From Fellini to Fretboards: The Fantastic Fellinis’ Encore

Hey there, music aficionados and storytelling enthusiasts! I’m thrilled to bring you an exclusive sit-down with the vibrant and eclectic band that’s been painting the town with their kaleidoscopic tunes – The Fantastic Fellinis. With a name that dances off the tongue and a sound that’s as rich as a tapestry woven from the threads of bygone eras, this group is a living, breathing homage to the cinematic flair of Federico Fellini and the unabashed spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. So, grab your backstage pass and let’s dive into the heart of their musical odyssey, where every chord strummed is a story told, and every melody sung is a memory etched in time. A huge thank you to Vitta, Kenneth, Marco, and Rene for this heartfelt chat 

Could you share the story behind the initial spark that led to the formation of THE FANTASTIC FELLINIS? What were the key moments that brought you all together?

KENNETH: “I scored a Joe Cornet western film, which Vitta was working on as an actress, and I asked if she would sing on the theme song. The song turned out so good we knew we had to follow it up with something. We recorded the song “Nightmare” as a new project and shot a video (inspired by Roger Corman’s Quarantine Film Festival) during lockdown. That quickly turned into recording an entire album, which would become Introducing the Fantastic Fellinis!”

THE FANTASTIC FELLINIS’ is a name that certainly captures attention. What’s the tale behind choosing this particular name, and how does it reflect the band’s identity?

VITTA: “We were having breakfast at Mel’s Diner just below Hollywood Blvd, brainstorming band names. We knew we wanted a music moniker that conjures excitement, drama, vaudeville, vintage circus, ‘60s/‘70s glamour, cinema, life’s light and dark, theatrics, Hollywood, avant-garde and commercial all at once. Days before we’d just seen Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita at the Egyptian. It hit us… ‘The Fantastic Fellinis’ is all those things.”

Your music is a blend of various genres and eras. How did you manage to fuse these diverse influences into a sound that is distinctly ‘FANTASTIC FELLINIS’?

KENNETH: “Right now in Los Angeles there is an uprising of many amazing garage bands who take a traditional approach, nail that sound, and really kill it. Sometimes in order to stand out from the crowd, I think you need to bend the rules. I’ve played in many bands in many scenes and the bands that always impressed me were the ones that did something unexpected, combining different genres in ways you didn’t think of. You can’t be afraid to challenge your audience. We mix garage, mod, soul, Motown, power pop and even a hair of funk and hope that people will come along for the ride. Also when songwriting, I try to look at each band member’s unique talents and play to their strengths.”

‘Deux’ represents a significant evolution from your debut album. Can you discuss the creative journey that led to this album?

KENNETH: “We recorded ‘Introducing The Fantastic Fellinis’ as a studio project during the lockdown. Once clubs started opening up we put together the live band and started getting it out there. After playing live for a while I think the songwriting developed with “live” in mind, which I think led to more up-tempo in-your-face songs. It also gave us a chance to test out material before recording.”

VITTA: “I call Kenny the Mad Mod Scientist!”

Marco Scarsone’s organ playing adds a special layer to the album. How did this collaboration come about, and what does it add to the album’s sound?

KENNETH: “I played a majority of the organ parts on the disc, but as soon as Marco became available we knew we had to get some of that ‘Marco Magic’. His solo work on ‘My Mind Goes in Circles’ and what he played on ‘Crown Prince of Insanity’ is pure gold.”

Vitta, with such a rich background in performing arts, how do you merge your identity as an actress with your persona as the lead singer of THE FANTASTIC FELLINIS?

VITTA: “When I’m singing with the Fellinis it’s another cherished character performance, acting, a mod musical theatre of sorts. Vitta Quinn and Vitta Fellini are one on stage and in the studio!”

Each member of a band has a unique artistic journey. Could you share a pivotal moment in your personal life that significantly influenced your musical career?

RENE: “For me, it’s having kids. Prior to having a family I would jam with friends all night, and play shows here and there – but it never would amount to anything. Having two young children and starting with the Fellinis compelled me to be more serious and strategic with my musical life.”

MARCO: “I played guitar & bass since high school. But when I became enamoured with Hammond organ legends Jimmy Smith, Lonnie Smith, Ian McLagan, Rod Argent and Brian Auger in my mid-20s, I decided to teach myself keyboards for fun. This set the path for most of my musical endeavours since, including playing a Yamaha YC-20 organ in Kenny’s old band Electric Mind Machine around 2016.”

VITTA: “The earliest memory I have of actively listening to music, singing along, and twirling about was while staring at the cover of my sister’s ABBA’s Greatest Hits foldout album – the one with Agnetha looking sullen, sitting on a park bench. I knew just then that I wanted to do whatever was happening on the record player. My childhood was set in a golden era of television variety shows and pop music videos, when my voracious viewing of performances by the glittering marquee likes of Cher, Charo, Tina (Turner), and Madonna, informed my lifelong artistic journey.”

KENNETH: “When I was young growing up in the outskirts of Los Angeles (the burbs) the local music scene was alive, thriving and wild. It was great to play with like-minded bands that felt we were part of something bigger. That said, it could be chaotic as well. You’d see brawls and it wasn’t unheard of to see a band dragged off stage. A few times on particularly mis-matched bills, I remember facing down some not-so-friendly faces as we took the stage. If you can turn a tough crowd like that, that is power. It’s when you really learn something about yourself and your project. I remember more than once the guy “mad dogging” me at the bar before we played, would be the same guy buying me shots after the show.”

Once the show is over and the applause has faded, what’s the most rewarding part of having performed live for you as a band?

RENE: “The audience response and energy, the camaraderie with my band mates and knowing we rocked the songs as they were intended to be performed live. The opportunity to play for people there to see the show is the best reward.”

MARCO: “Seeing all the melted faces in the crowd.”

VITTA: “Performing live means each show is a unique experience. I love that songs will sound different every time, as the crowd exchanges new-for-the-night energy with the band.”

KENNETH: “It’s always great to grab a drink and hit the crowd. Meet new people, make new plans and connect up with some amazing other bands. I like watching the other acts. When they really bring it, I find it inspires me to push even harder.”

 As you look back on the evolution of THE FANTASTIC FELLINIS, what are the key moments or decisions that you feel have been pivotal to your success as a band?

KENNY: “A few things. I think getting the opening slot for Love at the Knitting Factory, and The Chocolate Watchband at the Whisky brought us to a new level. They are both favorite bands of mine so a big thrill as well. Also getting airplay on Little Steven’s Underground Garage helped to build some buzz here in town. Rodney Bingenheimer, The Mighty Manfred, and Speedie John have been kind to us.”

Looking forward, what are the aspirations and dreams that THE FANTASTIC FELLINIS have for the future, both musically and as a collective group?

VITTA: “I’d love to tour Europe, the UK, Scandinavia, Asia, and play for our fans across the globe!”

RENE: “I agree with Vitta – to conquer the world!”

MARCO: “I would like the Fantastic Fellinis to tour Japan so I can go to the Poor Cow bar in Shimokitazawa again, preferably with some original pressing 60s showa-kayou and group sounds 45s in hand that I would have bought in Tokyo an hour earlier.”

KENNETH: “I think getting overseas is a necessity.”

As the curtain falls on our intimate rendezvous with The Fantastic Fellinis, we’re left with a sense of nostalgia for the moments that have passed and a burning anticipation for the symphonies yet to come. From the serendipitous encounters that sparked their inception to the dreams that beckon them towards international stages, their journey is a testament to the transformative power of music. With a collective heart that beats in rhythm with the soul of the audience, The Fantastic Fellinis remind us that the true magic of performance lies in the shared experience – a fleeting, yet eternal exchange between artist and spectator. Here’s to the next act in their fantastic voyage, may it be as enthralling as the tales they’ve spun and the tunes they’ve played. Until next time, keep your ears tuned and your hearts open – the show has only just begun.

1 thought on “From Fellini to Fretboards: The Fantastic Fellinis’ Encore”

  1. I went to see friends play at The Whiskey and saw Vitta (didn’t know she was in the FF) and asked to take a pic with her cuz she was so attractive. She obliged, later I was surprised to see her on stage doing her thing. The music is so energetic and everyone was on point. The band really puts on a great show no matter where they play. Saw them later at a smaller venue and they delivered the same top-notch performance. I can’t wait to see them again at The Redwood on 5/24/24. I love their music. 🥰

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