The U.S. release of Biagio Antonacci's Il Cielo Ha Una Porta Sola ("Heaven Has Only One Door") introduces American audiences to one of the most famous stars of the Italian and European music scene. Featuring re-interpretations of his biggest hits as well as brand new material, il Cielo is his first work to be released in the U.S.
In Italy his 20-year career includes a long string of multi-platinum albums, chart-topping hits, and sold-out soccer stadiums. His voice is well-known in many European countries, especially in Spanish and Franch speaking territories as his emotionally charged songwriting continues to move the hearts of a massive following.
From his first album, 1989's Sono Cose Che Capitano, the artist has grown from a humble music student to a multi-million-selling star, from playing small shows to packed arenas; through it all, he has remained true to his Italian heritage.
Here, he talks about life, love, music, and his icon, Bruce Springsteen.
Why did you decide to re-do some of your past hits for this album?
Biagio Antonacci: I wanted to rearrange them without a lot of electronicsand use a more organic sound. I didn't want them to sound so produced. I chose the ones that have had the most success and modernized them. I wanted people to hear these songs in a new way.
How did you end up choosing the songs that would be on the album?
I first followed my heart, like everything I do. I also did a contest on my web site, asking the fans which songs I should re-record. Ultimately, the album is a collaboration between me and my fans.
There are also new songs on this album. How do they differ from your older songs?
The new songs are written by an older, more mature man. They're written by someone who wants to be a man first, then a singer. The songs are more spiritual, but they are also meant to express emotion. They're songs for people who like to communicate by expressing their feelings.
Where do you get the inspiration as a songwriter?
I get inspiration by smelling the perfume of life. I get inspiration from simple things-when I'm alone in my bedroom, when I'm on tour. Everyday life inspires me. Ultimately, I believe that music is sacred and has already been written. We can only learn from the past because the music already exists. The next generation will learn from me just as I have learned from those who have come before me.
What's easier-writing songs when you're heartbroken or when you're in love?
BA: When I'm in love, I write about being broken-hearted, and the other way around. I think songwriters write about what they don't have.
Was it difficult getting the Rolling Stones to agree to let you use a sample of "Start Me Up" for your song "Tra Te I'll Mare"? Why did you use that particular sample?
BA: No, it wasn't difficult. I had written that song for Laura Pausini. The Rolling Stones heard it and liked it. It only took a month to get final approval. It's amazing how professional musicians can be outside of Italy. In Italy, this kind of process would have taken forever. I wanted to use that sample after I heard one of my guitarists playing the riff from "Start Me Up" at the same time I was playing my own song. They seemed to mystically come together.
Have you been influenced by any American artists?
Yes, Bruce Springsteen. I grew up listening to him. I remember seeing Bruce at concert in Milan at San Siro [Stadium]. Later, I played there, and it was such an honor knowing that Springsteen had played there. I was imagining the audience feeling the same way that I had when I saw Bruce.
Have you spent much time visiting or performing in the U.S.?
I've been but never performed. We might do a tour by the end of this year or early next year. It will be a great experience when I first play in the States. I have many fans that write to me from the U.S. on my web site. It's amazing that people from so far away who don't speak the language are listening to my music.
You are a big star in Italy, one of the best-selling male artists. Do you enjoy the attention?
Apart from the gossip, much of which is not true, I love it all. The Italian people really care for me and spoil me. I feel the love.
Download Antonacci's hit "Iris" for free!
"Quanto tempo e ancora"