My name is Stefano Vita and I’m a System Engineer. I’ve always loved technology and knowing how things work behind the scene. I was lucky enough to start my career in a small ISP where I had the freedom to explore pretty much every aspect of the business until I was able to focus on what I liked most. I moved to Dublin in 2012, at the age of 30 – before that, I’d always lived in Italy.
Outside of my job in tech, I am a musician and sound designer/producer. I grew up surrounded by music (my older brother used to be a DJ in the 80s) and I believe this triggered my interest in playing and eventually writing my own music. I have many musicians that I admire: Tommy Emmanuel, David Gilmour, Hans Zimmer, and Damon Albarn. I guess what I’m mostly inspired by them, more than the amazing technical skills, is how they interact with the world and with people through music.
I’ve always played mainly electric guitar. Recently, I’ve been playing around with lots of other instruments, but I always come back to guitar. My current band Pointbreak (band members are in the feature photo) plays instrumental surf rock. I love to play old fashion rock ’n’ roll, but when I’m in the studio by myself, I like the more introspective atmosphere of post-rock and ambient. I always say I’m bipolar when it comes to express my feelings in music!
When I decided to take guitar lessons many years ago, I was all about progressive rock and 70s music. Once, I was rehearsing with my band in a studio (which was also a music school) in the area nearby where we all lived in Rome, and I realized that one of the teachers was Rodolfo Maltese, the guitarist of one of the greatest prog rock bands in Italy during the 70s (Banco del mutuo soccorso). The day after, I enrolled in the music school! Rodolfo was a very humble person; he loved music and teaching, although I could see some bitterness on his relationship with the music industry. I guess what I learned from him was that music is a language, just like any other spoken language. It’s important that you know how to communicate well enough to elevate the conversation but it’s also important that you give meaning to the message you are trying to deliver.
I don’t have a specific process for composing music but I do have some golden rules that I know work for me:
- Inspiration needs to find me at work. I know that many composers claim that inspiration can strike at literally every moment. I have many audio files recorded on my phone with me whistling a melody. The reality, though, is that I probably used those melodies once or twice in my life. What I need for the magic to happen is to be in my studio, with the door closed and all my instruments at hand reach.
- Start from anywhere but make sure you have a good melody. I realised in the past few years that the only good songs I’ve ever written (and the one that eventually interested the audience and some publishers) were the one with a distinct, interesting melody. You can have a great beat and beautiful layer of synths, strings, and brasses, but what makes the real difference is the melody. This doesn’t mean I usually start from the melody, but in order for me to be happy with a song, I need to find a good one.
From my recent release, there are a couple of tracks I’m particularly proud of: Song for giants, What have we done from, my solo project ‘Angry Man from Mars’, and Passengers. I think what makes these tracks special is that I managed to put into music exactly what I had in mind: a particular emotional state on the first track and a story on the second and third ones.
I’ve always played in bands, but there was a moment when I wanted to experiment on my own with other sounds and with the technology that was available to me. I remember it was challenging at the beginning because my knowledge of music production was very limited, and most of the time I couldn’t get what I had in my head to sound right! I spent so much time studying about the sonic aspect of a piece of music, how to write better music, and how mixing the sounds is also important in how you deliver your message. I realised many years later that what moved me to become a music producer was the same reason why I became a system engineer: I wanted to know how things worked behind the scenes!
Resulting from this, I also work with Audiodraft as a sound designer. I started collaborating with them in 2015, I believe. Clients that need a particular piece of music can upload their brief and start a contest among all available sound designers. All tracks are then reviewed by co-producers internal to Audiodraft and by the clients until a winner is declared. I’ve been submitting tracks for different works, winning the contest on some of them. The level is more related to how much you get involved in contests, how you respect deadlines, and eventually how many times your track gets selected by the clients.
I’m currently releasing new music with Pointbreak and working on a second EP for Angry Man from Mars. I’ve got a few live shows booked with my band that will probably keep myself busy until the summer. My goal is to collaborate with filmmakers and have the chance to put music to films. I’d like to grow into that direction, so if there’s any filmmaker out there reading this article, please reach out!
Being a musician or a producer is about creativity, but it’s also about respecting the deadlines and following the requirements. This applies more if you are working on a specific project, but I can see how the self-management skills gained during my years in tech are actually helping me with the musical career. I think my passion in music helped in connecting with my inner self, which in the long run, I believe has had a positive impact on the relationship I created (and still create) in the working place.
I have a few bits of advice to give aspiring musicians and music producers:
- Write music you like and that you would listen to over and over, no matter how weird it might sound. We are more than 7 billion in this world and there will always be someone that digs what you do! Even in the music business, being genuine is always the key.
- Make sure you spend time growing your network. This is something I’m trying to focus on at the moment. Even The Beatles were lucky enough to meet Brian Epstein!
- Get your music out. There’s no point in having hundreds of files in your laptop. Make your music breath and be prepared to receive bad, but hopefully constructive, feedback. This is the only way we have to grow.
To see some more of Stefano’s and Pointbreak’s music, be sure to check out the following links: