The person you are about to read is a missionary man who inspires to impact people’s lives while giving back to Africa. He is an International Live Performer & Producer and his name is Walter Scalzone.
Walter Scalzone is an international live performer based in Dubai. Walter is making a lot of noise in Dubai UAE to give people and crowds a moment of their life. Most people see him as a Dj but Walter is more than a DJ. He is known for combining DJ sets with rare instruments played entirely live.Walter is a one man band where he plays drums and live instrument Djembe and an inverted steel drum connected with dj equipment. A djembe or jembe is a rope-tuned skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands, originally from West Africa. This very unique act, called One Man Band, is inspired by a man who goes to Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is a country in the African continent.
Walter Scalzone is originally from Italy who studied in England, United Kingdom before he made a plan to move here to Dubai, UAE 2012 to be a live performer. Here some of the question asked by Yusuf Naing:
When did you start DJing – and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
Walter quoted that ‘One day in 2007,, where a dj was doing his job at an event and after I came on and that was my first gig. While I was playing instruments, when I saw and the crowds instantly connected with me emotionally and the crowds on fire [i mean they are going crazy with dance] The impact was huge and changed the scenery of the event. I saw something there to be creative and that is where my journey has begun.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
For sure, I agree. In that essence I’d always be the one watching and studying the DJ, seeing how they mix records, how they blend them and looking at what records fit the right stage of the night. I think identifying your own ‘voice’ comes about through the sheer experience of listening to the music in different situations. In terms of copying, learning and creating, it’s become increasingly difficult to become original today, especially in terms of producing music. Naturally I consider myself an eclectic and creative person. My style is unique.
My creativity and confidence build from when I travel to different places. I see something or instrument that I could integrate into my equipment and set. I buy it to give an experience to my audience. The way I’m doing and What I’m doing now in the UAE doesn’t exist in the UAE. I’m happy with where I am right now.
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a performer in the UAE and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
When you start out, the challenge is to keep proving yourself, trying to get known in the industry. so that you can make a living out of being a live performer, something that very few live performers & dj do too. But even when you’ve been a live performer professionally for a few years, you have to still have the same work ethic and drive. If you don’t, you’ll be forgotten pretty quickly in industry.
My goal is to help African kids through my work. This is something that you have not expected. This is why I made a goal: everytime I perform I have a vision & a picture in my mind of African kids. As I’m performing Whenever I feel low, a picture and a vision of purpose give me an extra boost of energy to keep the crowds engaging.
Why/What is your relationship with Africa?
My connection with Africa dates way back to when I lived in Naples with his mother, who was a Consul. She was responsible for an African community so I got to spend a lot of time with children his age. I vividly recall they’d play with drums as that was their only toy. I reckon that my success stems from my childhood days and I am nowadays focussing all his efforts on helping any way I can to share experience with people.
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
This job that I’m doing today, giving a moment of their life by getting into the hearts and souls of the people. I’m trying to be more authentic than I can be. When you are Playing music you love, get people to dance and the way people transform: it is amazing to see.
I believe in making music, lives can be saved. This is why, in January 2021, I started the only consistent livestream music concept in the UAE, called (A)live. This consists of a monthly 20 minutes video shooted in incredible locations of the UAE.
Unlike other livestream concepts, (A)live has the ultimate goal of making something so remarkable and I’m giving my 5% of annual salary revenue and all the money from (A)live campaign to financing the creation of a water-well in Burkina Faso via an NGO associated with the artist, called We Africa. Their next humanitarian mission will happen in October. The creation of a water well in remote villages allows entire populations to survive.
My effect and charity and impact is very small. Imagine if we were able to bring companies and sponsors to fund this event. We could support this to build remarkable ways to change people’s lives and community in Burkina Faso. you can find more information at weafrica.org
Also, I’m doing ‘a call to action to the article’ Come join me and see a concert of mine at Toda Dubai, Theatre of Digital Art on september 16th at 10pm to support We Africa. Together we can build something for African Kids.
What was your first set-up as a DJ like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
When I first moved here I had one type of gear set-up, I was alone with my luggages and no friends. I lived in Burjuman, Dubai. I was struggling building a career as a Live performer.
Now I have a room full of equipment and instruments. I hired someone to work with me and take it. It has been a pretty insane journey in 9 years…
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do life and creativity feed back into each other – do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Good question, It really depends. I have never paid attention to it. I’m just doing what I need to do. If I’m not doing that I’m usually in the studio but honestly, it varies a lot, so I probably don’t keep a strict schedule, no.
I try to keep some Me time which you need the most.
Let’s say you have a gig coming up tonight. What does your approach look like – from selecting the material and preparing for, opening and then building a set?
I imagine I’m already on the stage. It helps me with my mental preparation of what I am doing. When I go on the stage, I already know what to do, which is the most important thing. The confidence you show and it gives people to feel that I’m ready to perform.
The 2nd thing I do is physical preparation: as being a live performer, to perform everyday, you need to take care of your body. I do stretching and perspective workout to keep my body substantial.
You did 243 shows in 2020, How did you pull that off during the Global Pandemic?
In 2019 there were 423 shows in a year, not all in the UAE. I was nearly doing 2 shows per day, some days I was doing 3 shows per day.
When I came into the game, I asked myself, am I here for the long term or short term… I’m not just here to get drunk, do drugs or get laid. If you don’t look after yourself, the career that I have, it will be very short.
During the global Pandemic I have improved my skills and my crafts. Also I’ve engaged with the followers by doing zoom calls.
Can you describe your state of mind during a DJ set? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I have an image in my mind all the time, the same image I get when I am so tired during a set/ live performance. When you do this job and you perform everyday and sometimes more than 1 gig a day, you need to have a drive. [why]
The image that I have in my mind is African kids drinking water from water-walls, this is when you see me lifting my chin up and going hard on the drums. The imagery tells me ‘don’t give up now’. When you are djing it is fine but when there are crowds with the drums outside with 50’c degree and they are dancing. After 5 or 10 minutes your energy starts to drop. You need to keep your energy up and you are alone. This is why it’s called a one man band. I’m playing all the instruments by myself.
What are some of the considerations that go into deciding which track to play next? What makes two tracks a good fit? How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?
I asked myself a question: what am I doing bringing emotion to the floor or is it completely irritable? And are we making a moment here?
I just came back from Albania, there were people shouting in front of me and going crazy. You can see the goosebump they were having. They were singing alone. That when you know you are making moments with them. They probably remember the rest of their life.
How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the expectations, desires and feedback of the audience? Other than closing time, what marks the end of a DJ performance for you? What are the most satisfying conclusions to a set?
When the crowd asks for “One More Song!” , that means the crowd enjoyed the time spent with me. In general it’s a good feeling, You feel alive being part of them. It is very hard to explain in words, so good to be alive.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
It’s complicated! Being a musician can be tough, it can be lonely, but it’s also extremely rewarding. So sometimes you have to make small sacrifices, but in the end they are of course worth it.
The way I desired my approach is eclectic & creative.
What does ‘art of music’ mean to you?
Music is doing well for others, music means a way of communication. You have to be very careful how you use it. I’m totally against new trends of hip-pop and rap artists delivering negative music, stories and visuals. Some of the visuals look like porn movies, which need to be discussed.
Positive music can really bring changes. It can really impact and save lives of people. So that is the power of music.
Related to how do you stay away from the destruction you get during the set and daily basics?
It’s very hard. Sometimes you get very lazy. Laziness is the biggest enemy. The purpose keeps me grounded.
At the beginning of the career you make a choice are you here for a long career or short career to get laid or have fun. This is the question that you have asked yourself.
The fact that I don’t drink alcohol or do drugs, I want to have a long lasting impactful career that brings change to people’s lives.