Exclusive heart-warming interview with multi-platinum singer-songwriter Elisa about her new record ‘Secret Diaries’

Multi-platinum international singer-songwriter Elisa from Italy reveals a brand-new exclusive 5-track EP, ‘Secret Diaries’, available on all streaming platforms, via Island Records. I had the honour to interview her and find out that she is a very gentle soul full of grace and who can connect with audiences in a very deep way. She is a loving mum and wife who has manifested her love to her husband-to-be through a song and tours with her children balancing a very promising music career with her motherly vocation.

Monica: Where do you find the inspiration for your songs? 

Elisa:             The inspiration for me is a concept that is very hard to grasp. It’s like it really comes from a state of mind. What I know is that I have no control over it. I’m not one of those people that can write songs when they want to. It’s the opposite. I try to be available for songs to be written by me, because it’s something magical. And whenever a new song comes, I’m like, “Oh you have your own heart, your own truth, your own entity, your separate being from me.” Inside of every song there’s truth, there’s something honest, a true message that I wanted to deliver. I feel that a song has its own life. And so therefore, because it’s so powerful and the process of writing a song is somehow magical because there are some parts of it that I’ve never understood and I can’t understand yet. Therefore, I consider it a concept that is greater than me in a way. 

Monica:         It makes perfect sense. And for me, this is the ultimate creativity. So it speaks sense. Why do you feel inspired to write your songs in English? I know you write in Italian as well. Isn’t Italian – your own mother tongue –  such a musical language? Or so they say.

Elisa:             Yes. definitely Italian is a very musical language. It’s different kettle of fish compared to English. I have a lot of respect for English and American authors or writers. They’ve inspired me so much. Especially when I was young and probably that’s the reason why I started writing in English.

Monica Costa :      Which musicians do influence you? The piano in ‘You Don’t Love Me Like I Do’ reminded me a bit of Adele… 

Elisa:             Oh, Adele. What a comparison. Oh, my gosh.

Monica:         Well, a little bit. I thought, “This is the new Adele made in Italy.”

Elisa:             Oh, my gosh. Oh, wow. That’s a big one right there. Thank you for the comparison. It’s pretty amazing. I love Adele and I love her as a woman and as a musician, as an artist and singer. Love her honesty. When I wrote You Don’t Love Me Like I Do, I had very deep and also sad feelings. Which I decided to explore fearlessly through my record Secret Diaries. I didn’t want to be subtle. I wanted to be direct. I wanted to express my thoughts. To let the feelings be what they were and be translated into music without being watered down. It was very intense to write this song. But I remember, for example, one record that I loved and listened to so much was Blue by Joni Mitchell. That record is so important for me. Also, I remember one time I had this idea of touring that record. Paying homage to Joni Mitchell. I’d do a whole tour, but I would only sing Blue. That has never happened, but maybe it will one day.

Monica:         Yeah. Why not. How would you define your music genre?

Elisa:             Yeah, that’s a tough one because I love electronic music of rock, but I believe my melodies sometimes are adult pop. Singing, songwriting, there’s a couple of major influences and major roots to this tree that makes my music what it is. Definitely the biggest influences are just adult pop. And so I definitely think that plays a major role.

Monica:         You definitely have a pop sensibility, which could be the adult. But on the same kind of level of Alanis Morissette. I’ll call it alt pop or Alternative pop maybe more than adult, because adult pop, anything adult, in England especially, has a negative connotation. Alternative is better. Also your music is more transcendence of age realistically.

Elisa:             Yeah, it’s always very hard for me to give it a name because I’m such a traveller in terms of genres. I play with the arrangements. I don’t take them too seriously. For me, the heart of it all is the song. For me, the lyrics and the melody and the harmony, they make a song what it is. The arrangements can be done in so many different ways. But I realise that people need to name things to be able to put them somewhere. So yeah, if you want to call it a alternative pop, it’s probably one of the major ingredient of what it is. Sometimes it can be influenced a little bit by … it can be slightly more rockish, sometimes it can be slightly more electronic oriented or acoustic, folkish. So there’s a range there.

Monica:         This actually reflects very much contemporary music, which is a little bit of a mixed sort of a genres. Because like in the ’80s or in the ’70s we had like rock, well-defined rock, before we had rock and roll, clearly defined rock and roll and they didn’t really mix the genre. Or disco. Disco music was properly defined. So we didn’t really have all these mixed genres. This is what makes music these days so original. So it’s fine to say one song is inspired by electronic and one song is inspired by rock because actually this is how music is these days.

Elisa:             I’m happy because I consider it an evolved approach to music. It is because as a musician, as an artist, but also as a listener, you look for freedom and openness. Even when it was a problem to mix genres, because trust me, it has been, I never gave up on this. Because I knew it was right. And I remember, talking about Diaries, I remember writing journals, pages and pages talking to myself about even these things. Like, “Well, how am I going to translate my music? Make people understand?” I don’t feel there’s a problem doing … I don’t take it as a … think of it as a problem to change arrangements like that. And I’m so happy that you and millions of people now are … we’re finally over it. We’re finally ready to mix everything and just take something that you like or you don’t like.

Monica:         This is the beauty of music. Music is something that comes from within. Even for listeners, not just for the musicians. Their love for music is irrational. Music is about sensations and emotions, triggering emotions and perceiving these emotions whether you are from musicians’ or listeners’ point of view. What makes your songs stand out from the crowd? Your own perception of that?

Elisa:             Well, from my point of view, there’s something mysterious and magical about the place where a song comes from. The place where an honest song comes from is mysterious, if you don’t really know where it comes from. Speaking for myself, I’m not even exactly sure it’s all by me. But it’s from some areas of me that I don’t even know that well. Because sometimes it comes out so fast and in a way that’s it’s unexpected to my own ears. Sounding unexpected to my own ears. And that I just call it, I don’t know, maybe somehow spiritual. Somehow meditating.

Monica:         Maybe as a messenger from the Gods. I like that actually. This idea.

Elisa:             Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Monica:         I feel like musicians that inspire me are like messengers from the Gods because they can capture and express so many emotions. It’s actually something that you can’t believe some human has created it. So some people are like messengers, I believe. And very gifted people are. Who are your best fans and why?

Elisa:             It moves me and really touches me when I receive messages from fans. I have become friends with the coolest fans through the years. They now have my number and we write each other. It’s great. I love to know what they think of the music. I just love how deeply they listen to the music and how different every person’s view on one song, on a message, and some lyrics. It’s so personal, I love to watch their faces in a show, especially during the last tour, their eyes and my eyes at the end of the show are so similar. I feel like we’re full of the same exact emotions. The state of mind, the sensation that’s in the air, it feels like it’s so collective in a way. So I love their ability to get emotional. I’m really a fan of the ability of people to let the feelings take over, be sensitive. I love, I respect, and have so much gratitude for people that that can feel, deeply feel emotions. I think that’s of big value. It’s so important nowadays. There’s so much entertainment forms. There are also such distraction forms that the attention, sometimes it is very superficial. Or at least in Italy sometimes I have this perception. That sometimes is kind of scary because it doesn’t feel so natural, so human. People who can draw satisfaction from emotions and look for emotions for songs, for poetry, for books, for pictures, from art, from feelings in general, I really love them. I really love this kind of ability because I think it’s an ability.

Monica:         It is. It is. I totally agree with you. And actually, we would get on very well, you and me because I’m exactly the same. I’m the Queen of emotions – that’s how they call me. I’m not an artist like you, but I sing in a rock band and I can feel exactly when people are connected. It is an ability to feel.

Elisa:             I don’t think that artists are all famous at all. I think there’s a lot of famous people that are not artists. And artists that have different jobs.

Monica:         This is the so-called emotional intelligence. Not everybody has been gifted that. The ability of feeling and feeling what other people are feeling. It’s not everybody’s bag. Not everybody can do that. And it’s a talent in its own right. So you’re gifted in that way as well. What’s your favourite song from this album, if there is any favourite?

Elisa:             Yeah, there is. There is. To be honest, I have to say A Parallel World.

Monica:         A Parallel World is also my favourite song.

Elisa:             I’ve played that song so, so, so, so, so many times because I wrote that song in 2008 when I desperately fell in love with my now husband, father of my two children. But back then, we got together and that’s the first love song I wrote for.

Monica:         Oh. I’ll listen to that again with this story in mind now.

Elisa:             I listened to it so many times over the years. Now we’re in 2019 and I wrote the song in 2008. It’s been a long time. I love this little project to be honest. When the record company is like ask me to release this, it was not planned to just put out this EP. My whole romance with English, with the idea of breaking boundaries, get on a bus and tour Europe, it doesn’t matter for how many people, but bring my whole family, my whole music, and just get to do it was so luxurious. I was very, very proud and emotional and beyond happy the day that we got to release this EP. Because it means freedom, to me, which is a value that I cherish. My favourite track is in between You Don’t Love Me Like I Do, Don’t Do Neverminds, and My America. And it’s a struggle between the three of them.

Monica:         Yeah, I Don’t Do Neverminds is also my second favourite song actually. In this Parallel World, what did you find in the parallel world of yours? We need one where we can escape sometimes.

Elisa:             Yes, absolutely. Best friends. Those parallel worlds, sometimes they’re our best friends. It was a projection of a truth that we’re not living yet. It was a dream. He didn’t know I wanted to be with him yet. But that was my way of living the romance without actually being true.

Monica:         How sweet. This is a good idea. Good idea, too, before it happens.

Elisa:             Yeah. Before it happens.

Monica:         Yeah. It’s almost like a manifestation, isn’t it?

Elisa:             Yes. I was okay with that. But I was dreaming of that. It was, yeah, like a romance song.

Monica:         Fantastic. I like that even more now. This concept of writing a song to manifest your love. That’s great. Great idea.

 

TRACKLIST

  1. Felling this way
  2. You don’t love me like I do
  3. I don’t do neverminds
  4. My America
  5. A parallel world

 

CONNECT WITH ELISA

www.elisatoffoli.com

 

LISTEN HERE

 

UPCOMING LIVE DATES

 

July Sat, 20 Germany, Cologne, Luxor https://www.fkpscorpio.com/de/veranstaltungen/ticketshop/?sprache=0&standort=TIX&veranst_nr=12559
  Sun, 21 Germany, Hannover, Musikzentrum https://www.fkpscorpio.com/de/veranstaltungen/ticketshop/?sprache=0&standort=TIX&veranst_nr=12560
  Tue, 23 Norway, Oslo, BLAA http://www.blaaoslo.no
  Thu, 25 Germany, Hamburg, Fabrik https://www.fkpscorpio.com/de/veranstaltungen/ticketshop/?sprache=0&standort=TIX&veranst_nr=12561
  Fri, 26 Switzerland, Bellinzona, Castle On Air Festival https://www.ticketcorner.ch/tickets.html?affiliate=TCS&doc=artistPages/tickets&fun=artist&action=tickets&erid=2358335&includeOnlybookable=false&xtmc=elisa&xtnp=1&xtcr=1
  Tue, 30 UK, London, Union Chapel https://www.unionchapel.org.uk/event/30-07-2019-elisa/
August Fri, 2 UK, Edinburgh, The Liquid Room (Edinburgh Fringe Festival) https://www.432presents.com/events/9929a24d-4521-4906-966c-d6b2be344a71
       

 

Born from an urgency and desire to continue a direct relationship with her fans, the new body of work follow up on last year’s international single ‘Will We Be Strangers’and comes ahead of her UK and European tour, which will see the talented artist headline venues including the Union Chapel in London on 30thJuly and The Liquid Room for Edinburgh Festival Fringe on Friday 2ndAugust.

 

Subtle, minimal instrumentation provides the backdrop for Elisa’s personal, raw and honest lyrics and warm vocals on lead single ‘Feeling This Way’. The delicately-plucked guitar work enhances Elisa’s powerful and descriptive storytelling, resulting in a timeless and beguiling acoustic number.

 

There is a thread of exposure and inescapable vulnerability that runs through all the songs, “are self-produced, very DIY songs, stripped-back from the usual full studio production”, explains Elisa, “I wanted the listeners to hear them in the same way I listen to them in my headphones when they are still demos.”

 

The raw production echoes her lyrical content. Her vocals recorded up close for added intimacy, “encapsulate the vulnerability and honesty that came out while writing those songs”, explained Elisa, “they are about intimacy, feminism, and the idea of America as an island that doesn’t exist”,she reflects.

 

With ‘Secret Diaries’ Elisa will launch a new way of releasing her music, through a personal “in progress”Spotify Playlist, on which she will upload unpublished tracks and demos, not necessarily linked to official releases.

 

Audiences have recently proven that language and nationality shouldn’t be a barrier when it comes to music, and Elisa has certainly redefined how Italian artists cross over to the international music scene.

Accomplishing the unthinkable in the Italian music industry: a raw and credible artist, writing and singing entirely English and reaching the top of the album charts, as well as crossing over into the international music scene market – with albums released in several European countries, USA and Canada, SA and New Zealand – she is comfortable in both worlds.

 

Armed with a career spanning over twenty years, Elisa has collaborated with some of the most important international artists in the world; from Bjork’s early producer and trip-hop creator Howie B, Katy Perry, No Doubt and Alanis Morissette’s producer Glen Ballard, as well as writing and recording #1 single Teach Me Again’,released with the Grammy Award-winning rock singer Tina Turner for the anthology film ‘All the Invisible Children’. Whilst Anohni formerly known as Antony Hegarty featured on ‘Forgiveness’, a single included in her #1 album ‘Heart’, which peaked at #34 on the Global Album Charts. Her collaboration with Ennio Morricone – featured on Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning movie ‘Django Unchained’ and its soundtrack album– ended up being pre-nominated for an Academy Award as Best Original Song. Her most recent duet with British songwriter Jack Savoretti, was the crowning of a long friendship, started when the acclaimed bluesy singer opened Elisa’s past Arena tours in Italy.

 

Her song ‘Dancing’ topped the iTunes charts both in USA and Canada and ranked 25th in the Billboard Hot Singles Recurrent for the Year, with her 2008’s album ‘Dancing’ climbing to number 5 on Billboard’s poll for Best Album of 2008, prompting Decca Records to release a special anthology album ‘Steppin’ On Water, in USA and Canada.

 

During her career she has won numerous prestigious music awards both in Italy and internationally, her beguiling performance at Sanremo Festival won her the first prize, from there she went to win several MTV European Music Awards, she sung at the Winter Olympics Games closing ceremony in Salt Lake in the USA, as well as becoming an ambassador for Save the Children. Her most recent accolades include giving her voice to the Italian version of ‘Baby Mine’ for Tim Burton‘s ‘Dumbo’ and gracing the cover of Vanity Fair Italy.

About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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