Tony DeSimone is Singer-Songwriter from Princeton, New Jersey. After checking out Tony’s latest songs we were really keen to interview him so that we could share his music and experiences with you. Read on to find out what Tony’s musical background is, which modern day artists he looks up to and what he’s currently working on.
Q: If you could classify your music in a genre or a number of genres what would it be?
I’ve been labeling my music as Contemporary Americana. It’s a bit of a mix of the Adult Contemporary, Rock and Americana styles especially with some of the instrumentation I choose to use on the different songs: Ukulele, Mandolin, Piano, Violin, the more traditional piano, guitars, bass and drums with some drum loops and samples. Here’s an example:
Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
Creating songs with a Contemporary Americana sound that mixes alluring melodies with an artful choice of instrumentation. Songs of hope, love and dreams.
Q: What is your musical background?
My passion for music started at a very young age when I began playing drums. This passion led me to studying music and earning a degree in Jazz Performance from Temple University as a percussionist. While studying music, I also spent my time playing in numerous bands in the Philadelphia area experimenting in several musical genres from pop to progressive rock which gave me the musical versatility and style that is evident in my music today. My most notable early music collaboration was playing and recording with Scott McGill, guitar virtuoso, in the progressive jazz-fusion band, The Hand Farm.
After leaving the Hand Farm, I established himself as both a Physicist/Rocket Scientist and a Marathoner while taking a break from the music scene.
Upon the return from the musical hiatus, I decided I really wanted to focus on the craft of song writing. So I’ve been spending time writing and recording different material with different instrumentation.
Q: How was 2010 for you?
2010 was a good year for me – it built up a lot of momentum that I’ve carried forward into 2011. For example, I spent most of 2010 finishing up my first full-length CD, “the Second Time Around” which I finally got out there in February 2011. I was then able to use that CD in a radio campaign and got my music heard on radio stations both nationally and internationally – from he US to Paris to Australia. While I was pushing the music out on the radio waves I also made quite a few performances as either a solo artist or with my accompanying band, the Side Lobe Jammers, at numerous venues in the Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey areas.
Q: Who inspires you musically?
There are a lot of immensely talented people out there. A lot. But I got to say, cliché or not, that the people that inspire me the most are my friends – and most, if not all of them, can’t play a musical instrument. But they are so supportive of what I do (or what I’m trying to do), they listen to my music and tell me when I get it right (or wrong), they come to the gigs, they help promote my music to other people. That for me, is the big inspiration and whenever I get down, they get me back up.
As an example, for my video to “the Second Time Around”, I had my friends send me pictures of them and their significant other…
Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
I have an immense amount of respect for anyone who has had success in this business. It takes a lot of talent, social networking, very smart business sense, and a lot of luck. I mean take Lady Gaga, the modern day Madonna, she certainly knows what she’s doing from a business perspective. And then at the opposite end of that scale, you have Eddie Vedder, who can use his Pearl Jam fame to make an album that is very artistic and personal.
From a purely musical point of view, I really like what Jack Johnson does as well as Jason Mraz, Rob Thomas, Maroon 5, and Train. They really have nailed it with the songwriter thing for me. I also really dig the Black Eyed Peas, they are very clever musically. And yes I dig Katy Perry’s music. In fact I woke up this morning and one of her tunes was in my head.
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
Wow – what a great question. I would love to work with some of these modern era producers. Having gone through the recording process I have learned to appreciate what a Musical Producer can bring to the song. I mean you could have written the greatest song in the world and if you aren’t working with a Producer who understands what you’re trying to do, you can forget about it. A really good producer can make a good song great. For example, listen to the production on Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” – those guys nailed it. They made those four chords and that melody sound big and playful. Yes the song is great, but it wasn’t over produced. they kept it simple.
So to answer your question directly, I would like to work some different producers , Matt Selenic (Rob Thomas) and Martin Terrene (Train, Jason Mraz), along my musical journey.
Q: What songs are on your iPod at the moment?
It’s more like “What isn’t??” I have everything on there. From the aforementioned Rob Thomas, Jason Mraz, to Bob Marley to Katy Perry and Black Eyed Peas. I have two young daughters that keep me very current on the music scene…it’s like I know every modern female artist out there.
Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
There are two aspects of this process, the song writing and the recording. The song writing starts with just the guitar, a pen and a sheet of paper. When I complete the song, I have gotten into a rhythm of spending 3 hours a week in the studio recording it. This is a good balance for me as it takes about a month to complete a song in this style, but allows me time between sessions to take home the interim material and make decisions about the direction of the song before the next week of recording.
I still try to write songs that can be played on an instrument first and then start to worry about the different instrumentation and production as the idea evolves. For me, every song is unique. Some songs come out immediately, like my recent song “u & I”:
I started humming that melody over those chords, it was very infectious and playful and the lyrics came right out. But to tie this to our previous discussion, it took a long time to produce. We actually went through 5 different versions of that song before getting it right. Trying to convey the sounds / thoughts / ideas of the song to other people, who also are invoking their creative thoughts and ideas to their perception of your idea, can sometimes lead to something that misses the mark. And that’s what kept happening. So while the song was written in a few hours, the recording took months.
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
Yes. The melody is what will stay with people there is no doubt about it. But the lyrics are just as important; playful, serious, whatever they still make the song complete. I think if the song is going to have lasting power, and I mean some depth, then you really need to get the lyrics that people can relate to.
Q: Where are you based?
I recently moved from the Philadelphia area to Princeton NJ. It’s a cool town, halfway between Philly and New York.
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
It’s probably very similar here as it is anywhere on the east coast. Everyone you know is in some band or other and everyone is trying to promote it. I’ve been fortunate that my friends and fans know that I’m not the “big cover band” so when they check out my stuff, it’s because they want to hear my music. But that also makes it very difficult to get gigs sometimes because you’re just another singer-songwriter and it’s not like you’re gonna draw 100 people every night to the local pubs.
Q: What are you currently working on?
I’m currently recording a song called “Rapture” (I should have it on my site very shortly). It’s definitely different from the playful sound of “u & I” but it has some of the characteristic sounds. I am in the final stages of production on it and I’m trying to remain objective but it’s damn near impossible. I’m at the stage where I second-guess everything but that’s what I do.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Getting my CD complete. I was able to capture my song writing at that moment in time. I learned a lot. a lot. I learned what I like and what I don’t. What I think I did right and where I would change things. It helped me establish a basis of where I was and with the feedback, a reason to move on.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?
I would love to become a famous Rock Star in 2011 but I think the odds of that are slim so I’m taking the following approach. I’d like to get another CD done next year and really promote it. So I’m going to focus this year on refining my song writing and playing out at some gigs to make people aware. I would really like to get some of my music on the radio again.
Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?
We just played the Hard Rock Cafe in Philly and that was fun and we’ve had a few shows in July (Princeton) and and coming up in August (Southampton). Check out http://www.tonydmusic.com/shows/
Q: What do you do to relax?
I never relax….I have a full-time job and two daughters so I spend a lot of my free time with music. When I’m not obsessing on that, I start obsessing on other things. I’m a pretty big runner and I spend allot of time running early in the morning.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
I just want to thank them for taking the time to read the interview and getting to know a little about me. Hopefully they can check out the music, become a fan and drop me a line. Thanks!
Editor’s Note: Tony’s unique blend of acoustic, contemporary Americana has both popular vocal riffs and profound lyrics to produce a pleasing sound.
If you’d like to contact Tony DeSimone or check out some more of his songs, just follow the links below:
twitter link: http://twitter.com/#!/tonydmusic
facebook link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/tonydesimonemusic/231925815145
myspace link: http://www.myspace.com/tonydesimonemusic
web page link: www.tonyDmusic.com
reverbnation link: www.reverbnation.com/tonydesimonemusic
Youtube embeds: http://www.youtube.com/user/tonydesimonemusic