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 Interview: Carlos Valderrama of Fitness Forever

A couple months ago I wrote about one of my favorite groups from Italy called Fitness Forever (here). Now, a couple months later Carlos Valderrama (the composer behind the group) has agreed to do an interview with me.

I really hope you'll enjoy this one. The debut album from Fitness Forever, Personal Train, is nearly finished and its really the perfect time to do an interview with them (before they're off playing world tours). Carlos is a wonderful guy with an equally wonderful Italian accent.

Eric: I know you have played with other groups, so what made you decided to start Fitness Forever?
Carlos: First of all, thanks thousands for doing an interview with me Eric! I've been waiting for this moment since I was born.

I've been playing with many bands before Fitness Forever...all kind of music, from hardcore punk to indie-rock to shoegaze, even kind of "Cruise ship music" (kind of Bee Gee-sy).

But since people in my last band, the amazing VALDERRAMA 5 cared a lot about eating, I realized I was starting to gain weight; that's when I decided to start up the "Fitness Forever" project. The first recordings were in May 2007 and now I've already lost about 2 kilos! *That's about 4.4 pounds*

Eric: Is it just you writing the songs for the group, or do any of the other members contribute anything creatively to the music?
Carlos: I'm the producer, main songwriter and arranger and definitely the one who has in mind how the song will sound at the end of the recording (so it's my fault if everything is so creepy), but there are 2 more musicians in the band who have a main role in recordings and arrangements: Big Tony (keyboards) is also an orchestral conductor and was very, very important in writing the string quartet's scores, while Scialdone (bass and guitars), apart from being a bass and guitar master, is really half of the band, we decide together...well, almost everything!

Last but not least, the ultra cute and beautiful Paster. I believe that her sweetness and her gentle voice is the soul of the band.

We work like production teams used to work in the 60's. We spend almost the whole day in the recording studio, everyone has their own role and we work friendly together in order to produce the happiest record ever!

Eric: How do you end up getting signed with EMI records?
Carlos: It's fun! They just listened to some songs on Myspace (God bless Tom :-D), they asked for more, they liked the stuff and then I just got signed!

Eric: After the release of your single "Mondo Fitness" how do you feel about your upcoming album?
Carlos: Everything I know, every single song I've played, every love story I've had, every single second spent on the beach...they were all kind of cut/pasted from my soul to this record. I don't know if it's enough to make this a great record, but surely, I did everything I could to record the best album I could. *insert shy smile here*

Eric: Could you explain a little bit about the new album; How you're recording it, what the songs are about and when it will be released?
Carlos: We are recording it in a small studio in Napoli, in the south of Italy (the place where pizza was born!) owned by Big Tony and Scialdone on a digital mixer, but we're trying to use as much analog stuff as we can, from pre-amplifiers to compressors, reverbs, synths and echoes...

Lots of strings, backing vocals, trumpets, guitars, synthesizers and percussions were recorded. It wasn't a choice, it's just the way I heard the songs in my mind before recording them.

I'm a kind of lonely person; I feel a bit uncomfortable with people and I definitely have my own world where I live in every day, so my songs are about a strange kind of happiness I feel when I see people happy. They (the songs) talk about someone relaxing on a lonely beach in September, or about what a guy who falls in love with an anarchist may do to earn her attention. Stuff like that!

Eric: Could you talk about your influences a little bit? What sort of bands do you want your group to sound like, or just ended up finding their way into your music?
Carlos: Brian Wilson, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Circulatory System, Free Design, Joao Gilberto, John Carter, Billy Nicholls, La Casa Azul, Frank Zappa, Serge Gainsbourg, Junior Boys, Peppino Di Capri, Stereolab, Scott Walker, Burt Bacharach, Lilys, The Heavy Blinkers, Super Furry Animals, Supergrass, My Bloody Valentine, Olivia Tremor Control, The Who, The Beatles...all of them are geniuses; amazing people who changed my life.

Eric: Your music actually makes me think of the Gymnopedies by Erik Satie (you can hear the first one here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPA-GfkkkGc). They were actually the first ambient/lounge songs. Have you heard them?
Carlos: WOWWWW! That's a great compliment Eric! Satie is amazing...being compared to such magnificent music just makes me blush.

Eric: I wanted to ask about your fitness image. Do you really care that much about fitness, or is it just some kind of gimmick?
Carlos: Well, actually, we spend too much time sitting at the mixing desk, but I'm actually leaving for 2 weeks to Formetera soon, so maybe when I come back after some swimming and sunshine I'll be able to answer your question better.

Eric: I know you can speak fluently in English and Italian, but all your songs are strictly in Italian. Do you have any plans of writing any songs in English?
Carlos: Well, I actually wrote songs for 15 years in English, but then I realized it didn't work because English spoken by an Italian is sort of awkward sounding to people from the USA and England...if not just plain funny because of our Italian accent. So I decided that if I really wanted to speak to people, I had to write songs in Italian (which is actually much more difficult than writing in English, because of Italian words. Every Italian songwriter will tell you the same!)

But I also feel that since I listen to a lot of music sung in English or French or Portuguese, Icelandic or Norwich, I also figure that people from other countries may find my music interesting and lovely, the same way I do listening to songs in their language.

Eric: When your new album comes out will it have distribution in the United States?
Carlos: I don't know yet, but I will definitely ask some American labels if they are mad enough to spend money on a guy who writes songs about taking vacations in September!

Eric: Finally, what do you plan to do after the release of the new album? Are there any plans for any tours or anything like that?
Carlos: Well, after spending months recording I'd love to finally take the stage and spread the message of being in shape with Fitness Forever to the whole world!

Since we're still only a 4 member group, we need much more people on stage to perform the songs live, but we're already asking around for a female string quartet dressed in Olympic swimsuits!
I want to thank Carlos Valderrama and the rest of Fitness Forever for being so cool! You can check out their music by going to the link below!


Fitness Forever [This is pop music]
foto: Archivo Elefant

Fitness Forever [This is pop music]
foto: Archivo Elefant










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