Under the acronym of O.A.K. (Oscillazioni Alchemico Kreative), the Italian musician, composer, and singer Jerry Cutillo has released “Lucid Dreaming and The Spectre of Nikola Tesla.” The album continues in the thematic paths already traced in the previous trilogy 2016-2020, namely “Viandanze,” – “Giordano Bruno,” – “Nine witches under a walnut tree.”

According to the artist, O.A.K has alchemized prog witcheries, symphonic themes, acid folk ballads, and new millennium resonances. We have a chat with Jerry about this musical mixture and also many other interesting topics.

Hi, Jerry! First of all, what was your reason for traveling when you took this path of music?

Hello, my friends, and thanks for asking me these questions! Yes, traveling…

I traveled a lot in my life, but only with my mind because I couldn’t afford the trips to the countries that fascinated me. The music was my escape, and I visited many beautiful places still hanging in the corners of my fantasy.

I did not have a wealthy upbringing, but I was lucky to have the biggest venue in town a few miles from my living place. And after making a deal with my parents to guarantee good scores in Math in change for attending the concerts, I saw many rock bands from abroad that enlightened my dreams.

These were very formative years, starting on the eve of my thirteenth birthday with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Inventions (august 1973) till the assault of the revolutionaries that broke the glass house in pieces at the Lou Reed night in 1975. 

I began to study classical music on the electronic organ and, at the same time, I met the guru of Italian psychedelia, Mino Di Martino. With his Albergo Intergalattico Spaziale, I played my first gig.

Soon after, my father bought me a Fender Rhodes electric piano to play virtuosic jazz-rock improvisations. Then, in the late seventies, I turned to the electric guitar to play punk rock chords at a crazy speed. 

Later, Blues and Rock & Roll saved my life, and synthesizers came next, launching me to a European pop dance success in the mid-eighties. The experience of overtone singing with the two best Siberian vocalists closed the circle, and I got back to my roots.

Can you briefly introduce your project O.A.K.?

O.A.K. is the acronym for Oscillation Alkemy Kreativity. I started the band with Jacopo Ruggieri on guitar in October 1993. I was into the British psychedelia of the nineties, and he was into grunge. Initially, to play more gigs, we played Jethro Tull music and soon established ourselves as a top tribute band. But when we toured with Glenn Cornick, and he introduced me to Clive Bunker as the clone of Ian Anderson, I understood that the game was over and it was time to focus on my songwriting. Looking back at my production now, I guess I was right!

What were the main creative challenges you had to face? How have they changed over time?

I was born in Italy, a colony of the anglo-empire, and we always lacked originality. I spent my music years thinking of how to get rid of all the influences coming from USA and UK, but I didn’t have a clue.

In which language should I have to sing? As a multi-instrumentalist, which should it be my driving tool? The vocals, the flute, the synth, or the guitar? This conundrum was the result of a lack of self-esteem but, after a series of experiences with musicians abroad, some of them icons of the golden rock age, I still believe that my music is quite derivative and my English not so good but… I can compete with any other songwriter around, and that’s for real! 

One night I had a lucid dream where Nikola Tesla explained how some people had the same DNA and spiritual matter. 

Do you think it’s tough nowadays to come up with something original that sets you apart from other artists that belong to your musical niche?

Any limit can be an advantage or an element of distinction. My albums are homemade and don’t sound state-of-the-art. They instead seem like demos recorded in a bedroom and are dissimilar from the productions of standard bands using professional recording studios. But I try to do my best anyway. I’ve got a style that is quite recognizable, and, what it’s funny enough, are these elements the secret of my international, cult success. 

What would you say about your music to someone who has never heard it before?

Someone says that my music represents the missing piece of what the seventies prog bands have been doing for more than half a century ago. I can’t subscribe to it but I simply can say that to get in touch with my music world is enough to switch on the Time Generator and travel through time. Half a century is just a blink of an eye compared to the age of planet Earth, and the humanoids who in the future will scroll through the cascade of events aboard their spacecraft will certainly make no difference between a record made in 1971 or in 2022.

What inspired you to put together your latest album, “Lucid Dreaming and the Spectre of Nikola Tesla”?

One night I had a lucid dream where Nikola Tesla explained how some people had the same DNA and spiritual matter. 

It was about Giordano Bruno (to whom I wrote a double album in 2028) and the women considered witches by churchmen (I made “Nine witches under a walnut tree” in 2020 for them). 

I then started to rummage in my secret portmanteau, where I keep my music sketches racked up throughout the years, to choose some ideas and blend them with new material for the Tesla project.

Music helps us get closer to this dark side, where truths are revealed, mysteries unveiled, and secrets emerge to highlight our journey across the Universe.

When listeners make their way through your music and hear all the songs, what do you want them to feel?

I wish that after listening to my album one would feel more human in terms of emotions and will have fewer certainties but a few more questions.

What kind of situation do you see your music accompanying?

A time travel.

More than anything else, music is a feeling that connects you with nature and places you in the universe. However, do you consider that the artist thinks about this perspective in their time of creation?

There is a thin thread that unites us to the world of the invisible. It is something that we perceive and whose existence we understand, but we do not yet know its language and the way to penetrate it. Music helps us get closer to this dark side, where truths are revealed, mysteries unveiled, and secrets emerge to highlight our journey across the Universe.

Can this feeling become a vanity that might be taken advantage of?

Some people have extraordinary power and use it to submit to others for their best. Their egos and vanity are never satisfied ‘cos they want more and more until the invisible gives them an unforgettable lesson. They then turn into little lambs and swear to change radically to use their power for good for the rest of their lives.

Where do you think your music will find its fulfillment and inner peace if it travels the world?

On the west coast of the UK. Maybe is where my ancestors came from and where I must reunite.

Do you have any habits when writing a song?

Yes, a few drinks. But this is the second step: sitting at the piano or touching the guitar. The first step is a vision that can appear anytime and awaken my sixth sense. A landscape, a modern town or an old village, a storm, a smell in the air, a remembering, a will, a woman, or even a shocking fear can unleash my creativity.

Does literature or any other art passionate to you at all?

Yes, but I’m not a great reader although what I read impressed me very much. I dream about Robert Louis Stevenson romances, I love pre-romantics poets, Caravaggio’s shadows, Lindsay Kemp’s mime dance, and Godard movies.

Can you recommend something on which we could be more focused?

The forces of nature and eventually learn how to respect them.

In a childish attempt to honor my Peter Pan syndrome, I will keep leading the starship to the next black hole where I will face the man I will be one day.

What albums have influenced your career so far?

Sgt. Pepper (Beatles), Foxtrot (Genesis), Aqualung (Jethro Tull), Blows against the empire (Jefferson Starship), The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie), The garden (John Foxx), Songs of faith and devotion (Depeche mode), The Holy Bible (Manic street preachers), Grace (Jeff Buckley), Portishead (Portishead) and many others.

How do you feel that you have evolved both musically and personally since creating O.A.K.?

O.A.K. has been my mirror for thirty years. I’ve experienced all feelings in my life, and they have all been reflected on O.A.K.’s surface faithfully. During the years, like in the picture of Dorian Gray, I’ve seen O.A.K. getting old while I was feeling to get younger. In a childish attempt to honor my Peter Pan syndrome, I will keep leading the starship to the next black hole where I will face the man I will be one day.

Thank you Jerry for this lovely chat!

Thank you, my friend, your questions reveal your sensibility and empathy. Hope to meet you one day. Prog on!

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Interview cover photo: (c) Roberto Scorta