Whether she’s fighting demons or the system for women’s rights, Violet Blend‘s Giada Celeste Chelli (vocals and piano) is a vocal powerhouse and force to be reckoned with.
Pretty Vacant One was privileged to sit down with Giada to discuss their latest release Demons, what it was like working with conductor Gianna Fratta, and what’s in store for Violet Blend.
PVO: Now that the album is out, how are fans reacting to Demons live?
Giada: I would say very well! For now, we are presenting Demons live around Italy and the reception is excellent. Many of the old fans appreciated the fact that Demons veered towards more metal and darker atmospheres and it fills us with joy. We want our music to follow our personal and musical growth. Demons did it and people seem to like it a lot.
In terms of the live performance we have grown a lot and have a strong and solid connection between us, despite the time we’ve been away from the stage with these two years of the pandemic. We found again, the joy and unity between us on stage, a feeling of incomparable freedom and happiness, and that’s what we try to convey to the people during our performances.
Seeing people having fun, dancing and singing with you during a concert is the greatest satisfaction for us and they’re doing it with Demons!
We are planning an European tour for the next months, we’re are very excited and can’t wait to see how people will react to the album live outside Italy.
PVO: The concept for Demons covers an array of mythology, was the creative process tied to specific “demons” or did it unfold naturally?
Giada: I have always had a passion for the mythology and folklore of the cultures of the world. Since I was a child I have been lucky enough to travel a lot, and to come into direct contact with many cultures, lifestyles and philosophies.
These experiences have deeply influenced me and taught me a lot. Demons collects the stories of thirteen battles, of real inner conflicts between me and my demons. Each song confronts a demon in my life who has haunted me (some still do) and attempts to atone for blame and ease the pain.
We wanted to combine the music and the lyrics with an image that would represent the essence of each song and help to understand its meaning. The demons were chosen at the same time as the writing of the songs, everything comes very naturally.
Many of the mythological figures are guardians, their purpose is to protect and represent a good omen for the album.
For example “A Part of Me” is associated to Iðunn, the Norse Goddess of eternal beauty, music and youth, she has six runes on her harp to protect the album and the band:
ᚢ (Uruz): destiny, fate, sure success;
ᛓ (Fehu): Evolution, work that bears fruit;
ᛋ (Sowulo): Sun, protection and great victories in the work;
ᛒ (Berkana): Birch, a new beginning after the great cold;
ᛖ (Ehwaz): The horse, change for the better;
ᛜ (Inguz): Protection of family union, energy and luck.
While “Morning” is linked to the God Ogma from Celtic mythology, the Oghams above his head represent the purple color and birth dates of the members of Violet Blend in the Celtic calendar.
Others represent the essence of the demon I fought with: Baron Samedi from Voodoo culture, known for being obscene and profligate with a particular fondness for tobacco and rum, represents the song “I’m Only Happy When I’m Drunk”; Jinn from Muslim culture represents “He Said He Was Pregnant”, because he has a heart that doesn’t understand, eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear.
We depicted our demons, it was a way to directly face our innermost fears.
PVO: What was working with Gianna Fratta for the “La Donna Mobile” video like?
Giada: Working with such a talented conductor has been a great honor for us. She immediately showed interest in the “La Donna Mobile” project and she is one of the few female conductors in the world and unfortunately she is confronted with gender stereotypes every day, so she knew what we were talking about.
She enjoyed our reworking of a classic aria (watch the The Three Tenors classic version) and was really nice to us, a great professional.
Honestly, we were a little tense while shooting the video. We were in one of the most prestigious theaters in Italy with one of the most respected and famous conductors in the world, I think anyone’s legs would have shaken!
The idea of wearing the same violet jacket as ours during the shoot came from Maestra Fratta and it was an awesome one. We are very satisfied with the result.
PVO: How did Violet Blend and the “La Donna Mobile” campaign come together?
Giada: As a classical musicologist, I have always had to study and deal with music written by men, where women were relegated to secondary roles, with little to think or say.
Although “La Donna è Mobile” is one of the most famous arias of 19th century Italian opera, I realized that very few people really knew its meaning. It is a misogynistic and discriminatory piece, women are portrayed and described as fickle, unstable and easily manipulated by men.
Many styles, genres and musical forms from every historical period coexist in Violet Blend‘s music, so we decided to rework the aria in a rock key and focus attention on its poetic and human meaning. With this project we wanted to collect and show the public the testimonies of these wonderful professionals, who work with merit and success in fields that are still socially linked to the male universe.
An awareness and education campaign that aims to show the female excellences of our country, women who carry out “men’s jobs”. We have decided to support AIDOS – Italian Association of Women for Development, because it’s a reality that has been working concretely since 1981 to guarantee rights, dignity, opportunities and a future for women in Italy and in the world.
We asked women to help us spread a message of gender equality and the women responded with enthusiasm! Speaking with the testimonials of the campaign we were able to directly verify the data collected in our research, unfortunately the phenomenon of gender discrimination is still solid and well rooted in many, if not all, work fields. We need an in-depth and targeted reflection of the problem, we need discussions with society and institutions to find concrete solutions that eradicate the prejudices and guarantee fairness and equal treatment and compensation for both genders.
PVO: What’s on the horizon for Violet Blend?
Giada: The first goal is to get back on tour and play Demons live around the world. We have missed the stage immensely during these past two years of the pandemic and we can’t wait to get on the tour bus and hit the road. In the meantime we are already working on new songs, we have a lot of ideas and a lot of concepts to express, I’m sure it won’t be too long before we release a new album!
Read our review of Demons.
Listen to Demons below
Photo Credit: Eclipse Records / Angelo Mura