Paolo Belli: "In music there can be no innovation without a soul..."

The free-wheeling singer-songwriter and TV presenter from Emilia on the chiaroscuro transformations of forty years of sound art and concerts

Paolo Belli: the singer-songwriter was born in Formigine (Modena) on March 21, 1962
The singer-songwriter Paolo Belli was born in Formigine (Modena) on March 21, 1962

Our articles usually deal with economic, technological or scientific topics. This time instead we talk about music, the most popular and best known, and we do it with an artist of great experience.
Emiliano DOC since originally from Formigine, born in 1962, Paolo Belli was born musically in the mid-80s, then making his debut at the 1989 Sanremo Festival with the "Bicycle Thieves".
After music came television, first with Giorgio Panariello in the three editions of "Torno Sabato", then alongside Milly Carlucci for "Dancing with the Stars", without neglecting the many editions of Telethon, which saw him as a protagonist as co-host and musical interpreter.
But for Paolo it is music that remains at the center of everything, by virtue of over a thousand concerts in which he has dispensed joy, energy and emotions to hundreds of thousands of spectators: a tour that has been going on almost non-stop for thirty years.
From the outset he proved to be a musician with a very personal and recognizable sound, a sort of colorful swing pop that also led him to collaborate with great exponents of Italian and international music and entertainment.
Let's talk about Sam Moore, Dan Aykroyd, Billy Preston, Jon Hendricks, Jimmy Witherspoon, Vasco Rossi, Enzo Jannacci, Litfiba, Mogol, Avion Travel, PFM and Mario Lavezzi.
Paolo Belli has been on the stage of the Sanremo Festival three times, for five editions on the stage of the May Day Concert in Rome and has won two editions of the Festivalbar

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Paolo Belli:
The Emilian artist Paolo Belli has been the star of a thousand concerts
(Photo: Andrea Brusa)

We have known each other for many years with Paolo Belli and therefore let's avoid formalisms and move on to you: your artistic career began several years ago and therefore you have had the opportunity to experience firsthand all the changes that have taken place over time. Which do you think were the most important and why?
“There have been many changes, many of which are truly advantageous, but in my opinion some are penalizing. Among the improvements I certainly point out the speed of realization, the possibility of interacting with the whole world, exchanging files that are easily usable for listening, the convenience of distribution and purchase, and much more. However, some things have gotten worse, especially the quality, because music is made above all of emotions, and only physical sharing creates much more intense emotions for our souls".

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Paolo Belli: right from the start, he proved to be a musician with a very personal and recognizable sound
From the outset, Paolo Belli proved to be a musician with a very personal and recognizable sound

The concept and utility of physical sharing, of face-to-face interaction, is particularly interesting…
“I'm not saying this because I'm tied to the past, it's not nostalgia, but the conviction that if John Lennon and Paul McCartney, or Mogol and Lucio Battisti and who knows how many others had had to work without seeing each other live, we wouldn't have had the same poems to music such as those they created. Probably good 'products', but certainly not up to the level of those that still excite us today”.

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Paolo Belli: three times on the stage of the Sanremo Festival
Paolo Belli was three times on the stage of the Sanremo Festival

Did these changes also affect the way you compose songs?
“Absolutely yes, precisely for the reason I mentioned earlier, and not only in composition, but also in writing. Thanks to the use of computer, of grooves for construction and composition, of software such as Sibelius for the writing everything has sped up and the margin of error is almost nil, but since it's not you who creates, but a machine, your whole soul isn't in that piece”.

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Were the concerts affected as well? If so, how?
“Fortunately here the difference is less, because if you use sequences or really live sounds, the feeling enters the skin in a different way and therefore the music arrives precisely for what its function is. You can take advantage of sophisticated and avant-garde instrumentation, various tricks and tricks, deceptive videos and lights, but only if study, apprenticeship and daily commitment have forged you well are you able to truly express yourself at your best and therefore get to the heart of the public and to remain there for years. If you are not like that, then everything collapses quickly and you last for a season at the most…”.

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Paolo Belli: worked with Sam Moore, Dan Aykroyd, Billy Preston, Jon Hendricks, Jimmy Witherspoon, Vasco Rossi, Enzo Jannacci, Litfiba, Mogol, Avion Travel, PFM and Mario Lavezzi
Paolo Belli has worked with Sam Moore, Dan Aykroyd, Billy Preston, Jon Hendricks, Jimmy Witherspoon, Vasco Rossi, Enzo Jannacci, Litfiba, Mogol, Avion Travel, PFM and Mario Lavezzi

Do you see any other changes in the near future?
“Probably yes, but I also hope for a return to vintage and the recording studio”.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the music sector in Italy and in Europe?
“When I was young, music was so important that, in addition to giving jobs to thousands of people, it even made you decide whether to vote for one side or the other, and therefore it had enormous value, including political. Now it is so mistreated that it is often used only as background music in TV programmes, in supermarkets and in a thousand other situations. I hope that there will be reforms, at a political and cultural level, to restore importance to this art which generates wonderful feelings and specialized work. Otherwise, it will remain more and more a 'thing' only for a select few and for poor souls…”.

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Paolo Belli: alongside Milly Carlucci for "Dancing with the Stars"
Paolo Belli was alongside Milly Carlucci for “Dancing with the Stars” (Photo: Andrea Brusa)