Two brothers based in the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham have put their minds together to create a song all about Roma legend Giuseppe Giannini.
Jake and Julius Bressano, under the artist name Funk-billed Platypus, released their track ‘Giannini’ in January 2023.
Described as “an exuberant Latin-tinged, string-laden, psychedelic groove, which captures the magnificence of its subject,” the concept of the track and lyrics were devised by Jake, while Julius contributed on the musical side with keys, bass, guitar, beats, music production and arrangement.
The result is a near-five-minute tribute to one of Roma’s greatest ever playmakers, who some might say was an artist himself on the pitch.
Here, Giallorossi Yorkshire has spoken to Jake and Julius all about their song and what Giannini means to them.
To start with, could you tell us a bit of background about yourselves both from a football supporting and musical background?
Jake: I am a Rotherham United season ticket holder and an armchair Roma fan going back to the days when Italian Football first appeared on Channel 4 in the early 90s. It was the colour of the jersey that did it for me initially and the unique atmosphere.
It’s funny there was a new chant at the Stadio Olimpico at the Fiorentina match which I read on social media translated in part as ‘the red yellow shirt is magical to me’. I identify with that. The Roma kit and those colours attracted me straight away.
I have always been interested in writing and have had a few short pieces published in various magazines over the years but I always wanted to try song lyrics at some point and with my brother being a musician it was inevitable we would collaborate at some point.
Julius: Great memories of my dad and older brother taking me to see the Millers but my in road into international football was through collecting Figurine Panini football stickers – starting with World Cup 78. Those teams and players are still ingrained in my memory. Watching Italia football in the 90s and successive World Cups ever since has rekindled that joy.
I picked up piano from an early age and self taught myself guitar and music production. It was all mostly second nature with some rudimentary education thrown in.
As for the song itself, what was it about Giannini that inspired you to dedicate a track to him?
Jake: Some players just look good on a football pitch – how they move and carry themselves. Giannini was definitely one of those. He had composure and was a very elegant player indeed. He was way above the standard of football I was used to watching. I think I just wanted to pay tribute to all those qualities.
Julius: Giannini for me was the consummate entertaining player with class, spirit and individuality. His qualities were multi-faceted. We wanted to capture all that in the music which is why there are various sections to the song. For example we wanted strings in there, which come in at a slower tempo to try and replicate the grace of Giannini and his ability to slow the the game down and play at his own pace.
When did you first come up with the idea for the song, and how long did the whole process take?
Jake: Well, I just wanted to write a song about something I was interested in, hoping that will communicate with the listener. The lyrics in the song are much shorter than the original version. I think I wrote them over a period of a couple of days – not constantly writing but just while walking etc. Then I passed them over to Julius and he butchered them!
Julius: I must credit Jake here, the brainchild and pen-smith of this project. I loved the original lyrics which were much longer but needed to be trimmed to fit the song format. It is hard to say how long the music took because I began the music a while ago and then had to shelve it for a while to work on other things. The whole thing, with breaks took about two months.
In terms of the lyrics, I particularly like the last couplet about him being “a prince upon a field of mud [with] the only eye seeing clearly”. When writing the lyrics, how did you go about trying to do justice to Giannini’s ability? Did you consciously try to reflect his own creativity on the pitch?
Jake: That’s my favourite line too. I think there were a few things I wanted to fit in the song. The line ‘dropping a shoulder revealing time and space’ was inspired by something I saw Giannini do. He was in a tight situation in midfield with nowhere to go and with a little shrug of his shoulders a huge area of space suddenly opened up for him, so yes I definitely wanted to try and get that across, especially the excitement of seeing him play. I think the music captures that very well.
Julius: During the whole process Giannini was at the forefront of our minds and this inevitably filters through into the energy of the track, the speed and rhythms. These lyrics conveyed his abilities so well that singing them was a natural process which mirrored that vitality in the playing and meaning of the lyrics.
Who do you hope the song will appeal to?
Jake: I don’t think we really had an audience in mind. We just wanted to make a song that we liked, to make a track with energy and for it to be a celebration of being inspired by other people’s talent. Got to admit though I would be pleased if Giannini himself managed to hear it one day, though I would probably be very nervous too!
Julius: Our approach has always been to write from the heart or what we ourselves are inspired by. For better or for worse we hope that the enthusiasm spreads to anyone that shares our sense of fun and in this case appreciates the attributes of our hero. Potentially that could be a wider audience than at first one might imagine. Especially if we preserve the initial spark of the idea.
And finally, for a bit of fun: if you had to make an imaginary band out of current or former Roma players, who do you think would be suited to which instruments and why? And if Giannini himself was to be involved, what would he be good at playing?
Jake: Good question, got a feeling I could do this more justice if I had a few months to think about it. At the moment it might be how a player looks rather than their abilities translated into musicianship. I can see Falcao as an energetic bass player, maybe with John Arne Riise on drums. Vocals has got to be Totti, a good frontman! And Matic with his languid style looks like a pianist to me!
Julius: Great question – I wouldn’t argue with that. Giannini would be the band’s conductor definitely! Orchestrating every move.
You can listen to ‘Giannini’ for free on Bandcamp here.