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Europiana

Europiana

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Price: £2.995
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This was a result of being at home, the world being on pause, and leaving everything I am and everything my wife is at the door. It was about who we truly are. It was this little epiphany of, ‘Oh, now I remember why we’re here. Now I remember why we are so madly in love with each other. Now I remember why we chose to do this crazy thing that is life together.’ That set the tone for the whole record—it is nostalgic but it’s celebrating one’s past, not crying over it. There’s no tears in this album. It’s a lot of arms open.”

I wasn’t born in ’76, but [the lyric] ‘Dancing like it’s ’76’ is because I romanticize it. I romanticize that past. Because you make it always a little bit better than it actually might have been. ‘Perpetuate’ is the key word for this album. Rather than imitate, I really want to perpetuate all of those sounds from that time and make them relevant today.” It’s my Jacques Brel moment. It’s everything of French music that I’ve ever been obsessed with and in awe of, from Charles Aznavour to Yves Montand to Jacques Brel. That witty storytelling, almost throwaway, when you feel like it’s being made up on the spot. It’s the first song I wrote with my piano player Shannon Harris. I explained, ‘I want us like we’re in Paris. It’s full of smoke. What comes to your mind?’ He played me these chords and I just started crooning over it. I was kind of annoyingly almost dancing around my living room, doing hand gestures, like telling the story, raconteur-ing.” Disco was different here. In the US, disco was part of the counter culture – the gay bar scene or the Afro-American scene. Here it was all about the glamour and about celebrating life. I wasn’t born in ’76, but [the lyric] ‘Dancing like it’s ’76’ is because I romanticise it. I romanticise that past. Because you make it always a little bit better than it actually might have been. ‘Perpetuate’ is the key word for this album. Rather than imitate, I really want to perpetuate all of those sounds from that time and make them relevant today.”

His first song was also the first poem he wrote – My Favourite Season, “About Autumn; I wrote about a carpet of red leaves…it was homework. I wrote it on the way to school and got a good grade for it – okay, a B, which was good for me. Then my mum said, ‘Why don’t you try putting it to music?’.” I was on stage with Kylie Minogue singing a song we’d written together in this stunning theatre; my wife and father were in the royal box…it was magical.

He drafted in Nile Rodgers for Europiana’s Who’s Helping Who. “Nile singlehandedly changed the sound of European music,” he says. “He lived in Rome in the 70s and played their equivalent of Studio 54 – all the Italian bands wanted to learn to play disco, funk and soul; and the Spanish bands, even Julio Iglesias. Who’s Hurting Who is full-on 70s disco that brings to mind John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, with powerful vocals that inject a contemporary flavour. Charming and energetic, When You’re Lonely features a beautiful, smooth, Johnny Mathis sound by the versatile Savoretti, with delicate piano and accordion and a French or Italian essence evoking visions of sunny European vistas and adventures. Gizmo [Varillas, Spain-born, Wales-raised singer-songwriter] is Europiana through and through. Europiana is not about the past. It’s very much due to the influence of the past but perpetuating rather than imitating. Gizmo was the perfect vessel to say, ‘Can you show how relevant it is today?’ We both sang about our love for Spain in this. Both of us have this love for the sea. That’s what we fundamentally talk about when we get together—how much we love where we come from. It’s really positive. It’s so easy to write a sad song, so hard to write happy tunes. And Gizmo is a craftsman when it comes to writing feel-good music.”

Top tracks

The song is about remembering who we are as a couple and not letting love die. It had to be the opener because it introduces the theme. It’s reflective but set in the present.” I’m of the belief that everybody has three lives: their professional life, their personal life, and their secret life. Coming to terms with all those parts is the only way one comes to terms with oneself. Secret life doesn’t mean that you live it alone. You can live it with other people. It’s somebody coming to terms with themselves—it’s not somebody with regret. Musically, it’s the Giorgio Moroder tip of the hat: You thought you knew European music, but do you realize that this is a quintessentially European sound, too? Everything you’re hearing on The Weeknd, Dua Lipa—that’s influenced by European music.”

We met at a place called The Station,” he says, his brown eyes sparkling. “It sounds romantic, but it was actually a pub in Latimer Road, west London. I was leaving, she came in – she was amazing…I thought I’d stay for one more… That was 17 years ago.” I’m of the belief that everybody has three lives: their professional life, their personal life and their secret life. Coming to terms with all those parts is the only way one comes to terms with oneself. Secret life doesn’t mean that you live it alone. You can live it with other people. It’s somebody coming to terms with themselves—it’s not somebody with regret. Musically, it’s the Giorgio Moroder tip of the hat: You thought you knew European music, but do you realise that this is a quintessentially European sound, too? Everything you’re hearing on The Weeknd, Dua Lipa—that’s influenced by European music.”

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I played around with it on guitar for a few days and my wife said, ‘It sounds too much like Dylan, try it on the piano’ and that’s when it became my song. Then I had to wait two weeks for him to give him the okay.” She doesn’t speak as many languages as me so there’s part of me that she’ll never know – my secret life.”

Niles said disco even sounded different played in the south of France than it did played in New York. For weeks we literally lived Europiana. They’d arrive and I’d make a big lunch, eaten outside with loads of rosé. Then we’d go inside to write in what is usually my living room, but became a studio. The sun and fun seeped into the songs. It was a genuine, joyful experience. This isn’t an album we could have made in winter.”With the gift of time, my wife and I were like kids again, the 20 year olds who first fell in love. We remembered why we are together and what our lives to this point have really been about. Hence, lots of lyrics about love and happiness and not taking each other for granted.” Selected items are only available for delivery via the Royal Mail 48® service and other items are available for delivery using this service for a charge. This was a result of being at home, the world being on pause and leaving everything I am and everything my wife is at the door. It was about who we truly are. It was this little epiphany of, ‘Oh, now I remember why we’re here. Now I remember why we are so madly in love with each other. Now I remember why we chose to do this crazy thing that is life together.’ That set the tone for the whole record—it is nostalgic but it’s celebrating one’s past, not crying over it. There’s no tears in this album. It’s a lot of arms open.”



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