We had the good fortune of connecting with Niccolò Paluani and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Niccolò, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
When I was going to finish my bachelor’s degree in Padova, I had to decide what to do with my life after my graduation. I was looking at the options I had and clearly remembered a friend of mine asking me a specific question: “What is a degree at the conservatory going to give to you? What are you going to do after?” My native city is not too big and musicians don’t have many alternatives. The only secure job for me at the time would have been to teach somewhere, but I didn’t want to do that, as it was not my dream. I decided to dream big and aim for the stars, so before the end of my studies, I decided to apply to the Berklee College of Music in Boston and leave everything behind to go to the United States. That decision, of course, was very difficult. I had to leave my comfort zone, my family, my friends, and the difficulties grew even more complex when I arrived in Boston. I wasn’t speaking the language too well, I had to find a new place to live, learn how to go around the city, build an entirely new network of relationships and find a way to put myself out there and play with all the amazing artists I was meeting at school. Eventually with time I was able to overcome my challenges and graduate at the college. Now, new challenges are waiting for me in LA and I’m ready to face all of them.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve already had the opportunity to work with some producers and artists, and I’m happy to say that they were very content with my professional manner. That’s exactly the reason I came here: to be a professional musician. I believe I am a well rounded musician and that I adapt to various situations quickly. I also have advanced organization skills and have found myself to be a great leader. During my time in the States, I’ve created a tribute to the Snaky Puppy band that included more than 16 musicians. We were arranging their music in different ways, and I had the pleasure of being their musical director. The band was really successful and we also organized a master class with Michael League (the original leader of the Snarky Puppy band) that was a real success.
I like to find new ways to challenge myself and that’s what drives me to do better each day. Some time periods are more stressful than others, and at times I find myself overwhelmed, but with patience I’m able to face my challenges one by one.
There are two particular lessons that I’ve learned by studying jazz, that I apply to my life because I value them and find them very important. The first lesson was that musicians sometimes are discouraged to go on stage during jam sessions because they feel intimidated by other amazing musicians. They don’t feel prepared enough to play on the stage, because they are worried about being judged. The truth is that sometimes you have to dive into cold water, and the more you do it, the easier it becomes. It’s a learning process and even if it’s difficult in the beginning, it becomes easier just doing it.
The second lesson is a quote from Miles Davis that says “Do not fear mistakes, there are none”. It taught me to learn from what I do, instead of letting fears take control of me. I found it to be very useful in my life and started making every experience count, even If it didn’t go as planned.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I still have a lot to visit myself! I arrived in LA in October and haven’t visited much due to the pandemic. I would definitely visit the beaches, from the most famous Venice and Santa Monica Beach to Manhattan beach, Palos Verdes and Malibu. Then I would probably go hiking and take my friend to visit the Griffith Observatory, which is a must for every tourist. They will surely try “In-n-out” and “Astro Burger” and then visit a few places near Beverly Hills and West Hollywood to have something more sophisticated. I would also go to the Universal Studios and Six Flags.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My sister is the person that cultivated my passion for music from the beginning. She put my hands on the piano when I was 4 years old and I started to love music. My family in general has always supported my dreams, and seeing their son leave home was definitely hard for them too.
My girlfriend is truly supporting me right now and being my rock through all of this, so I’d like to give a shoutout to her as well for all the help she’s giving me. She’s a musician too and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her shine soon.