FYIG Chats With Singer/Songwriter Dion Todd

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Dion Todd. Some may remember me from my earlier music releases many moons ago! I had a few dance hits that were featured on a couple of MC Mario dance/pop compilations (Sony Music), as well as Groove Station 11 (Universal Music). If you’re a fan of listening to way back playback on radio stations, you may still hear those songs being played! I took a fairly long hiatus from music to pursue business interests by starting a bunch of companies outside of the music industry. I decided to make a return to Music recently.

How did you get your start in music?

I have been singing for as long as I can remember. I think I’ve probably been singing since I started to learn how to talk. I sang my fist solo in church when I was 8 years old. Music has been a huge part of my life since the beginning. When I was 9 years old, I joined the Cambridge Kiwanis Boys Choir in Canada. That was my first taste of the recording industry. I recorded a solo on one of the choirs Christmas albums. Then my voice changed and I started playing various instruments including piano, cello, viola, and violin. I was around 18 when I started singing again and began writing music. After a few years of writing, and entering and winning various singing competitions, my first song was signed to a Sony Music MC Mario dance/pop compilation. 

You took some time off to pursue an MBA at MIT. Did you always expect to return to music or were you preparing to take a different route?

I have always been as passionate about business as I have music. When I enrolled for my master’s degree at MIT, I was running a gold and silver mining company that I founded. I was planning to use my education to continue to build that business, but I never intended on getting back into the music industry as a career. That all changed during my final project in school. During my final week at MIT before graduation, I had the fortunate opportunity to work with a local non-profit, The Mass General Freedom Clinic, which provides services to human traffic victims in the Boston, Massachusetts area. I had a very rewarding and highly emotional experience with the clinic, resulting in me writing a song with my mother to bring awareness to human trafficking and domestic abuse. We wrote “Rocketship State of Mind” – a powerful dance ballad that speaks to rising above the adversity of domestic abuse and human trafficking. I co-wrote the lyrics for the song with my mother, drawing upon the time we spent in a shelter for domestic abuse victims. I wasn’t sure how well I would be received given I took such a long break from music. Needless to say, I was shocked, and thrilled at the support the song received! “Rocketship State of Mind” hit at #22 on the Canada Top 100 ADISQ Palmarès English radio chart. It was #1 on several radio stations including 97.1 CKRO-FM in New Brunswick, and it was also nominated for an East Coast Music Award. I was amazed at how many of my original fans were still out there and supportive of my new music. After working on that song, I realized how much I missed the music industry and decided to delve back into it.

How would you describe your musical style?

Good question. I identify as being a dance/pop artist. When I ask people who they think I sound like, they struggle to find a comparison. My voice is very powerful and melodic. I actually have a vocal range that’s three octaves, which is fairly rare for any male singer. Much of my writing comes from the heart. When I write a song, I write about how I’m feeling at the time. Early on in my music career, much of my music was emotional love ballads. One of the very first producers I worked with suggested my songs would be a good fit for dance music, so we took one of my slow ballads and changed it into an upbeat dance track. And just like that, I found my niche! I think my music goes a step further beyond traditional dance music. I focus more on melodies and lyrics as opposed to the typical electronic sound of dance music with simple melodies and shorter repetitive lyrics. That’s what I love about dance music; I don’t lose the melody and passion of my ballads, and being a dance song just makes it more interesting and more fun to perform. In some cases, even better, because the music style allows the story of a song to have more room to build up to an emotional climax.

Your latest single is called, “Be Alright”. What can you tell us about this song?

I co-wrote “Be Alright” with Grammy award winner Tiffany Fred and multi Billboard hit producer and writer Ronnie “CHICO” Di Cicco. The song is a duet, featuring vocals from both myself and a singer named Maya. The song may sound like a typical love song, but it actually has a much deeper meaning. We wanted to really hit home with a message far beyond a couple’s relationship, or the ups and downs we’ve all experienced at some point with someone we love. The true message is actually much more powerful. It’s about overcoming our differences between race, religion, politics, skin color, shape, or size of a person, looking beyond the superficial of what’s on the outside, and focusing more about what’s on the inside – something we’ve lost given the effects of social media. I’m excited for the release of the music video soon, which I think really captures the essence of the message.

Do you have any live shows coming up? What’s the audience experience like at one of those shows?

I’m currently working on a tour schedule. In the past, I’ve performed in front of crowds of around 20,000. One of the most notable points about my performances is that I sing live. In an era where lip syncing has become popular, I choose to sing live so I don’t diminish my craft and talent. Most people who hear me sing live say I sound the same, or in some cases, even better than I do on recordings. Anyone can download a song and listen to it; it’s a different experience to hear a song performed live and hear raw talent. Also, my performances are as much about visuals as audio. I perform with a full choreographed show that features actual Cirque du Soleil dancers/performers. I don’t just want people to walk away from my show saying the music and singing were good. I want them to have an emotional, visually entertaining experience that will leave a positive lasting impression.

What’s next for your career?

I’ve always been somewhat of a jack of all trades, master of none! Now that I’m back in music, I plan on it being a part of my life and career for a very long time, but I’ll continue to build my business empire outside of music as well. I’m also planning on developing other artists under my own label, Shyre, in the near future. Of course there’s many other business ventures I’d like to do as well, but I may need to clone myself to get it all done!

What advice would you have for aspiring singers/songwriters?

I think the biggest misconception many people have about being successful in the music industry is that you have to have talent, and only talent. My biggest advice would be for artists to study business and learn the business side of the industry. You can have all the talent in the world, but never see the light of day. After all of my years of business experience, I can easily say that my business experience has been a more important part of my success than my talent. 

What’s your life like outside of music?

Well lately my life has been completely focused on music. I’m putting the finishing touches on a full length album, so that has been keeping me quite busy. Aside from music, I’m also still very active with my other business interests. When I have free time, I love to travel! At last count, I’ve visited 74 countries. Health and fitness are also an important part of my life. 

Let the readers know where to find you online.

My music is available on pretty much every digital music platform out there. For those who are interested in keeping up to date with my world, I’m pretty active on instagram(@diontoddofficial), facebook(@iamdiontodd), and twitter(@iamdiontodd), as well as my website www.diontodd.com.