Jack Savoretti, English singer, songwriter and musician chats with Kevin Cooper about deuting with Kylie Minogue, how becoming a father has made him more mellow, his latest album Singing To Strangers, and his forthcoming appearance at Sherwood Pines in the summer.

Jack Savoretti is an English singer, songwriter and musician of Italian descent, having been born to an Italian father, and a half German and half Polish mother. As a teenager growing up in the Swiss city of Lugano, his main interest was poetry until his mother gave him a guitar and suggested that he put some music to the words that he was writing.

Since then he has released five studio albums, with his sixth, Singing To Strangers, due to be released later this month. Between The Minds was released in 2007, Harder Than Easy in 2009, Before The Storm in 2012, the commercially successful Written In Scars in 2015 which was followed up with Sleep No More in 2016.

Written In Scars was the first of his albums to be released by a major record label and it peaked at number seven in the official UK album chart, where it remained for forty one weeks. It was also BBC Radio 2’s Album of the Week in February 2015. Sleep No More was similarly successful when it reached number six in the charts.

In 2018, he featured on Kylie Minogue’s album Golden, where he dueted with her on the song Music’s Too Sad Without You.

Whilst busy preparing for the release of his latest album and his tour of the UK in May, he took some time out to have chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Jack how are you today?

Hi Kevin I’m good buddy how are you?

I’m very well thank you and before we start let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

Right back at you and thank you for doing this interview.

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

Life at the moment is good, very good actually. I have a little time off so I am spending it with the family. We are in Cornwall enjoying being by the sea.

You and I last spoke back in 2015 when you were disillusioned with the music business. Has that way of thinking and attitude changed in anyway?

(Laughter) erm, let’s just say that I still have my doubts as to just how healthy the music business is as a business. But I have most definitely seen a much better side to it than I have ever seen in the past. I think that very much has to do with the fact that we have created our own little business plan in such a crazy business, and have created our own business model which means that we can very much keep ourselves to ourselves without getting caught up in the whole rat race of it all.

Before we move onto the new album and the forthcoming tour I wanted to say that I was fortunate to photograph you here at The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on Sunday 10th September 2017 when you opened for John Legend. How was that?

That really was amazing. As you said, I got the opportunity to open for John which was great. However, I have to tell you that it really was a gruelling schedule, it was a gruelling tour, but I have to say that it was great. John’s band and crew were divine, and there was a lot of love between us and his band. For me to open for John at the O2 in London is something that I will never forget.

So I have now seen you here in Nottingham at The Rescue Rooms, Rock City and The Arena and I am wondering what’s next for Jack Savoretti (laughter).

(Laughter) well I will just have to see what I can get away with.

I have been playing the new album Singing To Strangers for the past couple of weeks and I have to say that I love it.

Ah thank you so much man, cheers, thank you.

Are you happy with it?

Yes I am and to use the old cliché I really am over the moon. I am so proud of this album because it is exactly what I wanted it to be, which let me tell you that is not always easy to do. This is probably the first album where I have had a really clear idea about what I wanted to do before writing a single song. I had the name of the album before I had written any of the songs. In fact I had the name of the album before actually writing the song which carries the name of the album (laughter). There is a song on the album called Singing To Strangers and that was literally the last song that I wrote. I had finished the album and I thought that it would be lovely if there was a moment on the album and perhaps even in the show where everything goes dark and you go in to the mind of the songwriter and what they are doing.

You go into the mind of the performer who is asking himself ‘why do I do all of this’. So I really looked at this album a bit like a movie about my life. I wanted it to be very atmospheric and I wanted it to be cinematic in its approach. I wanted the album to sound like the soundtrack to a movie and see if you would really know just what it would feel like. So that is what I decided to do.

When did you finish the album?

I think that it was late September. We did ten days in the studio in Rome last August and then we all went our separate ways for a short break and then we all got back together on 1st September and mixed and mastered it all.

Can you leave the album alone or are you a meddler?

No, no, not at all, in fact that is something that Ken Blackwood and I have very much in common. We both just wanted to get it done. I’m not a perfectionist; I am more a pleasure over perfection kind of guy, and I will always choose pleasure over perfection any day (laughter). I want to enjoy the process. I don’t want it to be a chore otherwise I would do something else. I can never understand why people torture themselves whenever they are making art. To me I find that everything else in life can be so tortuous, so I find that making art is the one thing which I get to enjoy, and make my own rules up, and decide when a project is finished. So I will always chose pleasure over perfection when it comes to making albums.

I am so pleased that you mentioned making the album sound like a movie soundtrack because I currently have three go to tracks, the first being Candlelight which I personally feel would be a great theme to a James Bond movie.

(Laughter) thank you that really is very much appreciated. However, I have to be honest with you and say that wasn’t my intention but I will most definitely take that as a compliment.

The second track is Dying For Your Love and if you have ever seen the Robert Rodriguez movie From Dusk Till Dawn I think that you will see just where I am coming from?

Totally, I absolutely know exactly where you are coming from. I personally wanted that track to be something along the lines of Angelo Badalamenti’s original soundtrack to the movie Twin Peaks. That really is a very dark song, something that you would call a death ballad, or a murder ballad, and it really is about coming to the realisation of your own mortality and I think that having children does that to you. On the day that you finally have a child of your own then you become very aware of your own mortality. You just don’t want to die through worry (laughter). Before I had kids I didn’t really care, but the main thing that I have finally come to realise is just how important it is to have somebody with you for the long journey, like your life partner.

This song, although I don’t personally believe that it is perceived as that, but that is what it is saying. There is a lyric in that song which says ‘you don’t have to die alone’ and I think that was the premise of that whole song.

The last one is Youth And Love which I personally feel has a definite 70s disco feel to it. Would you agree?

Absolutely, although I personally see it as Italian 80s disco from my youth but I do know exactly where you are coming from. In 2017 there was an Italian film released which was called Call Me By Your Name which I went to see and I have to say that it really did affect me. It really was such a beautiful movie. However, what affected me the most was the fact that the movie takes place in Italy in the summer back in the 1980s and that is exactly how I used to grow up, going to Italy in the summer hearing all of this euro disco, or euro pop if you like, in the background. I would have to say that ninety percent of it was rubbish but there were always these one or two moments which were just genius and really good. I walked out of the cinema after seeing that film and I just wanted to write Youth And Love.

It is quite a melancholic love song, with me reminiscing about my summers as a young kid, falling in love, summer loving and all that. That is why I wanted to write that song because of the music that was playing in the background when I was thinking about those days, being a kid in the summer in Italy.

You have used the word genius which I personally feel gets used far too much these days…

Yes you are totally correct, it does.

But I have to ask you, just what was it like working in the studios of a certain Ennio Morricone?

I have to be totally honest with you and say that for me that was a dream come true although sadly, Ennio wasn’t there at the time. However, I did get to play some of his beautiful pianos, use his mixing desk and please don’t get me wrong, his music was present and we were listening to him all of the time in the studio. We were all searching around the studio looking for pieces of history that we could find and he was most definitely a big influence on the writing of the album and I think that you can hear that. Ennio’s gift was the melancholy, the melody and the atmosphere. Those are the three words that I really try to associate with this album.

The last time that we spoke I asked you who had influenced you and you said Bob Dylan. Taking that on board just how did it feel to get to co-write with him on Touchy Situation?

(Laughter) well that is still pretty nuts; I still feel like I’m the guy who found a bag of money, grabbed it and ran (laughter). I really do feel a bit like that. I have no idea just how much Bob knows about the finished track but I do know that his team gave the song the thumbs up and that will do for me. It really was quite daunting. I sat with the guitar for a few hours and it really was frustrating for me as I found myself writing songs which were simply too much like Dylan songs and I really didn’t want to do that. I really didn’t see the point in doing that. So I put down the guitar, walked over to the piano, started reading over the lyrics and when I got to the lyric ‘touchy situation’ I suddenly realised that my hands were touching the piano.

I was being quite touchy with the piano, my hands were jumping all over it. I thought ‘there you go, this is now starting to become my song’. I then moved things around a bit and I now say that “these may be Dylan’s words but this is my song”.

Has becoming a dad changed the way that you write; are there subjects now which are off-limits?

Yes it has absolutely one hundred percent. Becoming a dad has reminded me about romanticism; it has reminded me just how romantic life can be. When I say romantic I don’t mean ‘baby I love you’ I mean atmosphere, being able once again to see the beauty in things. I know that there are things of beauty out there which before I would have walked past and not taken any notice of them. I know that I was probably a little bit more frustrated and angry before I had children. Children have most definitely bought a certain magic back into my life; they have bought the Disney effect back into my life (laughter). Make believe is suddenly real again. I have now got Peter Pan and Mary Poppins living in my house again so yes, it really has affected both me and my writing.

You will be back out on the road once again here in the UK in May, are you looking forward to that?

Yes I am but the only hard part is being away from the family. That really is the only hard part, the only downside to touring. Everybody in my band has played on the album so out on tour you really are hearing the boys that made the album and you are going to get to see them every night and I think that is something that you don’t see a lot these days. I feel that it is always nice to actually see the guys who have played on the record so that is what we are going to be offering.

Here in Nottingham we will have to wait a little longer to see you as you won’t be here until Sunday 30th June when you will be performing at Sherwood Pines for The Forestry Commission. Are you looking forward to that?

Yes I am, I love playing outside and I love the challenge of that, in fact to me it feels like a sport. I like to try to connect with as many people as I can and that is so different when you are playing outdoors to what it is when you are playing indoors.

Well I have to say that this year is a cracking line-up; on Friday 28th June we have Jess Glynne kicking off the weekend, then on Saturday 29th we have The Mod-Father himself Mr Paul Weller followed by your good self closing things.

Wow, I really do hope that I can follow that and maybe even entertain the crowd a little (laughter). That really is a great line-up, I wasn’t aware that Paul Weller would be playing, that really is awesome.

Will this be the first time that you have played for The Forestry Commission?

(Laughter) I have absolutely no idea. It all turns into a blur.

Don’t say that, we here in Nottingham think that you treat us differently from the rest of the UK (laughter).

I will when I see you. However, I will have absolutely no idea where I am, but until we get to where we are going I have no idea where we are going let me put it that way (laughter).

How did your duet with Kylie Minogue on Music’s Too Sad Without You manifest itself?

Well we originally recorded the song for a movie called Halal Daddy which is an Irish-German-French comedy film. The director of the movie, Conor McDermottroe is a friend of Kylie’s and he was a fan of mine having heard some of my work. They asked us if we would do a cover of Rivers Of Babylon which was written and recorded by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of the Jamaican reggae group The Melodians back in 1970 and as you know was covered by Boney M in 1978. So we met up and both of us very quickly decided ‘let’s do something else’ (laughter). Don’t get me wrong, we both love that song but it just didn’t seem right for us, it just didn’t feel natural.

After that Kylie suggested that we try to write something together and so we wrote Music’s Too Sad Without You and that really was a magic moment. Putting your headphones on in a studio and suddenly hearing Kylie’s voice singing back to you truly is a moment that I won’t forget.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

That is a very good question, give me a second here. Stay there, I am just going to check very quickly my playlist, oh that’s it, I’ve got it. It was True Love Ways by Buddy Holly.

On that note Jack let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been fantastic.

Thank you so much Kevin, you take it easy buddy and I will see you in Nottingham.