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This Week • June 27 2004

Aiming for a career in music

Jamie De Cesare has played the piano from a very young age and started a band after being impressed with a song he heard at a party. He was a mainstay of the band that Ira Losco fronted, Tiara.
Jamie has a wicked sense of humour, but there is a serious side to him too, and he is gunning to make music his career.
Jamie and Jan Micallef under the name of his Tsezar, along with special guest, Shaun Grech are presenting a varied electro-based set tonight that will bring to an end the series of events held in conjunction with the Caravaggio exhibition at the Caraffa Stores.

What set you on your career as a musician, any family inspiration?
I started playing the piano at the age of 5 or so, a practice I ended 2 years later. I didn’t quite appreciate the ‘study’ factor of learning this instrument back then. I didn’t have a piano at home so in my teens I used to end up playing some random crap at some friend’s house. None of my parents play any musical instruments; however, they introduced me to good music for as long as my memory can stretch. In fact I still raid their music collection every now and again on the look out for inspiring stuff. I resumed playing music at the age of 16. One night I was at a party and a band called The Blunt were giving their rendition of Blur’s Parklife. This enticed me to start a band. The next step was to come up with an ingenious plan to convince my parents into buying me an electric guitar. Since then, I’ve bought several other instruments and played in several projects.

How do you balance out your life with your other interests?
I try to fit in as many things I can possibly do in a day. However, during these two years university studies took up most of my times, especially this year. My job and my studies took first priority. I used to end up practising and recording tracks after studies in the very early hours of the morning. I never went to sleep without editing a track or two. Now that my studies are over, I can’t wait to dedicate more time to music (and to gym…ahemm).

What kind of music do you prefer to play? What music do you listen to?
I’d rather play a hybrid of styles rather than confine myself to one genre of music. If you set limits to styles, then you asphyxiate both the muse and drive. However the music I play is mostly alternative. Though being a bit of a musical snob, I skim listen to various genres of music. On a constant rotation right now there’s Joy Division, Massive Attack, Boards of Canada, UNKLE, Air, Primal Scream, and Portishead. I also enjoy classical music. Chopin’s nocturnes and Beethoven’s piano sonatas remain all time favourites.

Not everyone likes to face an audience from a stage, what does performing add to your life?
In my case it is a love and hate relationship. I like the stage as it gives you an opportunity to share an experience with others; telling one’s story to others who can perhaps relate to it, in a collective manner. It is nice to see people keeping a beat to a musician’s musical piece. However, I am not a stage-lover when it comes to addressing and communicating verbally with an audience, something which I intend working on.

Do you see yourself trying to make a career as a musician, maybe abroad?
I see myself doing it, but not as yet.

Which other Maltese performers do you admire?
I have a lot of respect for most musicians in general. From the established performers I admire the Beangrowers for being so clever at what they do; Rosetta Debattista for her unconditional love towards music; Ira for having remained so down to earth and fulfilling her ‘social’ duties; and Particle Blue for being innovative. If others feel they should be listed, they should write their names here ______________________.

Could you tell us about some of the highlights of your career?
Having my stuff played on radios abroad was nice. So was supporting foreign acts, the Teatru Unplugged sessions and the annual beer festivals. However, I believe the best is yet to come.

Any low points? Did you pass through the experience of feeling like the starving artist?
A few low phases, but didn’t last that long to be given any significant importance.

Which was your most memorable performance, and for what reason?
My most memorable performance was performing at the Labyrinth, around 5 years ago with Tiara. The setting made the gig a very intimate one and the audience was very warm and appreciative. All I can remember was mulled wine selling at 35cents, people cheering with enough encores to play the whole track list again. We thought we played really well that night and so did the crowd. However, three weeks later a friend gave me a cassette with the recording of the gig, unfolding that the wine must have had its effects on the audience. And on us too... On a more sober note, the debut of Tsezar at the Beatrix fashion show was highly memorable too.

As a person in the spotlight you must receive attention over and above the average, have you had good or bad experiences with individual fans?
The only experience that comes to mind was of a fan tattooing the band’s name on his arm. Together with two others, he used to attend every performance and had a collection of all of the gigs’ photos, all newspapers cuttings and recordings of TV appearances. It was nice to see them at every gig; they knew all the songs by heart.






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