03 Feb 2014

From ACM to The Guardian – ACM Alumnus Michele Azzu

Since graduating from ACM’s Bass Higher Diploma course in 2010, ACM Alumnus Michele Azzu’s career has seen him move away from music and back into his first love – journalism. ACM caught up with Michele to chat about his recent work including an article published by the Guardian as well as his plans for 2014.

From ACM to The Guardian
During my first term exams at ACM, I read on the internet that the factory in which my father has been working last 35 years was closing, and that a number of workers had started occupying an abandoned prison on the small Asinara island in the north of Sardinia; where I’m from.

I decided to start a facebook group to support the demonstration, just for fun, and then unexpectedly thousands of people started joining. Before joining ACM, The Academy of Contemporary Music, I graduated from Bologna University where I studied journalism and so as the awareness of our Facebook Group grew, I decided to get back to Italy and work on this.

I then I started working for top Italian weekly L’Espresso, tv and radio, and I published an autobiographical book, Asinara Revolution, In which I also wrote about my time at ACM – I look forward to being able to translate this someday!

“How a reality TV parody tells the story of Italy’s jobless” by Michele Azzu – The Guardian

Politicians pretend that Italy is on the road to recovery. Meanwhile, Redundancy Island publishes the truth about ordinary people’s lives.

In his New Year’s Eve speech, Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, acknowledged the unemployment crisis, reading out letters from people who are living through it. Yet apparently other members of the Italian government think differently. The minister of economics Fabrizio Saccomanni tweeted about the employment outlook improving. Even the prime minister, Enrico Letta, said that economic recovery seems to be just around the corner. This news about a recovery simply isn’t true……

Read the complete article from ACM Alumnus Michele Azzu.

Any words of advice for current students with regards to ACM and writing/publishing content?
I think it’s something every musician – and especially students – should definitely take advantage of.

We’re living in times of huge change, and I mean these very days. Have a look at the redesigned New York Times website, or at what The Guardian did on NSA Files decoded. Newspapers are focusing more and more on their users experience. Remember also that journalists are no longer just ‘journalists’, but also advertisers, social managers, engagement managers.

Now think about what’s happening on Spotify with the new Spotify for Artist. When musical (or reading) experience changes that much and that quick, new possibilities open up. These days if you have a good idea, a good artist’s identity, a good story to tell (using twitter, facebook and Instagram) you can do great things – this is something you just couldn’t do a few years ago.

I think the most important thing is not to think at social networking as something separate , but as a collateral activity. It should be part of your artistic production. Again think about Pharrell’s 24hours Happy: it is not a website, not a video, not a song or an author – it’s an unique piece of art all together. And it did make the difference.

For bass players: check how Janek Gwizdala (I’ve met him on ACM’s masterclass) uses instagram and his video tuition website.

Your future plans during 2014
I’m going to play more music. In the last 3 years my musical practice – and live performances – has been unsteady, because of my journalistic work, but I guess everything you do makes you a better (or worse) musician.

When I was studying at ACM I was still a little confused: I hadn’t figured out yet if I wanted to be a session player or a solo artist. Now going on television and radio, touring for promoting my book and having followers, I now know myself a little more, and I’m more confident.

Using my editorial and publishing experience, I’m going to open a musical website that is going to be more than just a shop window and create something you’ll never forget e.g. think about Pharrell’s “24 hours Happy”.

Why you chose to study at ACM?
I decided to study at ACM because I’d previously been studying at music at Bologna’s, Music Academy. I found the new method of music education of contemporary schools amazing. Things like ear training or studying sight-reading on the midi base, are things that you actually use on real West End musicals like Mammamia. ACM is definitely somewhere that is going to improve your skills as a musician.

ACM has some amazing tutors: as a bass player you can study with music professional like Nik Preston, Mike Dunn, or the king of session player (Paul Geary), to name a few with a wide range of musical experiences.

Your classmates: I’ve been lucky enough to study and play with people like Linda Buratto (now Kate Nash’s guitarist), Alex Torjussen and Matt Aston (drums and bass of Lucy Spraggan) and I definitely think ACM is the european leader for this kind of contemporary music education.

ACM would like to thank alumnus Michele Azzu for getting back in touch and updating us on his recent projects and wish him well for 2014.

Follow Michele Azzu on Twitter.

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