John D. Prasec has travelled a good deal so far. Not only has he moved from one place to another, the past years have especially been a journey for the mind. It is Thursday evening as we meet at the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington, John D. Prasec, his PR Manager Gabby and I, to talk about
John’s way from Northern Italy to the capital of the UK that has been the ground for his forthcoming album Unchained. The title is not a metaphor, but pays tribute to the journey that his mind has undertaken and to the liberation of himself as an artist.
Growing up in a very musical family, his father being a drummer, John grew up with regular weekend jam sessions in Trieste, in the north of Italy. In school he had his first band, back then on the drums. But he started writing lyrics and his own songs as well, the only problem being that the singer of his band did not sing them right. Just not how John imagined them to be sung. So he changed the tomtoms for the microphone even though he had stage fright and was quite comfortable with his position on the drums. He pushed himself and with every gig grew more confident at the front of the stage. After school John formed another band and they toured the local area. Playing live he felt he was following his nature. He joined with other artists, travelled Europe to learn, got signed to an Italian indie label and released his first solo single that hit the iTunes charts in Italy. It was during that time at a mutual friend’s wedding that John met Ed who, still today, runs Terminal Studios in London. He convinced John to move. So in January 2013 John packed two big suitcases and booked a flight even though he didn’t know where he would sleep the night of his arrival. But here he was, in the capital of music: London.
More or less upon his arrival in London his label had to shut down and they left John with an incomplete first solo album. Not for a second did he think about not finishing it although that now meant he had to fund it himself. He made it, in September 2014 he released his self-titled debut. It was well received, especially in India and Japan, but to John it did not have the right vibe anymore. He recalls that “the music didn’t feel right and thus everything around it started to feel wrong as well.“And so he decided that this album would close a chapter and open a new one. He decided to make a new album and set up a band again.
And thus, in 2015, found guitar player Adam E. Milde from Argentina. “There was this instant click, it felt as if we had known each other for years already,“ John remembers. Twice a week they recored in Johns tiny room in Ealing Common, by July they had nine songs for the album, for September they booked studio time with London based producer Alessio Garavello who had helped John to complete the previous album. Until then all they needed was a band to play their songs. But once September had arrived John found himself on the verge of being left with an unfinished album. Again. Adam had to return to Argentina to settle some family issues. But John was not ready for compromises, he knew who he wanted to have on his album, no matter where that person would be.
The recording of Unchained became quiet a trip. When in January 2016 John went into the studio with Alessio in London Luca Lunardis (a.k.a. Lion Kubajashy) went into a studio in Trieste. Simultaneously they recorded the music with the help of FaceTime and Google Drive to exchange the sound files. The bass line was recorded in Trieste, live, while Brazilian drummer Bruno Tolosa was playing in London. In spite of his severe back problems that forced him to lie down on the floor to recover after each take. All the guitars including Adam’s part that he had recorded before he had left for Argentina were “reamped” using the clean signal from the instruments through a full stack of Marshall & Brunetti amplifiers at Rogue Studios under the strict supervision of John and Alessio. Due to the budget the vocals were recorded in as short a time as possible, allowing maximum three takes for each song. Each day John spent eight hours straight in the vocal booth, the result being that afterwards he could not hear anymore. The days at the studio were intense, the budget was low and at the end of both time and money they still had no backing vocals. That is where the studio team jumped in. They believed in John’s vision, gave him an extra day and even joined in singing the backing vocals. Eventually, the album was done. Recorded analogue on an Amek desk, no autotune, no mechanical, robot-like sound. What you hear on the album Unchained is what the guys played in the studio, whether in London or Trieste.
But the happy ending to an often rough and unsure project did not end here. After the album was recorded John needed to find a band to perform his songs live and to re-create the sound that they had mastered on the album. The situation had not changed: Adam was still in Argentina, Daniele and Luca in Italy. Although John had found a full London based line up, shortly before the first booked gig he had to let go of the drummer and lead player. The vibe was not right and again he did not want to make compromises. But the situation was not all lost. Last minute and by coincidence John, guitarist Federico Bianco and bassist Enrique De La Verde were joined by two session players who offered to do the gig — for free. And with only one rehearsal it turned out to be an amazing night.
John D. Prasec is a self-funded musician for ten years now, he has registered his own label and most of the administration he handles during the lunch break of his day job. It is hard work and a good portion of luck that his work over the past years came to a happy ending. Though maybe it is much
more a matter of Karma, John believes: “Do good and good will happen to you. At some point I didn’t have to ask for help anymore. It became a cycle of giving and taking.“
And speaking of giving and taking: After his album release on 16th June John wants to hit the road to carry his songs out into the world. After Italy, Spain, the UK and even New York City he eventually will be playing in Argentina in February 2018 where he will finally reunite with his friend Adam. Who meanwhile has already pulled a band together and started rehearsing John’s songs. How much more can you wish for?
by Marthe Lisson / Singer-Songwriter, musicologist, author & podcaster