Andrea Portelli is only 21 years old, but he’s just released a 44-minute long solo album, Echoes. And while him taking care of all the instrumentation and singing on the entire album is already impressive, there’s something even more special about it. Andrea recorded the whole thing in his bedroom in Ħal Safi.
“I wrote the album while on an Erasmus exchange in Ireland and Czech Republic last year,” Andrea told Lovin Malta. “While I was there, my appreciation of nature and the importance of family grew like many other students who experience such exchanges. The whole adventure inspired me to write some songs while I was there.”
When he returned to Malta, Andrea realised he actually had a decent amount of material written. “I decided to challenge myself to finalise the songs and group them in an album before 2017 comes to a close,” Andrea told Lovin Malta. “On top of this material, I had other songs which I had rough recordings of and so the idea was to try and finalise an album each year.”
It was at this point that Andrea realised he had more than enough to work with. “This motivated me to not just leave these ideas as rough recordings, but try to finalise and produce them to the best of my abilities.”
Being a self-taught drummer, guitarist and pianist, Andrea knew he had the tools to write and compose music which would otherwise need a band, so his next step was to learn how to record at home. This would prove to be a gruelling but very rewarding process of trial and error.
“After numerous attempts, I managed to set microphones on my drumkit, re-record the guitars and also record myself singing the lyrics which I had written while abroad,” Andrea said. “It was my first attempt at singing as I tend to be very nervous when it comes to playing in front of people in general.” The next step was to process and mix the album. Andrea’s trusty laptop came in very helpful here.
Eventually, as the year drew to a close, Andrea shared the news with his friends. With two days to go, the completed, 44-minute long Echoes made it online on 29th December 2017. In a Facebook post, Andrea described the entire process as “slightly nerve-wrecking,” sharing one of the tracks off the album, The River. The tracks are reminiscent of the indie bands which have shaped Andrea’s life, and were inspired by acts like Foals and Daft Punk.
Apart from Facebook, Andrea uploaded the album to YouTube, Spotify and Distrokid. The latter is an independent digital music distribution service where musicians can upload their albums. Andrea has complete ownership of his content there, but the people over are Distrokid distribute the actual album to various stores.
Getting round to the technical process of recording Echoes in his bedroom wasn’t the only challenge Andrea was met with.
“Like many artists, I pass through phases where I sort of second-guess myself and decide it would be better just not to share what I create because of the vulnerability and emotional attachment to the art,” he told Lovin Malta. Thankfully, his friends kept encouraging him to not only see the project to the end, but also share it with the world once it was done. And what he got in return was definitely worth his time.
“There were a lot of friends of mine who were motivated by this idea and are actually thinking of sharing their own personal ‘hidden craft’ such as acoustic originals, covers, poems and so on,” Andrea told Lovin Malta.
“At the end of the day, what I really wish to promote is this idea that independent artists have the opportunity to share their stuff without worrying about not having enough resources or contacts,” the young musician told Lovin Malta. And with a result like Echoes, he’s got a point.
Listen to Andrea Portelli’s full album below, or stream it for free on Spotify.