Just when it feels as though jazz is irretrievably following the receding hairlines of our beloved heroes, young worldly gamins like Italo Cunha follow you on Twitter and seduce you into their musical world, smooth like tiger balm. The passion is one familiar for every hopeless romantic, “Music means so many things to me: it gives me energy, it makes me high, it makes me connect with people, and it makes me feel alive.”
Currently living and working in New York City, 20-year old Cunha is already a decorated guitarist, and a singer-songwriter, having plunged into Berklee College of Music at just 16 years. “It wasn’t really difficult,” he says, “I had studied a few years of English before going to Berklee, so I could communicate alright with my friends and teachers. Besides that, music is a universal language, so once the music started it was easy to connect with each other.” Italo Cunha’s various projects have included recording with Paramount Pictures Studio, releasing a few singles, and performing live in his home country Brazil, as well as Norway, Argentina, and Chile. “There are a few interesting things this year,” he admits when talking about his plans for 2013, “I have some singles that are being worked on and have a possible release date in June.”
Exploring a new city, pursuing his dream, and offering refuge for old souls trapped in a world that feels more fascinated by womp than melody, Cunha is sidling in for success. While a full-length album may yet be a while away, as he shares, “the release might only be in 2014,” Italo Cunha promises to infuse new life into a genre that is becoming far too nostalgic, much too quickly. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he also has nice hair.
WBM: You grew up in a musical family, playing piano at 4 and taking up guitar when you were 9 years old. Tell us about how your family helped shape your passion.
ITALO: I started studying piano with my mom and then with my aunt, who is a classical piano teacher. My passion for the guitar came when me and my brother bought a Nirvana Acoustic CD. We used to sit in front of the CD player and listen to it for hours and hours…After that I found out that my cousin had bought an electric guitar, I went to his house and saw him play. I was amazed to discover that the sound that I loved so much was made by a guitar. At the age of nine I went to the basement of my house and found this weird looking box. I found out that this box was forgotten there in the basement for 25 years, and it belonged to my mom. As I open the case, there it was: a red electric guitar. And the rest is history.
WBM: Do you play other instruments besides guitar and piano?
ITALO: Guitar is my main instrument but I also play some drums and bass.
WBM: What was your experience like applying and studying at Berklee College of Music?
ITALO: Berklee was an amazing experience. I went there at 16 and graduated last year. I got to study and work with some of my heroes, made lots of friends and got to learn a lot about the music business. It was a lot of work, a lot of practice and lots of good moments.
WBM: How has Boston influenced you personally?
ITALO: I lived so many nice moments of my life in that city. Meeting a lot of people from different cultures definitely made me feel like I’ve grown as a person.
WBM: What is your most scandalous memory of the city?
ITALO: I remember it snowing so much that my friend’s car got completely covered by snow and then a few months later you almost couldn’t wear a shirt because it was way too hot.
WBM: Are you working solo or are you secretly putting a project together with a band right now?
ITALO: At the moment I am focusing in my singer-songwriting project which is more solo, but I am involved as well in a few other projects in which I present myself more as a guitar player.