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Marco Fullone: Of music and optimism

AQ interviews Marco Fullone, DJ, Radio host, music designer and brand ambassador to Solid Steel Italy, makers of exceptional audiophile furniture. Post the first and the current second waves of the coronavirus in Europe, we discover a man of warmth, knowledge and positive ethos. Optimism and the love of music are messages to gain from the interview in our time.

Based in Milan and Rome, Marco is a well respected DJ, and established host on one of Europes most popular radio stations, Radio Monte Carlo. His show, Monte Carlo Nights has broadcast a wonderful selection of Jazz and popular music. The show has interviewed many important Jazz and music stars, such as Gregory Porter this summer despite the physical limitations of artists not being being able to gig in the studio due to the international travel restrictions. Using Skype to stream remotely, his show still maintains a very high standard of music play and content.

We interviewed Marco live on the 29th of October 2020, with the technical support of Antonio Basile of Solid Steel Italy, via the streaming platform of Steamyard. This is as close to a zoom meeting as we got during the contagion. The dim lights and three heads on an iPhone screen, became a hour of conversation reflecting the affects of the coronavirus on the soul of Italy and the affects on the music culture scene. We ask of Marco how these affects are manifest and what his philosophical belief with his passion for music will be a way to see culture move forward in the light of changes to our lives. We learn form Marco, that his optimism is part of his passion for music. In this optimism lies an ethos that is more than a passion for music but an ethos of the power of music to bring light and life to our lives but sharing its qualities for moral good.

As I am writing up the notes of the interview to create a meaningful transcript, the emotions are still high as they were in the interview with Marco and Antonio. Of all the years in publishing with AQ, few words were really important. The few that stick in your head and carry some truths greater than the mundane. When we are lovers of music ultimately the value is how we connect to the emotions in music and to each other as human beings?

There are more important connections, our fears and anxieties in this very real human tragedy and the emotional connections to others. How we can interview our Italian cousins in Europe without an empathy to the tragedy in Italy would ignore a deeper belief in the healing qualities of music to the person and society.

Twin KT150 tubes glow in the dark, music flows from a little integrated amp, by Tektron. Handmade in Sicily. The emotions were palpable looking back on the interview as the emotions breathe via this gem of an amp, with an Italian soul. I think about Marco saying he is an optimist. His music shapes his ideas.

How the little Tektron Amp, fills a room with music, Marco is brand ambassador to Solid Steel of Italy, a family led and based company since 1990. Marco has been a music buff since his childhood days of the 60’s. Not only do Italians make and breathe music with their products they embody music in its very core value. Emotions and empathy. We learn from Marco about these connections and the soul of Italy, Marco and Solid Steel is music.

Marco Fullone joins the live stream from his flat in Rome. His charm and warm character and enthusiasm for music was instantaneous. Stylish and tastefully done with typical Italian design flair his flat was a haven of music. Records shelves and music memorabilia adorning the walls.

Gustavo looking on with U2

Marco, introduces himself and sitting on his sofa his is joined by Gustavo his cat. He claims has an impeccable taste in music. Why not when your owner is one of Europe’s most respected DJs and music designers.

We ask of Marco not a music question firstly but a humanitarian one. The Italian people have been reportedly suffering all spring and autumn so it would be an injustice to not ask of Marco how is the soul of Italy right now? Furthermore, what has the impact been on the arts such as music?

Marco replies; “The soul of Italy right now is a tragedy. All arts have suffered’’.

Marco continues to explain. “Italy was ahead of the curve when Covid-19 arrived in Europe. It was the first western country thus to implement a national lockdown.”

Ultimately everything was on hold as he went on to illustrate. “All arts had stopped”.

He made clear that, “for some musicians and artists work did not resume”. With emotions he discussed how many have lost their incomes, despite a small summer reprieve.

Marco mentioned as a DJ with a tech savvy radio station, he could continue his work importantly on his well loved Monte Carlo Nights of 30 years. One of the elements of the show is Jazz and respected POP musicians performing live in his show at the stations. COVID-19 made that impossible so they adopted live streaming from the musicians lounge. As we have seen this summer all of the world that we are all human and our lounges or kitchens etc have become the new work place or performing stage.

Marco continued to say the “summer was good” for the performing arts with a short reprieve in the lockdowns. However that music scene had become affected deeply and some musicians never fully recovered economically before the second wave and return to the lockdowns. Some tragically have lost their lives without any incomes. Here you feel Marcos compassion for fellow musicians and artists. How can you love and feel passion for an art form but not the people who make it?

A big story of how Italy tried in vain to have a normal summer of arts was the famous, UMBRIA JAZZ in PERUGIA but was another victim to the contagion.

Marco informed us that the festival had been cancelled as we talked. The festival organisers Marco told us had taken measures to keep the event viable. They only had chosen European based artists to avoid issues of travel. Yet even with this scaling down, the second wave of Covid-19 had stolen any possibility. Without such festivals we become culturally poorly. Our souls less rich.

Post Script

I have thought many times about how to relay the optimism of Marco with his passion born of music. The feeling was visceral when he talked about the wonderful joy the music brings to our hearts and minds.

His “pathological” love of all things music rubs off with charm on you. Marco held to the light a precious blue vinyl pressing of Miles Davies. His enthusiasm for collecting music on all formats both analogue and digital to obtain the last ounce of sound is mesmerising.

One of his three wonderful stereo set ups will all Solid Steel furniture is pointed out to me. He shows me a beautiful white Solid Steel equipment rack and points out the sheer weight of the shelves. “You will know how heavy this is one day” he tells me.

Marco is a leader in music. He promotes quality artist led shows. He places the music and the makers at the centre. He promotes the love of music and audiophile qualities. We must not he tells me, “lose all this knowledge” by changes in formats with younger generations.

I learn from my short time with Marco that this hobby is more than a displacement activity. More than escapism.

From Marco comes passion and with that we have the warmth and education to follow and love music but also to appreciate the musicians behind the music. How important live music is to our lives and how precious this education is. Marco and his colleagues at Solid Steel Italy are generous in their adoption of promoting music culture.

I learn that we can also take a lesson from Marco and appreciate music but also embrace the culture behind it. To buy music that rewards the musician in these times. To embrace initiatives that technologically enable musicians to make a living in these times when live events are cancelled.

Marco is a scholar. We can listen to his show and read we hope more of Marco and Solid Steel. I believe we see many interesting innovations to come.

Music can heal our hearts. The love and education of music can temper with optimism. Marco makes it a easier to understand and offer hope.

Thank you to Marco, and Solid Steel Italy  for their cooperation and support for this article.