Simon Vella

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Simon's Bio

Background :

Born in a family of 5 (I'm the youngest) in Mellieha.....a very musical family - everyone plays some kind of instrument but I'm the only violinist. Started playing the violin at the age of 5. Was actually going to start learning the guitar (as my father is a guitarist), but I heard a violinist playing with a church folk group my dad leads and I decided there and then I wanted to start playing the violin ( I don't know the exact reason why though). At 8 I also started playing the keyboards, but it always remained as my "second" instrument.....At 7 I started playing in this church folk group and at 8 I started playing in hotels with my dad....playing in hotels taught me a lot about improvising and playing by ear..things which I still use a lot now and have hopefully got much better at. I kept on studying classical music till I was 17 and got my diplomas. Played with a number of orchestras but eventually decided not to focus that much on classical music any more. I also studied jazz improvisation.....eventually I started getting interested in composition and particularly in electronic music production. I eventually graduated @ university in Computer Science so using software / hardware technologies with music is one of my main interests.

Musical Tastes / Influences :

I'm really not attached to any particular styles. As long as a song can transmit a genuine feeling to me, it doesn't matter the style. Artists I get insipiration from vary from electronic music greats (Enigma, Faithless, Moby) to Jazz artists ( Jean Luc Ponti, Regina Carter, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones). Currently my favourite violinist is Alex Depue. Other artists I enjoy listening to include Sting, Santana and Muse. I also enjoy musicals and some neo-classical music - with one of my favorite composers being Ennio Morricone.

Other Bands :

Since I was quite young I used to play as a session violinist with various bands around Malta. So I did a number of live and recording sessions with various bands ranging in styles from dance music to hip-hop / RnB to rock. I was also the co-founder of Sixth Simfoni - a classical / hip-hop fusion band. I spent some time playing in a jazz / folk fusion group called Quadrophonic and a number of years playing with a "conventional" jazz band. I still do a good number of sessions with acoustic rock groups, jazz bands as well as with DJs in clubs. Since I was 16 I also work on solo material in which I try and blend violin compositions which can range from simple melodies to more technical pieces with electronic beats and soundscapes - I've released 2 solo albums.

Childhood Dreams :

As cliche as it might sound, music was always my main goal in life. It was the one thing which helped me grow up and make me gain confidence in what I can do. While growing up I wasn't always proud of being a violinist ( let's put it this way - a guitarist or drummer playing rock music would always look cooler than me always carrying my violin behind my back). I even found ways of carrying the violin in strange ways so I would not make it obvious that I'm actually carrying a violin! However I always had that drive inside me to go on stage and perform. It's strange, but it felt like I was almost afraid to show anyone I played the violin until I stepped on stage. When on stage - whether in a small bar, hotel, school activity, classical concert and so on - I always felt at ease and felt the drive to actually transmit something to whoever is listening to me.

However, I was always thought that I should have a "backup plan". And that's why I never actually did music full-time while I was studying, although I actually spent A LOT of time on it. There were times when I thought that I should stop all my studies and concentrate on music but for various reasons I never did that. As I grew up I actually started to appreciate this mentality much more. While I respect and totally admire musicians that dedicate their whole life to music, I feel that having "another" life apart from the music life gives me even more drive to do music. People who know me say that I do two full-time jobs, one of them being music. Of course a lot of time-management and sacrifices are needed, but in a way I feel I'm privileged to be able to do this so I don't complain.

Deep Dark Terrible Secrets :

Not so deep dark and terrible. I have this habit of getting paranoid about anything that can go wrong with my instruments / equipment before going on stage. I don't really worry that much about what I'll be playing, but I'm always thinking about what I'd do if one of the violin strings goes bust (in fact I always have some sort of spare violin close to me on stage!), if my effects box doesn't work and so on. Before I go on stage I always need a few minutes for myself to make sure everything is set up properly, to stretch my fingers, take some deep breaths and so on.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in people I meet every day. Deep down I always analyze people I meet - their personality, character and way of dealing with simple situations in life. And I always try and learn something from them - as tiny as it is. I also find inspiration in negative experiences in life, especially when it comes to being a musician - struggles, betrayals, people promising much and delivering nothing etc. Such situations help to build that right amount of "anger" that is needed to drive you on in life. I love travelling and that also helps a lot when it comes to inspiration. But at the end of the day my main inspiration is the inner feeling of wanting to express myself through music.