Angel Vivaldi – Synaptic Connections

Tuesday, 28th November 2017

Dead Rhetoric: So is there more of an improvisational feel as you are playing live, going from show to show?

Vivaldi: Yeah, and it’s kind of like Frank Zappa’s school of thought. Improve is a gift for that audience. No one else is going to get that solo [from] that night. That always stuck with me, even from a young age. It’s my way of, outside of shaking their hand and looking them in the eye and saying thank you, it’s a musical gesture of thanks. I don’t a day of this for granted. It’s definitely a privilege that people come to my shows and buy my records, and support me the way that they do. It’s really overwhelming. I want to meet that halfway – not even just responding when they email me or something like that, or hanging out with them, but also putting a lot of thought into the live show. The live show itself – when I go on tour, I design that myself. It’s a matter of everything they see being me, in one way or another. It’s a matter of saying thanks in a different way.

Dead Rhetoric: In building your skills over the years, have you adopted things as you’ve gotten older and gotten more experienced with guitar playing?

Vivaldi: Oh absolutely! It’s like every record…I go through this musical metamorphosis of sorts. I think it’s important for me to musically challenge myself. Hence the whole concept of Synapse and how I went about writing it. It kind of got to the point where the techniques and my style outgrew different tools that I used. There are certain techniques that are floating around – with this day and age you can go on YouTube and see how people are doing certain things. It helps to push yourself a little bit – to expand and think of your music, and what you want to say a little bit differently. I’ll go back to the language analogy – if you are learning Italian, it’s like gaining a different level of fluency. There’s certain techniques that I adopted on this album, from a dynamic standpoint. I’m been using a lot of legato, which kind of gives it this nice staccato type of like percussive sound, evident on songs like “Synapse” and “Oxytocin.” So there’s definitely something different on every record that I can go, “That’s when I was working on this concept, or this chord progression.”

Dead Rhetoric: You videos are often pretty cinematic in scope. Does that help you express a different direction of creativity when you make a video?

Vivaldi: Early on, my biggest influence was Michael Jackson. Hands down. He was the one – he was everything. He was the total package. He was a visionary, he was musically gifted, and his performances were iconic. I remember at a young age, there was that element of “What is he going to do next? How is he going to outdo himself?” For me, aside from interior design and using that strength to support this album cycle, I’ve always used my love for cinematography and videography to support my career. Just to give a visual pairing to the music – a nice narrative and nice visuals. It’s another thing that I like to put a lot of thought into. It’s a long and expensive process. But I feel it’s what the music deserves. When you are emotionally invested into something you want to meet it halfway with your full potential.

Nowadays, if you are going to have a career in music, it’s 65% visual and 35% audio. Back in the day, to quote Frank Zappa again, in the days of MTV it was like 50/50. Now it’s 65/35 no doubt. I’m kind of glad that I’ve been doing this all along because it definitely has helped, visually, in reaching a new audience. For instance, the last video for “Serotonin” was a big risk. But going back to Michael Jackson again, I’ve been into choreography and dancing for all my life. I had this concept and it was finally time to execute it. I had the perfect song – it was very dance-y and upbeat. It took months to get it together, but I think people appreciate the song in a different way once they see the video. They understand, visually, and say, “Oh, I get it.” So it definitely helps overall, with just presenting the music in a way that it was originally intended.

Dead Rhetoric: I know you do a lot of volunteer work and philanthropy as well. What pushed you in that direction?

Vivaldi: Ever since I was a kid it was kind of like that. Coming up from a rough childhood and just struggling a lot in my early years. When I’m in a position to give back, or even when I’m not in a position to give back [laughs], I still make time or research what is happening and see if there’s a way that I can apply my art to raise awareness or funds for any cause. It seems like every year, just like with music, I evolve into learning of some new struggle that’s happening somewhere.

Over the years, it started off with the National Alliance to End Homelessness. I’ve worked with them for maybe 7-8 years now. Obviously LGBT rights and activism, being a gay man myself. It’s definitely an interesting dynamic in the industry that I’m in. I’m a hard rock guitarist – we’ve made leaps and bounds into progressing into a very accepting environment. But obviously there’s still a lot of work to be done on that front. Then most recently, I lost a very good friend to ALS. A lot of my time has been pushing awareness and raising funds for finding a cure and patient services. And I’m [involved with] the environment as well. I’m kind of all over the place, but I think it’s important to give back. It keeps you humble to see other people’s struggles. Regardless of where I am at, we are all not without struggle in some way or another. I just do my part, that’s all. It’s not even an ego thing, I feel that it’s an optional responsibility that I kind of take on, because I feel it needs to be done.

Dead Rhetoric: You are off on a huge tour soon [the Guitar Collective tour]. Anything else that you are up to in the near future?

Vivaldi: I’m already into 2018 plans. There’s the next tour, the next record, and what I’m planning to do there. All the videos, and what I’m going to do with those. I’m fresh back from Europe – we only had a few weeks between the European tour and this one coming up in the US. Within that little gap, I filmed 9 playthroughs – one for every song. I’m kind of working on video treatments for the next song. We are looking forward to Part II – the second half of the Away With Words album. The first one was released in 2014. Part II, being an all acoustic record, is going to come out most likely in 2019. 2018 is going to be spent kind of getting everything in line – getting the songs fine-tuned and entering pre-production. There will definitely be more touring in 2018 as well. Most likely in the spring. A lot of videos, a lot of touring, and some new music coming at you guys very soon.

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