Name: Jack Savoretti
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, musician
Current release: Jack Savoretti's new album Europiana is out now via Universal.
If you enjoyed this interview with Jack Savoretti, his official website is the perfect point of departure into his world. Or head over to Instagram, Soundcloud and Facebook for current updates and more music.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
Not having the best imagination unfortunately most of the things I write about come from real life. On this album, I decided to make it more universal or at least I tried to instead of ‚dear diary‘. I decided to look outwards rather than inwards.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
The only things that need to be concrete is the reason why I’m making the album, the concept has to come first and then the songs end up becoming characters within the album. Just like characters within a film.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
I wouldn’t call it research. But I do look for inspiration in music that has already succeeded transmitting the experience I am trying to get across - and then I add my own, personal touch.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
Yes, I never write before lunch. Songwriting on an empty stomach doesn’t work. And so if I write alone or with someone, it is always consequent to lunch.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
The beginning and end are always easy, it’s the curse of the second verse that is tough.
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
It all happens simultaneously. A chord and a note are what usually inspire the thought process behind the lyric.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
They have to be genuine, the person singing them has to mean them. „Help I need somebody“ isn’t exactly Shakespeare. But when they sing it, they mean it.
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
One day at a time. Once I have an understanding of the world I want my music to live, then it’s just about exploration. It’s like visiting somewhere I have never been before. I‘m a tourist taking loads of photographs.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
I don’t feel like its strict control or following. I always say writing songs is like digging for gold and performing songs is showing people what you’ve found.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
There’s an element of subconsciousness to it. What terrifies me about songwriting is how much of it is premonition.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
That's why I love the album so much: It creates boundaries and some sort of bookends to the library of songs I put together.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
A while. I go over it, over and over again. I’m becoming more perfectionist with age. Yet I don’t believe in perfection so it becomes quite frustrating.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
As involved as I can with the little knowledge I have. They are incredibly important, I think I value it more than most songwriters.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
I wouldn’t describe it as emptiness. It’s somewhat a pandora’s box of curiosity for me. Something you have spent so much time to understand and develop suddenly becomes something you can no longer understand or control over its development
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Like all things you can make a great cup of coffee with machinery. It’s the human and personal touch, though, that makes true greatness. Whether it be a cup of coffee or whether it be a song.