Words: Joseph Ryan-Hicks; pictures: by Matty Parks
London-based artist Andrea Di Giovanni is ready to take over the world, while single-handedly saving it at the same time.
The 26-year-old Italian's latest release, his debut album, Rebel, demonstrates a more vulnerable side to the DIY pop star. Blending personal experience with wider socially relevant themes such as climate change, no topic is off-limits for this exciting new artist.
The ‘Bang’ singer chatted exclusively with Attitude to discuss religion, RuPaul, and why the most controversial thing you can do as an LGBTQ person in the music industry is simply being one.
For those new to the ‘ADG’ experience, describe your vibe in three words…
Fierce, deep, empowering.
Talk me through the process of making your debut album. What/who was inspiring you? How did you find the overall experience?
Writing ‘Rebel’ was an emotional rollercoaster. I’ve revisited the themes and sounds of my childhood (Whitney, MJ, Queen) while mixing them with more contemporary references such Kara Marni, Mahalia, Robyn, and global issues like climate change. My upbringing strongly influenced this record; from talking to a priest in ‘Stand Up’ to reading a passage of the Bible in ‘Holy Water’, I wanted to use religious undertones to showcase how deeply Catholicism affected my views of the world.
Snog, marry, f*ck three new tracks from your new album. Go!
This is a fun question - but it’s also very hard! I’d snog ‘Miracle ft GESS’, marry ‘Stand Up’ and f*ck ‘Holy Water’.
Your visuals are wild - I’m thinking specifically the ‘Bang’ video. How important are the visual mediums to your art? Are you hands-on with these creative decisions?
Thank you! I feel like the visual aspect is absolutely essential for any artist, especially nowadays. Whatever form of visual you choose for your music, make sure you’re 100% happy with it. I’m deeply involved in all creative decisions regarding my artistry. I love to collaborate with other creatives, especially if they’re queer, but the last decision will always be mine to make.
RuPaul is a fan. How did it feel to be given Mama Ru’s blessing?
It was so wild, I swear. I posted a video on Twitter of me playing ‘Sissy That Walk’ on my piano, and the next thing I see is Ru reposting it saying she loved it. It feels great to be recognised by such a huge celebrity. However, I have to say that I would love to see a diverse palette of drag artists in the new seasons of her show, from kings to TGNC artists, and women too.
We’ve seen a surge in openly LGBTQ artists in recent years, but the industry is still far from perfect. What are the biggest obstacles an LGBTQ person in the industry still faces?
Dare I say existing? I know it sounds extreme but to quote the iconic Bimini Bon Boulash: “It’s not a joke, just a fact”. Our presence within the industry is still hardly recognised besides a few openly queer folks like Lil Nas X or MNEK. As artists who are queer, we are relegated to a niche audience because our sexualities and identities are being taken into consideration prior to the music.
How can the industry do more to embrace TGNC artists? Do you see any attempts to support these artists already?
Giving us a platform to share our lives, experiences, and art. The trans+ and gender non-conforming experience is very diverse. At the moment only trans+ and GNC folks you see represented are trans women and men. There’s very little space for non-binary, gender fluid, or gender-diverse people.
Does being an LGBTQ artist ever hinder you in securing opportunities in non-queer-specific media?
Put us in playlists and festivals that aren’t Pride-related! We need more presence in media outlets that have a wider mainstream reach. Otherwise, we are circulating in an echo chamber, and, as fun as that is, it won’t do us any good in the long run.
You were born in Italy. Why did you make the leap to London?
Needing to learn more about music and the industry, and also finding myself. I was quite lost back then. I was full of internalised shame and anger towards myself and the world.
What is the LGBTQ music scene like in Italy?
The queer music scene in Italy is vibrant, eccentric, dramatic, diverse, and full of talent. Sadly, it doesn’t receive enough praise. Hopefully, that will change in the years to come. A few artists whom I really admire and support are Sem&Sténn, Protopapa, Bluephelix, and the label FluidoStudio. They’re really pushing queer artistry forward.
You’ve spoken about your experience with anxiety and depression. How do you maintain your mental health today?
Checking my inner world and being kind to myself. I’ve learned throughout the years to truly listen to my emotions and feelings. Reaching out to family, friends, and peers has also given me perspective in those situations where I struggled with understanding what was going on. You’re never alone in your journey when it comes to mental health.
Okay, quickfire round. Who are your biggest musical influences and why?
Whitney Houston: As a kid, I’d listen to her discography from my dad’s music shelves. I adore her ability to speak her mind while also being a vocal champion and a true musical genius.
Lady Gaga: The artist who opened the portal to my queerness. Never before did I feel as understood as I did when I heard ‘Born This Way’ for the very first time. An everlasting icon and an Italian sister.
Beyoncé: The supreme. Her performances, vocal abilities, and overall artist persona… just pure perfection! Someone I aspire to be.
What was the first song/album you were obsessed with?
Frank by Amy Winehouse; the song ‘F*ck Me Pumps’.
Where does your inspiration come from lyrically?
It comes from my lived experience mixed with my religious background and queer identity.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
I’d definitely say Lady Gaga or RAYE.
Andrea Di Giovanni’s debut album, Rebel, is available to stream now.