JAZZING IT UP WITH MANUEL PULIS

 

Where do you live? Siena, Italy and Qawra, Malta

What is your zodiac sign? Aries

Are you in a relationship? Single

What is your occupation? Musician / Educator

manuel-pulis-2

 

How did your love for music come about and when did it all begin?

My love for it has always been there. Looking back, when I was about six and in the car with my mother, I used to take control of the radio. Bon Jovi was the first band I liked, which led me through the classic rock era. I listened to the likes of Metallica, Deep Purple, Hendrix… etc. So, it was very clear that I was a ‘rocker’ of my generation.

All this changed when I turned to jazz and went to my first jazz festival at the late age of 18. I could not understand the music at the time, but I could FEEL the energy.

From then on, I stopped dividing styles and just looked at music as one thing, starting from Hamlet to Coltrane. It’s like a long-term relationship with the advantage that sometimes, I get to fall in love with the same thing all over again.

How did you end up studying in Italy and why there?

Well, that’s a funny story! Back in 2012 and about three weeks before they were holding the entrance auditions, I met the school’s students’ director for a concert he had with my professor at the time, Massimo De Majo and we spoke about the opportunity.

I had just come back from Copenhagen and had every intention to move abroad. So, in a period of just two weeks, I chose the material, studied it and auditioned at the school, all the time thinking, “I must be one of the few Maltese people who doesn’t know one word in Italian.” So, basically ‘difficult’ is actually an easy way of describing the audition.

While I was waiting for the results, I carried out more research about the Siena Jazz University and I got to know that it was one of the most prestigious schools for jazz in Italy. In fact, the school collaborates with the top schools in the world: Berkley, Juilliard, Paris, Amsterdam and many more. I was then happily accepted! The choice had nothing to do with Tuscan food and wine, but it’s certainly a bonus!

Where do you see yourself in five to ten years’ time?

I have a very clear image in my head. By now, I have come to realise where I want to go with regards to my music style and the way I would like to work. I would prefer to be more of a leader or to be in a joint collaboration with the groups that I am/will be working with.

I have been a session musician for a while now and it’s something that I have learnt a lot from and will most probably continue to keep learning from it, but it simply “ain’t my cup of tea, innit?”

Now, “where” is a good question! It depends where the music will take me, but I’ve got a funny feeling it won’t be Malta or Italy. I mean, I would like to move to New York, every musician who’s serious about his/her work does, but it won’t be forced. If I end up in the Big Apple, that would be just fine. If I end up setting up my studio on a mountain side, that would be fine too. So, as long as I will be able to sustain a healthy lifestyle with the chance to grow as a musician and artist, I will be satisfied with that.

How do you manage to balance your private life and the constant rehearsals you must attend?

Achieving a better balance is something that I need to get better at. Actually, at the moment, most of my private life is a rehearsal. The same people I usually play with are my best pals, so it’s very easy to confuse the two. Just lately, I’ve started to realise how important it is to draw a line between these two and to manage my time more responsibly.

The amount of time I spend in the studio is just ridiculous! Managing my time is something that I need to get better at and will try harder from now on so as to live a healthy lifestyle. I do simple things to keep it fresh: go for a jog, train, watch a movie, and at times read a book. When I’m lucky enough to be in Malta, I take my dog for a swim, go by the beach and just smell and feel the sea, as well as meeting up with some old friends… the usual things, I guess.

Can you mention some of your hobbies?

One of my recently developed hobbies is music production. I’ve been writing electronic songs for fun, plus, I got into fitness so I’m trying to find healthy recipes on the net. In the past, I used to be a big fan of kickboxing and extreme sports, such as skateboarding and BMX. I don’t skateboard any more because of the fear of falling over and breaking some part of my body, but I do kickbox when I get the time and the opportunity.