When Paul Simon was on tour with Sting, he took some time while in Milan to meet with Italian DJ-producer Digi G’Alessio. On disc, G’Alessio is known as Clap! Clap!; in person, he prefers to be called Chris.
A recollection of that meeting is one of the highlights of Simon’s podcast discussion with NPR’s Bob Boilen for All Songs Considered’s +1. The song the pair focuses on, “The Werewolf,” opens Simon’s 13th album Stranger to Stranger, which arrives June 3. For “The Werewolf,” Clap! Clap! layered in several electronic dance music sounds:
“He took a train up from Rome,” says Simon, “and we spent a few hours together talking about the possibilities of integrating the sounds from electronic music into the acoustic environment that is the usual environment of singer-songwriters. The mix really hasn’t been done, in a way that you can call it a genre. I guess there have been attempts.”
“It’s hard to achieve, because if there’s too much of the electronic, it’s so powerful that you can’t put a lyric on top of it, because the beat is so powerful and compulsive, that the mind doesn’t have enough space left to absorb a story.”
Simon was first made aware of Clap! Clap! by son Adrian. He says that when he listened to the artist’s 2014 debut Tayi Bebba, which combines African field recordings with electronic dance music, he was thunderstruck. “It’s so beautifully put together,” Simon says. “It’s virtually a masterpiece.”
Previously on FishbowlNY:
Paul Simon, Sting Kick Things Off in Houston
Sting Chooses to Ignore Paul Simon’s Broadway Advice