After 30 years performing eurobeat and dance music and written many hits for Japan and international market, Nick Festari (pretty well-known writer and producer in Japan and other countries) dives into new genres; pop, rock, alternative, punk, electronic starting a solo career. This Italian native is no stranger to the musical world, picking up piano at the mere age of 9 years old. Nick has trained himself to become the best musician he can be, proving his worth in the current pop/alternative world. He has just published his first EP “This is me… Slower and Faster,” and we interviewed him right here on ET!
Could you tell us about your musical background and about all the years you spent performing dance and eurobeat music?
Well. I started to study piano at 9 years old. When I was 16 I became one of the organists of my parish. It was there that I took my first steps accompanying a talented choir during the liturgical celebrations and performances. In that period I met two eurobeat/dance producers who wanted me with them, so my musical career started. In those years I’ve been on two parallel musical paths: I’ve been playing keyboards in a Christian/Gospel choir band performing in little local theatres and I’ve been writing and producing eurobeat music.
In 1987 my career started… I was very young and everything was so wonderful to me… in that period eurobeat was an important genre and I was really proud to be involved. And then by working in professional studios I learned many technical skills that I’m still improving today… day by day always keeping myself updated.
Could you tell us about some of the most exciting or interesting live performances that you have been a part of?
Uhm… telling the truth, I’ve never been a part of live performances. In eurobeat and some dance genres the singer performs at studio and then the producers can assign to his/her voice more than one artist name (aliases), depending on the song style. So the person who will go on the stage is a model and not the real singer.
What I can say about the most exciting live performance is the following: famous Japanese band and artists covered some of my songs. GET MY LOVE was the cover of my TAKE MY GUM. MAX is a famous Japanese female group/band and they are the first band that covered a song of mine. GET MY LOVE became the Ouverture of all their concerts. Y’know… this was VERY exciting to me!
What led you to pursue a career in music in the first place?
I think that each of us was born with “determining factors in his/her D.N.A.” and goals to reach for. I believe this is the reason.
What is life like in Alessandria, Italy? What is the music scene of your hometown like?
Oh well… Alessandria is a pretty quiet town… there is not much to say. In my town there are some local groups and artists that often are on the stages for live performances promoted by the local government. By the way the most skilled local artists try to pursue their career elsewhere.
What experiences and events inspired the writing and recording of your debut EP “This Is Me”? Could you tell us about each of the six featured songs?
Ok. Indeed, after years and years writing and producing the same genre, it doesn’t give me the right spark to compose new fresh melodies and lyrics anymore. Shortly, I had fun no more. I really think that music must be real fun for producers and listeners. If you are not in the right mood while you’re writing a song, the audience feels that. So I decided to produce an EP including 6 songs – 6 different genres… all genres I like very much! It was a real fun working on this project!
You ask me for information about every song…Well. Let’s try!
1) You Wanna Make Me Fly (I know You Belong To A Dream) – Musically it’s a mix of acoustic and electronic… I love to experiment new mixtures of sounds. The chorus rhythmic arrangement reminds a little the musical experience where I come from… the lyrics talk about a weird romance between a young girl and an older man.
2) Wings Of An Angel – It’s a pop song typically arranged with orchestral sounds with a catchy chorus line melody and background vocals (said by who has listened to the track). Lyrics focus on a romance gone bad.
3) The Song I Wrote For You – Here is another experiment. My intent was writing a boyband style song just like One Direction, but then… during the arrangement I wanted to add something different playing with electronic sounds and a little of dubstep influence.
4) Don’t Throw The Dice – One year ago, I don’t know the reason why, I often listened Green Day songs and so I literally fell in love with “Viva La Gloria”. Strumming my guitar I composed a melody line that could fit well with that kind of arrangement and I worked on it in punk style. The lyrics are pretty autobiographical: they talk about my childhood and my friends while we played in our courtyard… a little nostalgic track.
5) There Will Be No Prize – Arrangements 30 Seconds To Mars inspired. Lyrics “The Lego Movie” script inspired.
6) Don’t Slam The Radio – This song was written two years ago… it’s the first song of my solo career. “Don’t Slam The Radio” is a pop ballad and I published it as a voice/piano only single track. It came along with a YouTube video that I removed a few weeks ago. I decided to include it in “This is me… Slower and Faster” in a totally re-arranged full orchestra version (Robbie Williams “Angels”) style. Lyrics are… how can I say? Like “a kick in the stomach”?
What did the writing and recording process look and sound like for this new project? What instruments, musical equipment and programs were used to create and capture the sounds featured on “This Is Me”?
HEY! Amazing! Here we talk about technical stuff!
Well. As I said above, many styles and genres have inspired me for the sound, compositions and arrangements… Robbie Williams, Adele, Green day, 30 Seconds To Mars, One Direction, etc.
As far as my musical equipment is concerned, I use Apple Logic X Pro from pre-production to mastering, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 sound interface, Shure SM58 microphone, Two Apple iMac computers and an Apple MacBook Pro located in the ISOPAC G vocal box for recording my voice by myself. I use two M-Audio Oxygen usb midi controller to play many plug-in software instruments: Oxygen61 and Oxygen25.
Monitoring: Genelec 8020B near-filed monitors, Yamaha NS-10M Studio, Avantone Mixcube Active Monitor.
Mix-down equipment: AVID Artist Mix, AVID Artist Control and AVID Artist Transport.
Could you tell us about the nearly twenty years you spent as part of the label HI-NRG Attack? You wrote over 700 songs during your time with HI-NRG Attack?
Sure. I started like studio assistant, beginning with less important works… dealing with customers who came to the studio for demos recording, playing the instrumentals (drums, bass, rhythmic..) for our artists who had to sing the new songs composed etc. In 1992 I began to write my first melodies for Japan market and in 1994 I started to write lyrics and arrangements too until the day I left the label and genre: 2013.
Yes, we have a catalogue with over 700 songs. Most of them are mine. Sometimes other writers worked for HI-NRG ATTACK, but lyrics were always mine.
Being that you produced for Japanese artists, have you had the chance to visit Japan? If so, could you tell us about your travels?
Unfortunately no. I’ve never had the chance to visit Japan, but I would like to go there someday.
What hobbies and activities do you enjoy outside of music?
I like everything about computer science, technologies, electronic devices, videogames… game consoles.
I love DC Comics characters, over all Batman and Superman (I read a lot of comic books), I like superheroes movies, action movies, thrillers, animation movies.
Aside from promoting the release of “This Is Me”, what do the remaining months of 2015 hold in store for Nick Festari?
I will go on to write music. My goal would be publishing 1 or 2 new tracks every 2 months just to keep on remaining in the music industry.