Exclusive: William Camilleri speaks to ESCflashmalta

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Maltese talent is not only limited to our local borders meaning on these three islands within the beautiful Mediterranean Sea but also beyond and that is the case today with this interview as we are going to speak to the man who moved to the Canada is search of a career in writing theme songs and classical scores for movies. I am speaking with regards to William Camilleri who is the son of the late Charles Camilleri who was also a Maltese treasure with his large number of compositions being popular worldwide. We have decided to speak to William following his interest to submit a song within the Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2011 whilst we also speak about his experience within the musical field.

Following our disappointment in the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, you commented through an opinion article within The Times of Malta that we needed to move forward, come up with a new genre of music that would take us into the present world but sound authentic within its own right. What do you believe went wrong during this years’ edition of the annual European showcase and how do you think that we could move forward?

We have always been submitting the same old formula type music, and the song was last year was not strong enough. We need to be a lot more original music, lyrics everything.

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You are a type of person that can really be considered as a patriot because when reading that opinion article of the aforementioned newspaper, you stated that the only reason why you would write a song for the Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2011 is if you knew that the song could be both a winner here in the local national selection and also in the foreign national selection. Did you end up writing the perfect song that our country desires and maybe you can make some revelations about it?

Well, I have always loved and still love Malta, even when I am overseas, I always really happy to come home, we may be  a small island but yes you could call me a patriot, why not? Regarding the perfect song, well I don’t think anyone on this planet could answer that; however I will say that the song I submitted, as a Composer of music in my humble opinion is perfect for us, it has a strong melodic haunting line, its original and the singer is great with good lyrics too. I did my utmost to make sure Malta will have something really professional for 2011.

Taking a look at your resume, it is actually quite impressive moving to Toronto at a very early age in order to do what you loved doing best and that was playing the drums. You were told that you had quite the gift and ended up taking private tuition by one of the world’s best namely Peter Magadini. Following a number of years, you then moved onto London and played with a number of well known artists though the experience which surely dwells in your head is playing with Tina Turner on her hit single “Let’s Stay Together” which peaked at number 6 in the British Charts. What could you tell us about this experience and how did it make you the artist you are today?

Well you are only reading the good part hehe. First of all, in London I found that I could not fit in with any musical group and had my own ideas about what music should sound like. So at age 23 I started playing the piano and found I had a natural ability to compose music and to play the piano, so I set up my own at that time Revival Studios in London and just worked with singers and on composing. This went down really well and I represented Malta at the Commonwealth Institute as a solo artist on piano, drums and about 10 synthesizers. Then I composed and recorded a lot of CDS which i sent to hundreds of record companies over a period of about 10 years -all with no reply or with the typical – that’s not what we are looking for at the moment; however I ignored them all and continued.

Suddenly an Austrian Music lover who had connections to the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria heard my music like it and sent it to the Professors at the Mozarteum, they loved it and commissioned me to record my very first CD in Salzburg called The Heart of the matter, this was then heard a year later by Prof. Dr, Steven Paul the Head of A&R at Sony Music in New York he was the prouder of many world famous artists like Pavarotti, Liggetti, Bernstein and many more and  was also the ex boss of Deutsche Gramophone, He asked for my life story and asked me to compose a lot of Classical Music which I had never done before! So I did compose Classical Music and he was astounded and asked to meet me, we met and then in person he graded all my music as monumental.

This was my first breakthrough, this lead to me getting in contact with the head of virtually every single record company in the world, opening doors everywhere, I was finally told that I had a very unique style and that it was not going to be easy for me as they couldn’t classify my music which they said in time was a good thing. I then was told that my piano music was totally unique too and to contact a film company, so on the strength of having the interest of a lot of head of large rerecord companies interested in signing me. I contacted one of the best and biggest Hollywood Film/Music companies in Beverly Hills and with two day that answer me and rated my music as one of the best in Hollywood! I was in a state of happy shock for a week or so. As now they put me on the same level as John William, Hans Zimmer and the big guys there.

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Your family background is actually very interesting because as stated in the introduction, your father was the late Charles Camilleri, the man behind a total of more than 300 original compositions. This is truly an amazing number actually and what is even more impressive is the fact that many of them are actually popular all around the world. I believe that we are born and learnt what our parents do in great detail but you were surely born with the gift of music. How much of an inspiration was your father to you and do you still look to his works to be creative or does it come instantly nowadays?

Yes Marc, I grew up in a musical home, at a very young age I was already exposed to every single Classical Composer you can imagine from Beethoven to Bartok to Bernstein, my father also had world music was the first Maltese Composer to make Malta known worldwide ,which is quite a feat, and he also liked jazz so I grew up listening to all kinds of music. I remember when I was around 16 my father entering the Eurovision and my saying but Dad that’s not Classical music! My father looked at me and said- so what, its music, never let terminology like Classical music interfere in what you believe in , compose what you think you should compose, be honest to yourself, a great piece of advice I will not forget.

There is a lot of snobbery in Classical Music today which is what is stifling it to change, if you go on Press on my website www.filmworks-online.com you can see what Peter Adams from the Hollywood music industry wrote about me and what they think about it in the US., and I tend to agree with him as this is exactly what is happening now in pop music, that is why I wrote this practical song, as a tribute to my father and also I did what I felt was right, and it seems to appeal to people of all ages which is great. So my intention is to continue to make Malta known around the world and help anyone in the music business learn the ropes. In fact , after this I am going to open a new recording  studio and not only write music for upcoming singers and artists but have their music heard by the top people in Hollywood and get them signed to Major record labels worldwide.

Despite leaving Malta for the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, you have always remained Maltese at heart because even when we had a conversation, you spoke with a mixture of Maltese and English and that is quite heartening actually because some people would rather forget their heritage yet as mentioned before, you are a true patriot of our country. What made you decide to leave the Maltese Islands in the first place and do you believe that you made the right decisions despite being quite young?

I left Malta at a young age, true but what an incredible learning experience it was, no regrets about that, however yes I did miss Malta a lot in fact I always made it a point to come here every year or twice a year on holiday! I think we do not fully realize how lucky we are, we still hold family values here, we are small but have a lot to do and see. In fact this entering of the Eurovision has lead me to discover the huge amount if hidden talent there is here. And by this not only singers but musicians whose only real problem is to get their music heard and channeled.

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Now, Classical Music in the Eurovision Song Contest is yet to break the barrier with a number of entries experimenting the field with a mixture of pop/opera for example. Now the annual festival normally incorporates a number of different genres and voices but in the long run, the best song ends up winning even though, some of the results have been described to be political. What is your opinion on the Eurovision Song Contest and do you consider yourself to be a fan of the event. If so, do you recall that particular song which has never left your mind since it was first introduced within the event?

My humble opinion on the Eurovision is this, years ago, songs were songs, example. ABBA with Waterloo, now we have had heavy metal win, and the UK getting Andrew Lloyd Weber writing music for the United Kingdom. The last song that won , I didn’t like, in fact I wouldn’t even call it a song, we desperately need two things for Malta to submit better songs, presentation etc..But far more importantly- the Eurovision needs a board of experts-who are real music experts preferably not from Europe to judge the best song, this is the ideal situation, however if we do that, then we will leave outcome of the fun of it, but I don’t think anything is going to change. We just have to do our best and take it for what is.

Would you like to say anything to our readers at www.escflashmalta.com?

Believe in what you are doing and never give up! and I wish all those other composers and singers the best of luck too!

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