Picture by Xaver Rüegg
OUT IN 2023
Allowing someone else’s words to roll off of your tongue and reverberate through the field of your consciousness is an act of surrender. It’s also the closest thing that we have to being able to experience the world through another person’s field; especially, if the words – spoken, sung or written – have been infused with visceral emotion and forged out of a singular point of view. Dalia Donadio’s latest work, her full-length album titled Zinnarella (little girl), is a journey through her father’s (Toni Donadio) rich oeuvre: a songbook spanning 40 years of his life. Part sonic-art poem part audio-book, the album is a meditation on the meaning of lineage, the textures of culture and the treasure that is family. It’s a tapestry woven out of intimate field recordings, sparse piano and Moog arrangements and Dalia’s warm, resonant voice. Not to mention, the story is told using a concoction of three languages: English, German and Rocchese (a Calabrian dialect only spoken in Rocca Imperiale).
A gesture, a certain prosody, a way of cutting the potatoes, the smell of foliage, a very specific color of light, a type of embrace – I can trace all of these details to a person, a place, a culture and a type of socialisation. Being able to engage with my roots liberates me, because it brings me closer to a sense of contingency. We are all products of very specific imprints and biographies, which is what makes diversity so exciting. – Dalia Donadio
The production of the album started with the artist making a selection of her father’s songs; she was especially interested in the ones he wrote in Rocchese. Some of them were family classics, others she heard for the very first time. With her father’s help, Dalia revised the musical notation and edited the lyrics. Driven by her enduring passion for linguistics, she also dove down a deep research rabbit hole, and started to read up on Calabrian dialects. Assisted by her family (grandmother and father), she then committed to perfecting her pronunciation: making sure that the color and the nuances were just right. Once the songs were internalised, she created a sketch of the album using samples, collaging them together at her home studio. The resulting blueprint was tested live and, eventually, was used as the backbone for the final production. Zinnarella was cut at the Suburban Sound Studio with long-time collaborator and co-producer Manuel Egger, in roughly eight days. Dalia describes the session as a “descent into detail:” layering the compositions, fleshing out the arrangements and making sure that every element is sonically tuned to the tee.
My father’s lyrics touch me, sometimes they even move me to tears. Through them I am able to amplify my connection to the world, because his words are an affirmation – they speak to what it feels like to be alive. By repurposing them I get to relive my life, but from another perspective. While working on this material, I left the melodies untouched, but the harmonies became a playground for me. This is where I got to explore the similarities and differences between us and, through that, I took a peek into the fundamentals of music-making, improvisation and the creative act in general. – Dalia Donadio
Zinnarella sounds like a letter written to somebody you deeply cherish and love. It’s also something of a touchstone, because within its sonic-tissue the simple things that make up life are transformed into the magical and poetic. And, finally, it’s a document of what it feels like for a daughter to step inside her father’s soul. For us, as listeners, it’s a portal into what that feels like! And it feels like being ushered through a dazzling hall of mirrors.
Dalia Donadio, voc, p & samples
Marc Méan, synths, p & live sampling
Saturday, February 11, 2023 - la_cápsula, Zürich (Pre-Release Show)
“The Impossible Measure”
Sunday, June 11 , 2023 - Jazz Club Moods, Zürich (Release Show)
As a musician, Donadio uses the means of the voice and language in her practice. She is interested in the voice as an instrument that belongs to us all and connects us all, for example as a vehicle of communication or as a resonator. Language accompanies Donadio through as many sub-aspects as etymology, phonetics and phonology, dialects, etc. Her works encompass themes such as origin, the poetic, poetry, tissue vibration, anatomy, the organic, song, the intimate, familiarity, contingency.
As a singer (with and without electronics), composer, lyricist, performer, she acts in small formations. The development of solo programs and the collaboration with her partner Tobias Meier are meanwhile her most important artistic works. She also sees her work as an organizer and vocal teacher in a creative and research field and as an integral part of her artistic work.
Picture by Angelika Annen