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The fundamentals of sound, the inspiration and capacity to communicate with an instrumental technique.

Posted: October 23, 2023
An impression is the overall effect of something.

According to Psychology Today. Human beings are built to size each other up quickly. These first impressions are influenced by several factors, such as facial shape, vocal inflection, attractiveness, and general emotional state. People tend to get attached to their initial impressions of others and find it very difficult to change their opinion, even when presented with lots of evidence to the contrary.

As a result, it’s important to be aware of how one comes across to others during a first meeting. Then one can employ impression management skills—modulating any irritating traits and accentuating one's strengths—to ensure that people have a more favorable opinion of one. Everything from clothing style and posture to conversational topics can be adjusted to form a better first impression.

From the viewpoint of a fan, do we often take these things into consideration? Facial shape, attraction and emotional state when deciding on our favorite band or artist? Certainly, we do. At least most of us. Clothing style, and demeanor is necessary if you want to succeed. There have been artists, that have the “I don’t care, what I look like” attitude. However, that is just their persona and a way to distinguish themselves from other artists. They are playing on your emotional state of mind. Remember the famous picture of Johnnie Cash giving everyone the finger? Now, it seems everyone is doing it. He was able to key in on an emotional connection with his fans. First impressions are often what lasts in the mind of anyone seeking fan approval, managers, agents, and labels. The entire makeup of an individual can make or break their opportunities.

Does this mean that everyone that falls out of a good impression, is not going to be of value? No, not necessarily. However, it is a good indication on how that person feels about themselves. If they do not respect themselves to have tight composure and style, then how are they going to treat you?

Here is the point of our topic, where we must refer to someone that is in the position to provide an accurate opinion. Our special guest today, is the Maria Barbieri. My first impression of this artist was favorable. Often, the first thing will notice is the style of dress. Though it is not the deciding factor on whether they are interviewed by Guitar Thrills Magazine. It always comes down to their authenticity. If they do not have a unique sound in their field or genre, then I will bypass them. There is nothing that irks me more, than a cookie cutter artist or musician. However, Maria Barbieri is not that kind of artist.

ABOUT MARIA BARBIERI

Maria Barbieri is an Italian guitarist with strong progressive rock, ambient, hard rock, soul-jazz and pop influences. Suhr artist and session player in Italy and abroad. Several international collaborations and mentions by some of his idols, see: Franco Mussida, Robert Fripp, Lino Vairetti, Steven Wilson etc.

Maria Barbieri is an Italian guitarist born in Lacco Ameno of Ischia on April 17, 1994. From the early years Maria showed a lively interest in music, mainly thanks to the influence of the family. In particular, the father, in addition to hobby of the bass (because in reality he worked as chef and was an administrator in the family society Il Girasole), a collector of instruments, equipment and engaged in do-it-yourself jobs; he was a big fan of music, especially English bands and the Progressive Rock movement. Maria's mother, Eraldo Carmela but known as Liliana, is a housewife, in her free time a keyboard player, singer and artist. She played in a psychedelic band in Ischia with her husband on bass, and her drummer brother Franco. Maria followed the rehearsals, and in the meantime, at the age of five, she dreamed with the background of Gentle Giant, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Beatles, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, America, and all that resonates in the house thanks to a romantic vintage record player. All played an instrument in Maria's family, even if for a short time and not by profession: her brother Domenico Barbieri played the drums, and her older sister Licia Barbieri was a singer in her adolescence.

Maria is the youngest, and the brothers are not the same age, but she is fascinated by the music of a period that she didn’t live directly, even if through the reflection of the vinyl’s present in the place where she grew up, and so it appeared from the early years a bit bizarre to her friends for unusual tastes. At the age of nine, Maria asked to her father to study a musical instrument. He offered her bass or keyboards, to follow in the footsteps of one of the parents, but in the end, she chooses the guitar. So, she has first private lessons, but above all Maria's style is created through various listening and personal interest in studying the songs she liked by ear, thus immediately developing this ability, not following a classical theoretical-academic study. In a short time, the young guitarist showed her progress and the father decided to follow and direct her with great care. After a year of lessons on acoustic, Maria has her first electric guitar, a Van Halen Peavey Wolfgang Special. With that guitar she exhibited in public for the first time at the age of eleven in a square with his brother, receiving a lot of applause from tourist public. While studying, she followed his father too in his concerts, also shooting with the video camera the performances with the bands Platinum and Others, dreaming of playing on big stages. She followed the brother’s band Soul Flame too.

The performances of the young woman were in teen age in the island circuit, with her father and brother. In this phase she becomes passionate about metal and adores Dimebag Darrell of Pantera. Growing up she focused on the Hard Rock, Progressive Rock, Pop, and soul-jazz. At seventeen she resumed private lessons about harmony and classical guitar with Stefano Zabatta, always studying self-taught songs to put on the YouTube channel. She became more and more passionate about King Crimson, after discovering them at the age of fourteen. Shocking the first hearing of the Crimson King, a nice shock she will never be able to do without! Here Maria played many songs of the genre in the trio with Marisa Cuomo, her friend and incredible keyboardist, and Enzo Buono, engineer, and drummer by hobby.

At about twenty she attended several guitar clinics, one of them was Guthrie Govan guitar clinic Rome in 2014.

Robert Fripp has become an artistic and inspirational point of reference, as well as a favorite guitarist. Maria began working as a guitarist, from Italy. In 2016 she obtained a proposal for an audition that she cannot refuse, thus joining after a positive casting the Little Tony Family, taking the place of the great guitarist and composer Enrico Ciacci, Little Tony's brother in the musical project of the family. The guitarist worked with them for three years, often treading television studios on Rai 1 and Tv 2000, participating in programs such as “Domenica In”, “Il Sabato italiano” or “Bel Tempo si Spera”, touring Italy and Slovenia.

At a certain point Maria decides to put herself completely in her guitarist career. In this period e she losed her father... who has always encouraged her in the musical profession. In that sad period Maria created several songs that she arranged with an experimental trio, undertaking various collaborations, and obtaining interest in the publication of the record which has not yet happened due to covid-19. In April 2019 an incredible thing it happened: Robert Fripp mentioned Maria at an international conference about King Crimson and the 50th anniversary, answering the journalist and saying her name, asking to journalist and writer Alessandro Staiti. Here are the exact words taken from the interview:

Would you consider including a woman in King Crimson?

"The choice of members is not arbitrary. This King Crimson I saw on the evening of June 22, 2013, had seven musicians. They were individual, specific musicians, and they were all men. If they had all been women, I would have made the phone calls. But they weren't. Are we open to women members of the band? Sure, if they're the right women in the right time, right place, and right circumstance. And there is a wonderful woman named Maria Barbieri that plays “Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part Two.” But she didn't spring to mind on June 22, 2013. If she had, I would have made the call. She’s doing a great job.”

Robert Fripp

Since that moment there have been very positive changes and Maria is increasingly committed to her projects, with a more mature awareness. She collaborates in big bands and in various remote projects given the covid-19 period. In 2020 she also played with Lino Vairetti and Osanna, and is surrounded by important references, which are a kind of musical family. She met the great guitarist and singer Jakko Jakszyk at the after show of the King Crimson concert in Verona, which became another important pillar in her career.

The first collaboration / endorser occurred in 2020 with the Dv Mark brand with an amplifier, an Italian brand of the great Marco De Virgilis. In April 2021, one of Maria's dreams becomes true, that of becoming an artist of the Suhr brand, joining the prestigious team of the historian John Suhr. A great prestige and happiness, considering that Maria has been playing guitars of this brand since her first Suhr modern by her father in 2014.

Recently Maria was also mentioned by the great Steven Wilson , one of her favorite artists, who complimented her in an interview regarding a video in which she played the solo of Eminent Sleaze, a song from her latest album The Future Bites.

INTERVIEW WITH MARIA BARBIERI AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

GT: Thank you for joining us to day Maria Barbieri. It is an amazing surprise that we haven’t heard of you before listening to your music earlier this week. I must admit, it is kind of embarrassing, as I take pride of knowing who the major players are. Nonetheless, I am extremely delighted to have you interview with Guitar Thrills Magazine. Hopefully, this will be the first of many interviews.


Photo by: Martin Haskell

GT: Rounding back to this topic of first impressions. What has been your experience? What sorts of indicators do you look for when meeting someone for the first time?

MARIA: First thank you for having me, I am delighted to be on your magazine. This topic is very interesting, as your question not very simple. I think we need to discern the indicators when we meet a musician-artist, from that when we have an ordinary first impression. In the first case, are fundamental the sound, the inspiration, the capacity to communicate with the instrumental technique and the feeling with the music or own kind of art. I note how it happens the directly connection between the artist and his soul, then between his emotions wrote in music and who receipts-listens. If is an ordinary meeting, I look the way to express with own language, the charisma, considering my irrational sensation based on the instinct. I am curious about the look too, who takes care of his image, and if this one is coherent with what expresses of himself.

GT: Does it usually cause you to hesitate and wonder if you are making a good decision or not? Namely when it comes to business decisions.

MARIA: Usually I trust my instinct and irrational sensations, but wondering if that person-business opportunity is good for me and my actual objectives, so a balance with these two things.

GT: Often the vibe you give someone, will determine how they portray you. This could have a direct impact on you. How do you want others to view you? Also, do you think you have sent an effective message in that regard?

MARIA: Absolutely. At this point of my life, I try to be totally myself also like an artist. I am satisfied if from my playing and music, people can discover my related personality traits, or emotions and life colors. Give emotions is my first mission like a musician, always respecting the contest where I am playing, like a session player. I hope so, trying to put in music my visions and emotive states of every day on my guitar. Now I am more careful in the communication, in the sense that I give more attention showing myself on media. When I wish express something, is better if it is closer to the original idea that born in the vision-composition, so I think that the message is clear when is coherent with my sensation and imagination, like a word to use to tell how we feel.

GT: What barriers exist for you currently, that may prevent you from succeeding as quickly as you would like?

MARIA: Maybe actually the place where I live in Italy and soon I think that I’ll change, it is very beautiful but has many limits in the music sector especially in the rock scenario and in the international opportunities. About my favorite genres, some are part of a little circles like progressive rock that doesn’t have many spaces here, or in my personal experience. The second barrier is the language, I’d like to speak English like in my mother language. I can overcome these barriers; I hope very soon. Plus, the fact to be a woman on guitar, sometimes has one drawback, because in some jobs offered, the intention is to have a woman on guitar, and not the musician in the neutral way with the skills for the music or the job, so they going toward a beautiful girl that plays (I hope in a minority contests now). In some of these contests, they don’t have a real respect of music or you. I don’t consider the jobs when in some way they are researching for the “girls that play”, not really focused on your skills but on the fact you’re a woman. I choose artistic contests where I can be myself, appreciated for my playing and skills first of all.

GT: This is some awesome feedback. Honestly, most artists are adjusting to the barriers or blocks that prevent them from progress. I have even found that they have trouble getting out of their own way. Stepping back, and rethinking their approach is often the needed step to take. Have you considered any challenges, and solutions you may need to make? If so, what are they, and what changes did you make?

MARIA: Yes, I have. I’m considering to change my place and move to England, where I feel more myself. Is a challenge go out of our comfort zones and restart, but I hope to can. Then I’d like to play with other wonderful musicians having new important collaborations, was so magic play with all the musicians of Big Big Train and I can’t wait to feel so good again. I’d like to speak in English like I do with my Italian and getting new economic possibilities to invest on my unreleased music. As regarding changes, I made them, for example sometimes I decided to restart from zero, even if I invested some money on some of my songs, I deleted some ideas that I don’t like now; another example, today I am more focused on the my new artistic image, maybe stronger, having more respect of what I prefer to play, the way to be, where play and persons around my world.

GT: Who was some of your influences that impacted your decision in the rock genre?

Maria: Dimebag Darrell, David Gilmour, Robert Fripp, Jimmy Page, Steve Hackett, Steve Morse, Guthrie Govan, Franco Mussida. They all influenced my playing and music. I remember when I saw live Guthrie Govan, David Gilmour and Robert Fripp in concert, I realized stronger that I wanted improve myself as professional guitarist, being myself on stage and giving emotions to the people like them, with my personality.

GT: How has the music industry changed since you initially had the desire to perform as an artist?

Maria: Here in Italy seems to be present a large space for the pop music in the industry, some traditional contests and in a minority some rock bands. I think that since I initially had the desire to perform as an artist, now we are near to a new interest of rock, but slowly.

GT: Does your culture have an influence on your music? If so in what ways?

Maria: It does not have so much influence in my music to be honest, in the sense that I grow up with English and American music influence. My father was a music lover and prog addicted, so I have got an international music background. Of course my culture is present in my personality, in the love for the beauty, history, humanistic side. Some italian artists that I love: Franco Mussida, Le Orme, PFM, Area, Osanna, Ivan Graziani, Luigi Tenco, Giuni Russo, Franco Battiato and others.

GT: What were your initial expectations coming into the music industry? Have they changed now that you have experienced success?

Maria: I don’t know if I had an expectation coming into the music industry, I felt that was my best choice at that moment. Now I’m more confident and sure about what I’m doing, especially after the recent and stunning experience in tour with Big Big Train. I feel that I’m ok with my decisions now.

GT: What is your focus right now as an artist, what are you looking to accomplish?

Maria: Right now my focus is improve myself as session player and solo artist. I’d like to have new challenges like touring guitarist with some of the best musicians in the world, always giving emotions to the people. I am working on my first solo album. Guitar Dance In the Morning, is my recent single that is part of that work, is out featured special guests: Nick Beggs, Larry Crowe, Lenny Castro, in collaboration with Enzo Buono.

GT: Excellent. We know that you will continue to make the right moves in the music industry. Keep up what you have been doing, because it is working and getting viewed by the right people and brands. Do you have any upcoming shows, or releases that you would like to talk about?

MARIA: Thank you for your kind words. From the recent and amazing experience with Big Big Train in Europe, I can tell you that will be a Blu-ray release for the shows at Cadogan Hall in London on 12th and 13th September, maybe before the end of 2024. Then I’m working on my solo album that I hope to release in the 2024, with some other special guests. So thrilled.

GT: We are a guitar centric magazine, and always must ask which brand to you prefer to perform with? Is there a difference depending upon where you are performing?

Maria: I prefer Suhr guitars to perform. I fell in love with my first Suhr many years ago, a gift from my father. So happy that recently I started a collaboration with this brand as Suhr artist, it’s a big honor and John Suhr with his team is great. The only difference is if I need other kind of guitars, for example in tour with Big Big Train I needed also a 12-strings for some songs. When I have to use six strings guitars, of course I use Suhr brand!

GT: That is great to hear. Anytime we interview an artist or band, we like to follow up with their progress. We want to ensure Maria Barbieri that you always have a platform with us to be heard. As early as November, you will be a featured interview in Guitar Thrills Magazine. We will keep your management team updated and will provide you with an issue once it has been printed. Thank you for taking the time to interview with us today. We look forward to your continued success.

Maria: Thank you again for this opportunity, It’s a real pleasure!

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