A Chat with Of Shadows and Light (20.02.2021)

Italian singer-songwriter and producer Angelo Pitone uses his musical project Of Shadows And Lights to delve into the story of good and evil while looking at what makes us humans in his album Almost Prophetic Visions and Thoughts. Drawing on the legacy of his last EP, he uses his debut album to capture you in the passionate poetry of his music. Through the flow of the concept album, he lets us know that we need to listen to our darkness if we want to find our light. We sat down with Angelo Pitone to talk about the album, musical memories, recording during a pandemic and much more!

OSR: Of Shadows and Lights is a musical project that was born in 2018 but what prompted you to create it?

Pitone: I started this project for academic purposes at the UWS, where I graduated. One of the exams I did involved related-music and non-related-music actions. I thought to continue developing it in real life only later. Everything started with ‘Am I Still Alive?’, a song I wrote for an advanced songwriting exam, followed by ‘Cold Shivers’ for an exam concerning music styles. The funniest part is that ‘Cold Shivers’ was born as a trap song or a similar music genre. It was somehow influenced by that kind of music, which is not really my area of expertise.

The fact that I dared in a territory unknown to me allowed me to grow musically and enrich my creative background. I started writing songs at 11 or 12. Now that I’m almost 38, I can say that all the things I’ve learned about music production, songwriting and mixing, make what I do a bit easier. When I’m inspired, turning the emotions into songs with my style is an enjoyable part. This is why my hard drives are full of ideas! (laughs)

OSR: What is your earliest musical memory and how do you feel it affects the music you make?

Pitone: I think the music was flowing in my veins when my mother was pregnant with me. It’s such a fun thing because my mother told me that when I was a child, about 2 or 3 years old, I used to hit the little table of the walker with my thumbs in time to the music. It’s something I keep doing today using all my fingers! I don’t know why, but sometimes I found inspiration from a drum fill or a drum pattern. Most of the time, I start to write this way. I’m drum-addicted.

Sometimes I also start with lyrics, but I prefer to complete the instrumental parts before singing a melody and writing sincere lyrics. It helps me a lot to focus on building the emotion through melody and lyrics relationship. Just a couple of times, I wrote a complete song from scratch in only one hour. Everything: lyrics, structure, arrangements. There was magic in the air at that time. Don’t ask me how I did it. It’s one of those things that happens and you can’t explain why.

OSR: You have recently released your debut album Almost Prophetic Visions and Thoughts. Why release this album now?

Pitone: Initially, I have planned the release of one single per month. A friend of mine at the university, Michael, told me that if I had released a full-length album, I would create more hype in my music. He was right. I knew that he was right, and it didn’t take long to convince me. I cancelled my first planning, and I started to write and listen to old recordings. The concept and the philosophy behind the record were born flawlessly and straightforward.

I started thinking of it when the pandemic overwhelmed us. So, from the end of February 2019 to September, I worked hard to reach my goal. During the whole first lockdown, in a certain way, music has saved my life. I’ve spent all the time thinking about music and this didn’t happen for a long time. I’ve released it in these crazy times because I believe it could be a testimony of our day and what humanity is facing right now.

OSR: Is there a backstory or theme to the album?

Pitone: There’s a philosophy behind this record. Try to think of what’s between fear and courage, between hope and despair. From darkness to light. Exactly like my moniker: Of Shadows And Lights. It’s a matter of consistency that inextricably binds everything I’ve built. I’m talking about the link between music, lyrics and photography that emphasizes the content.

It wasn’t easy to handle all of this, but I am extremely honoured to have worked with people who believed in me. The people who supported me on this musical journey are Maestro Giuseppe Bolognini, who played all the guitar parts, Claudio Giraudo wrote the song ‘Awakening’ with me and played the guitar solo. Michele “The Third Eye” Sassanelli, on the photography and Giovanni Versari (Muse, Nic Cester) on mastering.

OSR: As the album was recorded during the pandemic, how has this affected your creative process?

Pitone: Actually, it wasn’t a big issue. I used some old recordings and old songs that needed some fixes. I’ve changed the structure for some of them, rewrote some sentences to adapt everything to the new philosophy I’ve talked about before. For example, ‘Stuck Among These Stones’ didn’t have guitar parts and the drum patterns were completely different. I’ve made some field recordings with my portable microphone the last winter and I decided to use the rain track at the end of it. ‘A Mending Silence’ was a song with Italian lyrics I wrote many years ago. I wanted to use it because it fitted perfectly with the new concept. I’ve rewritten all the lyrics for it. I believe it was a challenge I won because I was able to keep the metrics intact with the accents on the individual notes.

OSR: The album picks up on the legacy of your last EP Visions but how do you feel the album adds to this?

Pitone: The Visions EP was the first step for launching this project. As I stated before, I worked on it for academic purposes that then turned into reality. I believe this album is an essential step for me and the searching for my sound. You can consider it as an evolutionary step.

If you listen to the four songs of the EP first and then the new versions on the album, you’ll notice some significant differences in sound quality, arrangements, feelings and attitude. I think I’m on the right road concerning my sound, which will affect the future productions I’m already working on. It helped me get better performance as a singer and improve my skills in producing, arranging and mixing. I’m thrilled about it. The beautiful things need care. Isn’t it?

OSR: If people could listen to only one track from the album, which would you recommend and why?

Pitone: Each track has its own story. I would like to recommend a song for each of you, but if I have to choose, I would say ‘Universal Thing’ because it is a song about me, you and all of us as human beings. It’s about our future, our lives, our hopes and dreams. It’s just like looking at yourself in the mirror.

Do you like what you’re seeing? Do you like what you’re doing? Do you like what you’re leaving for future generations? I don’t answer for everybody, but everybody can find their own to build a better world. Does it sound familiar? I’ve hidden some subliminal messages in the music video. Will you be able to find them?

OSR: What is the one thing you would like people to take away when they listen to your music?

Pitone: This is a tough question. I can only say that I can’t decide for anybody. All artists describe events, tell stories, talk about feelings and each of them shares a thought with the world. It’s up to the sensitivity of the listener. I always try to write “open lyrics” because I believe everyone can make their own personal considerations. There’s always something we have in common. Call it emotions. We’re humans.

OSR: The album has an interesting blend of classic instruments and electronic musical elements, how did you develop this sound?

Pitone: My musical influences have played an essential role, as often happens for every musician. I can split my visions from two different points of view.

As a music producer/artist, I wanted a rich, warm and powerful sound. I liked the idea in which guitars are interwoven with synthesizers; the acoustic drums are blending with electronic drums, the bass guitar becomes distorted and the vocals jump out of the speakers. It’s a formidable challenge because specific frequencies fight each other to get their own space. You can simplify this process if you build suitable arrangements. If you do it well, the mixing process becomes the funniest part of the production because you can free your creativity and create a unique sound.

Think of a sound that doesn’t sound. I never wanted to play everything loud and proud. Most of the time, I wrote parts that you can’t hear distinctively but they’re just there. If I were to mute them, it would no longer be the same. Everything would be empty. Anyway, I hope I succeeded. To improve my mixing skills, I made many mistakes and terrible rubbish from which I learned.

From the listener’s perspective, I’ve always had a soft spot for big productions like Muse, Nothing But Thieves, Foo Fighters, Alanis Morissette, Incubus, Elisa, Oasis and Queen. That kind of sound is still fascinating to me. It pushes me to improve mine, experimenting with new techniques but keeping in mind my style.

OSR: What else can we expect from you in the coming year?

Pitone: The pandemic has shocked and locked the world. I wish to complete my band by finding the right people, start playing gigs and spread my music. The only thing I can do now is to promote my music online and get some exposure. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong but I feel like a digital rocker, nothing more. I’m already working on new music but now it’s too early to release it. Enjoy my debut album; if you wish, follow me on Spotify or whatever you use, and stay tuned. Remember: “Listen to the darkness to find out your light”. Long live rock and roll!

Thanks to Angelo Pitone for chatting with us! You can find more about Of Shadows and Lights on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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