Interview by Miriam Cadoni
The Italian family of The Medici has not only marked a historic era such as the Renaissance, but also the interaction between politics, religion and law. In this context, here comes the debut by Imaginaerium called “The Rise of Medici”, the new project of Pendragon‘s & Arena‘s progressive rock hero Clive Nolan.
Together with the author Eric Bouillette, Clive Nolan has recruited one of the most promising singers in the progressive rock panorama, the Italian Laura Piazzai.
Let’s learn together more about this exciting, new musical project. Enjoy!
Hi Clive and Laura, thank you so much for your time and welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you doing? How is this period treating you?
Clive: I’m fine, but this has been a busy time with the impending release of Imaginaerium as the Arena album and the tour. Four weeks in a tour bus may well be the closest thing I get to a holiday this year 😉
Laura: I’m doing great, and it is a period of excitement musically talking as a team. I can’t wait for this album to be out.
How did you meet Laura? When did you decide to start a collaboration with her?
Clive: Laura contacted me some years ago, and we agreed to make an album of some of her vocal interpretations of songs I have written; the album is “From the Outside In.” Since I worked with her and was aware of her vocal qualities, I decided to write her a part in the latest musical. While performing live one of these songs on stage, she met Eric Boulliette, which led to our work on the Imaginaerium project.
Imaginaerium‘s debut album is called “The Rise of Medici.” The title album attempts to give a glimpse into the Medici’s history. How and when did you grow your interest in Renaissance?
Clive: The idea for this album came from Eric; he wanted to make an album where the Renaissance met rock; I liked the idea and jumped on board then. In studying music at university, I was pretty well versed in the music of that period; it was a challenge which, after conducting some research, I was ready to write.
Laura: We’re all three lost in history, and this took us not so long before we selected this incredible moment in the life of this powerful Italian family. The idea came from the fact that we think that period has such an important legacy; we could not resist not turning it into a concept album.
If we consider the long reign of the Medici, I think you’ll have material for the potential two albums; what made you choose this particular event in the rich history of the Italian family?
Clive: It was all about the genesis of this family, their rise, and the establishment of power. It seemed like the most turbulent and attractive part of the story.
Laura: We got the basic idea when the TV series “Medici” was airing. And we very naturally moved into the musical version of this brilliant series.
When did you begin to collect ideas for this ambitious musical project?
Clive: Once Eric had recruited Laura, he wrote some segments to get the ball rolling in early 2019. When the pandemic was under control, it was then that I joined in and started writing too.
Laura: One day I was talking to Eric, and he first got the idea to start writing music inspired by this magnificent history chapter. It all began in 2018, and then we developed it during the pandemic.
How and when was Eric Bouilette involved in Imaginaerium?
Clive: This album is Eric‘s baby because it is his project. He must have had the idea rolling around in his head for a while. But I think the pandemic helped to find us all the time needed to put this music together.
Laura: The whole project started with Eric and me. During the composition phase, we realized that it was impossible to write a beautiful storyline without an expert in this. And here is when the great Clive Nolan comes in. We asked him to be part of the project, and he said yes; he took the music into his hands and adapted the existing demos to his lyrics. Then, he completed it with his powerful master orchestrations. It was such a beautiful experience to be part of the album’s development; and become what you can now you are experiencing.
At the beginning of August, you released the single “Treachery.” Which specific event of the Medici story does the single describe?
Clive: It is the moment where ‘arch enemy’ Rinaldo betrays Cosimo. And, indeed, he tried to have him executed or at least locked away for good; he didn’t like how potent the Medici family was becoming. And he attempts to put a stop to it. Subsequently, it resulted in Cosimo’s banishment from Florence for a while.
Laura: It’s about Rinaldo and his associates that made their move to punish Cosimo. He is betrayed and thrown into jail, while Contessina is left reeling from the treason. She is now aware that she is the only one in a powerful position to let her husband out of this dangerous situation. The three characters personalities’ are heard in the singing of their related performers: me, Clive, and Andy Sears.
Many fans are familiar with the musical career of Clive Nolan for being also a member of the prog rock bands Pendragon and Arena. However, would you mind introducing Laura and her musical background?
Clive: She’s a great singer. I leave the rest to Laura 😉
Laura: Well, I started my singing career in different music genres. And this probably helped me to be flexible, passionate, and adaptable from song to song. One day I listened to Arena and was blown away by the great songs that I felt personally. And I convinced myself to contact Clive. He writes the perfect music for my voice. And so I did it by sending him my version of Pink Floyd‘s “Great Gig in the Sky.” After that, Clive sent me some demos from which he loved the interpretations. They are always different from other past singers because I have my style. It was just the beginning of the dream to work with Clive.
Imaginaerium also features the Siberian soprano Elena Vladyuk. How did this collaboration start?
Clive: I found Elena while I was looking for singers for my musicals. So far, we have had no occasion to get her into one of the shows, so this album was the right timing.
Laura: We needed a storyteller, someone you can imagine standing “suspended” on a cloud watching down on a scene. Clive had already worked with Elena in the past. And that was the perfect match to end the circle of voices.
Are there concrete plans to bring this music opera on tour? Or was it planned to remain a studio work only?
Clive: In my opinion, this is a concept album that deserves a live outing. I know there is at least an intention to take this out live. I guess we will see what happens.
Laura: The sole purpose of “The Rise of Medici” is to be out there on a stage performance. And we hope that people will ask for it more and more. The thing is already happening, and the album is not even out. So thanks for that!! Let’s see what will happen after the 30th of September after its release.
So, Clive and Laura, I hope you enjoyed the interview. Please feel free to tell your thoughts as a conclusion to your fans and our readers. Thank you.
Clive: Thank you for the interview. Hi everyone, check out this album. You won’t be disappointed!
Laura: I did very much enjoy this interview, thanks. I would love to know the feedback from our listeners. I hope they will enjoy this breeze of fresh air that we’ve tried to place into the prog world. And that they will ask for more of it! Thanks again for letting us talk about this monumental project.