Musician trio joins GO’s revolution

Can you manufacture a hit song? Whether or not this is possible, the Maltese telecommunications company GO are attempting to do just that.

From left: Errol Sammut, Niki Gravino and Nick Morales.
From left: Errol Sammut, Niki Gravino and Nick Morales.

As part of their 'join the revolution' campaign, GO have commissioned three local musicians to come up with an original song loosely inspired by this core theme.

Grouping them under the name 3Artists, Niki Gravino (formerly a goth-electronica one-man band), Nick Morales of Dripht, nosnow/noalps and For Strings Inn and Errol Sammut of Airport Impressions have banded together to create Our Time - a three-minute acoustic song which will feature concurrently with GO's campaign.  

The very idea of musicians working for corporate entities is immediately suspect - if not repulsive - to anyone with an even remotely romantic idea of the artistry of music, as screams of "sell out!" are never far behind when such collaborations are announced.

But in my conversation with 'the two Nicks' behind the song - they will be providing backing vocals, with Gravino on acoustic guitar and Morales on bass - what comes through is their gladness at being treated like 'proper musicians' by GO - a rarity on this island, where artists in general are expected to deliver work for either little or no pay.

"Being a full time musician in Malta is a near-impossible task, unless you resign yourself to playing weddings and so on. So when Niki contacted me to participate in this, I was very happy to go for it. The fact that it's sponsored by a corporate entity didn't interfere with the creative process at all - I just experienced it as a great opportunity to work with musicians I admired, in a relaxed environment," Morales said.

Gravino, who was initially contacted by GO to participate in the initiative, said that the idea to collaborate with Morales - who is known for his politically and environmentally motivated lyrics - came when he first started to write the song.

"Apart from the fact that there are associations you can make between Nick and the word 'revolution'... I was playing the piano and I started singing a few tentative lyrics for the song and I said to myself: 'who do I sound like? Nick Morales! Call Nick Morales!'," Gravino said.

Gravino, who hasn't performed live in a number of years, claiming to prefer the sanctum of a studio - "I love sound" - experienced the songwriting process as something that nudged him out of his self-imposed exile from live performance. And like his temporary colleague, he has no qualms about penning a song for an entity like GO.

"For one, I think advertising is a legitimate art form, one which interests me a lot, and apart from everything else, this was a very educational experience for me. Companies - big or small - are not insidious or inauthentic in and of themselves, and in this case I found nothing negative with the way GO were going about things. I remember once, when I was younger, a priest had told me that if someone handed me a microphone - whoever they may be - I will give them the good news. So really, at the end of the day it doesn't matter who I'm performing for..."

As he does throughout our entire discussion, Morales then concludes by bringing us back down to earth.

"Either way... it's always better than working in an office."