OGGI NYC - Feature and article May 15, 2016
May 15, 2016

Live in Music
Oggi NYC Magazine -
May 15, 2016 - by Franco Borelli

Italo-Canadese with Calabrian roots, with an original voice in the world of American pop-jazz music, composer as well as singer, in conversation with Daniela Nardi

Daniela Nardi is of Calabrian origins therefore “testarda” meaning stubborn but in the best sense of the word. She is at ease with many artistic styles (she passes with stunning indifference through pop to jazz, improvisation yet playing within classical lines). One of the most original voices of the Italian songbook in North America (even seductive and passionate with French and of course English) with warm clear phrasing and who has 4 albums already credited to her name. Born in Ontario Canada but very much Italian in all cultural ways, composer (as well for film) and a refined performer. This briefly is: Daniela Nardi.

We will try to learn more about Daniela Nardi, to know more of her as a musician, as a human being, during this time between concerts, musical activities and time with her family.

Who is Daniela Nardi?
This is most definitely an interesting and tough question. I try to understand myself every day. I believe I am a very sensitive person, with my feet on the ground, my needs are very simple and without pretenses. When it comes to my music, I am really not interested in fame but in the result that is, it is fundamental to me to do great work. I am Canadian, born in Toronto but my soul is completely Italian. I do feel like I occupy two worlds.

You were born in Toronto to Italian parents: where are they from and when did they arrive in Canada?
My father is from a town called Carolei in the province of Cosenza. My mother was from a town called Crotone. They both came to Canada very young, she was 12, he was 17. They had met here.

How much and how, not only artistically are you connected to Italy?
Not withstanding my roots, I do sense being Italian right down in my soul. I am not sure if all children of immigrants feel as deeply connected to the motherland as I do but the ties, the connection is very very strong for me, deeply rooted. Even my Italian friends, those in Italy that is, find it very difficult to perceive if I am Canadian and that I live in another country. Doing music in Italy for me is an extension of this sensibility.

You started your musical studies at 5 years of age, at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto: what kind of instruction did you get, did someone push you into it or was it your choice?
My mother was a huge music fan but she never pushed me into music lessons. The choice to have piano lessons was completely my own. I just knew, I just had this feeling that music as something that I wanted to do, even at the age of 5 so, she helped me realise that calling.

From classical studies to interpreting music: what does intrepreting another’s work mean to you? How do you approach it?
When one has to interpret someone else’s music, I believe it is very important to believe that the piece is your own. One needs to bring someone new to the piece, create a new life for it, a new way to listen to the song.

Jovanotti, DeAndre’, Ruggeri, Piovani, Endrigo, etc.: who do you feel the closest to and why?
Oh that is an impossible question to answer because they are all such great artists, I have a tremendous amount of respect for all of them. I believe that each of them resonates with me in a particular way but I do have to admit that Jannacci and Conte speak to my poetic and eccentric side; and DeAndre’ speaks to my more melancholic and introspective side.

You have composed music for film and not disregarding even jazz: which musical genre do you feel most comfortable in?
Pop music without doubt is where I find I am my most comfortable. When I first started to write songs, I was deeply influenced by Sting and The Police as well as Annie Lennox and The Eurythmics. I studied them like crazy. They were like my teachers. I became more aware of jazz and started to study it when I went to university to continue my studies in music. There a whole new world opened up for me.

Your own song you have composed have a lot to do with your younger years (One True Thing) and about dramatic experiences in your life (The Rose Tattoo). What does it mean to you to compose, to write songs?
For me, it’s been a type of therapy. But seriously, I feel that songwriting is a form of communication. I want to share what I am going through in hopes that maybe someone else might find comfort because they are going through a similar situation. I am a little too sensitive so I can’t help myself, I can’t help but be transparent.

Do you consider yourself a composer or a singer? Where do you feel most free?
I always say that I am an accidental singer. It was out of necessity that I started singing because I was writing these songs so someone had to sing them. I thought well, it might as well be me. And the rest is history as they say.

With the new album CANTO, you travel through so many different moods, atmospheres, musical styles: who is the real Daniela, woman and artist?
I am simple, like I said before, uncomplicated and deeply sensitive. I am really easy to get along with but if my values are violated, my true Calabrian roots are felt. As an artist, I like to challenge myself. I like to try different things, move through different styles.

What can your fans expect of you in the immediate future?
In June here in Canada, I will have Gabriele Mirabassi join me for a big concert. In August I will be performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Coming to perform in Italy is truly a dream of mine. We are working on making that dream come true.