Music News

Doro Gjat talks creativity, musical origins, and Italy’s No Borders festival

Italian artist Doro Gjat recently sat down with Headliner for a chat about his illustrious career to date, creative processes, and performing at Italy’s picturesque No Borders Festival.

With his signature blend of pop and rap, Gjat has become something of an icon in the musical scene of his hometown in Carnia, Friuli, combining the region’s local dialect with both Italian and English. His career began with the band Carnicats, but for several years has been operating as a solo artist.

Recently, he delivered a show stopping performance alongside the likes of Skunk Anansie, LP, and Mika at the No Borders Festival, which has long been partnered with Italian pro audio specialist K-array. Having sponsored the event in previous years, K-array has now become a signature audio style of the event itself, and was the chosen audio system by the rental company and festival organiser for this year.

Here, Gjat opens up on musical beginnings, what the future holds, and more…

Tell us about your origins as an artist. When did music first enter your life?

I truly can't say exactly when. I remember my mom used to play a cassette tape with classical music to let me fall asleep. I was very little at the time, but I still remember the color of the tape and the sensations which the music gave to me. Then, always thanks to my parents, I got in touch with classical Italian songwriters from the ‘70s (I still love their music,). And finally, in my junior high years, I fell in love with hip hop. It's been like true love from the beginning and it's still going on nowadays. Since that moment, I've always thought that I'd become a rapper. Many years went by and, right now, I have three solo albums under my belt and I'm so proud of them. I never tried to jack anything from the artists I love, I've always tried to find my own formula instead. I'm a middle class guy from a small village in the Alps (Tolmezzo) and I can't rap about the street life, guns and drugs and women. That's why I developed my own way of being hip hop: telling stories about my environment through rap, writing rhymes about nature and about life and not about street criminals.

When did you first start writing your own music?

I had the needing to tell ‘our’ story: the story of a small community of youths living in an environment so far away from the big cities and the urban surroundings that permeate popular culture. I wanted to tell everyone about the short days, the long sunsets, the lonely nights that characterize life in places like this.

Talk us through your creative process?

I usually take my time when I write. I don't want anybody to bother me; that's why I prefer doing it at night, when the phone is silent, and the city doesn't make a sound. I let myself dive deep into the sound of a beat, a small arrangement or something and start putting thoughts on paper. After that, I call my squad in: Luca Moreale is the main producer of my music nowadays, together with my guitar player Sanchez. We start to put the structure of the song in motion, arrange parts and put everything together. And from that moment on, everything flows.

I developed my own way of being hip hop: telling stories about my environment through rap. Doro Gjat

Has the process changed or developed a lot over the years?

Yes, in many different ways. The core of the process has always been that moment in which a new idea takes shape in my mind and starts to become a song. But, from that moment on, everything is different now, especially when compared to the past: we don't produce beats anymore, we write music from scratch, play instruments, experiment with song structures. The final result is way more organic than it used to be.

Who or want have been some of the biggest influences on your career to date?

2pac is the first name which pops up in my mind. His charismatic figure had infected my life in many different ways. And right after him comes Fabrizio De André, one of the greatest Italian singers and songwriters of all time.

What are the biggest challenges that come with being an artist today?

The biggest one is for sure being able to survive to the time passing by. You get old; for some aspects it's a great thing; for others, it is not. And you must stay relevant in a world like the music business, packed up with young hungry musicians, it's quite a challenge.

You recently played the No Borders festival. Was this the first time you played the festival?

It was in 2017, in a wonderful valley named Val Bartolo in between the mountains of Tarvisio, surrounded by little huts. I loved the location and the energy of the crowd as well.

Can you describe the experience of playing the festival and what makes it unique from other festivals?

It's the surroundings. Imagine being on a stage placed in front of a pine forest, right on the side of a little lake. And the energy coming from the crowd is so synched with the environment. It's amazing!

How would you describe the overall sound at the festival? The location looks beautiful, but does it come with any challenges to the sound quality?

The people in the crowd are the most qualified to answer to this question, actually! For me, based on the professionals involved, I've never had any reason to complain. The audio service personnel have always been very professional and absolutely on point with the equipment.

How was the sound for you onstage?

It's beautiful without being too loud. And that's the reason why, probably, the artistic direction of the festival prefers acoustic sets. The environment calls for moody sounds, which can pair with the surroundings. Imagine being in a natural environment listening to industrial sounds. They won't fit. Otherwise, mellow guitars, beautiful voices (enunciating beautiful words), long reverbs, natural delays and the right number of percussions resonating through the woods are like the perfect solution.

What are you currently working on?

I'm in the middle of the writing process. To me, it's the most exciting phase in the process of creating new music and dropping new songs and new albums.

What’s your next big project?

My new album is on its way and it will contain some of the best music I had ever written. Stay tuned!

You can read Headliner’s full report on the No Borders feastival and the K-array system specified here.