An interesting case of success due mainly to word of mouth, Italian singer/songwriter Davide Van De Sfroos sold thousands of records before the critics and the big networks started noticing him -- and, even most strikingly, he did so singing songs in the dialect of a very small region, thus transforming himself from a local to a national phenomenon. Born in Monza on May 11, 1965, and soon moving to Azzano di Mezzegra, a small town on Lake Como, Davide Bernasconi had his first real music experiences in the post-punk outfit Potage.
Then, in the early '90s, he started his own band, called De Sfroos, an expression in the laghèe dialect (a language spoken in the Lake Como region) meaning "smuggling." After releasing three records -- the cassettes Ciulandari (1992) and Viif (live, 1994) and 1995's Manicomi -- Davide quit in order to start a solo career under the name of Davide Van De Sfroos (literally meaning "Davide They Go Smuggling"). He then started his own record label, Tarantanius, on which he released his solo debut, 1999's Brèva e Tivàn, entirely sung in the laghèe dialect. Without real distribution, and thanks only to concerts and word of mouth, it would sell 35,000 copies.
The Per una Poma EP, including three new songs, was released a few months later, followed in 2000 by the book/CD set Capitan Slaff. However, real success arrived with Davide's sophomore effort, 2001's ...E Semm Partii, a collection of ballads halfway between folk and rock that sold more than 50,000 copies and won 2002's Targa Tenco Award for the Best Dialect Album, thus attracting attention from the biggest TV and radio networks, turning Davide into something more than a simple musician and forcing him to face the accusation of indirectly supporting ultra-regionalist Italian party Lega Nord -- an innuendo that he always rejected, affirming that, although he sings of the life (and with the language) of a very small region, his songs are for everyone.
Laiv was released in 2003, followed in 2005 by Akuaduulza, a concept album of sorts about what Van De Sfroos himself described as Gothic-Lombard themes. Van De Sfroos then embarked on a tour, which was documented by the DVD Ventanas. Released in 2008, Pica! reached number four on the Italian charts and saw Van De Sfroos gain his second Targa Tenco for Best Dialect Album. Davide has also published the poetry collection Perdonato dalle Lucertole (1997), the short stories collection Le Parole Sognate dai Pesci (2003), and the novel Il Mio Nome è Herbert Fanucci (2005).