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Interview: 2021 Must-Know - Orlando

Interview: 2021 Must-Know - Orlando

"My experiences aren’t unique - that’s one of the comforting things about your feelings, if you’re feeling them you’re not the only one," says London-based multi-instrumentalist Orlando Giannini about the importance to him of being specific when writing songs about his own experiences. And on his forthcoming 'Romeo Took The Girl' EP (out this Thursday, February 25th), Orlando is thoughtful ("10 hours since you read my text, the world is at your feet / I wish that I could ready your mind 'cuz I know you’re reading me"), wholehearted ("I find myself, changing myself, just so I can be / The perfect kind of boy you like, the type I thought was me"), and witty ("If Tarantino writes a new movie / He could base the main lover boy on me / And I’d provide a plot that runs so deep / You’d need Timothee to make it real").

Much like the above-mentioned Chalamet (who Orlando shouts out in '10 Hours') playing hopeless romantic Laurie in Greta Gerwig's film-adaptation of 'Little Women', Orlando too takes up the mantle of 'The Forlorn Paramour' - penning poignant and relatable odes to the doom and gloom of feeling out of your depth when confronted by unrequited love.

MUST-LISTEN: 'Blue Ferrari', 'Princess', '10 Hours'.
YOU WILL LIKE, IF YOU LIKE: Rex Orange County, Role Model, Thomas Headon, Ruel, Christian Leave, Laundry Day... and any movie starring Timothée Chalamet.

COUP DE MAIN: "I find myself, changing myself, just so I can be / The perfect kind of boy you like, the type I thought was me," you say in '10 Hours'. Why do you think people have a tendency to try and present a version of themselves that they think will be most appealing in order to impress someone else?
ORLANDO:
Human connection. It’s our instinct to present the most 'likeable' version of ourselves to people we want to have a connection with. Nowadays you can find so much about someone from social media that you can almost predict what they’ll like. It’s really unhealthy… but that’s what happens when you have a crush, I guess!!!

CDM: Love the shout-out to Timothée Chalamet in '10 Hours'. Is he your favourite internet boyfriend?
ORLANDO:
Hahaha. I was having a serious 'main character' moment when writing that song, thinking that the plot of my life would be so complex that you’d need an actor as amazing as him to play me in a movie and make it 'real'. Oh dear... Ahahaha! But yeh, he’s the 'it' boy of the moment.

CDM: Your emotional precision in 'Blue Ferrari' is really poignant. Especially when you say, "And I know you’re not in love yet I can tell." Is it important to you to be really specific about your own experiences when writing songs?
ORLANDO:
Yes, super important. My experiences aren’t unique - that’s one of the comforting things about your feelings, if you’re feeling them you’re not the only one. It’s important to remember that.

CDM: What's the significance of the sample at the beginning of 'Princess'?
ORLANDO:
It’s a weird story actually. I was watching a boxing documentary from the 90s (random I know) and there was a short interview with a kid from New York talking about how the American fighter was a sure bet to beat the boxer known as ‘The Prince’. I just loved his accent and energy. The sample you hear is actually a recording of me saying it. I used it because in the song I’m competing with a real life Prince for a girl!! It also ties into the whole narrative of the EP.

CDM: What was running through your mind while writing 'Princess'?
ORLANDO:
Hmmm… a few things. I was thinking back to when I’d go to house parties and meet lots of interesting characters and hear crazy alcohol infused stories. I think I was also fed up with speaking to people over message during lockdown. Dating is so screwed up for young people now. It’s literally a competition of who can care the least. I hate it.

CDM: Is 'Special (Sunshine State)' autobiographical?
ORLANDO:
Yes, totally! It was a stream of consciousness recorded on GarageBand when I got home late one night. Most of my songs tend to be autobiographical, maybe too much sometimes :/

CDM: Being UK-based, what does Los Angeles mean to you?
ORLANDO:
It’s hard to pin it down to something specific. It’s La La Land! I don’t think the American Dream is explicitly American anymore.

CDM: Why did you want to name the EP after your song 'Romeo Took The Girl'?
ORLANDO:
Every song was written and made in relation to the wider project and that song is basically a summary of the entire EP as a whole. Romeo is the quintessential lover boy. He represents me, the other guy, and every other lovestruck boy out there - it’s personal, but universal.

CDM: How does your songwriting process work?
ORLANDO:
It kinda varies, but it usually starts with me, a piano or guitar, a notepad and voice notes on my phone. I’m very chaotic, my mind is all over the place with ideas all the time, so I frequently have creative impulses and urges to go and make something highly specific, often in the middle of the night. I always make songs at night.

CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
ORLANDO:
I’m always writing or doodling things on my phone or notebook. My inspiration for lyrics comes from everyday life - I love finding nuances in the mundane. I quickly write lyrics or phrases down when I think of them or when I hear somebody say something interesting. They will exist as fragments of sentences until I find a place for them in a song. They often become titles too. I try to create lyrics that you haven’t heard before; I always aim to say or express things that people are thinking and feeling but haven’t said yet. I do write poems as well, recently I’ve been creating short films that accompany poetry, but I’ve never turned a poem into a song like that - I have creative outputs besides music, so I like to keep some things separate.

CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song that you’ve written?
ORLANDO:
From my new EP I think the lyrics to 'Blue Ferrari' are my favourite, or '10 Hours'. Actually no, 'Romeo Took The Girl'! Argh, I can’t decide. I love the opening line and the final line of the last song. The lyric, 'She’s not a special girl, I’m not a special guy myself,' brings the EP full circle back to the first song whilst also providing a sense of conclusion and acceptance. There’s a spoken section in my song 'Jupiter' from my EP 'Nikes and Dandelions' which I also really love.

CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
ORLANDO:
I was going to say lyrics, but then I remembered so many amazing songs I love with no words at all. I think it is so subjective, you can never separate what a song means to you. Ultimately, you listen to a good song, but you feel a great song.

CDM: At what age did you write your very first song ever, and what was it about?
ORLANDO:
I’ve always been writing music, I found an old notebook the other day with some songs I wrote when I couldn’t even write properly hahah. But the first song I wrote that I actually finished was when I was 16, it was called 'New Shoes' - I don’t think I need to explain what it was about…

CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
ORLANDO:
A smile :)

CDM: If O.R.L.A.N.D.O. were an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
ORLANDO:
This could be an answer for the next question too.
Once upon a time
Rihanna said to me she
Liked my crocs
And that she was going to buy some
New ones just like mine.
Don’t you think they’ll look good on me, Orlando?
Oh yes, Rihanna, for sure.

CDM: What’s on your bucket-list?
ORLANDO:
I haven’t got a bucket-list. But one day I’m gonna sit in a cinema and watch every Adam Sandler film back to back, with him sat next to me saying every line just before it’s said in the film. That’s the dream.

CDM: If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
ORLANDO:
Keys to the Pringle factory.

CDM: If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
ORLANDO:
'Bonkers' - Dizzee Rascal.

CDM: You’re one of our 'must-know’ artist picks for 2021… who are yours?
ORLANDO:
Thank you so much! Frank Ocean (got a feeling he’s gonna finally drop an album this year). BADBADNOTGOOD. Lauryn Hill. Steve Lacy. Omar Apollo. Earl Sweatshirt. Every year is a year to listen to all of these.

Listen to 'Princess' below...

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