The NBT Virtual Interviews
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the new album from Giulia Millanta, her fifth solo release, Moonbeam Parade, has just been released and is perhaps the NBTMusicRadio regular’s best collection ever. From the press release : ‘’13 new self-penned tunes fueled by a new direction on electric guitar. Produced by Giulia herself, with her friend and producer George Reiff, with a stellar band featuring some of the best musicians in Austin, such as Charlie Sexton (Bob Dylan), Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), Glenn Fukunaga (The Dixie Chicks), Michael Fracasso, Kimmie Rhodes, Gabriel Rhodes (Willie Nelson), Dony Wynn (Robert Palmer), David Pulkingham (Patty Griffin)…’’
To celebrate we conducted a short Q and A with the artist:
NBTMusicRadio: Before we jump into the album’s individual tracks, I have to ask you about Howe Gelb. I have been a huge fan of Giant Sand since forever and I read on your website you compliment him: ‘’ Howe Gelb is a great writer, pianist and guitar player. He is also out of his mind and that’s why I love him’’ What sort of ‘insanity’ (in a good way) did he bring to the making of Moonbeam Parade?
Giulia: Well I don’t know.
Howe and I had a bunch of conversations over the phone about music and making records…about life and music and everything.
He has inspired and advised me in many ways.
Also he plays an awesome piano on Silvery Gown that’s my favourite thing!
NBTMusicRadio: The opener ‘’ Shaky Legs’’ is a nice contradictory opener. It is jaunty, and almost playfully struts into the show, but it’s actually quite dark. For the album was this a statement of intent to have it as a first track? (IE surprises are in store?)
Giulia: The whole record is pretty dark…it’s a moonbeam parade…”Things that happen at night”. The moonbeam illuminates what’s dark around…but not everything!
This record is about all the demons, skeletons, grotesque, weird creatures we deal with at night: our fears, our anger, our anxiety, our sense of failure and loss…It’s about dealing with them, making sense, collecting the pieces and shine a light on it all and redeeming ourselves.
NBTMusicRadio: Rock N Roll Suicide, why this particular Bowie track? And would it be correct to surmise that singing some of it in Italian makes it extra personal for you?
Giulia:The idea of singing Bowie in Italian came from Howe…we were on the phone. I had a high fever and was delirious! He suggested it.
Then that night, while sleeping and sweating I started singing that song in my head…in Italian. The entire song, with no interruption.
I woke up shaking and wrote it down on a piece of paper. Then I sent it to him. He loved it and after a couple of months I talked him into singing with me on that one!
NBTMusicRadio: No song (bar one) reaches the 4 minute mark, was this a deliberate thing? A return to a more classic rock/pop song?
Giulia: It just happened that way. I don’t decide what my songs want…
NBTMusicRadio: Having said the above, the tracks are extremely ‘’wide screen’’, almost a series of ‘mini westerns’ specially a song like ‘4th and Vodka.’ Would you say this is fuelled by the, as you write ‘’new direction on electric guitar’’
Giulia: Not sure if this is a question :)
But the answer is what I wrote at point #2. It’s a parade. It’s a record about failure and redemption. About loss and discovery.
NBTMusicRadio: Motel Song is for me, one of the standout tracks in a wonderfully strong collection, (your best yet?) and reminds me of both the Eagles and Rumours era Fleetwood Mac, but without the retro feel that too many bands have these days. It’s both traditional song writing but kinda modern. (Several times I found myself thinking, Wilco should cover this) How much ‘writing’ was done in the studio, or did you go in with very clear ideas of what you wanted?
Giulia:No writing in the studio at all.
The whole record was recorded live in 3 and half days. Plus just a few overdubs for guests like Howe and Charlie Sexton…
Again. I tried as much as possible to keep “my ideas” out of it. It’s not a cerebral process. The songs needed to happened the way they wanted. The incredible musicians I was playing with helped me made them come to life
NBTMusicRadio: You will be touring several cities in Europe, how different are concerts in say your native Italy to ones in Texas, do you have to change sets a lot, shift focus at all?
Giulia: Every day is different. Every audience is too.
A live show is nothing like a studio session or a theatre act. Some of it is written (the songs) the rest is the result of a dialogue between the performer and the people. It’s about vibe and energy and that always changes!