[ITA] [ENG] // TALKING WITH GALA // I’m honoured to have a conversation with Gala about her work. Since the beginning of her career she has never wasted a song with superficial lyrics. She has put content in pop, and I will try to extrapolate some of this content. I’d start with Let a boy cry, which has not only been a world hit, but also an iconic gay song. “Growing up in Italy as a kid and then moving to the States as an adolescent, I realized very soon how the values that we think of as universal, are in fact relative. Not that one reality is better then the other, but it's definitely just one reality among many. In particular, being a woman, I immediately realized how in Italy gender roles were defined in a strict, old-fashioned way. I do believe that men and women are physically different and their brains work differently, many scientific studies have researched these differences, but these differences, together with the many similarities, are not celebrated and therefore are not treated equally. I grew up watching older men in a suit presenting a program accompanied by an ornamental female character, most often less than half the man's age, half naked, and deprived of any possibility to express an opinion. I started to read feminist writers and became very interested in gender studies. I decided to write a song about women. The original title would be Let a girl fight. The song would explain how we should have allowed young girls and women to speak up and let their voices be heard, respect their opinions, admire their strength, recognize their talent, genius, and power and how in such a world would everyone would be allowed to live in a better reality. But I knew that, particularly at the time, men would not be into such a song and women, at least the generation I was talking to, would not feel confident enough to embrace the song and scream along the lyrics. Usually, women empowering songs in pop music, are break up songs where a woman feels strong because she is not in love with a guy anymore, or it’s a girl power song, but the artist must dress up the "fighter” in her with a sexy outfit and deliver it to the public in a steamy video. I still wanted to write this song, and so I asked myself, what did I want to obtain? I wanted to help heal the society I live in, and I feel that women’s position within society will not change by having women behave more like men but by allowing men to be more feminine. I remember going to the movies in middle school to watch E.T and on the famous tearjerker scene in which he’s about to die, where it is almost impossible for anyone to hold back a tear, the boys had to force themselves not to cry and became so tense in their faces and rigid in their bodies. I thought that it all starts there, when we are kids and we make men believe that emotions, tears, empathy, connection, which are some of the most beautiful and valuable traits of a human being, which are what makes us human, versus cold detached violent or indifferent creatures, those traits had to be strongly repressed in men’s childhood. I realized that instead of focusing on changing women’s situation, I would have to point out how men were actually suffering too. It wasn’t a matter only of women being oppressed, and men being powerful, but society as it was, and still is in many ways, was missing out overall. Both men and women were being punished in their own way and none was growing or winning. There is no real freedom for anyone unless we are all free. I decided to write a song called: Let a Boy Cry. In the song I talked about how I didn’t personally identify with neither the girls or the boys, but I felt a unique being that can not be put into either the blue or the pink box, I was a pirate, I sailed free.” In the past ten years, Gala has worked independently, without the support of a manager, a PR or a label, which is a bit as if a gladiator would enter the lions’ arena armed only with a g-string. To top it all, the music business, contrary to popular belief, is still a very sexist trade. Nonetheless, she has headlined in the Medal’s Plaza at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. “I am very proud to have performed in the same Olympics where women were allowed to ski jump for the first time. The story of how it came to be, meant a lot to me. Two athletes, Jessica Jerome and Lindsay Van were told that women’s ski jumping would never be an Olympic event, it was not appropriate for ladies: their reproductive organs were not suitable for the sport. This ridiculous gender bias statement wasn’t made in the Medieval Ages or in the 50’s, as it could sound, this was just a few years ago. Do we still need feminism? I believe so. In 2008, they filed a lawsuit to be able to participate at the Olympics, but they lost. In 2010, Lindsay, who wasn’t allowed to participate at the Olympics yet, held the world record on the Olympic hill. They were finally allowed to participate only in 2014. This is what makes the story unacceptable. To sit there and watch someone (a male athlete on top of it all) trying to beat your record and you are not even allowed to participate in the race, because you are a female athlete, must feel utterly wrong. It must have felt as frustrating as when I see the hundredth four-white-guys rock band and the hundredth white-male Dj perform at a live festival being sponsored and supported by labels, managers, booking agents and sponsors while girls bands (only 10% of the live acts touring at festival is female groups), girls Djs (out of the top 100 Djs in the world, 90% are male), don’t get the same opportunities. From two completely different paths of life, sport and music, but with the same kind of struggles, we made it to the Olympics. We were there to fight for our right to do what we love and know how to do.” In 2014 Gala has released my favourite song of hers, The beautiful, whose lyrics echo the message of Freed from desire, an invitation to look for the intangible yet most precious things in life, like freedom, beauty and love. “Once I was asked to list the three happiest moments of my life and I was blown away by what came up: the images, the people and the moments that appeared in my mind were completely unexpected. My happiest moments were not the times in my life when I was the richest or most successful. I thought of a time when I saw my mother laughing, laughing so hard that she fell on the floor looking like a thirteen years old girl. Then I thought of the time when I had to take care of my grandmother at the hospital, telling her that I would not be looking while she cleaned herself in the bathroom, but secretly disobeyed making sure she wouldn’t hurt herself.
 That moment, when I was truly helpful to her, that was beautiful and gave me happiness. Kissing someone I loved, in my first tiny rented studio in Manhattan, when “a pocketful of dreams, was the richest that I ever felt”. In The beautiful lyrics, I was trying to tell people about this dimension of the ”intangible” which is the opposite of the illusion we are sold everyday of material happiness. “ I convince Gala to talk about a brand new project in the oven that involves women in the music business. Because the best thing one can do is start changing things around us, and hopefully the rest will follow. “In the past five years, I analyzed all major pop music releases of both male and female singers, and most major pop acts had about 85% male contributors. Usually the singer is female, but when it comes to production, co-writers, musicians, recording engineers, mixing engineers, mastering engineer, video directors, tour crew , managers, video directors, choreographers, photographers, etc... they are mainly male. So even if the poster child of the band is female, the music industry is giving work and money to provide for a family, to a ridiculously bigger amount of men compared to women. I want to put together a record where everyone involved is female, creating more opportunities and jobs for women in all the less known fields of the music biz. It's not easy, because, as the great actress and director Julie Delpy has just stated in a recent interview on The Guardian, feminism is a very unpopular theme, much less supported than racism, for example: “Nothing worse than being a woman in this business. I really believe that.” It's a more subtle fight, because, apparently, we are free and powerful and equal but if we look closer and with a much more attentive eye, we notice how sneakily inequality can still infiltrate many artistic fields.” In 2016 recurs the twentieth anniversary of Gala’s first single, Freed from desire, which has become a classic of international pop music. “I have recently recorded an acoustic version of Freed from desire that will be featured on the next movie Up For Love, with Academy Award Winner actor Jean Dujardin. Two months ago, a friend told me that a producer at Gaumont Pictures was looking for me about Laurent Tirard new film. I called her and she told me about the movie, the story, the actors and a series of amazing coincidences started happening. The project was a remake of an Argentinean film that very few people know of, but I, by some strange serendipity, had seen and loved just a week earlier. I was also very familiar with the French director, whose work I admired, and so I made it all happen very quickly, and in May 2016 the movie is coming out together with the new acoustic version of Freed from desire.”