Andre Darmanin is a local artist who has been making an impact on the music scene. We started by asking him to tell us how he got into this industry. Andre explains,
I have been in LOVE with music since forever. I was always very curious about how emotions and feelings could be transmitted through sound as a medium. My obsession to find that perfect sound that can emulate how I feel has been my major drive to produce and write music.
I started taking music seriously towards the end of my teens. As many young boys in Malta, I was into playing football. Ever since I was a 3 year old, I played for Mosta FC. , however, due to injuries and academic commitments, I had to let go of my football dream. In desperate need to find something new and fresh that could keep me busy, I turned to something that I sort of always ‘hesitated’ to get into and this was music.
I started by just writing rhymes, and then I moved on to experimenting in music production as I was always interested to create my own sounds and beats. Given that in 2002, I was a student was short of funds, I used cheap music computer programmes to develop my own productions and skills. Music production is a never-ending learning curve and I learn something new every time I work on a new project.
What were your main musical influences while you were growing up?
To this very day, hip hop is still my greatest influence and I’m proud to say that I grew up listening to some real hip hop. I consider myself an old school boy where rhyming skills move crowds. I am also influenced by Tupac. I am a great Pac fan as he has been an inspiration to me for a long time now. I can spend hours listening to his records and his lyrics.
Having said that, I do get my inspiration from many different music genres. However, to be quite honest, it is not only music itself that inspires me. People around me also influence the way I write music. I like to observe the way people live, think and react. Plus, I love to listen to their stories and to the way they feel. Picking up all this information helps me write lyrics and produce music.
Why did you choose rap as the genre in music through which you communicate?
Given that I talk too much and I always have so much to say, singing would not allow me to say much in a song! (I’m kidding!). I love rhythm and I love writing rhymes. Besides writing rhymes for rap songs, I also write poetry. I’m just fascinated by how words can be used to describe a feeling or even portray a scene in a person’s mind.
Words are powerful tools, especially when used in the right way. You will be surprised what the mind can come up with, when it LISTENS to words. I emphasised LISTEN given that sometimes we tend to confuse hearing with listening. We hear all the time but we don’t listen all the time and there is a difference.
Your latest song Believe made it to local and international charts, can you tell us more about it?
Believe was a random project that turned out to be a very successful one. Working with top Maltese talent such as Alvin Gee and Sandrina was a great experience and I learnt a lot from this project. Believe was a project that involved people who came from different music backgrounds, so the project was very challenging in itself. However, we all had one thing in common and that was our love for music and this was what made this project define the word “chemistry”.
On a personal note, this project was a game changer for me. Thanks to this project, I found a new music genre that I love working on which is dance music.
The song Believe was signed to a record label in Sweden and was played on radio stations and podcasts in Greece, France, the United States and the United Kingdom.
This was a milestone in my music career and the feedback that we received from listeners was brilliant.
As you mentioned, Believe is a collaborative piece. Do you think that contemporary music relies a lot on collaborations and why is that?
I think working with people is always a good thing, as long as you are on the same page with them. The more brains you have on a project, the better it will be. Music is fun and it is something you can enjoy with other people who share the same energy and passion that you have and Believe is a result of that. However, I don’t think that it is a must and I can’t really say that contemporary music relies on collaborations as such.
Believe has an inspirational message. Do you wish to use your music as an avenue to send social messages, especially to the younger generations?
I make music for people and I try my best to include a message in my songs. I strive to reach as many people as possible with my music and lyrics. I feel that as an artist, I have a duty to make music so that the listener can associate with it and should they be going through some tough times, they can relate to the lyrics.
Throughout my career, one of my greatest moments of satisfaction was when an individual sent me a personal message telling me that the words that I used in a song that I had written called Without you were the same words that, that person had always wanted to tell the ex partner.
Believe had the same impact. A priest who works with young people sent me a personal message and thanked us as a team for coming up with a song that has words which make you want to stand up and follow your dreams. This is my biggest reward in this music adventure and, to be honest, it is one of the main reasons why I produce music in the first place.
Before we take our leave, is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
I am currently working on new projects with different artists. I am lucky to have people such as Alvin Gee and his brother Jaymee Galea who are passionate about music in the same way as I am. I am planning to start more projects with these guys in the near future.
The music industry in Malta is kind of particular. Malta often lacks the resources for the industry to develop and I think that being a small island does not help it develop either. I think too much energy is ‘invested in’ the Eurovision show.. I believe that energy should be placed in encouraging local artists to sign up with record labels or to gain more exposure in foreign media. It is not enough for this to happen through just one showcase.
Since Malta is an English speaking country, our local artists have a huge advantage over other countries. All we need, is some resources to improve the sound of our music and to improve the marketing of both the artist and song. This is essential.
I think that from the point of view of production, the standard of the Maltese product has been raised significantly and is now becoming very close to international standards. One thing we need to keep in mind is that renowned artists whose music is played on MTV have recording studios with equipment which costs a lot of money and their human resources would be between 9 to 10 professional people working full time on just one song.
As with many other Maltese artists, I have to go to work from 8 till 5 every day and then work on my music after that. I also have to do the work of those 10 people to get my song produced, all with a very limited budget.
Keeping this in mind, can you imagine what local artists can achieve if they had access to the same resources that foreign artists often have? Hopefully, one day we will get there and we will be able to continue putting Malta on the map in the music industry, as well as on an international level.