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INTERVIEW Paul Ciuci from Compact – the tireless man who believes that rock will never die

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Paul Ciuci has made and still makes history in Romanian rock. He started playing when he was nine, when he received a guitar from his mother as a gift. It wasn’t easy, but he became one of the best guitarists in our country. I, too, started listening to good music from my mother and developed my passion for rock, since childhood. She let me listen to Compact and, after so many years, I still hum their lyrics. It’s not Romanian not to have heard of Compact, the band that has lasted for generations. Therefore, I felt a special honor to steal a few moments from Master Ciuci. He told me nicely, as follows…

I grew up on your music, my mom being the one who put you on my tape the first time I heard you sing, and I’m still humming “The girl in the dream.” Who inspired your passion for music?

I think I inherited my passion for music from my mother, Maria, who was a lover of music, especially opera, and was part of the choir of that time at the House of Culture in Câmpia Turzii. She supported me and she was the one who bought me the guitar I started playing when I was nine. She was also the first to listen to the songs I composed. It was not at all easy to convince her of their quality. He always said to me, “Let me listen, and then I’ll tell you what I think!”

It was hard at first to play the guitar, because first of all, I had to cross that threshold of pain from my fingertips. But once the unpleasant moment was over, everything was fine. My mother also bought me Maria Boeru’s first book, a guitar method very well known at the time and which was very useful to me. A memory from that time that still makes me smile was that my mother, out of her desire for me to learn this tool as thoroughly as possible (she had a saying: “If you want to do something, do it very well, if not, leave it to others! ”), he spoke to a guitarist of that time.

It’s about 1965, only I discovered from the beginning that he didn’t like what he was playing and that’s for one reason: he tuned the guitar in “Russian” and he didn’t tune it in “Italian”, as they say. then. I have to say I liked Elvis Presley’s music, then English rock music, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. So it was very difficult for that gentleman to persuade me to take his classes, when everything he sang was not to my liking at all.

So I gave up and decided to take some from everyone. In the city, there was a young man a few years older than me who played the guitar and I really liked what I heard from him. Especially since he was always surrounded by very pretty girls. So I went to him and asked him to teach me some guitar chords. The problem was that he sent me for a walk, saying, “I don’t have time for you, kid!” So I took my music journey on my own and started studying for hours every day, and I almost never left the house. That’s how it all started.

Really, who he is dream girl ”?

The girl in the dream… I’ve told her this story many times, but I don’t mind repeating it. I even met a girl on a night train when I was coming home from Bucharest (this was in 1978). It was somewhere in early November, and the car I was in was cold, and the light in the compartment was dim. I was sitting alone in the That compartment, after which I went out into the hallway to smoke a cigarette. I talked to a girl I only remember wearing a pair of blue shoes and I find it strange to realize now that I didn’t even ask her her name. All I know is that he was wearing those blue shoes and was going to go down to Alba-Iulia, in Cetate (that was the name of the neighborhood where he lived). One verse from the song “The Dream Girl” that I later gave up was: “In the station that looked deserted / You got off and I promised you / To come to you in the Citadel / The light that went out is on”.

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As I said, I gave up this verse because I considered it too personal. After years, there were many who asked me if I was not curious or if the girl, hearing this song, did not try to tell me: “I’m the girl on the train you talked to then.” No, it never happened. So I wrote the song under the impression of that meeting, that November night, with the girl who was left alone in a dream.

What was the first encounter with success and what is the secret of the success of a band that will last for so many generations?

I smile when I am asked this question, because I have to start like this. From the age of ten, I improvised on a small stage where I sang and where, in a short time, children came around the block and from neighbors of my age and not only, to listen to me. Others went up and told poems, and some very good ones with rag dolls presented a “Shoeless Cat” or other short stories. So, I come up with ideas, and to see them flush it out, it’s really fun. And only if I think about the fact that those who came to see us brought us a lot of candy, chocolate and juices from the confectionery in the neighborhood… Then came the band 44.5, consisting of two classmates with whom we sang at school parties . Then, on another level, followed, obviously, the band Telegraf, with which I won all the Romanian Song competitions and the Mediaș Festival in the spring of 1980. That was the moment when, in the autumn of the same year, I came to Compact.

I can’t say that there is a recipe that, if you follow it, you will be successful. I just strongly believe that by working hard and following your dreams with tenacity and faith, all these efforts will eventually lead to success.

What inspires you when you compose?

The inspiration is, in my opinion, a very capricious young lady. She comes when she wants, she leaves when she wants and all you have to do is wait for her patiently, because in no way can you rush things. I write about facts and events that are common to all. I write about friendship, love, hope, parting, or joy. Things common to each of us, things we encounter at some point in our lives.

What is the biggest achievement from a professional point of view, but also the biggest impediment you have overcome?

If I were to take it only after the fact that, for almost 40 or so years, the public accepts us, comes to our concerts and allows us to sing our music in Romania, that we have invitations for tours abroad, that many songs which I have written are sung by other artists, I believe it is a successful professional achievement and it is all that an artist can want.

Regarding impediments or difficulties, I don’t have to think much and say that for two years now, due to the situation generated by the pandemic, things have not been going very well professionally. And how could it work, when the life of an artist is creativity and the joy of being able to present his creations to the public ?! I hope that this state of affairs will change for the better and that we will be able to appear in public again, as we have done for over four decades.

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Do you think that in 2022 it will be easier or harder to start with music, especially rock music, given that it is not a genre built around synthesizers and autotune-type applications?

I believe that 2022 will put things in a way that is conducive to art and communication between people. But just as it is obvious that we need to be careful to stay healthy, because it is the most precious thing that man has in life, so I think it is obvious that man needs to move, to interact with other people, to create , to make plans to carry out, to protect nature, to take care of the least fortunate in life, to prove that he deserves to be called “man” in everything he does.

In the same way, in music, my Compact colleagues and I follow our path. I love rock music and I won’t change my style just because it’s a different kind of music. It is said that rock never dies and I strongly believe it. In other words, it’s natural to use technology to compose music, even if I personally think that the most successful songs are those in which musicians, composers or instrumentalists collaborate and interact to bring a song to life. , a project or show. I don’t think sitting in front of a microphone and playing back is something that a self-respecting “star” can boast about. I think it’s a low point to deceive the expectations of an audience that comes to see you and to which you owe everything. Unfortunately, these examples are very numerous and I never understood why the bill banning playback was not approved.

How have technology, gadgets, and software influenced your creative process? Do you feel that you depend to some extent on the possibilities offered by your laptop? What has changed in your field of music in this regard?

As for me, it is very clear that in 2022 I personally, as a guitarist, can no longer use the same technology – much said – that I used 40 years ago. I tried my best and sometimes with quite significant financial sacrifices, to have high-performance technology with which to make the music I make. Modestly, I can say that in this chapter of instruments and sound processors they are very good, even in the first places in a top of high-performance tools. From 1970 until now, it was obvious that many changes had to take place in terms of technology, aspects that I personally embraced with great pleasure when they appeared.

What do you think is the future of music? More technique or more feelings and creativity?

It is an interesting question whether the future of music will depend on more technique or more experience and creativity. I think we need both. Moreover, I dare to believe that one cannot exist without the other. With one clarification: living and creativity are the most important and are the first in the order mentioned above.

I can’t wait to see you again live! Where do we see and listen to the next Compact concert?

Even though the artistic activity has slowed down a lot in the last two years, nothing stops us from working hard to organize our future meetings with the public in the country. We will start on March 5 a series of concerts in the first part of the National Tournament “Compact I chose you”, where I hope to see many friends of our band.

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