Home EdizioneEd. 12 Nick The Nightfly represents an icon in the world of radio and music
Nick The Nightfly

Nick The Nightfly represents an icon in the world of radio and music

by Monica Landro

Written by Monica Landro
Photos by Davide Pizzi

Nick The Nightfly represents an icon in the world of radio and music. With his deep knowledge of music, from jazz to soul, through blues and beyond, Nick over the years, has earned a place of excellence and sophistication in the world of radio thanks to “Monte Carlo Nights” the most famous nighttime program in Italy.

Shall we start from when you arrived in Italy?
I’ve always liked travelling and playing music. Among my different trips, I was in London for a while, singing in clubs and I met a lot of Italians there, so I said to myself, ‘I’m going to visit Italy!’ I arrived in Milan in 1982 and then in Brescia, where I lived for several years, meeting many musicians. Thanks to these acquaintances, I started working as a chorister for artists like Battiato, Celentano, Alice… I was also in Moscow in the band with Celentano. I moved to Milan and also taught English in schools. I was substitute teaching at the liceo Classico, at that time I had long hair and dark glasses. I used to go with my guitar and sing songs by James Taylor, Cat Stevens… everyone was fascinated. I was teaching English with songs.

Singer, chorister, teacher… how does Radio reach you?
Radio came later, thanks to music. I had made a record for EMI that became disco o’clock on Radio DJ with Claudio Cecchetto. The record was my version of Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff and Radio 105 started playing it too. At that time radio stations were doing disco nights with singers. I went with 105 to a club outside Milan. I was in the radio bus and Alberto Hazan, the band’s publisher at the time, was also there: there was an immediate feeling. At that time they were working on a New Age programme, New Sound, and Alberto asked me to do the jingles. While I was singing, a radio executive, Silvio Santoro, noticed my voice and from there an audition on Radio Montecarlo was born. I actually told Alberto that I was not interested in doing radio and that I did not understand Italian music. He replied that the programme wanted to be about the kind of music I loved. The idea was to do ‘Montecarlo Nights’ and have it presented by me. It was really an experimental programme. It started as a game but after a short time it became very successful.

Monica Landro intervista Nick The Nightfly

Monica Landro intervista Nick The Nightfly

Experimental radio programme: and it has existed for 33 years, though! Furthermore, the formula has never changed. Radios change, programmes transform, and Montecarlo Nights needs no updating. What is the secret of your programme?
I would like to know, you see! I think first of all there is a lot of credibility about the quality of the music and then let’s say we are very inclusive in terms of musical style. I also play pop music like Adele, but I look for lesser-known tracks within the albums so

 I think the secret may lie in making people aware of so many different colours of music, of a singer, and then making people travel, making them dream.

Before you go on air, do you think more about what you have to say or about the emotions you have to convey?
I don’t think about anything, I don’t prepare anything. Of course, you have to be informed about tours, new records, but in general when I speak I try to put the artist into the everyday life.

 In radio the voice must not be set, nobody talks like that in everyday life.

You have to be yourself. The beauty of the voice is that everyone has their own sound and their own stories.

True sacred monsters of music have come to this studio: Sting, Annie Lennox, Miriam Makeba but also Pino Daniele. Who impressed you most for something he said or something he did?
I have so many wonderful memories. But I want to tell you about Amy Winehouse. She was sitting in front of me and everything was going really well and then I asked her to play but she was struggling, she didn’t get it right, so she left it alone. After a while she tried again and made a mistake. I told her it was good even like that but she was agitated, she said she wasn’t feeling well and we stopped. We had only done half the interview and she left. It was the first time it happened to me that an artist left like that. She had come for her first record Frank. She was on her first. But in spite of that, she left me this beautiful song that I still play occasionally on the radio.

Nick The Nightfly

Nick The Nightfly

 

In the current Italian scene, which sees the rap world as mainstream, so distant from your world, is there any artist who is catching your attention?
I really liked Blanco at first. I’m not a big fan of the genre but I like Ghali’s style. And I really appreciate Dardust, who tells so much through his music. He came to my show when he was just starting out. There are also other Italian artists that I have been following for a long time like Paolo Fresu, Ludovico Einaudi, Stefano Bollani, Sergio Cammeriere, Tosca, Joe Barbieri. They are very good artists who combine different styles of music. I also really like Chiara Civello. I like Elisa, she has an extraordinary voice.

When you started 33 years ago…

No, wait,

I would also like to tell you about another of my most beautiful interviews: Pino Daniele and Pat Metheny. I introduced them through my programme

 so the two artists exchanged their records. They both had a tour in Italy but before they started they stopped by my show together. It was 1995, the year my first album was released in Italy. I didn’t have CDs and I gave them both a cassette tape. I have that interview in my heart.

Programmes changing, programmes closing, conductors changing radios… in all this you seem ‘out of the league’, from above watching the radio world move…
In 1998 I went to Radio Capital but in 2001 I returned to Radio Monte Carlo. It was great at the beginning with Linus and Albertino. They wanted to do a new radio project with the greats of radio: there was Massimo Oldani… the idea, a very nice one, was to put radio personalities who brought their musical culture to the radio… 

And why did you come back to Monte Carlo?
That project moved to Rome. Things changed. And at the same time they were looking for me at Radio Monte Carlo. I came back. This is my home, I don’t see myself on another radio station with this programme

 I am open to new experiences, but I am fine in this radio station. Then now it’s a new group: we are Radio Mediaset. We have our history, they bring their knowledge and this gives room for great openings. Today is a very positive historical moment for radio.

I have a curious question! What is your relationship with your hat?
The hat is my lucky charm. I first used it on the Jammin programme on Italia 1. I was interviewing Jamiroquai and he had one of his many weird hats and they gave me a hat too. Gradually I started to use it at my concerts too, it became my logo too. It’s part of my character

When I don’t want to be seen, I take my hat off and nobody recognises me.

  

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