FYIG Chats With Singer/Songwriter Dante Mazzetti

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in New York City. I still live on the same block where I grew up – in a building down the street. The neighborhood was a very different place back then. It was filled with bodegas instead of chic restaurants, and prostitutes and drug dealers hung out on 10th Avenue in plain sight. Now, the same neighborhood has become one of the most sought after zip codes in the city. It’s been interesting to be right in the middle of that transition. I’ve never felt like now was better or vice versa. I’ve just watched it change and be an observer more than a critic. I’m aware of what has been lost, but also what has been gained. In my life, I’ve tried to let experiences, conversations, and visuals pass through me. I try to apply them in song and color them in a way that allows the listener to see it uniquely, but through the filter that is my mind’s eye.

How did you get your start in music?

My first instrument was the violin. I started when I was about two years old. I think I was more interested in getting different sounds out of it than learning to make it sing pretty. I guess I never quite outgrew that impulse.  

How would you describe your musical style?

My sound can be pretty eclectic. The heart of my songs come from American roots music – folk, blues, country. You can hear that in most of my music. But I don’t like to limit myself in my sound. I like to explore and experiment and find ways to create music that’s interesting. Some of my music tends to have a bit more of a rock and roll sound while other songs can sound Latin, German Expressionist, or Eastern European rooted. I let my music take me to where it wants to go.

What can you tell us about your latest single, “Breaking in the Sun”?

Much of what I do is storytelling. “Breaking in the Sun (Live)” is no exception to that. It tells the story of a man who has come home from prison to find that he has lost his family. He has been replaced as husband and father.  He has no connection to the life he once had and loved. It’s like staring through a window at something you want but can’t have.  Something you can no longer hold. He sees the beautiful life he could have had, but through mistakes, he has become lost. This song explores his emotions surrounding that realization. The refrain, “I am too small for you,” suggests the power of a life one doesn’t fit into anymore.

People usually fall apart in the rain, but I titled this song “Breaking in the Sun.” I liked the idea of falling apart in the sun because of its strength and ability to warm you and hold you up. This man sitting in the sun with his new found freedom feels trapped, small and cold. He wants what he once perceived as suffocating because of its normality. But now it’s gone and it has broken him. 

This version of “Breaking in the Sun” was recorded live in a studio setting. This past year, I have been creating this live performance where I play a number of different instruments at once. I’ll switch between a 12 string guitar and mandolin while simultaneously playing harmonica and then percussion and bass with my feet. It’s like a one-man band, but my focus is on creating a unique sound. It’s been fun for me though it has taken a lot of practice to really get it down. So, I’ve played several shows this year using that method. I noticed that “Breaking in the Sun,” was going over really well. So I tried recording it while playing all the instruments at once, and it gave the recording this great energy. In the past, I used the more traditional route of recording each instrument separately because each track can be redone a hundred times to fix any mistakes. So, to record live while playing a number of different instruments myself was a bit tricky because you really have to nail every aspect. You also have to live with nuanced parts that were not planned.  We ended up really liking the results. The fact that I can’t fix every little mistake is part of what gives it that real sound. 

What can audiences expect from your latest EP, “Hotel Vol. 1”?

I grew up in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. There is this famous hotel right down the street from me called Hotel Chelsea. There is no other building in New York City that has been the home and muse for so many generations of musicians, writers, and artists.

I have always had a view of the Hotel Chelsea from my window. During the course of writing these songs, the musical history of the famous hotel inspired me. I thought of the characters that I see coming in and out of the front doors. I thought about who could be roaming around the interior. 

“Breaking in the Sun (Live)” is the beginning of a longer story of a broken man. After losing everything back home, he comes to New York City – a place where he gets caught in the abyss of the metropolis.  He checks in at Hotel Chelsea and starts the next chapter of his life. Hotel Vol. 1 includes four songs about his time staying at this hotel.

“Hey Now” is the lead song on this EP. You hear the emotions that the man is going through in his decision to leave. “Secrets” is another stage of him moving on emotionally. There is less self-pity. He’s feeling animosity towards his wife and realizes that through all his efforts he is “falling anyway.” In “East Village Tattoo Queen” we start seeing him out in the city. He’s beginning to take advantage of being in a place where one can almost be faceless. He has a clean slate. He’s trying to move on. He meets a woman from the East Village – an unbelievably real character who you could only meet in New York City. The last song on this EP is “I’ll Be ‘Round.” Here we see him trying to have a relationship with yet another woman who is not quite right for him. 

Your first single from the EP is called, “Hey Now.” When can we expect to hear this song and what can we expect from it?

“Hey Now” will be released on June 28th, it will be available on all music platforms. You can actually get a little sneak peek of it on my YouTube channel. I have a video up there called “Meet Dante Mazzetti,” and “Hey Now” is the song playing in the background. 

“Hey Now” focuses on a man who is completely honest about who he is and where he’s at. Broken, then hardened, he knows that he must leave the life he once had.

What was it like working with Oscar Zambrano and Adam Sussman on this EP?

They’re both extraordinary – amazingly talented and great guys to work with. 

Adam and I have been working together for years. We have a really good working relationship. He’s such a smart, hardworking guy. He has this great ability to be open to ideas, yet still can be honest and forthcoming about what he feels is the right direction for the song. And he laughs at my jokes, which is great. 

I originally met Oscar through Adam. He knew that Oscar would be beneficial to bring into the project because of his expertise and experience. I mean, he’s got two Grammys under his belt, so you know he’s doing something right. Oscar is a very easy going person who gives an incredibly personalized experience. He takes his time on each song. It’s very important to him that he’s not handing you a generic finished package. He wants us to be happy with the result, and he himself wants to be happy with it. He’s also just a great guy and a lot of fun. We always go out and celebrate after he finishes a song – sometimes a little too much!

What’s next for your career?

I’m currently working on finishing up the second EP in this series, Hotel Vol. 2. It will be coming out in the fall.

I am also excited to be releasing a vinyl in late fall. I love listening to vinyl, and so it was important to put one out of my own.  My affinity for vinyl is partly because of the sound quality, but it’s also about the experience of sitting down, putting the record on and listening from start to finish. It’s therapeutic for me because it forces me to listen to music in a very un-rushed manner. You can’t just skip a song with the push of a button. I think many of us struggle with patience in this smartphone era. The experience of vinyl makes me a more patient listener. My vinyl release will include all of the songs from these two EPs and we will add a song or two to complete the album. 

What advice would you have for aspiring singers/songwriters?

Write music the way that feels right to you. There’s always going to be people in your ear, telling you how to write or trying to put rules in your head about music, but that’s not what music is about. It’s about feeling and creating and making something special. So leave yourself free of restrictions and create wild imagery and rambling lyrics if you want to. Create something unique and different. It’s the only thing you have inside you that nobody else knows or has access to.

What’s your life like outside of music?

Being from New York City, I spent years in what many might see as a wild, exciting lifestyle. But I’ve gotten into this space now where I am really enjoying the small pleasures in life. I like to grab a really good cup of coffee (or wine, depending on the time of day), throw on a record, and just sit and listen and enjoy. My kids will start dancing and singing along and I’ll watch them and look out over the city and feel at peace. I also work at the FDNY as a firefighter which is why I need to find peace like that on my time off!

Let the readers know where to find you online.

They can go to dantemazzetti.com and sign up for my email list to get updates on releases and tour dates. I also post lots of videos and behind the scenes photos on social media. 

They can find me at:

facebook.com/DantesMusicPage

instagram.com/dantemazzetti/

youtube.com/channel/UCOhIM_X7FSUOm-ZszxHFqmw