Name: Laura Masotto
Occupation: Violinist / composer /co-founder of Lady Blunt Records
Current Release: Singles "Mirage" and "Waves" in collaboration with Philip G Anderson part of Mediterraneo - Lady Blunt Collection.
Recommendations: When I visualize Yves Klein's "Blue”, it makes me feel truly alive / When I listen to Arvo Part's “Tabula Rasa”, played by Gidon Kremer, I feel so wrapped by music that I can't think of anything more intense: I feel the music under my teeth as if I could eat it.
Website/Contact: Discover Laura Masotto’s music online at lauramasotto.bandcamp.com
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
At the age of 5 I was already passionate about violin and its sound. I was constantly listening to two cassette tapes by Vivaldi and Paganini and I felt the desire to play. So, I started studying at that young age. Classical music has been my fundamental inspiration during the Conservatory studies; I then broadened my interests and started listening to a lot of different music, from electronic to punk. While starting a career in classical music when I was a teenager, I began playing with some Italian experimental bands and treated the instrument with a new perspective. When I was 15 I composed my very first solo track. I kept on writing music but never felt ready to publish my personal work until last year when I released my first solo album “Fireflies” in 2019.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
The transition toward finding my own voice has been slow. At the beginning of 2018 I really felt ready to share my own music, the urge transformed into a need. Something changed within myself: I felt confident with my personal way of playing violin and the compositions came naturally, almost like an inner flow. They were there, and I was ready. This could have not have happened without years of learning and studying, which nourished my creativity. Violin is a very demanding instrument and it requires a certain musical maturity, so I believe it makes sense that my development as a composer started in my 30s. It is interesting to mention the “emulation” topic as in classical music it is all about playing someone else’s music. Once I started playing my own music I experienced a feeling of real belonging and freedom.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
I wanted to start with a project that could fully represent me and my origins: an album of solo violin, in which I accompany my melodies by using a looper. My biggest challenge was to produce an opus that I could entirely play by myself live.
I feel much more free in composing and experimenting now. To merge violin and contemporary sonorities represent a big challenge and it is what I am focusing on the most right now: I am producing new music in which my compositions include the combination of violin and synths.
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My first studio was very minimal, as I only needed my violin, mics and a looper. I then introduced new instruments that I use to play, such as the viola, the cello and the sitar. I also have a piano which helps me with composing. I use a lot of pedals and I enjoy studying the sound: I have been developing my own sound in all these years and it is a constant journey.
My latest set-up addition is a Prophet 8. It is a very stimulating instrument and I can spend hours on it. This is currently the most satisfying gear because it is the right one for the kind of music I am currently creating.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
I use technology to process my recordings, so it is certainly a fundamental element. However, I mainly use it just for the recording and mixing steps. I do not compose using virtual instruments, as I do not find them too appealing. They lack an essence, I think.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
As I don’t like using the computer to compose or to create sounds, I prefer using acoustic and analogic instruments. I’m fascinated by the production of sound coming from something real and tangible which needs to be played by humans in order to work. The interaction with the instrument is what stimulates me, and I want to have an active role in this interaction. Synths are particularly interesting as sound is triggered by an electronical impulse and can be transformed into any kind of sound. When you start to delve into the development of sound you have access to an intriguing universe.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
Music has always been very present at home, as my mother used to play the accordion and usually helped me to study and my brother Lorenzo accompanied me on the piano. I am grateful to have had the chance to share music with my brother: playing was a constant element of our growth. I also enjoyed playing in string quartet at the time of the Conservatory, as you can really feel the magic of intonation.
I have played with many bands and musicians, I still play with jazz, classical and modern musicians. Playing with others is something I have always enjoyed.
For a year now I have been sharing a musical project in a very new way for me, as I co-founded a record label called Lady Blunt Records with Francesca Serotti. Our creative director Alessandro Lugoboni joined the project since the very beginning and sometimes I have the same feeling of being in a band because we have to take decisions, follow a schedule, talk a lot about music and listen to a lot of it. It is interesting to see music from this point of view, to examine the development of a musical work after the creation of music. Working with Francesca and Alessandro is wonderful since they love music and have great respect and admiration for musicians. We are about to release a choral work that has completely immersed us: we have curated a collection titled Mediterraneo which involves 15 musicians. All proceeds will be donated to two NGOs engaged in the Mediterranean Sea in an ecological and humanitarian perspective.
So, despite the fact I am really enjoying my solo career, I must say it is still fundamental to collaborate with musicians and be involved in different projects, which gives inspiration and motivation.