Issue #53

Irene Mastrangeli

La Cantautrice

Italian-born singer-songwriter Erene, having settled in New York City in the aughts, is part of a reflective young generation of chanteuse singer-songwriters. Erene composes songs exploring her unique process of self-discovery through a bi-lingual voice. She is also known for her original version of the Italian National Anthem, which has been praised by the Italian press both in Italy and the US. She is the sought after singer by the Italian Consulate in New York and other institutions to perform at official events. Most recently Erene was asked to perform at the UN as well. She is considered the Italian voice in New York.

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What do you do in your life (work and fun)?

For work and for fun I sing, play guitar and piano, and I write songs, my number one favorite thing to do. When I write songs I definitely don’t feel like I’m working. I also go out to listen to live music, which in NY is a terrific experience, there isn’t a time when I’m not inspired or moved. I like hanging out with good friends and have meaningful conversations. I enjoy dining out, I’m a bit of a foodie, and I also love movies, documentaries and comedy!

What made you leave Italy and chose NYC?

I had a wonderful experience in San Francisco in ’97, and when I went back to Europe it became clear that I wanted to return to the US. I picked NY a bit randomly, just because the flight was cheaper, being on the East Coast, and because I felt I wanted to see NY at least once in my life time…little that I know I’d settle and spend here the next 15 years, and who knows how many more! Another reason to come here was to collaborate with American singer songwriters and musicians, to learn from them and cultivate my musical skills, allow my writing to expand and grow.

Please share your best memory in the City.

I had to think about this one a bit because I have so many beautiful memories, but the best one is probably my very first night in NY. After landing in JFK I took a taxi to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to the apartment where this couple would host me for a while. He was Irish and she was English, Juliette and Rodney. By the way, Rodney’s english was incomprehensible to me. I was kindly offered toast and Marmite by Juliette, and then went straight to bed in my new room for a nap. I was woken up at around 8PM by Rodney who asked me if I wanted to join them, they were going into the city for a party at a hotel. I said yes and there I was, on my first NY adventure. This was not a “normal” hotel, it was a small hotel where artists could pay for their stay by painting their room in a particular theme. It was an artist hub, all young, wild and coming from all over the world. We stayed at the hotel for a quite a while, then Rodney and Juliette took off. I ended up spending the rest of the night with my new friends, we went to a night club, then out to eat at 4-5AM in the East Village. The only thing is that I couldn’t understand what they were saying, all night! My English was so so, and trying to follow a group conversation was the hardest thing ever. Nonetheless it was a memorable night that initiated me to my new life in NY. Rodney and Juliette basically adopted me for a while, until I was ready to take off and live on my own. I always say that I have had the help of many angels in NY, I wouldn’t have made it without them.

What made you choose this specific location and outfit?

The outfit is in the style I always perform in, I have a huge collection of ties, I have a total fascination with them. And I couldn’t not wear my famous green shoes, unfortunately you can’t see they are green because of the B&W, but now you know. I thought about the location for a while and when Alexo proposed the subway I thought it was a brilliant idea, music is all over the subway in NYC, and really good music!

Your thought about this project, ITALIANY.US

I am all for projects that try to portray the new generation of Italians in NY. People know a lot about generations who came before us but not so much about ours. I guess we have less sense of a community and we stand out less as a whole. Probably because this generation, that I often describe as “off the plane” (vs. “off the boat”) is much more integrated in the fabric of the American culture. My recent experience of performing at the Italian Consulate introduced me to a whole world of brilliant Italians in NY who I wouldn’t have had a chance to meet. This project definitely contributes to the community building effort of our Italian institutions here in NY, and helps highlighting the level of talents that are bringing so much to this city and that are contributing to its style, creativity, architecture, etc…

How would you describe being an ambassador of the italian style/culture abroad?

Hmmm….that’s a big responsibility. I guess I often feel that as an Italian singer songwriter I can contribute to changing the idea of what Italian music is for Americans. There is a bit of a stereotype that I am breaking up every time I perform. I also sing a lot in Italian and people are asking me to sing in my native language more and more, I may be helping our language becoming a bit more international.

  • Manhattan, NY


  • Time

    120 mins

  • Shots


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A visual celebration of Italians working, living and loving in NY and in the US