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So sweet that his teacher nicknamed him "sugar" when he was all kid, Zucchero does not turn vinegar with the years. On the contrary. The king of the pop-pop soul, an accountant of 60 million records sold worldwide (an absolute record by an Italian rocker singing in Fellini's language), remains an unstoppable kindness, inquiring about the quality of the pasta swallowed at noon. "Wine and spaghetti are the only two exercises for my voice," he laughs, laughing frankly.

Met in his country, Zucchero shines as a well-headed emperor who has little more to prove. But to lose? The younger generation of neosoul vocalists street at the gate. Then the 64-year-old fox preferred to surround himself on his new record, "D.O.C.", which invites including Rag'n'Bone Man to production. After the raw charm of latino and bluesy ("The Cuban Sion" and then "Black Cat"), he returns to the big pop and synthetic artillery which, in the charts, made him the equal of Sting and Phil Collins. "My friend Pavarotti once said to me: It's incredibly hard to be successful, but it's harder to justify it in the long run." I think about that every time I start a new record. Hold his rank. "

That's why you used new blood?
I like the sound of the current pop, all these crossings, especially between electro and rhythm & blues. As long as the electro remains hot, organic, it suits me. With my producer Don Was, we had the idea of ​​entrusting certain pieces to young artists. It was the challenge: that I stay myself in new clothes. But we recorded live with real guitars, real gospel choirs. I immediately hooked on the music of Rag'n'Bone Man. The first time I heard "Human", I thought I should have composed it! I also enjoyed singing with Frida Sundemo, who worked with the late Avicii.

You have always loved playing with others, and vice versa. Your Wikipedia page lists exactly 69 collaborations with Italian musicians, and 114 with international artists! Are you so nice?
Frankly, we first came to me for my music. When Miles Davis asked me to play with him on "Dune Mosse" in 1987, he did not even know who I was. He had heard a song from me on the radio, in an Italian restaurant! My records were not even available in the United States. Same for Eric Clapton, who had seen me in concert while on vacation in Sicily with his friend. In the end, he came backstage and asked me to open for him at the Royal Albert Hall! Ditto for Brian May, Queen, or Sting. There have never been lawyers or labels, just a handshake. Friendships remained strong.

Your Italian nationality makes you perhaps singular in a very Anglo-Saxon pop?
Perhaps. They know I'm not competing with them, sort of. I am also very direct, without fuss, just a music fan. If I am nice? In the studio, I can become … bloody. Attached more than reason to my songs. So if someone plays them badly, it can make me nervous. The producer is important to know how to go between the musicians to avoid the explosions. Because the great musicians are sensitive.

The are you?
What? Sensitive? I believe.

So you are a great musician?
I do not make you say it! (To laugh)

Being such a consensual figure in Italy, do you sometimes hold back from taking too decided political positions, for fear of breaking your audience in two?
No. My audience, especially in Italy, knows that I'm definitely not right! But we can no longer argue according to these concepts, it's an old definition. Demonstrations in the streets, all over the world, illustrate the rejection of politics as well as this vision in two camps. Everything is more complicated. Migrants, for example: it is hard to take a stand in the national debate because, first and foremost, Europe has not played fair. It has tackled, promised to divide the refugees – I take 10, you take 15! – without really acting. In the end, it gave human dramas like in Lampedusa. No wonder, after the fact, that the population is turning away from its leaders. I love my country, not what it has become politically.

The album will give rise to a new world tour. You do not get tired?
It's part of the game. When you have a big band like me – 13 musicians on stage, 90 people on the road – you have to pay the transport, the hotel, the food, the wages … You can not say, "I will play three shows a month on Saturday nights, and the rest of the time I will go fishing. " People do not really understand how incredibly complicated the system is to ensure a concert every day, with a sound test at 6pm, then the concert at 9pm, then dismantling and moving to another country the next day. This involves huge costs that reduce the artist's choices.

The last round of your tour will take place at the Hallenstadion in Zurich on December 5, 2020.
It's amazing, because I always asked to start my tours at Hallenstadion! I have wonderful memories. There is a more critical listening than in Italy but when it takes, it really takes.

What is the worst country to play your music?
Hula! (He thinks) I try to search, sincerely.

Japan?
Oh no, it works well. I even met an incredible bluesman, Hotei Tomoyasu. He played with Bowie and the Stones, he's a big star there. When I was announced a Japanese bluesman, I had doubts, but he bluffed me. Come on, we could do better in Hungary! It's not bad but there are fewer people than elsewhere in Europe, I do not know why.

Created: 09.11.2019, 13h00



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