Petrit: “Kindness would be the best attribute to describe the most important person for every human being”

Petrit Çarkaxhiu is singer and songwriter. From 1997 he is part of a band called Jericho who combines the rock and alternative music with traditional Albanian folk motifs sung mainly in the Geg dialect creating ethno-rock music. In addition to that Petrit is a radio producer and author of three radio programs. In 2015 he competed at the last edition of Top Fest with a song “Gege dhe Toske” and in the upcoming edition of Festival i këngës he will be performing a song which he wrote and composed with the title “Emri yt mirësi” (Your Name is Kindness).

Hello Petrit, can you share with us what inspired you to take part “Festival i këngës 61?

For an artist to perform with a symphonic orchestra, especially in our time, is a rarity. “Festivali I Kenges” is the oldest and most important festival not only in Albania but in the entire geography of Albanians in the Balkans. The beauty of this festival is that it has managed to preserve the name it enjoys despite the difficulties throughout all these years, and what makes it more special, which for me is also the main reason for participation, is the opportunity to perform one of my songs together with the RTSH Symphony Orchestra.

Before pursuing the solo career you were a member of a band “Jericho”, can you tell us more how was it to be part of the band and share with us a favourite memory which you had while performing as part of it?

I continue to be part of a local rock band called Jericho since 1997 and we are still quite active. What has made the work with Jericho special is our commitment throughout all these years to create a fusion between Albanian folk music, rock, alternative and electronic music. Until now we managed to produce 10 songs that contain elements from folk music of Geg speaking Albanians, mixed with heavy riffs as well as beats from electronic music. The second part or the upcoming 10 new songs are reserved for the fusion between Iso Polyphony of South Albania, which is a cultural heritage protected by UNESCO, as well as elements of rock and electronic music.

My fondest memories are the collaborations in the studio with the great masters of Albanian folk music, musicians who unfortunately are every day less numerous and resemble a “wonderful endangered species”. These are the moments where I learned the most and in a completely organic way about Albanian folklore, which is part of a beautiful collage of the musical heritage of South East Europe. These are the most beautiful moments of the work, but also the most melancholic and sad ones.

You took part at the last edition of Top Fest which took place back in 2015 with a song about two different Albanian dialects if I’m not mistaken. How was that experience?

To be honest I am not very fond of musical contests but still I have to say it has an impact on improving the general standards regarding the quality of live performing. We had to work pretty hard to put a performance that meets the desirable criteria for a festival. In my case we had to be double cautious and hard working since we were dealing with a rock song that tries to merge with two different folkloric traditions that are very delicate. But in the end it was worth it and was an incredible experience.

Can you share with us more about “Emri yt mirësi” and what does it mean for you?

“Emri yt mirësi” is a song dedicated to my mother who passed away 4 years ago, that’s why is a very special song for me and it is no coincidence that I have chosen “Festivali I Kenges” to publish and perform it for the first time. Kindness would probably be the best possible name or attribute that would describe the dearest and most important person for every human being. Coincidentally, my mother’s name means excellence, perfection in goodness, or simply kindness, hence the title of the song “Your Name is Kindness”

This song was composed in the spirit brought to us by the great masters of classical music, especially from the Baroque period, such as J.S. Bach, Tomaso Albinoni or Gregorio Allegri. Regarding the orchestration and production I used a more contemporary approach, similar to the type of songs that we’ve heard from Bjork, Massive Attack or Muse where despite the distorted lines in the bass guitar, the hypnotizing rhythms of the electronic music in the background, the harmony of classical music has once again been preserved, especially that can be noticed with the presence of bowed instruments as a very important element.

You are also a lyricist and song writer do you have favourite lyrics or line of any song which previously competed at “Festival i këngës”?

My favorite song is called “Jon”, a song that won the contest at “Festivali i këngës” in 1991. The composer and singer of this song is Ardit Gjebrea. The lyrics were written by Zhuliana Jorganxhi and Giancarlo Milone an Arberesh from Italy. This song had an immigration and freedom theme which reflected the transitional period that the country was undergoing at that time. These are my favorite lines taken from this song:

“Dhe syte i kish aty gjithë Shqiperia,
Ajo dinte si duronte
Po i shkuleshin filizat
Deti u be mal me njerez,
E toka det me lot

Sot me gjithë foshnjet në botë je njësoj
Si ata ti qesh e luan
Kjo është vetëm nisja juaj
Por do rritesh do kuptosh
Se fatet s’janë njesoj

Bekimin merr nga mua
O shpirt i patrazuar
Një fjalë të thënë ma degjo:
Zinxhira të praruar ty kanë për të ofruar
Por prapë do të jetë skllavëri”

Which artist competing at FiK 61 you see as your biggest competitor/s? And whose song are you most excited to hear?

Young people, they are always a surprise, they are “new blood” full of energy, enthusiasm and new ideas, while I am most excited to hear the song from the group “2 Farm” where my friend Kastro Zizo is a member. He is one of the most creative artists on the Albanian music scene.

If you become the next Albanian representative at the Eurovision Song Contest what would it mean to you?

It would be a tremendous honor.

Have you watched Eurovision in the past and do you have a favorite song of the contest?

Off course I did and my favorite one ever is Salvador Sobral with “Amar Pelos Dois”

What do you do when you are not creating music and singing?

I am a radio producer and author of three different radio programs dealing with architecture (Vitruvius), travel stories (Travelogue) and world music (World Music), while in my free time I am  mainly listening to music, reading, watching documentaries and travelling whenever I get the chance.

What are your plans after Festival i këngës?

I will continue my work in recording and publishing the remaining songs of the solo project that I started publishing since the beginning of the pandemic with different international artists from Kosovo, Azerbaijan, France, Turkey and Italy. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that the song I am presenting at “Festivali I Kenges” is part of this solo project. At the same time, the work with Jericho will continue, mainly with live performances, as well as the work on new material that mainly deals with the musical heritage of the Toska Albanians, that is the south of Albania or the northern part of Greece.

Thank you so much for your time Petrit. We wish you the best of luck at Festivali i këngës.

For more interviews with artists competing at Festivali i Këngës 61 and news about the show itself follow our social media platforms @escbubble.

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