Ghali breaks down the borders. He does so primarily with the meaning of the song he presents at the Sanremo Festival, “Casa mia”, in which he dialogues with an alien, Rich Ciolino, who accompanies him everywhere in the City of Flowers (using animatronics technologies), and with whom he arrives at to agree that there is no difference between one’s “homes”, between one’s worlds. And he also does it by changing and shedding his skin, once again, while maintaining a strong bond with his musical roots. The new album, soon to be released, goes in this direction.
How was the song “Casa mia” born?
The song was born during 2023, a special year during which I traveled a lot. And it was written at different times and took different forms. After the release of ‘Pizza Kebab vol.1’ we knew that we would have to answer Amadeus about my participation or not in the Festival. We listened to the song again and convinced ourselves that it was the right one. Amadeus has been looking for me in some way for years, but I wanted to say ‘yes’ to him only with the appropriate piece.
Has the war in the Middle East influenced its meaning?
What happens in the world permeates all my work. I’ll give you an example: during the making of ‘Pizza Kebab vol.1’ we were bombarded by information about the war and we wanted to build a bubble for ourselves. The album is raw, street, carefree, but it was created in a moment that was not at all light. This way of working, that of creating a creative bubble, is exactly what I had at the beginning of my career. ‘Pizza Kebab vol.1’ was an escape from bad thoughts. ‘My House’ is the next phase: deal with those problems.
Who is the alien accompanying you?
It’s Rich Ciolino. I’ve been talking to him for a month, I tell him about our difficult planet, but it’s as if I were talking to a part of my conscience. At first people thought I was crazy, but he’s here now. He was one of the first people I sent the song ‘Casa mia’ to and he fell in love with it. And so I asked him to come with me to the Festival.
Were you inspired by the song “Extraterrestre” by Finardi?
I do not know him. Excuse me.
Was there a sort of reset between “Sensazione Ultra” and “Pizza Kebab vol.1”?
‘Sensazione Ultra’ recounts a specific artistic phase. I had stopped, metaphorically, at the side of a river and pitched my tent to create an artistic journey. At a certain point that side got crowded, it wasn’t just me anymore.
What does it mean?
I often get fed up with myself. I don’t want to repeat myself. When I feel that what I’m doing is becoming a trend, I take down the tent and leave, I move, because there are too many people. That’s what happened after that project. Two years later I turned thirty and arrived on the other side of the river, to a new beach. And yes, there was a human and artistic reset. I took care of myself more, I traveled more and I rediscovered myself. I’ve been to Japan, America, Mecca, Mexico, Egypt. In twenty countries in one year. And in the meantime a new work team has been built.
What have you discovered artistically?
I found the hunger I once had. I live with the torment of my curiosity, which can sometimes penalize me. I don’t follow just one path. Music for me is a palace that allows me to jump from one floor to another. I accepted, once and for all, my desire to experiment. Having travelled, having ‘cleaned’ myself of waste, made me create ‘Pizza Kebab vol.1’ almost entirely in freestyle. Overall, I consider mine to be a romantic Italian story.
What do you mean by “romantic Italian story”?
It’s a new story. Let’s analyze where I was born, my mother’s journey to give me a better future, the difficulties, despite being born in Italy, of being accepted, the critical issues in having Italian documents. I grew up in a neighborhood, like an Italian boy, but there is also something else inside me. And now I’m in Sanremo.
Hence the choice to sing Cutugno’s “L’italiano” on the covers evening together with Rat Chopper?
Yes, it’s a world famous piece. And when I was a child I heard my cousins singing it. Even in Tunisia she is loved. Rat Chopper is a very strong multifaceted Tunisian musician with whom I had already collaborated on ‘Sensazione Ultra’.
You admitted it: you have changed many times. But doesn’t this constant research of yours risk losing the coordinates?
True fans can capture the spirit that animates me in everything I do. I do everything with curiosity and driven by the love of music.
Before the Forum date on October 29, 2024, will you release a new album?
‘Pizza Kebab vol.1’ was a parenthesis, a mixtape born during the making of an album on which we are at a good point. The drive is in progress. I will certainly present new songs at the Forum. I return to play at the Forum exactly six years after the first time I stepped on that stage.
Will the album be closer to “Pizza Kebab vol.1” or to the sound of “Casa mia”?
I’ve always made the songs contained in the mixtape. He is a Ghali who was already known. There’s that Ghali, but also the more pop one. I believe I have an audience for every genre I tackle. For me this means being transversal. The new album is more pop, but will also satisfy fans of the ‘Pizza Kebab vol.1’ mood, for me it will represent a new point of arrival.