Claudia Faniello is without a doubt one of the more familiar female faces, and voices, on the local pop scene. Her popularity is as much the result of her persuasive performances within the festival circuit as well as her occasional foray into the mainstream, and one cannot deny that the string of radio singles she has released to date revealed a rather interesting and different side to this charming lady's musical range and interest. In the wake of her latest single Miles Away, a mainstay on the local airwaves throughout the summer and for which a music video was also launched, she talks to Michael Bugeja as she revisits some of her favourite releases so far.
High Alert (2006)
I sang High Alert at Maltasong 2006 festival, my first time actually singing on a big stage in front of a large audience. I had always wished to sing professionally and this was the start of it all. I didn't win but I was voted Best Newcomer by the Maltese and international press. Although many years have passed, and my music style has changed completely since then, I will never forget how hard and fast my heart was pounding before I went onstage.
Caravaggio / Sunrise (2008)
I performed Caravaggio and Sunrise at the 2008 edition of the Maltasong festival. That year I was really attracting a lot of attention, and I have to admit it was quite overwhelming to know I was one of the favourites with both songs. I tried to handle the tension as well as I could since I was rather new to the scene, but there was a conflict raging inside me. As a singer, I preferred Sunrise because it had more feeling and presented a bigger challenge for me to project those emotions onstage. Caravaggio on the other hand was more of a catchy feel-good number and I recall being advised to focus my energy on this song instead. Wanting to be true to the audience and especially to myself, I followed my own heart rather than choosing strategically. Many people still ask me if I regret it, but I honestly don't.
I Hate This Song (2010)
I Hate This Song was the first single off the Convincingly Better album. I really loved this song back then; it related more to me than any of the songs I had performed at Maltasong, which was the scene I was mostly associated with. This song gave me the opportunity to spread my wings further and introduce myself to a different audience that wasn't necessarily into festivals. I vividly recall the preparations for the video shoot for the single, which was very exciting being my first professional video experience.
A lot of people had been asking me why I never sing in Italian being that I actually have Italian blood, so I decided to collaborate with an Italian author. Guardami is probably the only original song I've recorded in Italian. It's a very powerful song, and the words are quite heavy and deep, which is something I love. The song was submitted to the San Remo festival's Nuove Proposte where it qualified amongst the final 200, which I felt was a huge personal achievement.
Pure is my favourite festival entry to date and I believe it had all the elements to be a successful song. Earlier that year a close friend of mine had lost someone special and was going through a tough time. Pure is about a love that doesn’t need to be spoken of or shown, that goes deeper beyond the physical. I dedicated the performance to my friend, which was extremely emotional for me too, and I remember shivering throughout the whole performance and breaking into tears as soon as I got off stage. This was also the year where I felt ready to represent my country. I felt strong and confident, boosted by the positive reviews the song was receiving. The song eventually placed second, but I was asked by international artist Anggun's manager to do perform a version of Pure and her song Echo (You & I) as a duet. It was a great experience, and to be recognized this way was a victory in itself.
When It’s Time (2013)
After the Pure experience, I wanted to try something totally different and co-wrote When it’s time with Errol Sammut of Airport Impressions. I wanted to go to the festival with a song that wasn’t necessarily a 'festival' song, and as it turned out this was more of a relaxed entry, and a fun experience being onstage with the band. This helped me rediscover the pleasure of performing without the pressure and stress that competition can induce. At this time, with a little help from close friends, I was also taking care of all my career affairs. It was daunting at first, but I'm glad I took that decision. The video for the song was produced by media students from MCAST.
One Fine Day (2014)
This is another song I co-wrote with Errol; a feel-good song that saw me exploring a different genre. Built around acoustic guitars and piano, it has a fresh sound and carries a positive message. I was extremely happy with the feedback it got too, as I had taken some time off to grow and learn about myself musically and this song was a result of that. The song is directed especially to those who feel like they were left behind at some point in their lives, and I wanted the video to project the same positivity that drives the song. It was a great experience to work with such young and talented people; pure fun all round!
Miles Away (2015)
Miles Away is by far one of the most special songs to me as it was written at a very rough patch in my life, during which I actually wrote several songs. I chose to release this one because it captured what I was going through perfectly; feeling deluded yet in full faith that I will find myself again eventually. The song has a bittersweet message, namely that the most beautiful people we have known are those who have tasted defeat, experienced suffering and loss, endured struggle and still found their way out of the depths they were forced into. They have seen the shores rise again even if they seemed to be miles away.
This song was co-written with my guitarist Ryan Magro, who has grown with me musically in the past couple of years. We've come to know each other well so there’s a deep understanding when it comes to song-writing. We didn’t actually have a particular sound in mind for the song; it’s one of those songs that kind of falls into place on its own. I suppose it’s a mixture of what we listen to and inspired us to take on this experiment which we really loved working on and that has also received a lot of positive feedback all round.
This article was first published on The Sunday Times of Malta's ESCAPE magazine (29 November 2015)
Photo by Angelique Attard