Despite still being in lockdown, we were lucky enough to catch up with the incredibly talented DOLCHE. She gave us such a wonderful insight into both her life as a musician and discovering her sexuality. Keep reading to see for yourselves…
So, tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get into music?
It’s more music that got into me, ha! If it wasn’t weird to say so today, because of the meaning that Christianity gave to this word, I could ironically call it a demonic possession. In ancient Greek, the word δαίμων indicated a creature in between humans and gods, εὐδαιμονία meant happiness.
I think of music as a gift – access to something bigger than me. It’s something that’s come naturally to me since I was a very lonely child exploring wild woods and fields with my only companion, my brother. We were the only two kids in the tiny village where I was born. I had absolutely no access to music except for the organ and the choir I heard playing in the church and some popular songs my community danced and played the accordion during festivities.
But, I was driven to music and began learning it alone. Harmonising the notes I heard, sometimes even sounds from nature. I consumed the first instruments I could buy with the little savings I had. I played it all alone in the room I shared with my brother and my sister. And in this sense, I say that music that got into me more than I got into music.
For any of our readers that would like to get into your profession, what advice would you give to them?
Advice that I would have loved to receive myself when I began: If this is the job you want to do, approach it as a business and not only as a passion. Take online courses, ask for advice, contact a lawyer… basically, study! You need to know the law, to know about contracts, to know about the different types of societies. This is an aspect that is never considered in the beginning and that can lead to a lot of losses in terms of time, money and self-esteem if you ignore it.
It is essential for an artist never to think or consider your art as your own brand. Sometimes this is a very hard compromise. Most of the time you will do everything but music. And if it is too hard to do this (believe me, I understand it!) it is much better to keep music as a passion so that you can just enjoy the creative part.
Did you consider a different career path at any point in your journey so far?
Never. I often slept in cars, ate plain bread and drove for miles and miles every day just to be able to play. I worked two other jobs to sustain my musical project and didn’t sleep to keep rehearsing and composing. Music is and has always been my job. My mother though keeps asking me when I will find a real one!
Where do you find your inspiration for your pieces?
Inspiration is everywhere for me. I constantly compose music in my head and sing it in my mind. Each time I take an instrument in my hands I just begin to play it and melodies come out naturally. Sometimes I dream of my songs. Plus all the music I listened to in my life (opera, classical music, Joni Mitchel, Prince, Bowie, Aretha Franklin, the hymns from the church when I was little and so on!) is always there in my mind.
How did you and your wife meet?
I can say we met twice. The first time through our partners at the time, but we never truly connected because, basically, we were not very connected with ourselves. The second time, after years that we knew each other, I asked her to help me with a music project I participated in in Washington DC at the time. My English is very bad (Chiara, my wife, translates all interviews…and yes, this one too!) and I needed someone assisting me there. Chiara is very good with people and she seemed the perfect match. I asked her if she could do me this favour.
The trip/lodging was paid and we could have stopped in NYC on the way back to meet other friends and enjoy some time there. Chiara is an enthusiast and accepted immediately and proved to be a great resource on the set.
In the meantime, her relationship ended and mine… well mine had been over for years. Because I was with a very violent and abusive person, who unluckily tried to keep me away from music for a while. It took me another continent, the sudden realization of the beauty of Chiara, the chance to live freely again and my absolute love for music, to open my eyes and just get rid of all the wrong things that were in my life at the time. I’ve never regretted for a second that choice and I am sometimes scared of how happy and in love we are. We like to say that we met in a well. We were both there for a while by chance. And we simply got out together.
What’s your coming out story? Sorry, but everyone wants to know.. 🙂
Don’t be sorry. I am a very private person but I love to share my stories because I see how many people get inspired by the choices I made. I wish that more artists and public figures talked more openly about their homosexuality back when I began to understand that I was a lesbian. Many small communities, like the one I came from, are waterproof! Not a drop of diversity, and you feel like there’s something wrong with you if you don’t fit perfectly. Even now, when I am more open and proud, around 100 followers unsubscribe from my pages every time that I publicly declare my homosexuality.
I am very lucky because my family never judged me for all the “crazy” stuff I did. My ex-husband and I had been together for 15 years before I understood there was a part of me that I just never had the openness and courage to feel. I had a very late moment of clarity when I was already 30. It has not been easy and I suffered more than I can say. Mainly because I felt guilty because I had to tear apart my world and the world of a person I cared much about, in order to be free. We separated and I moved out, but I never actually came out to him and, for this reason, to anyone else. I didn’t make it a secret, but didn’t openly talk about it either. A weird interim.
I came out later to my mother one day in the bathroom. She was taking a shower and I was putting on some makeup and she asked me “Chicca (that’s how she calls me) are you together with that girl?” and I said yes of course. “But also in bed?” she specified just to be clear. And I said yes of course. The funny thing is that all this happened with her (my mother) talking to me completely naked, ha!
But I never actually told anyone until Chiara got in the picture. Everything became just clear and easy. I asked for a divorce (something my ex-husband and I never did for years). I introduced Chiara to everyone, began talk openly to everyone about my homosexuality, got married again (my ex-husband was our best man at the ceremony!) and it became like a spinning wheel. Because, the more you are free, the more you don’t give a damn about the opinions of others.
And then you discover a simple rule: if you are happy, the people who love you are happy for you. They don’t necessarily need to be your family. Some families cannot accept it. But we have to surround ourselves with people who support us for who we are and want what is good for us and for us to be free. This is a very personal and sometimes painful process and this is why I became an activist. I know how much many of my fans suffer for feeling alone and not accepted by their families or cultures. For this reason, I wanted to keep them feeling proud of themselves and not alone in the world.
Who are your role models and why?
My father is a role model to me even if he does not imagine to be. He is a pure and kind soul. I’ve never met anyone so selflessly generous and pure. He has always taken care of all the elders and the vulnerable in the village. He takes care of the people he loves and the ones he does not like. My Father, is a very, very hard worker and, being a farmer, he deeply respects nature and animals. He will help a complete stranger no matter what and will never even tell anyone what he did. He’s sincere and always laughs at life despite the hard things that happened to him. He’s also honest to his bones. I feel that this is the best lesson that I silently learned and I am grateful for this.
East London or West London?
Montagues or Capulets, mom or dad, dogs or cats…I usually try to stay away from civil wars! But I have to say that East London is very appealing for me. Because I am a vintage/gourmet street-food/art-gallery junky.
Out of all of your pieces of work, which piece did you enjoy the most?
What I loved most about composing and recording this album is common to every piece: the research! I spent a lot of time searching for sounds and meeting people who awakened me to different sonorities.
I travelled to Lebanon where I got hooked on Arabian violins, percussion instruments and the sound of the lute. Then, I went to Sweden, and I found some very amazing vintage instruments like a Vibraphonette, hammonds and many guitars. I met an Armenian friend who introduced me to a deeper knowledge of the duduk and I worked with an amazing Armenian duduk player. After, I went to LA and sung in the actual same mic that Sinatra used to record his songs… All of which happened by a mix of chance and destiny, because, I was open and wanted to make an album with lots of variety. I am craving for new sounds and I love to put them together in a surprising mix, exploring harmonies. So, what I enjoy most is the exploration and being open to stimulating encounters.
If you could use a magic telephone to call yourself at 15 years old what would you say?
I love this question and your questions in general. I would tell myself not to be afraid. To be even bolder and more daring than I have been and to immediately break the wall of limitations. That everything will turn ok in the end so not to worry. And not to panic because the 15 year old me would freak out!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“The more you are yourself the more what you do will be powerful” – My friend Hovannes told me that once, after literally throwing me inside the Capitol Studios in LA. No programs, no plans, no instructions. Al Shmitt, an amazing, kind man who’s won more Grammy awards than I can count, had listened to my rough recordings and agreed to work with me on some of my tracks for this album. My friend suddenly forced me to believe in my work enough, to just be myself. The result was amazing and I feel much more confident and true to myself than I have ever been.
Talk us through your average working day?
There is not an average day because self-producing all of my work mean that I have so many different things to do and literally no day is the same. Luckily, at this stage it’s teamwork. Chiara and I wake up quite early and after a healthy breakfast and a long walk with the dog, we go into our “offices” (my studio, a couch, a hotel room, wherever you have a wifi connection) and begin the computer work. Our workplace changes constantly because, before the pandemic, we travelled a lot and worked when it is dinner time and we are in a restaurant. The final storyboard for a video comes around dinner time because we collaborate with people on the other side of the planet.
I’ve began working on social networks and try to respond to as many comments and messages as I can. Because I always love to have real contact with my audience, even if this is very time-consuming. While Chiara connects with and coordinates all of our collaborators (the PR team, the lawyer, the video productions and directors, the dancers, the theatres etc), I dive into software. I am a geek inside and I constantly study and upgrade my knowledge. It can vary from a new pedal, a plugin or an integrated system to mix images from multiple cameras with many audio sources or a new digital instrument. I just lose track of time until Chiara forces me to have some food.
Right after that I now have to sleep for an hour because I am pregnant and my body just decides that’s it. Trust me, there is no way to say no! Afterwards. I play and compose and rehearse. In these past three months, my habits have been a bit more regular because we have been forced to stay in the same place. But usually 2/3 days a week we are on working trips; meeting with musicians for rehearsals, or with directors for video production or with other artists for collaborations. However, what never changes is that when it is dark out and it’s already 9 PM, we force ourselves to close our laptops or unplug the instruments and call it a day.
Who’s your favourite musician at the moment and why?
I like Jacob Collier very much, because he is a hurricane of ideas. I also had the chance to see him play live once, here in Roma. He is young, he has an amazing musical talent and he is not afraid to be honest and daring, or to swim against the tide.
What do you think of the Lesbian scene in London?
We’ve heard so much about it but unfortunately, we’ve not had the opportunity to see what it’s all about. I am really hoping I can come over to play gigs in London in the near future so we can check it out. We’re very much looking forward to that. It’s pencilled on our diary for sure!
Where can we see your work, and when’s your next gig?
Ouch! This hurts like being stabbed. Because of Covid-19 all my live dates have been cancelled. I hope that when the album comes out, this October, the world will be back to normal. Also, that it will be possible to organise concerts again, but I doubt that.
I decided to go on anyway, despite most of my colleagues postponed their EP and album releases. On the contrary, I increased the number of releases. I am doing all I can to produce great creative videos anyway. Music cannot stop just because musicians have to. But I miss the stage, I am a stage animal. Being unable to play live, feel the public and share emotions is something that brings tears to my eyes.
Who’s your celebrity crush and why?
St. Vincent! Because she is an amazingly talented musician and she is soo hot. Chiara and I often have fake fights about her where she pretends to be jealous of St. Vincent. She invents fun, horrible things about her (that I cannot repeat here) and I answer saying the most amazing things in return. I just hope she never reads this interview!
Who’s the most memorable person you’ve worked with and why?
Definitely the NPG, the historical Prince band during the 90s. Tommy Barbarella, Michael Bland and Sonny Thompson invited me to Minneapolis to work with them on an album. And, as a massive Prince fan, that was like a dream come true for me. They are amazing, humble professionals and super nice friends.
We’d like to thank Dolche for taking the time out of her busy schedule to chat with us. You can keep up to date with what she’s doing on her insta @dolche.official.
Have a Listen to her latest single
You can get the Roma single.
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Love Team Nonchalant