Marco Ragni Speaks to Power of Prog about Life and Music

Good Day Marco and thank you for doing this interview with us here at Power of Prog.

Marco:
Hi, it’s a huge pleasure for me, I’m a big fan of Power of Prog!

POP:
Tell us a little about your self, your musical training and what enticed you to become a musician?

Marco:
I am a man full of passions, I am curious and I always like to learn new things. Music has always been inside me since I was a child. I started playing a keyboard at 6 or 7, a Christmas present from my parents. It was one of the most beautiful gifts ever received, much better than any toy! I am self-taught and it often happens that I compose songs without even knowing what I’m doing. My instinct and musical ear guide me, always. I could not live without music. It would be a very sad world.

Pop:
How long have you been a professional musician, and how many albums have you released as a solo artist?

Marco:
I have been a professional musician for about 25 years. But it’s about 43 years I play! I’ve released 6 albums, 6 Ep and a couple of collections and live albums.

Pop:
Let’s say I asked you to describe your musical style, how would you describe it if you were a sandwich maker?

Marco:
This is a funny question! Well, a sandwich with some soft ingredient, a couple crunchy and something spicy. Multigrain bread with pumpkin seeds, salad, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, a little chili, and Fried Eggplant, with avocado sauce. So, a Psychedelic/Prog sandwich!

Pop:
Tell us about your latest release “Oceans of Thought“?

Marco:
There is a complex story behind “Oceans of Thought“. Initially, I recorded many psychedelic songs in Barret / early Pink Floyd / Nick Drake style and the idea was to write a concept album entitled “The Merchant of Eternal Youth“. But then I had some personal problems that had a great influence on the new compositions and even the lyrics I wrote had a different taste, harder. So I changed the title, the project, and the cover. This album talks about the difficulties that life sometimes brings us, but also talks about how to try to overcome them. It’s a record that I care a lot about because it talks a lot about me.

Pop:
Who are the musicians on the new album “Oceans of Thought” and what role do they play?

Marco:
Great musicians have played there, from Norwegian guitarist Bjørn Riis founder of the band Airbag and Marius Halleland from Wobbler. Then the great Peter Matuchniak on lead guitar and Jeff Mack and Maurizio Antonini the beating heart of this record. The precious woodwinds arrangements by Dave Newhouse and the beautiful voice of JoJo Razor and last but not the least, Charlie Cawood playing Sitar and Dulcimer.

Pop:
You often bring in many musicians for your releases, how do you choose an artist to be on a particular album or song?

Marco:
I always choose a musician based on the sound I want. And last but not least talent. It is a great fortune for me to have collaborated with such high-level musicians. Sometimes it happens that I let them do everything they feel they are playing. I let them be inspired by my stories and melodies.

POP:
What ten albums influenced you as a person and why?

Marco:
I could say 10 albums of Pink Floyd! They have matured in me the taste for melody and Psychedelia. But surely the Grateful Dead‘s Axomoxoa, Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band of The Beatles are very important, If I Could Only Remember My Name by David Crosby, Are You Experienced by Hendrix and Goodbye and Hello by Tim Buckley and Porcupine Tree’s The Sky Moves Sideways. What remains are Pink Floyd albums and in particular Saucerful of Secrets, Ummagumma, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall. They have been part of my whole life, almost every day! Maybe it’s more than ten but actually, I should have talked about at least 50!

Pop:
What was the last album you listened to?

Marco:
Porcupine TreeStupid Dream Just now!

Pop:
Describe what success means to you, not as a musician, but as a person?

Marco:
Success for me means being happy to do what you do, have a woman who loves you and friends who appreciate you for who you are.

Pop:
How has the music landscape changed since you have become a professional musician?

Marco:
It has changed especially with regards to technology. How people listen to music. Has also changed the way of recording and producing an album. Now it’s easier than it used to be, but maybe a little poetry has been lost.

Pop:
Do you see value in streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube for example?

Marco:
They are a good way to make yourself known a little more. The downside is that fewer albums are sold.

Pop:
If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your warm-up act?

Marco:
I would like to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London and have Porcupine Tree as a warm-up!

Pop:
What influences your songwriting?

Marco:
A lot of things. The weather for example. I prefer to compose when it is raining or cold. And then all the things that happen to me in life. From personal relationships to everyday problems.

Pop:
You are a multi-instrumentalist, what all instruments do you play and which one gives you the most joy?

Marco:
I play guitars, keyboards, bass, flute, mandolin, bouzouki, and lap steel. All the instruments give me joy. It gives me the joy to play. But my favorite is an acoustic guitar. Almost all my songs start from there.

Pop:
How would you describe your profession outside of music?

Marco:
I am a freelance singer for commercials, I do graphic work for various companies and I also work for a company that deals with environmental conservation.

Pop:
What advice would you give to the next generation of future musicians?

Marco:
Be passionate and curious.

Pop:
In closing I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us. Do you have anything that you would like people to know that we did not talk about?

Marco:
Thanks to you. I really think I said it all but if you’re interested I tell you that I love having breakfast with oat milk, honey, and almond cereals and listening to soul music!

More Information about Marco Ragi can be found on the net:
Official Website
Facebook 
Soundcloud
YouTube

Marco Ragni spoke to the Un-qualifiedKritic
for this in-depth interview series The Human Element


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