Marco Solforetti
SOUND DIRECTOR - Tailor Music
Marco Solforetti
H:
We decided to involve you for our magazine to give our readers valuable content on the world of music applied to the luxury sector.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career path and how you approached the world of music, what drives you in your daily life?
MS:
My path in the world of music began in 1991 as a DJ. Right from the start, I loved the idea of being able to create with music the best atmosphere for the people who would attend the clubs where I played.
It happened then that in 2001, during my experience as Resident DJ at the Tenax Club in Florence, the communications manager of the Ferragamo hotels (then Lungarno Alberghi) asked the Tenax staff to find a person who could create a sound identity at the Gallery Hotel Art in Florence, a hotel of the group that was very beautiful but had not yet found a sound identity. They chose me. After creating the sound identity of the Gallery Hotel Art, I was given the task of creating it for the other hotels in the chain: Hotel Lungarno, Hotel Continentale, and the Borgo San Jacopo restaurant. This freelance project lasted for about three years, until, after returning from a tour in the United States, I created ‘AudioDesign’, the first company in Italy in the field of Music Design with a focus on restaurants and hotels. I continued this project until, for management reasons, I decided to take another path, on my own, with Four Seasons.

In 2014, I started Tailor Music. Initially it was a branding project without a legal identity, until I met my current business partner, Alessandro Lotto. Together we combined our skills (the artistic and the managerial ones) to evolve Tailor Music into a company. Based in Florence and with the excellent reference of Four Seasons came the Palazzo Parigi in Milan, then the George V (Four Seasons) in Paris and the Des Bergues (also Four Seasons) in Geneva. From then on (we are in 2017) we have grown thanks also to a continuous activity of relationships, sharing of content on the web, participation in events and fairs.

Over the years we have become well known on Linkedin and at trade fairs and we have managed to establish partnerships with important Italian and international brands such as Belmond, St. Regis, Aman, Una Hotels, Starhotels, Sina Hotels, NH etc.,
My purpose is to bring not only conscious listening, but listening that is as useful as possible to make people feel good. Nowadays we are constantly flooded with ring tones, noise, facts that do not concern us, people talking next to us, people shouting in the train, people telling private facts about which we are completely disinterested. When, on the other hand, our listening aligns with pleasantness and awareness, we can achieve a form of well-being and high spirits. When this happens it means that we have achieved our goal, which is to create an experience that makes people feel good.
H:
How important is context in the world of luxury when defining and designing the music design of a brand?
MS:
It is very important, even fundamental. The other day I was in a prestigious hotel in Milan and in the morning, in the breakfast room they were playing music tracks with loud trumpets. When the manager came in and asked me what I thought about it, I replied that with that kind of loudspeaker there were two things to do: change the speakers or change the music, because the sound of those blaring trumpets was ruining the atmosphere.

Making an assessment of how the environment sounds and responds and of the quality of the sound system allows one to optimise one’s choices each time: in that case you could perhaps add acoustic guitars, a piano, tracks with whispering voices, three useful alternatives to equalise the sound of the tracks and create a balanced listening experience. In analysing the context, experience also comes into play; DJing was formative because many times I went to play in places where the system was not performing, and it was my responsibility to know how to choose the best tracks for that specific location. By ‘best’ I don’t mean the most elaborate, but those that best suit the system and the people present at the time.
H:
What do you find inspiring and motivating about the world of luxury?
MS:
Definitely the attention to detail, although lately I am no longer using the term ‘detail’ associated with music because it is reductive. Music has become a real necessity, it is the fundamental element to close the circle of experience. Some see luxury as something unattainable or as an almost negative concept; in reality, the world of luxury offers the opportunity to play and appreciate different nuances, including those of sound.
Over the years, I have realised that it is not so much luxury for its own sake that makes this work motivating, but it is the care of the context. Addressing an audience that is attentive to the stimuli conveyed by the context (e.g. fragrance, lighting, acoustic comfort…) sometimes makes you feel part of the whole beauty of the place. Being surrounded by beauty, by art, by fine materials has its own charm and reason, and so in those contexts you perceive music in another way than in a shabby, noisy environment. This is the part that motivates and fascinates me the most. In other contexts people tend to think ‘but I choose my own music, I have Spotify’; some even have Spotify with advertising; but that’s not the target audience for me because they wouldn’t appreciate all the work that goes into developing a proper music experience. In many contexts, no aspect of the Experience is taken into consideration, let alone that of music… which can be free with Spotify free or with You Tube.
H:
Still talking about interior sound design in hotels, what are the analysis, research and design steps that lead you to the creation of sounds that are effective and also coherent with the luxury brands you are working with?
MS:
Let us assume that there is no precise rule, no magic recipe to follow step by step. This is also because every context is different and therefore always has different needs. It is a mix of experience, taste and also a bit of science. Initially it was just taste, after many years I was able to rely on experience and finally my scientific background, having studied statistics and computer science at university, also proved to be useful. This aspect of the scientific method meant that there was a continuous search for what had been discussed in academia, what had been discovered in neuromarketing and neuropsychology. This information and this approach helped me to understand why each environment sounds and resonates differently and that there was more and more certain knowledge about the end result to be achieved. As far as the design steps are concerned, the first one is the meeting. We try to analyse the design of the music experience with the customer, i.e. with those who run the venue and live it every day. The design changes depending on the goal. There is a big difference if the ultimate goal is to characterise the environment with active listening stimuli or on the contrary deprive it of stimuli to make it musically neutral. Let me give an example: if we want to give an Italian character to a location, it is normal that it should be overloaded with stimuli because the person will have to identify with an Italian context, so we air music that is predominantly known (in this case Italian). If, on the contrary, at a working lunch the aim is to remove the silence but at the same time keep concentration high, we will have to do a completely different job: we will therefore soundscape this environment with musical carpets, removing recognisable tracks and maintaining a balance of style, rhythm and sound. Basically, you don’t have to notice the music playing.

The second important step is the on-site inspection: assessing how ‘the rooms’ sound and how the whole room resonates is an analysis that you have to do on-site. In the same way, the final listening directly on site is necessary. It happens that sometimes I go to clients to re-listen to the music on air and improve the live Music Experience by perfecting it with nuances that are difficult to predict from home. You understand this after so much experience. It’s “the gut” that tells me “something doesn’t sound right”, I feel it and I look for validation by observing people and asking questions. It is exactly the same as during DJ sets, with the difference that there the feedback is always instant; if people stop on the floor you see it immediately, as soon as you put on a record that is not suitable for that audience you realise immediately that you have to do something, change the disk quickly, otherwise the dancefloor will no longer respond.
H:
Thinking about the future in general, what do you think are the opportunities for those doing your job in the luxury world?
MS:
In terms of opportunities, I think music is becoming part of a lot of business projects.
In the past, it was only a support for people working on big projects like film and commercials; now it is really becoming part of everyday life. The phrase ‘a sound is worth a thousand words’ is not a trite one. In the beginning, this was only the case with film soundtracks. If in the soundtrack of ‘Jaws’ you remove that particular sequence and replace it with a different one, the scenes of suspense and emotional tension lose all their effectiveness. Now there are many music-conscious venues and brands, such as Barilla, for example, which has created playlists that mark the time for cooking pasta. So we are starting to have a much wider offer, in all kinds of business. The other day I was contacted by a hospital, for which we will initially design music for a reception room. If we think of hospital halls, we can realise how frustrating the silence is. Together with the neon lights they make an already uncomfortable environment even more uncomfortable. I have personally experienced the positive change in emotional state that occurs when someone, a nurse or doctor, turns on a radio and removes that alienating silence; suddenly everything becomes a little less…hospital.
In this project we are also waiting for the infrastructure to be set up to play music in a neurosurgery rehabilitation room, and I am absolutely supportive as well as enthusiastic, So, the opportunities in being able to create well-being are realised.
My concept of well-being also ties in with another thought: if a person could find his or her own musical cure-alls, there might be far fewer actions directed towards drugs or daily compulsive behaviours that in the long run can be detrimental to health, such as eating junk food or drinking alcohol in times of stress. For example, concentrating on listening to a song that we already know will put us in a good mood would be a great alternative to divert our minds from other less healthy actions.
We have to train for this, it would be very nice to be able to share this thought, this awareness in schools to students. Future generations hold solutions in their hands that were unknown until yesterday and they need to know about it, they need to be made aware of it. With services like Spotify, YouTube, etc., we can become more aware of what listening to music can do, we can realise through careful listening that a song puts us in a good mood and the moment we become aware of it we can save it in a playlist dedicated to that purpose.

Therefore, when we go through a difficult time, we can turn to music as a source of well-being and inner balance. And the opposite is also true: we can avoid listening to junk music or music because it is too emotionally strong at that moment if it is not what we want.
Achieving this social awareness will be an outstanding achievement.