Interview with the music trio Oliphantre

Made up of Francesco Diodati, Leïla Martial and Stefano Tamborrino, the trio is a trio that draws from progressive rock, punk and hip hop. And the result is something you don’t expect

oliphantre is a trio who debuted with the single creatures from 2020. It is written by French Leila Martialabout vocals and effects, from the guitarist Francesco Diodati and the drummer Stephen Tamborrino.
Your music? Literally alienating. In fact, the personalities, talent, and rich experiences of the three components complement and multiply, creating original sounds that are difficult to pigeonhole. Anyone who has listened to the three, as sidemen or leaders of other projects, would never say that they are the same ones who write and perform the pieces of this ensemble. Certainly in Oliphantre’s music one hears the unbridled contagion of progressive rockof contemporary jazzwith the punk and thehip hopmaybe Northern European pop, but for them the experimentation doesn’t end and above all it doesn’t define itself.
There’s no specific inspiration or defined aesthetic: what’s important to me is the spirit of improvisation and the search for risk that pervades jazz – or at least what we like“, explains guitarist Francesco Diodati. “Like the boldness of punk, the beating pulse of hip hop, but more than just styles, I would call them ways of approaching the world“.

oliphantre. Photo Catherine von Perri


The innovative power of the trio, which will leave its mark, derives from the pieces written and composed by Diodati, but also from the virtuosity of Tamborrino and undoubtedly from the skill of the singer Leïla Martial, who studied at the Collège Aretha Franklin in Marciac and at the University Toulouse and trained not only as a singer and performer, but also as a clown actress.
His appeal is enormous, as is his virtuosity, as he manages to modulate the voice in a variety of ways and with exceptional precision and awareness.
your album oliphantre, released in 2022 for Auand Records by Marco Valente, shows that the trio only identifies with themselves. The group’s name derives from the horn instrument carved from the name “Oliphant” and makes us think instinctively of the Aleph and its mysterious meanings, like an omen of an exotic musical journey with unknown implications. It doesn’t matter whether the songs are rocky or like atmospheric ballads length of timedreamy forays into an unknown world like young at heart or free improvisations between music and performance, they always make you wait for a turn that inevitably occurs. So some of their video clips are really creative and represent small short films young at heart, particularly strange and provocative, was written by director Ruby Cicero and stages a kidnapping in Toulouse by strange characters, halfway between cowboys and very Italian shepherds, who end up crucifying Diodati and Tamborrino. With Leïla as the mourner in his mourning.

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oliphantre.  Photo @giacomocitro
oliphantre. Photo @giacomocitro


The project was born in Bolzano after the fateful encounter during the Südtirol Jazz Festival.
Francesco Diodati: Leïla and I both performed there in 2017 and I was struck by the freshness, intensity and spontaneity. I have always respected Stefano Tamborrino for his solidity coupled with his great imagination. So in the summer of 2017, back from Bolzano, I imagined the sound of the trio and included the others in this adventure.

How do you define your colleagues?
Francesco Diodati: Leïla and Stefano have a very spontaneous and factual approach to music, so over the years we have been looking more and more for the essence in what we play at each concert.

Where does your singing style come from?
Leila Martial: I learn tricks from everything I hear, with a great curiosity about languages, sounds and the possibilities of the human voice. Empathy helps me with this by getting as close as possible to the examples I am considering. I am also fascinated by the speed, the search for the limits of the voice in a kind of playful exploration.

How did you develop your technique?
Leila Martial: Playing and performing with musicians, imitating them, being inspired by world music, but also taking lessons in certain techniques that interest me. Always stay curious about the news.

oliphantre.  Live at Torrione by Ferrara Jazz, March 2019
oliphantre. Live at Torrione by Ferrara Jazz, March 2019


Your repertoire is very diverse, how did it come about?
Francesco Diodati: When Leïla and Stefano agreed to be part of the project, I started recording the lyrics on the iPhone, in a kind of improvised freestyle, rather spontaneous, and then refined the different parts at the table. Subsequently, both during the concerts and during the recordings, Leïla and Stefano brought ideas, sounds and the resulting songs into the form they are now, even if we always change a few details on each tour, driven by the urge for expression and the will to do They’re sticking more and more to our idea of ​​music. I have to add that there are also some improvised parts and of course there is always something different and unexpected happening at every concert.

What did you want to convey in the video? young at heart directed by Ruby Cicero?
Francesco Diodati: The director Ruby Cicero, discovered by Leïla and suggested to me, has a truly incredible imagination with a thousand suggestions and hints for the viewer. We didn’t expect this result, but we really liked it. The idea behind this was that the three of us should play a role in the video to convey the image of the trio. I’m also very satisfied with the ending: we three protagonists, kidnapped on our journey by various ambiguous characters, are finally captured by two children: I see it symbolically as the rediscovery of an original dimension of identity.

Sara Bonfili

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