An Interview With Davide Zilli, Songwriter And Winner Of Musicultura 2018

Davide Zilli, Musicultura

I talked with Davide Zilli about what it’s like to take part in a competition like Musicultura and to be a songwriter in Italy

For the 30th time in 30 years since its birth, the finals of Musicultura 2019 are about to take place in Macerata, Marche. The contestants will have the chance to play their songs in the beautiful Sferisterio, sharing the stage with well-known foreign artists like Sananda Maitreya, Quinteto Astor Piazzolla and other Italian famous songwriters like Morgan, Daniele Silvestri — and many more.

Not as popular as other competitions in Italy, Musicultura is nonetheless characterized by a special sensitivity towards the heterogeneity of the current Italian songwriting scene and gives its contestants a real possibility of being heard and appreciated.

As I followed this event for many years, I’ve had the chance to know last edition’s winner, Davide Zilli, who told me what it’s like to take part in a competition like Musicultura and to be a songwriter in Italy.

How did you find out about Musicultura, this festival that revolves around the Italian musical creativity and turns 30 just this year?

I knew it by reputation: Giorgio Caproni — one of the first members of the Committee of songwriters and poets who each year listen to the contestants of the festival — is the Italian poet I wrote my final dissertation on, when I graduated from university.

What I like most about this festival is its openness to all the different genres, languages and artistic expressions that characterize the Italian songwriting scene. How do you find this latter?

I think the Italian songwriting scene is very complex and heterogeneous. There is a tendency to break the boundaries between the different musical genres and more and more projects delve into contamination: many songwriters are trying to look ahead and experiment without, anyway, losing sight of tradition.

What made you register for the competition? What were your expectations?

I had already participated ten years ago, making it to the semifinals. In a way, I wanted to put myself to the test again to see if ten years of experience could give good results. And I would say they have.

I think the Italian songwriting scene is very complex and heterogeneous. There is a tendency to break the boundaries between the different musical genres.

For years, I went to Musicultura as a member of the audience whereas, as you know, last year I played a small role inside the event, as I was part of the jury made up of university students who chose one of the finalists. But how is it like to be one of the contestants? And how did you feel in the different stages of the competition?

To enjoy the competition, you must try to forget that it is a competition and only think about making some good music. Obviously, winning both the prize assigned by the university students and the absolute first prize has been amazing and engaging, but in some ways the best moment for me was the second to last night, when we played in a small square outside of the main competition for a more intimate and relaxed public. In that moment I felt deep inside me that I was just enjoying it and that, no matter how the competition would go, I would always be grateful to destiny for giving me the possibility of living this experience.

What opportunities has the victory given you?

I met many distinguished and stimulating persons from the show business who gave me sound advice. And obviously the victory gave me an economic support for my third album, which will be released this autumn (while, right in these days, the videoclip of my new single “Il complottista” is out).

Why do you think a songwriter should take part in the competition?

Because it is a competition where the jury member actually listen to the contestants, not only to their songs: they listen to their personalities as well and try to take into consideration what’s behind, under and above the song.

Have you listened to the 16 finalists of this year’s edition?

Unfortunately I didn’t, since during the last months I have been literally buried in work to record my new album. Anyway, I want to listen to them as soon as possible.

What advice would you give to the 8 finalists?

I would tell them to simply enjoy it, because this is an experience that’s going to teach them so much beyond of the results of the competition. I would also advise them to be as much authentic as possible, because that’s a quality that the public of Macerata knows particularly well how to appreciate.