Big Empty”, and also to my new trio with Dimitri Sillato (violin and electronics) and Valeria Sturba (violin, theremin and electronics). Our name is “The Loopers” and the project is entirely inspired and dedicated to my favourite writer, John Steinbeck. However I am very busy with my teaching activity too, in which I work hard with some projects too, and so sometimes I am forced to take pauses from the musical plans.

What quality do you most empatize with in a musician?

The capability of dialogue, of listening to the others. I love playing with musicians that are really interested in improvisation, that do it and that respect it. Music is made up of a series of connected events, sensations caused by other sensations and I want to deal with musicians that feel this. Then I cannot exclude the human component of the relationship with another musician: I find it very important. I always try to deal with people that are mentally open, nice and with a strong sense of humour. My way of making music with other people is much based on spontaneous dialogue, irrespective of whether the music is written or improvised, and I often compare it to the dialogue that may spontaneously take place during dinner; seeing things from this point of view, would you ever invite for dinner annoying and rude people you don't have feeling with?

Selected Discography


2010 The Big Empty
El Gallo Rojo Records (314-41)
Simone Massaron – guitars, loops

2010 Folksongs From The Empty House
El Punto Rojo Records (0052/5)
Simone Massaron - guitars, loops - Kyle Gregory, trumpet - Danilo Gallo, acoustic bass -
Massimiliano Sorrentini, cardboard boxes drums.

2008 Dandelions on Fire
Longsong Records (LSCD107/2008)
Simone Massaron - guitars, banjo, lap steel, pump organ - Carla Bozulich - voice - Xabier Iriondo - guitar, mahai metak - Andrea Viti - bass - Zeno de Rossi - drums - Davide Tedesco - double bass - Riccardo di Paola - piano, pump organ - Francesco Guerri - cello.

2006 Breaking News
Longsong Records (LSCD101/2005)
Simone Massaron - guitars, lap steel, fretless electric guitar - Elliott Sharp - guitars, lap steel - Steve Piccolo - bass, voice - Daniele Cavallanti - tenor sax - Tiziano Tononi - drums.


2014 Suora – Massa Bon (Piero Bittolo Bon & Simone Massaron)
White Seat Records (WSR 19-73)
Simone Massaron – guitars, loops & electronics - Piero Bittolo Bon – alto sax, bass clarinet, pocket trumpet, electronics.

2011 The Humans . It’s Nine O’ Clock
El Gallo Rojo Records (314-45)
Simone Massaron - dobro, electric guitar, carillon, bau toy, intimo, samples, livelooping (L),
Silvia Donati - vocals, quercetti saxoflute, bamboo flute, Enrico Terragnoli - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, podophono, maracas, flute, kalimba (R), Danilo Gallo - bass, double bass, melodica, raagini, sweet plastic flute, glockenspiel, bells, Massimiliano Sorrentini - drums, background vocals, feet and steps, intimo, percussion.

2009 Jusi In The Wine House
LongSong Records (LRSCD113/2009)
Simone Massaron - guitars, banjo, fuzz bass - Zeno De Rossi - drums - Massimo Pupillo - bass 
Giorgio Pacorig - keyboards, piano - Pacho - percussion.

2012 Suede Fist, Iron Glove - MassaBon (Piero Bittolo Bon & Simone Massaron)
Punto Rojo Records 2009 - White Seat Records (WSR 19-72)
Simone Massaron – guitars, loops, sampler, voice, electronics - Piero Bittolo Bon – alto sax, bass clarinet.


2015 I Never Met A Guitar Three - Solo Guitars For The 21th Century
produced by Elliott Sharp 

Cleen Feed (CFG007CD)
Simone Massaron (on track 11) acoustic guitar, sampler, toy fan.

2013 The Sauna Session - Pbb's Lacus Amoenus
LongSong Records (LSRCD132/2013)
Simone Massaron – el. guitar, fretless el. guitar, lap steel guitar, acoustic guitar, loops, electronics Piero Bittolo Bon – alto sax, bass clarinet, pocket trumpet, electronics – Glauco Benedetti – tuba Peter Evans – trumpet – Tommaso cappellato – drums.

2011 Mucho Acustica - Piero Bittolo Bon’s Original Pigneto Stompers feat. Jamaaladeen Tacuma
Simone Massaron – electric guitar, baritone electric guitar, loops - Piero Bittolo Bon - alto sax, baritone sax - Jamaaladeen Tacuma - bass - Federico Scettri, Massimiliano Sorrentini - drums.

2009 A Male Walking in the Cauldron - Tiziana Ghiglioni & The TBone Band
Splasch Records (H2520)
Simone Massaron - el. guitar - Tiziana Ghiglioni, voice - Silvia Bolognesi, double bass - Daniele Cavallanti, tenor sax - Emanuele Parrini, violin - Piero Bittolo Bon, alto sax, bass clarinet, flute - Tiziano Tononi, drums.

2008 Featuring Marc Ribot+A Turtle Soup - Giovanni Maier Technicolor
Longsong Records (LSCD105/2007)
Simone Massaron - el. guitar, fretless el. guitar, lap steel guitar - Giovanni Maier, electric bass - Marc Ribot, guitar - Alfonso Santimone, keyboards - Giorgio Pacorig, keyboards - Zeno de Rossi, drums.

2007 Peace Warriors - Tiziano Tononi’s the Ornettians
Black Saint (120181)
Simone Massaron - fretless electric guitar, lap steel, slide guitar, el. guitar - Tiziano Tononi, drums - Daniele Cavallanti, tenor sax - Achille Succi, alto sax, bass clarinet - Luca Calabrese, trumpet - Emanuele Parrini, violin - Roberto Cecchetto, guitars - Tiziana Ghiglioni, voice.

2007 Smoke Inside – Daniele Cavallanti Electric Unit - Longsong Records
Simone Massaron - baritone el. guitar, el. guitar, fretless el. guitar - Daniele Cavallanti, tenor sax, baritone sax - Nels Cline, el. guitar - Tiziano Tononi, drums - Pacho, percussion - Ivano Borgazzi, keyboards - Giovanni Maier, bass.


2012 Your Blood It’s My Money
White Seat Records (WSR 19-71)
(music for silent movie “Greed” by Eric Von Stroheim
Simone Massaron – baritone el. guitar, lap steel guitar, loops, samples.

2003 The Common Man - Simone Massaron & Carlo Virzi 
Fonoteca di Carpi 
(music for silent movie “The Crowd” by King Vidor
Simone Massaron – el guitar, prepared acoustic guitar, loops - Carlo Virzi, drums.


Alejandro Jodorowsky: Conversazioni Sulle Vie dei Tarocchi
Feltrinelli 2007
Dvd by Giuseppe Baresi
Simone Massaron - soundtrack composition, guitars, loops, noises, prepared piano.


Figli - Tiziana Ghiglioni
(CDH1556.2) Splasc(h) Records 2011
Simone Massaron - electric guitar, acoustic guitar, nylon string guitar.

Iacampo - Marco Iacampo  
Adesiva Discografica 2010
Simone Massaron - electric guitar, acoustic guitar, slide guitar.

Urban Behavior - Reverse Productions 2007
Simone Massaron - electric guitar, fretless electric guitar.

Attenzione Uscita Operai - Banda Putiferio
NoReply 2007 Book+CD
Simone Massaron - electric guitar, fretless electric guitar.


2003 Bella Ciao - The Brand Billa Orchestra  
(BA033CD) Music Center
Simone Massaron - guitar, arrangements, orchestra conduction.