Music

Electric Paisan: An Italian-American’s Solo Debut

Providence-based and influenced, it takes minutes to see how Joe Tudino navigates self-discovery in order to assuage self-doubt, and how he draws inspiration and comfort from fellow PVD creatives. He has reclaimed part of his Italian identity and renamed himself the “Electric Paisan,” releasing his debut EP: Cigarettes and Dandelions.

Photo by James Lastowski

Mayte Antelo-Ovando (Motif): Let’s start with the name you perform under, could you say it for me and then tell me a little bit about it to start?

Joe Tudino: Absolutely — my performance name is Electric Paisan. I wanted to use a stage name for personal and showmanship reasons. I got the idea for Electric Paisan first and foremost because of [Nate Cozzolino]. Nate used to host MadCap Monday Open Mics at Dusk before COVID. He’s very Italian, and every time I would show-up he would be sitting in the same spot across the bar and yell a friendly Italian greeting to me. Just that energy from him was great because I’m also Italian. My grandparents passed on when I was younger but I still have somewhat of a connection to my [Italian roots], in how my mom cooks, a lot of stuff my dad does, he’s like an old Italian man. Hearing that from Nate, on a consistent basis, really kind of reaffirmed the Italian part of myself. And “Electric” sounded cool and I’ve always been really into electronics… I used to take apart my toys as a kid when they broke and try to figure out what was going on. I took that so far as to become an electrical engineer and the DIY aspect carried over to my music as well. I recorded all my own stuff, produced it myself and built guitar effects pedals that I used.

MAO: Very impressive. You were talking about doing everything yourself before- and how you recorded this debut EP in your bedroom. Could you tell me what that process was like?

JT: I’ve been slowly learning how to record and produce for years. I did a small project with one of my old friends from college when I was in [the band] Corinne Southern and the Constellations. I managed recording our debut EP in our drummer’s garage. So that kind of helped me build up the skill set and confidence to do my own songs, which, obviously, I want to get right because they have a lot of meaning to me. I was figuring out how to get it all done in my small room and how to get it to sound good. It was a lot of experimenting with microphones, putting things in different spots in the room, and putting up foam wedges. I also talked to people in Providence who were running studios and who recorded themselves- to figure out what worked for them.

MAO: Did you play all of the instruments I heard on this EP?

JT: Yeah, I played all of them, and 95% of them are real instruments recorded with a microphone. I know some musicians plug guitars in and use amp simulators or use software to put in drum samples. I don’t see anything wrong with that but it wasn’t my preference.

MAO: Listening to your music, one of my favorite songs was “Climate Don’t Change a Thing.” I wrote a note to myself that said, “love the drumming.” I really liked it because I was humming it while I was doing something else.

JT: Wow — that’s one of the biggest compliments I can get, honestly. Thank you!

MAO: You’re so welcome! Would you like to say anything about the title of your EP, “Cigarettes and Dandelions”?

JT: The title actually came last and it happened kind of by accident. My friend Holly — who has a new project, “Pinko Dykebomb” — came with me to do a photoshoot [promoting] a show where she was going to play for the first time under that name, and I [was going to play my debut] as Electric Paisan. She’s very bold and unafraid: one of Providence’s true punks. So I set up a photoshoot with James Lastowski and invited Holly along. When I got there she was in the park near the Crook Point Bascule Bridge. She was sitting, just strumming her guitar, and it was right at the beginning of spring, so these pink trees were just in full bloom, and the entire ground was just covered with pink petals. Before that I had been thinking about something with a flowery theme and a vise, or some kind of struggle, and Holly had a pack of cigarettes on her. After we were done with our photoshoot I asked her to leave a few for me, and then James stuck around a little longer, so we just got the photoshoot for the album and the singles that day. (And the title: Cigarettes and Dandelions).

MAO: Speaking of words and your inspiration I wrote down some of your lyrics, like “Hello, my name is Joe. I’m not quite who I am,” or “Somehow I get greeted with a smile and a hug.” How does the duality of your album title fit into the lyrics?

JT: Most, if not all, the songs on the EP deal with various aspects of mental health and definitely things that  a lot of people in their early to mid 20s may be dealing with…  the line in the song “Sadboi Blues,” “Somehow I get greeted with a smile and a hug,” is definitely a self-doubt thing. It’s feeling unworthy. But still, you show up to a place, and everyone’s happy to see you. And the “Hello, my name is Joe” song is called “Button Factory” (a reference to a Children’s song). It was the first song I wrote the lyrics to for this project. The second half of that line, “I’m not quite who I am” is connected to not feeling like yourself, especially after some sort of trauma that you’re recovering from… it’s about moments of feeling out of touch with pieces of yourself that you’re trying to get back to after pain; feeling different after the experience and having to kind of rebuild your identity.

MAO: That’s very powerful. Is there anything else you want to share? Something that you want your listeners to walk away with?

JT: That’s a tough one… I write [my music] because I have something I want to connect to within myself and also to share. Also, especially for musicians listening (or reading), I want to highlight the DIY aspect. I’ve had friends that put out good sounding and fun-to-listen-to work by just playing acoustic guitar on their phone. I want musicians to remember that the point of music is to feel something or to make somebody feel something, you don’t need to go to a recording studio to necessarily do that, you just gotta do your thing and get it out there to people.

Want to follow Electic Paisan and listen to his debut EP? Go to @electricpaisan, to Bandcamp at electricpaisan.bandcamp.com, access his music on all streaming platforms or go to his next show: Jake-cessorize! A Halloween Flannel Fest: Oct 21 at Dusk in PVD!

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