Carmen Consoli on how being a mother can help her music (and her vision of life)


An enchanting and reassuring voice. The mellow tone of someone who has matured and knows it. Carmen Consoli, the bestselling Italian singer-songwriter, speaking on the phone about her performance for the Meltdown Festival in London next 21st of August, seems happier and less confused than the young woman of her first hit.

After six years of break, the Sicilian cantantessa, as she is called for the special mix of poetry and rock attitude in her music, is back with the eighth studio album, ‘L’abitudine di tornare‘ (The habit of returning) ready to seduce the Southbank festival’s audience.

The next 21st of August you will be the only artist to represent Italy at the Meltdown Festival,  personally chosen by the Academy awarded artistic director David Byrne. How do you feel?
This is not my first gig in London, but the thrill is so strong that it’s as if it were.
I am very happy and proud to play in such important event, among artists from different backgrounds.

You will not be alone on the stage…
Absolutely not. I have dragged in this adventure also my fellow musicians. ‘L’abitudine di tornare‘ is a tour in the name of womanhood, we are all women.

This is a return for you also in this city. What is your relationship with London?
The first experience in this multi-ethnic and amazing city happened long ago, when as a child my parents sent me for summer English courses just outside London. I still remember the thrill. I was a young girl from the Catania’s province throw into the fray of a multi-cultural world. I remember especially the Malik family that has hosted me in those years and thanks to whom I’ve seen London through the eyes of a Pakistani family. I used to walk with them in their traditional dress and I was often mistaken for a sister or a cousin.

Have you ever thought about moving here?
I came back to London many times since then. For my concerts, but also because often I used to move from my home in Paris to attend concerts and shows that interest me. Nowadays it is so easy to get to this city that I do not feel the need to settle down here.

Let’s go back to the title of your album ‘L’abitudine del tornare‘. This is certainly not an accidental choice after six-years break from the music scene. What does it mean for you?
I always thought that music is only part of my life, which is made up of many other things, small and big. If I have nothing to say I prefer the silence and that is what I did without any burden. Then, one day, I felt the need to go back to composing and I gave shape to what my heart wanted to say.

During those six years between the small and big things of life there was certainly an event which has given a decisive mark: the birth of your son Carlo. That being the case, what has changed in your life as a woman and an artist?

Motherhood has changed my view of the world, the way I see the life. I have prepared myself for a long time to the arrival of Carlo. I was very happy with my choice but I could not imagine the life force that he would donate to me.

After the arrival of Carlo I have experienced everything more intensely, for this I wish that every woman could have the chance to experience motherhood, with or without a biological father.

How has all this affected the creative process of your latest album?
I stopped to look at myself. I do not believe in a self-referential music anymore. I have always thought that music is a language that acts as a filter for every day life. I have trained myself to get emotionally involved into life, I filtered all through the music and that gave shape to the songs of this album which has a universal reach.

What’s the first thing you would do in London before or after the concert?
I would like to go to one of his fantastic parks. They are simply amazing!

The Meltdown Festival will take place in London from 17th to 30th of August 2015.

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