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Frizzi 2 Fulci

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Italian film composer Fabio Frizzi made his first tour of the U.S. this year with a tribute concert to director Lucio Fulci called Frizzi 2 Fulci. I saw the concert in L.A. last month and caught up with Frizzi in Wales for my first overseas Cinema Junkie podcast.

Show transcript

Beth Accomando: That’s the sound of the Frizzi 2 Fulci Concert that started last Tuesday night at the Abertoir Horror Film Festival in Wales. That's right. I'm in Wales attending this horrifically good little Horror Festival in the U.K. and delighted to bring you my first interview from the festival. This is the first KPBS Cinema Junkie podcast from across the pond and I’m Beth Accomando.

I had the pleasure of seeing Italian composer Fabio Frizzi, performance tribute concert to director Lucio Fulci in LA last month and on Tuesday I had a chance to not only see the concert again, but finally to get an interview with the man who had composed so many memorable horror scores to films like Zombie 2, The Beyond, and City of the Living Dead. I tried to interview Frizzi in LA, but his sound check for the concert went long and I had to cross my fingers for another shot in Wales.

This time the sound check ended early enough for me to grab a 30-minute interview. Frizzi, who also composed course for Spaghetti Western in Italian TV comedies, has a knack for delivering the unexpected, even when working in familiar genres. And at 64 he's continuing to work and to innovate. As he now meets the young filmmakers on the Internet and composes scores on his computer, on stage, he plays guitar, sings and uses a computer with a musical keyboard to grab the audience. He also has gifted musicians and the exceptional vocalist Giulietta Zanardi to share the stage with him. So without further adieu, here's my interview with Fabio Frizzi from Abertoir. You seem very energized from your concerts in the United States. How was that?

Fabio Frizzi: It was really a blaster. We couldn't imagine. We just hope to have a success, to meet many friends. But when you start for the first time for a project – sorry, a side project, I mean, I can say that it was really a dream, America, I had been in the States before, but it's one of the places, London, the States where we found when we were younger, many inspirations and so many groups, many bands, many movies, so you go to the States and play to the States your music, it's great like a project.

But till the moment you are not -- you have not approved of this, you say, well, maybe, okay, then we got to know that Austin was almost full and then LA was full and then some problems in two other places, but when we arrived, it was full. I'm quite romantic. I mean like a person, I mean, I love friends. I love to be loved. I mean and also when you do a work like this, your write music, if someone says I love your music, it's one of the best things. And over there it was so many -- also some friends like UNs that I met again. But also some, many, many new people, new friends, new fans and every night was for me and for my crew, for my band, was really a surprise, something fantastic.

Beth Accomando: Now you call this concert tour Frizzi 2 Fulci, so why did you decide for your first tour of the United States to do this particular?

Fabio Frizzi: Fulci is a passport. I wrote tons of music in my life. The people who know me, my best, my better, know that my production is from the ballet to some songs to a lot of TV series, TV conducting for shows. But my first love and still my love is cinema. And Lucio has been the person, as I told you, from whom I learnt more and then sure the person that left me when he went away. I mean everyone gives you something when you work with. But Lucio, it's like an heritage. We didn't see each other during last year, because it was a little -- we didn't have the chance to meet.

But when the net began to grow, everyone told me, Fabio, your scores for Lucio. So it's really like an heritage. It’s like a grandpa or something or brother or father or something like this. And I know that is a passport in the sense that many of my real friends know that I've written comedies. Many know that I have written other kind of music. But Lucio is like a knife and you can open your cucumber in one moment. He is very loved. I think that he was really a great moviemaker.

But you know why, because he loved his job and he knew his job, he knew how to work. So many people in this kind of fields, you can assist people that say I love music, so I'm doing the composer, the musician. But that’s not so easy. I mean it's not only the fact that you have studied something, but it's a very important that you have something to say, something to tell. And Lucio really had so many things, because, yeah, everybody thinks most of all, the horror, the fantasy, but also, for example, there is an actor, sure you know, but one of the most important comedy actors in Italy was called Alberto Sordi.

He was a comic. I think 200 movies with a big success. He used to tell stories about the well and bad of the Italians and also really great, I met him. He was a friend of family and he was a great man and he was a great actor. And there is a movie called Un americano a Roma, An American in Rome, which is the story of a guy who was after the war, so the Americans are strong. So he speaks like if he was an American, ah, American, that, this, and he likes doing like this.

And this was a great success. Now I also know this if you take a look at this with some friends, you cannot say, but you laugh so much, because and that was, the screenplay, the screenwriter, the screenplay writer was Lucio Fulci. He was the most. So he did so many, so many things. He was -- I always say he wasn't an easy person. He was – he had many problems in his life, but he loved this job. And every time you were talking with him about a new movie, a new story, he was absolutely happy.

Beth Accomando: So what kind of a working relationship did you have in terms of creating the scores? Did you get to see footage before you wrote music? Did he hear stuff and then give you feedback? I mean what was that collaboration like?

Fabio Frizzi: But, let's say that it was the typical collaboration that I had learned some time before and then still now when I do a movie, I like to do. Obviously, the first thing, when do you understand that a director gives you a job for that score, when he gives you the script? Because if he says, “Take a look,” you understand that maybe he wants you to write the music for this. So Lucio, I found two months ago the script of Zombie in my house, the script where I began to work on, so this is the first. You read. You understand the mood, the story, you understand if you are -- usually if you write scores for movies, you know where to go. But sometimes it's better. Sometimes it’s worth. Then Lucio had always the right idea. I mean since the beginning of the job, the job of the movie, of the new movie, in a few words, he could let me understand what he needed.

I’ve recently seen a movie that speaks about – that tells about that moment in Italy, Berberian Sound Studio, a great movie with some little errors, because there is no passion. I told it to my new friend, Mary. But this situation is really similar for the effect, you had the flute for stabbing and something real always and but in that movie maybe you cannot find the real passion, because it’s a story like this and they wanted to – they must try to how the things can become unlivable, okay, and sometimes it happened, now that you – where is a taxi receipt and they say, okay, tomorrow, but you'll never see that money.

But the thing that I found in that movie about Lucio was that Lucio had the idea of the plan or the sounds. I mean not only music, not only effect, but voice, maybe you cannot hear or many things that you could believe not useful, but in the end the front of that sound was totally useful. He has this idea. So he brought everyone by hand, tell his idea and his result. I mean obviously I used to do some demo of that. In that moment it was with piano. We didn't have so many technical things like today. But then we used to listen to. He had also good musical ideas. He was in the field since then. And the most important moment was the mixing when after putting the music on the single reel going to the mix. This could give you some beautiful surprises so, but also some bad, I don't like this, I don’t like that. But this is the life of a musician for the movies.

Beth Accomando: What did you think was the most important thing in creating some of these scores for the horror films? What were you going for the music? Because a lot of your music is kind of unexpected for what a horror film is, you’re not taking the clichéd route. So when you were tackling these things, what kind of -- like what was going through your head about what you wanted to do with the sound?

Fabio Frizzi: I put myself in front of the movie always in the same way. I mean if this is comedy, for me the most important thing is to wear the story. Like if you were the most important actor or the director or the producer, you must – like a dress, like a T-shirt, and your master feels it of your like if it was yours since then, it's logical. I sit in front of a piano or in front of a guitar, with my guitar in my hands or something else, but it's not me. I cannot push. They decide. They must come. It's like a person.

Sometimes I ask the help of an instrument, because every – I said that every instrument gives you something different. In my School of Music and Drama and we have four pianos and sometimes I go to the Yamaha or to the other one and I know that different sound can end the story that [indiscernible] [00:14:46] can give me some new ideas, then usually I record nowadays. It's easy with your telephone.

I record just singing like a mad with my piano and then those lines remain. And after a while, after maybe a week after, I go to the computer. I collect those crazy ideas and I take a white piece of paper for writing music and I begin to understand what I told, what I told to this telephone if there is something and then I think like a painter, like you draw something and then, okay, this is and now and you will go ahead.

I think that there is always the first moment must be instinct. The second moment must be profession. This is I think for every kind of maybe of jobs. But for our job for writing music absolutely necessary those two, it must be naked in the beginning, then you must have your situation of not studied, but your experience that helps you.

Beth Accomando: I've noticed that you're doing scores for a lot of short films now. What's the appeal of that? Are these people that you're friends with and you want to do it or do you just like the challenge of the different format?

Fabio Frizzi: Let's say that many – the net is like this. Hello, Mr. Frizzi, I’m a huge fan of yours, maybe every week it happens. But there are some situations that are different. Because I love every time someone says, please bring this idea, but I cannot do really everything. So there are situations, the friend situation, for example, the three pieces I played during the concert, Frizzi 2 Fulci concert, are link of the Lucio, why, because every one of those directors and producers are fans of Lucio. I cannot say if they began loving cinema, because of Lucio, but they know very well this link and this is the thing that the first time I couldn't believe in the beginning, you know me quite well, and then you know that I am – I don’t know if I can say in English, but with my feet on the pavement, I think I'm quite lucky to do this job.

But it's difficult to me to believe that I am a great musician. Everyone lives his life like some normal life. I do my job, but I’m happy when somebody says or thinks so. The first situation was about two, I think, good directors who came from France, from [indiscernible] [00:18:59] and it was a meeting on the Internet. The first time I decided to try to do our short. It wasn't real short. It's a medium one, because I think it's forty minutes or something like this.

I decided -- they came to Rome and I told them because I am older than you and just treat me like if I were your young musician, just tell me what you want for this and we worked for Beware of Darkness like this. It was contrary. If I were a young composer there and they were old directors. It was a formula that I loved so much, because it was useful to me to understand also the lines of these young people in a new kind of cinema, very different from the one I came from, and for them, because they understood which can build relationship with a musician, a serious, I mean a musician that does this job, not just – he likes to do this.

And I can tell you that in the end, I wrote, I think, the end title. The movie was, I think, I don't remember very well, but something like ‘80s and one of them called me and said you could change, please, the drums, because it's not so and I did and I sent them back. So this was the first experience. Then a new friend Alex Steensland, he is a professor. He’s a teacher, university teacher in the States. He had many experiences. We met on the net, another really great person. We met recently during the States’ tour.

And America had a story The Weeping Woman, which was a story from an English writer and he proposed me the thing -- what is, all the time, it's strange. When I write a theme and I send them to [indiscernible] [00:21:35] the last one, the movie is coming out just this moment called San Frankenstein. And every one of them, when I send through the net, they say they were moved, listened, and they could cry, then also something and for the main theme I wrote for the main character of the movie, for me it's so incredible to know that. And every one of them gave me the most important place in the movie.

Now when I say, no, it's not my movie. It's my movie with your music. This is so kind from them. Then you begin to become like a family, a cinema family. And I think that this is something very good to go ahead with this love of cinema is not easy to do. Also in the States the criticism is very, but it's something that I'm sure will never die completely because there are so many people that love him so much and it will remain always alive.

Beth Accomando: Now you're talking about sending music over the Internet, meeting these young filmmakers on the Internet. So how do you feel changes in technology have changed either the kind of music you compose or just the approach you take?

Fabio Frizzi: Luckily I always loved this way. I was telling before that I love also music for strings and when you're with an orchestra, a tradition orchestra, if the electricity goes away, I had to play. Nowadays it’s quite difficult to do the same thing. But I think that human being can adapt themselves to what is changing. It's not easy. You must have a predisposition, I don't know to be prepared to have this.

But I always love the computer since the first Commodore and after the very first Apple and always in the net. I was in the net in Italy. I think I was one of the really first, I think, in the beginning of the ’90s, so maybe also something before and I always thought it was a great opportunity. Talking about the technology music, I think something different. I think that everything is a way of doing your job. So the white paper for me is totally the same thing as great software that helps you. You must have some ideas in your head. If you don't have this, you cannot do anything.

Beth Accomando: Now you're here at Abertoir Horror Film Festival. This isn’t a huge city or anything like Los Angeles. What made you decide to choose this as one of the sites for your concerts?

Fabio Frizzi: Well, I told you before. I am a romantic man. And I came here a couple of years ago as a guest, just telling my story and having people like you that met me and it was so beautiful. And I can tell you that people here are incredible. The organization I could tell this almost of every place I visit like festival, but here is something very special. The place, first of all, Aberystwyth is a piece of story, a little piece of story on the sea, on the Irish Sea.

And when you arrive here, it's really like to enter in a movie. It's a little town but with everything castle on the sea. Yesterday, we were there and I did a couple of pictures and, no, it's not possible. And then people here who work with that great passion, who drove this edition, this is the 10th -- tonight we will open the 10th edition of this. So when they told me we are little but we would like to have you. Why not?

I think that sometimes little things are better and I can tell you that it's like I’d say to my friend, to my children that nowadays I feel like if the world, it's a little, little town, because a few hours can be everywhere and it's like if -- and when I go like it was in the States and I feel at home. Also if I’m so far, I’m at home in fact and here in Aberystwyth I’m really at home.

Beth Accomando: Now is there anything you can talk about in terms of any future plans you have for more concerts, because you seem very excited about having come to the United States and possibly eager to return? So do you have plans?

Fabio Frizzi: It was so beautiful to be there. I can tell you that on the plane from Philadelphia to Rome, we were planning now we must go back as soon as possible. And just days after with so many people of other cities you didn't come in Seattle or -- next time, now so feet is on the earth, but -- and also I’m not so young. So these are very stressing moment, traveling and traveling in the plane, but I think that if everything will go the right way, next year we will try to do something, also a little longer than this one.

Many towns, many cities, many friends, many -- and this is about Frizzi 2 Fulci. Then we are planning obviously, we say in Italian that the appetite, cancer eating, if you eat well, next time you want to eat more and you know what I mean. And around Lucio and around my life, my career, there are many possibilities. For example, there was a project that I did almost 20 years ago about Italian cinema in symphonic in this case. I had collected so many original scores from my older friends, musicians for cinema. I'm speaking about Nino Rota that I had a chance to meet one time.

And then Carlo [indiscernible] [00:29:19] also in America he didn't give me a song, but he told me that I could write down the arrangement and I loved him so much or so. I wrote quite well I can tell. [indiscernible] [00:29:34] and many others, so I have this repertoire on a shelf and I decided that maybe this could be the moment of also Fabio Frizzi in the field of the composers and try next year, next or maybe in two years to the production about this. So telling the story of the Italian cinema, telling about the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘50s also something through my old friends.

Beth Accomando: That will be fabulous. You mentioned that of all the things you do that you do love composing for cinema the most. What is it about composing for movies that you find so appealing and so satisfying?

Fabio Frizzi: I think that the most important part in the life is getting to know yourself the best. It's not easy. I was for four years and he was for a long time with what now is the one of my best friend that as for me for 11 years to understand who I am and I think that when you do something like a score for a movie in the right way, you discover something of you the more and more. So maybe this is because it's always a challenge. So it's so difficult. But since then, since where I began, this maybe everything gives you something. But this gave me much more than the other things.

Beth Accomando: And what do you think some of the things you learned about yourself working with Fulci?

Fabio Frizzi: This is an interesting question, but we would need, I think, three weeks to tell what I think. I think it wasn’t easy. I was young. I was a little shy. I could say with an education for my family and it wasn't easy to afford this job, because it was a very rough, but you'll grow also through those things and if you are here to speak about me, about my job, my music and maybe this was well done I think.

Beth Accomando: And do you have any immediate plans for any feature film scores?

Fabio Frizzi: Yes, there is one but I don’t know. Everybody is speaking about this, but I don't know if I will do. I mean I hope I will do. But we don't have a contract. We don't have anything. I can tell you just because you know him, it's Cozzi, it’s Luigi Cozzi, the one I met so many years ago for Godzilla and he’s still a friend. He is in the field of Argento. He’s also a friend. But he asked me if I was interested.

He’s doing a crazy movie, crazy, really crazy movie, something like autobiography. So I've seen almost everything. And we were talking. I would like to do because he is one of the people that was then with me. Then I did just another movie for another of my Italian Director Vittorio Sindoni, a difficult movie about a boy, a young man with problems.

I mean it's very delicate story and I don't know if this movie will go on cinema, but it's a great movie and I think I wrote. It's in Sicily. It's a story of the modern Sicily of a guy who is growing with so many problems and the only thing it gives him some more thing is playing drums and not an easy project. We’ve ended a couple of months ago and we are waiting to understand if this movie can be a story alive.

Beth Accomando: Now most people are very familiar with the work you did with Fulci after this concert and themselves. But if you had to pick a film that people might not know about that you'd like them to hear that score, what film might you pick?

Fabio Frizzi: Maybe it's a TV series called Le ragazze di San Frediano from a book written by a great writer. It's the end of the war in Florence. San Frediano is an area of Florence and the end of the Second War over there and why I tell you this because this is maybe more classical side of my music. But I love so much and I do in my rewind concert, which is my autobiography and maybe one day I will bring the whole -- It's a little thing. It's like a recital. Le ragazze di San Frediano has a very sensual music, strings of things, so very popular.

But I think that it's one of the most beautiful things I’ve written and then also San Frankenstein is going – he was going out just now. It's a 17-minute short. But also over there, the movie is very, very beautiful. I suggested everyone to take a look and my music is not bad. I think it’s not bad.

Beth Accomando: So is there any way to find that TV music for people who want to find here?

Fabio Frizzi: I think that Le ragazze di San Frediano you say, I don't know if it was [indiscernible] [00:36:28] Italian, but it is not easy. There is I think, but maybe it’s not more in commerce. I think the reason the city and maybe somewhere you can, in some market. And I think that it’s not so bloody obviously. But I think that could catch some feeling and also my friends all over the world.

Beth Accomando: And last thing, who are the biggest influences on you in terms of your music?

Fabio Frizzi: Many people, you know that my joke is always to say [indiscernible] [00:37:07] because it's a claim nowadays. In fact, I can say I love so many musical kind, basically Morricone -- I used to learn to hear when I was young. My dad was a cinema man. He was a distributor, so many records in our house. Frizzi, my dad, okay, you are the new when I was five, six, and you eat meals and you eat music. And then like I said, Beatles really, I loved so much and I loved, I still love. I still sing Beatles, Paul, John, George.

Tonight we will be here. My friend who was a great friend of George, Ken Scott, he was a producer of David Bowie, the Beatles and so he’s a friend of mine and he is coming to Aberystwyth tonight. And when he told me something about George last year, it was so incredible, because we loved those guys. I mean we were growing up together with them. But I can say I loved so many.

For writing Fulci, I had mostly great musicians, because you must have a good musician with many -- and they must come from many fields. So, for example, I'm not a great fan of Pink Floyd, I love but not so, but many of my musicians love Pink Floyd, then they play with this feeling very airy, very, very, and there is not only one. Maybe tomorrow I will listen to something and I will say I want to do something like this.

Beth Accomando: All right. Well, thank you very much for your time.

Fabio Frizzi: It's always a pleasure.

Beth Accomando: Thanks for listening to my first overseas edition of the KPBS Cinema Junkie pod cast. I'll have more from Abertoir for you next week. So until our next film fix, I’m Beth Accomando your resident cinema junkie, signing off from Wales.

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Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando. So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place