Nicola Conte: uniting cultures through the language of music

Nicola Conte: uniting cultures through the language of music
Nicola Conte by Giovanna Sodano

The light pollution of the digital world has brought with them the shadow of souls. Faced with this reality, music became a refuge to escape from the artificial environment and let the inner light shine again. To dance under the ancestral rhythms, those who bet on unity. May authenticity be the lamp that illuminates life.

Umoja album cover

Umoja is more than a word: a concept and, since the end of June, an album. "It comes from Swahili, an ancient African language, and carries the meaning of unity, harmony, and spiritual connection." The words are from Nicola Conte, the mind behind the album and who explains the reasons for the title. "I'm an Afro-centric artist. I mean, we all owe a lot to Africa. Due my career, I've met many African people, and I realized that they still retain a more natural approach to life, which we have lost. I truly believe that we must learn from the countries that haven't forgotten their heritage and roots."

In the artistic universe of Nicola Conte, mixing sounds and genres is a natural practice. His career as a producer and DJ has turned him into a musical archaeologist. "This album has different sources of inspiration. We tried to combine a lot of positive energy. There is some spiritual jazz, funk, and soul." The rhythms and lyrics in Umoja are a constant invitation to wake up and create a new reality. "It portrays a different idea of society, the relationship between people, and the search for freedom. The music embodies all these concepts. Many of these feelings are not represented in today's art, which is a great loss. That's why I tried to suggest other styles."

Across ten tracks, the Italian guitarist creates a connection between continents, where the result translates into a powerful meaning: light. "The songs have a humanistic and political significance. This recording suggests a different way of life: day-to-day based on unity among all societies. We want to make them feel an impression of sunshine." There is sunshine from beginning to end, even on the tracks that appear to be darker; in its musical spectrum, darkness is melted by light.

The musical narrative of Conte transcends harmonies and rhythms; it is a protest that floats on the air between continents in search of new audiences who, like him, want to transform reality. "Somehow, we live in times where people are not allowed to shine and let their inner light arise because we are compressed into masses of customers. We inhabit a technological dictatorship that oppresses the people. It's called capitalism." Amidst the luminance of screens, the authentic essence of humanity seems to disappear, gradually fading into artificiality.

In the world of immediacy and the banal, it is easy to lose sight of the relevant and be amazed by the superficial. "Everything must be easy to consume, so there's no room for cultural knowledge, heritage, and consciousness. This reality limits the freedom of individuals. In times like these, artists should take the risk of expressing more controversial ideas and not just fitting into everything that is being said."

In this exploration of a new reality, Nicola is not alone. Exceptional voices such as Zara Mcfarlane and Myles Sanko have joined his journey. Through the fusion of genres and the meeting of different musical cultures, Conte creates a soundscape full of emotions and meanings. "I wanted to capture that feeling of the seventies albums. The band was in the studio playing alive; there is not much post-production on the tracks." The album was recorded directly to analog tape, with just two takes for each track, leaving space for a spontaneous and improvised feeling. "While recording, I directed the band, like in an orchestra. Also, I wanted to have this kind of free flow into the music. It’s very free but at the same time is very well organized."

In Umoja, contemporary sounds emerge to dispel the fog that covers the light we all need. Through improvisation and creativity, Nicola Conte believes it's possible to shine again, connect with our roots, and empower all the traits and characteristics that make us unique. His musical vision becomes a beacon of optimism, offering a transformative pathway toward spirituality and self-discovery.