Lucio Corsi. Free Animals and Caged Forests
04.04.2021, by Giacomo Luperini
We caught up with Lucio Corsi for a chat about his inspirations and his special relationship with the environment.
Lucio Corsi, a longtime Milan resident originally from Grosseto, is a complex, eclectic artist, a glamorous, poetic pop singer-songwriter who has released four studio albums covering a wide array of topics and styles. We had a chance to catch up with him about his personal relationship with nature, the sea and urban development, which are recurring themes in his art.
Hi Lucio, I want to start with a question that is as commonplace as it is significant: how have you been spending your time during the pandemic? What kind of an effect has it had on your work?
I’ve been trying to make the most of it: I didn’t want this time to be wasted, so I came back to my home in Maremma, to work on my new record. That’s how I’ve been trying to make it meaningful. Maremma is the best place for me to create: it is so quiet, and I can play at all hours of the day without fear of bothering anyone. I live deep in the countryside, so I’m quite isolated, but I have all the instruments I need so there’s no better place for me to be at the moment.
Nature is a recurring theme in your lyrics, which describe it poetically and without judgment. But what does “nature” mean to you? What’s your relationship with nature, and what’s nature’s relationship with your art?
I was born and raised on a farm, surrounded not by electricity poles but by shady trees (which I very much prefer). I feel the need to be surrounded by trees, animals and the sea. As Ivan Graziani used to say, “my home is the sea, and I can’t exchange it for a river”. That’s exactly the way I feel. If you fall in love with something as a child, you’ll miss it as an adult when it’s not there.
You know, I find it very significant that you should mention “shady trees” and “electricity poles”, because just recently I read several articles about the number of electricity poles in Milan. Some went so far as to say that Milan has more poles than it has trees. There are more than 300 of them in piazza XXIV Maggio alone…
Man wants to copy nature, and tries his best to prove it in every way. It’s a constant struggle, a challenge we are destined to lose. The work of man lacks the disorder that Nature is able to bestow on its creations.
Your lyrics often convey a clear-cut separation between a wild anthropomorphized nature and a domesticated one. Which humans do you see as wild, and which as tame?
I enjoy identifying with every inhabitant of this planet, even inanimate objects.
Such as a confused glass born as a sort of half-ghost, almost completely transparent. It helps me find new perspectives from which to observe the world around me. The thoughts of a tree, an object, an animal or a human being: I try to imagine them all. After all, we are all actors on the planet’s stage: trees, horses, glasses, motorbikes and human beings.
So which creatures are tame, in your opinion?
No-one can ever be truly tamed. Even city trees are not really tame. They are free, born to escape, but enclosed in a sort of zoo that limits their ability to do so. But it differs from one living thing to another. Some animals were born to love city life, others are happier in the fields. Just like us. Take pigeons: they are the color of asphalt, perfectly camouflaged within the urban landscape, as though they were born to live on tarmac.
How do you experience your relationship with nature in a city like Milan?
When I’m in Milan nature lives mostly in my thoughts, in my memories and in the getaways to my country home. On the other hand, from a professional standpoint, city life gives me opportunities that country life just can’t provide. I don’t really miss Milan when I’m in Maremma, except for my working needs. Here (in Maremma) I can create, whereas in Milan I bring my projects to completion. Whenever I’m in Milan I feel the urge to escape from the chaos, to go to a quiet, visually pleasing place. Milan is really too crowded. After a while, it becomes a pain in the ass (laughs).
How do nature and the city influence your creative process?
I feel so much more relaxed when I’m surrounded by nature. Right now it’s fashionable to say we should leave our “comfort zone”. They say that if you leave what makes you feel at ease, and experience discomfort, you will be spurred into work and development. But why? The best and most difficult thing for me is to develop within my comfort zone, to feel at ease without resting on my laurels. It’s a lot harder, but it’s a lot nicer too! I love being in my comfort zone, I wish I could stay there forever. Long live our comfort zone and (as far as I’m personally concerned) long live Maremma!
Is there a place in your native region that you would recommend for a change in perspective?
One of the areas I find most fascinating is the Diaccia Botrona. It consists of the remains of an immense swamp that used to cover this land before it was drained. It is a strange, haunting place. It is right by the seaside, so you can see the islands and even catch a glimpse of pink flamingos.
The sea and islands of the Tuscan Archipelago are a recurring theme in your lyrics. What do they represent to you?
We truly know so little of the sea. Humans have managed to explore the moon, even Mars, but we don’t really know anything about the depths of the sea and its inhabitants. We live so close to it, and yet we can’t understand it. It is flat, endless, apparently unchanging. You can sail all around the planet on water, without ever touching land. I was struck by the story of Ambrogio Fogar, a man who sailed solo around the globe in 1974, leaving from and coming back to the town of Castiglione della Pescaia: he set sail, traveled all around the world and never saw anything but water. It looked all the same on the surface, but underneath it was constantly changing.
I have a similar relationship with the Islands of the Tuscan Archipelago. Especially on the days when they appear to be floating above the sea. They have always fascinated me. From my home, at sunset, you can see the Giglio, as well as Grosseto, Montecristo and Elba, as tiny as ants. You can even catch a glimpse of the houses on the Isle of Elba!
Can you tell us about an experience in nature that was especially significant for you?
There was no particular experience. Just a series of small habits and events that, put together, have made me who I am. Living close to the mud and the sea has been significant to my development as a person.
In 2014 you opened for [Italian pop rock band] Stadio at the Festambiente festival in Rispescia, which is probably the best-known and longest-running eco-festival in Italy. What was that like for you? Would you call yourself an environmentalist?
I was just 18 at the time, it was the very start of my career and I was mostly there to play my music. It was my first experience on a real stage, and it was beautiful and traumatic at the same time. There were lots of people and I was there in front of them, with only my guitar and my voice. I faced the audience without fear, but they were a tough crowd! At one point they began to boo me because they wanted to see the main act. It was a very educational experience, and I’m glad I did it.
As for my relationship with the environment, I wouldn’t call myself an “environmentalist”. I should put a lot more effort in my day-to-day life to be able to describe myself as such. Of course, because I grew up in the countryside I love certain things and I try to take care of them and to preserve them. I try to make the world a better place in my own way, but my commitment is not such that I can feel like a real environmentalist.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I began to work on my new album at the start of the first lockdown. I’m making good progress, but I want to wait for the right time to release it. Most of all I want to wait until I’m able to play live again, because I feel it will be particularly important for my new songs. So I need to be patient. We don’t have to force ourselves to talk, play or sing. We have to learn the real meaning of silence from pianos, the importance of being quiet until we truly have something to say.