THE POET, THE PAINTER
THERE’S a little aphorism tucked away within the sumptuous (and meticulously created) CD sleeve of Room which says a lot about its creator: “It is simple to be complicated. However it is complicated to be simple.”
MICHAEL-JOHN Azzopardi is a quietly understated yet deeply complex artist – an artist as much as a songwriter and poet. Whilst the music he has selected for this debut independent album is for the most part introspective and acoustically based, there is as much complexity within the word pictures he spins for the listener as there is an apparent simplicity in the melodies. Yet it’s all unpremeditated, as close to a true expression of the mind and soul of the artist as you’re going to get.
NEARLY everything I do is automatic. If I apply too much thought to it, I tend to kill it – overwork it. I suppose the music, the art and the writing are all part and parcel of the same thing, just expression. If I can be lost in whatever I’m doing then sit back, look at and wonder, ‘Did I do that?’ then I’ve succeeded.”
AMONG the impressionism are little tales, snippets of life observed, random moments of epiphany or pain, sadness and optimism. There’s something of the “stream-of-consciousness” Beat poet in Azzopardi. Take Café Song #1 for instance.
“THAT was never written as a song. I was sitting in a café in Centrepoint and there were all these women with their shopping bags, people running back and forth and me feeling very out of place, with this waitress annoying me. So I just wrote down whatever I thought. It wasn’t even in poem form, but some years later, I had the loan of a four-track recorder I was trying to cram as much material onto while I had it as I could, and I ran out of ideas and for some reason flipped open my book, saw it and put this free-flowing musical arrangement to it – and it worked”
“IT’S strange. I don’t really see the meaning in what I do at the time I’m doing it. I might write something I just don’t understand and then a month, two months, two years down the track, something will happen in my life and I’ll hear a line from one of my songs and all of a sudden it’ll make sense to me. So it’s a bit like getting a postcard or forewarning I suppose.”
“ I have hordes and hordes of material, some of it written for electric, and a whole stack written for acoustic, and I wanted to do an acoustic album so I wanted songs that I was familiar with and comfortable enough not to procrastinate over in the studio and that had a mood or to which people reacted in a certain way. I don’t think the album is too melancholy. When I look back at the content of the songs, for the most part, each song has hope in it but it’s delivered perhaps in less vivid colours.”
ALONGSIDE the introspection and the somber thoughts are word plays and even nursery rhymes.
“ I think there’s a very big part of the child in me, and that’s probably where the art comes from. Sir Pent’s Lament was originally called Serpent Inside and it’s very much autobiographical. I'd spent a good deal of my life thinking I was possessed, having this thing that always needled at me. I suppose I was too much into Edgar Allen Poe or something, teachers would write comments on my work like – ‘You shouldn’t be so morbid at your age!’ Sir Pent’s was probably a cleaning out song.”
Michael-John Azzopardi launches his debut album “Room” at La Fabulosa, 231 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, Wednesday 28.
article published by The Drum Media 27th October 1998