Interview with Evita Polidoro of Nerovivo, finalist band in 2019
Nerovivo is a project born from the meeting between Evita Polidoro (compositions, drums and vocals), Davide Strangi (guitar and vocals) and Nicolò Faraglia (guitar) in the context of Siena Jazz and is based on the importance and choice of sound . Listening and experimentation are the basis of the trio, since the unusual formation pushes towards timbre and compositional research.
Its leader, Evita Polidoro, was born in Sesto S. Giovanni in 1995, began studying piano at a young age and in 2009 graduated in theory and solfeggio at the Turin conservatory. She moved to Lake Maggiore, she begins to approach the battery. Between 2011 and 2014 she wins national and international competitions. In 2017 she arrives with the band Rumor live on Rai 1 for Sanremo Giovani. From 2015 to 2018 she moved to Siena and attended the three-year academic year at the Siena Jazz Foundation where she studied with Fabrizio Sferra and Alessandro Paternesi.
The summer of 2021 turns out to be a riot of surprises as she is chosen to accompany the Italian tour of Dee Dee Bridgewater and, finally, called by Miguel Zenon to replace Nasheet Waits for the Siena Jazz concert with Shai Maestro, Avishai Cohen and Matt Penman to the rectorate of Siena. She toured again with Dee Dee Bridgewater in the spring of 2022 with which she concluded the concert series at Ronnie Scott’s in London. But let’s get to know the Nerovivo better, through the words of its leader Evita Polidoro.
Can you tell us your story? When did you start playing together?
“The project was born in 2018, approximately. I already knew Davide and Nicolò, having attended the same three years at Siena Jazz, and being their fan and obsessed with guitars and pedals, I suggested them to try to play something I had just given birth. It was my first definitive experience as a band leader, I had never written too much music before, but it was becoming a real necessity. It was much simpler than I thought, as they are endowed with great sensitivity and artistic and technical flair. They managed to bring their great identity into something that did not belong to them in the first person and the sound achieved was just what I had in my head. I am truly grateful to be able to share my music with two dear friends and incredible musicians!”.
What is your artistic background?
“We are three very different musicians, but we share previous experiences more in the pop / rock / songwriter field. I had a band for years on Lake Maggiore with which I toured the boot quite a bit and participated in various competitions, including Sanremo Giovani in 2015. Yes, I have a past as a real “rocker”, even if I don’t think it’s still trendy as a term in 2022”. She laughs, then continues: “I played in grunge bands, indie rock, etc… Jazz came years and years later”.
What is the recognition that has so far gratified you both as a band and as a soloist?
“I am always grateful to play in beautiful settings with an attentive and warm audience. I feel blessed to have been able to share stages with incredible musicians. In first place I must necessarily put the historic Dee Dee Bridgewater with which I did two tours, the first last summer and the second recently, in April. Then I certainly carry in my heart the opening at the concert of one of my favorite trios, that of Jakob Bro with Thomas Morgan and Joey Baron. We were in the Sala Vanni in Florence a few years ago. Unique emotion to be able to speak and listen to one of my favorite living drummers. Even going live in prime time on Rai 1 for Sanremo Giovani was absurd and fun: I would do it again! I have won competitions in the past, both as a pianist and as a drummer, but the adrenaline you feel for a concert is quite another story! As a band, unfortunately, we haven’t done much yet, due to lack of time and certainly my fault, that I struggle to keep up with all the various things that happen to me (I’m a bad leader). Certainly, arriving among the finalists of the Conad Jazz Contest was super, we played together for not so long! We played in L’Aquila for ” Il Jazz per le terre del sisma” and we opened the frontal concert by Simone Graziano at the Sala Vanni in Florence. Some nice little things are planned for the summer, finally!”.
How was your passion for jazz music born?
“In my house we didn’t listen to much, it was certainly never the prevailing genre within our walls. It came years and years later, towards the end of high school, when I started going to class with Riccardo Chiaberta, a young drummer from my area. He opened my eyes (and ears) to a whole new world, I didn’t have too much idea how it worked. Then the following year he advised me to join Siena Jazz, I had no expectations of joining, but in the end, it went well and the three years completely changed my life. Humanly, musically and artistically I have grown a lot and jazz has officially become part of my life since the first academic year and continues to exist, even if – sometimes – in small doses”.
Is jazz your only genre or do you listen to something else? And if so, what?
“I smile because it’s actually a genre that I neglect and have always neglected. I feel super ignorant on this topic. I also listen to anything else, mainly rock, electronic, ambient and lately I’m obsessed with post-punk / new wave bands and with drill / trap / hip hop music. As always it seems like a cliché, but I really listen to a little bit of everything, the important thing is that it is done well, then anything it’s ok!”.
Today it is very difficult to say something new in the crowded expressive world of jazz. How do you differentiate yourself from other bands? What is your research and artistic experimentation moving towards?
“I don’t want to label ourselves, I don’t want to force myself to write music that pleases or necessarily difficult to impress people. Sincerity has always been the basis of everything, so what comes out of it is an honest set of everything I listen to. I never even wanted to set anything, I write simple and direct music. If you like it, obviously I’m ten times happier, but still I remain of the idea that compromising to achieve that goal is not the solution. Together we work on the search for sound to arrive at the arrangement that suits us best and that is best sewn on that particular piece”.
What are your stylistic references in the jazz field and who are the musicians on the scene contemporary to which you feel most inspired?
“I have a huge problem with Thom Yorke, I often can’t be objective: I like everything he does! Arca (Alejandra Ghersi) has been an incredible discovery in recent years, brilliant producer / singer / musician. Rosalia and Billie Eilish brought a giant breath of fresh air. I write the first names that come to mind otherwise the list would be too long: Johnny Greenwood, Tim Hecker, William Basinski, Bon Iver…”.
Is there space and interest in Italy for your musical genre? And how is the situation abroad instead?
“In short, in Italy it is really difficult to be able to carry around ‘crossover’ music, difficult to label, of which it is almost impossible to define a precise genre. Certainly (and fortunately) there are clubs and reviews that deal with organizing concerts of this type, but it always remains however, a niche environment. Same thing for the release of a record, an even more complicated situation. Abroad, it seems to me that there is more desire to take risks, more research and desire to bet on less canonical music and projects. Often the most natural thing to do is to move or try to get in touch with labels and reality foreign”.
What led you to sign up for the Conad Jazz Contest and what was it like competing with other guys who share your same passion?
“I learned about the Conad Jazz Festival through friends who had participated in the editions of previous years. The following year I said to myself… why not? We signed up and, in the end, it went better than I thought! The experience was super! We all already knew each other. Umbria Jazz is always a moment of the year that I like to live with friends and the Conad Jazz Contest was just the icing on the cake. There was support from everyone, for everyone! It should always be like this”.
How do you rate your experience at Umbria Jazz? Would you recommend other bands to participate?
“I was afraid of playing my music in a more jazzy context, but many positive feedbacks came, so that’s okay, I would definitely do it again! Hurry up! I repeat: I would do it again. Was I convincing enough?”.