We’re super-excited to have a little bit of time today with one of the most exciting artists on the music scene today, David D’Alessio; greetings and salutations, David! Before we kick the proverbial tin can too far down the dusty road, how has your 2022 been treating you?
So nice to talk to you again! I’m in my own happy bubble so 2022 is kinda like a Stepford Wives- Pleasantville moment for me. You know it’s all subjective and within a radius of “me.” When I take a peek outside my bubble things don’t look so pretty for many people. But I try to keep my mind on the world I can change. Oh.
Kudos and congrats on the upcoming May 24th release of your new single – which is a rousing summer anthem if ever we’ve heard one – entitled Nowhere Else I Wanna Be! How did this brilliant tune come into being?
Thank you! It came from a melody I’ve had banging around in my head for some time. I recorded it about 6 years ago while my baby girl was taking a bath. We used to do this thing where daddy would bring his guitar into the bathroom and sing while she was playing in the water. It was about the only time I’d get to write when she was young. I liked the melody but never had a chance to flesh it out into a song. Then last summer as we were driving home from the beach, that tune popped back in my head and I suddenly realized what it was. And here we are!
Would Nowhere Else I Wanna Be exist in the form it does now without the worldwide pandemic?
I think so? I wasn’t thinking about the pandemic per se. We spent some time on Coronado Island last summer and they have these big bonfire pits on the beach. And one night we went out to go make s’mores- just our family, enjoying the sunset and the beach- and right as the sun was going down I think the entire Coronado High School descended on the bonfire pits and suddenly I was surrounded by teenagers and teenage antics. A lot of those moments made it into the song. As well as my whole feeling like, well, I’m just a teenager pretending to be an adult. That’s kinda what the beach brings out in me. But to answer your question, in retrospect the pandemic has made us all think about escape. And lots of people have left New York City to “escape,” – moved to the suburbs or out of the state or whatnot. I’ve been thinking about “escape” as well. It’s always in the back of my mind.
How integral of a part did that tumultuous period play into the creation of this song?
Probably a lot. I mean we’ve essentially lost 2 summers. And if you live in a place with four seasons like New York, your summer is everything. So, yeah, there’s been a kind of build-up of frustration. The ice cream shop wasn’t even open for chrissakes!
Who was your producer on Nowhere Else I Wanna Be and what did that collaboration look like in the studio?
My co-writer, Janice FitzGerald and I usually work with Matt Anthony in New York City when we cut tracks. Like most of my songs, I write on an acoustic guitar or piano and go in and record those parts and then we build the track around the vocal and the instrument. And like most of my recordings, I hated this one right after we finished it. So I went back, took down most of the recording and started over. Needless to say, it was a process but Matt was very patient and just let me do whatever I wanted. So when I handed the track back to him after I’d ripped it up he was like “cool!” and viola!
What do you hope fans take away from Nowhere Else I Wanna Be?
I hope they have another song to play on their summer jams list! Like truly, that’s all I want. Just sing along, windows down, enjoy the sunshine, let go. Be joyful people!
What specifically made Nowhere Else I Wanna Be the perfect follow-up to your EP?
Because I spent all this time in the promotion of the EP- you know it’s a good 6-8 months of just push, push push- and I didn’t really get the chance to get my head out of it. Meanwhile life was happening around me. So right after the EP dropped, it was the mood of where I was. And in a way, it’s a kind of reaction. This Far Apart is introspective and autobiographical and Nowhere Else is more outward and celebratory.
You’re based out of New York City. How does that city inform you not only as a musician, but as a person?
As a musician, New York is great. It’s filled with lots of people with “best practices” and you can watch a lot of folks who are doing really well in their career and see how they make it happen. Like even the cheesy motivational crap my musician friends post on Insta. I’m like “oh that’s my neighbor! Look at him go!” And I might not talk to that person for years. It’s a community that supports each other but doesn’t barbeque together
You’re a respected singer/songwriter. Which comes first for you – The lyrics or the melody?
I’m always hoping for that moment when they fall into my lap at the same time. It’s a lightning-strike moment when they do. But I truly believe- and a lot of my songwriter friends will probably take objection to this statement- that a great melody is a much rarer occurrence than a great lyric. So I’m pulled to find the melodies that inspire me before I start crafting lyrics.
Stylistically, how has your music progressed since 2007’s Songs to Undress Your Ego? How is it still similar?
Ego was like me learning to walk. I had no idea how to sing, record or produce a thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’d released a whole record before then. But my producer- Kaeylea Vankeith – was a serious musician. Studied, went to conservatory, played with an orchestra, composer, everything. And I was just a guy with some tunes and words. We still joke about my learning process during those sessions. Since then I think I’ve stylistically streamlined. That record ventured into folk, art-rock, chamber music, latin, all kinds of styles, but I don’t think I understood the idea of a hook. I remember after Ego came out I had an ah-ha moment listening to Savor the Cold as a ring-tone – does anyone even do that anymore?? And suddenly I was like “oh that’s how a hook works!” And since then I’ve tried to make my writing more succinct and hooky. I could go on about the aesthetics of economy in pop music. But we’ll save that for another day
Can fans look forward to seeing you out on tour in the near future?
We’re spreading our wings a bit. The tour economy has just started to rebuild and right now I think what makes the most sense for us is targeted, small shows. So hit me up if you’d like to see us perform and we can discuss! I’ve had promoters reach out to me about doing this or doing that but I’m more inclined to talk to fans directly about working together. Which is to say, we have shows coming up so join the mailing list!
You’ve been compared to Damien Rice, one of the best songwriters in the annals of music. What goes through your mind when you receive that sort of an accolade?
He’s one of my heros and it’s definitely flattering. But for me comparisons are more like a way of understanding, accessing where someone is coming from rather than assessing their worth. I think he and I share a kind of introspective lens. Ego was definitely a more Damien-esque record but stylistically we’ve since diverged.
With the release of Nowhere Else I Wanna Be, can a full-length album be right around the corner for all of us to enjoy?
I promise you something will happen soon. Something
How did you land on the path of being an accomplished and respected artist, David?
Such a flattering question! Accolades aside, I’d say I’m stubborn as shit. I have a really strong opinion that wants to find expression. In a way it’s a kind of being a know-it-all. But it’s not because I know it all. It’s because there’s so much I love and so much music that is good and has moved me. And I keep discovering more. Music is a language for the human experience. It’s a way to understand what others are thinking, feeling and going through. It’s expansive. And I’d say to anyone that is pursuing music, don’t give up and just learn to find what you love and why you love it. For me music is a journey of self-discovery and shared experience. There’s certainly a way to color in boxes and make hit songs. But my joy is when you see someone who is just totally out of the lines and totally themselves. That’s what I love.
Final – SILLY! – Question: In keeping with the theme of Nowhere Else I Wanna Be, what’s your personal favorite summer song by another artist?
Oh you know I’m gonna go total Grease on you. “Tell me more, tell me more…” What’s the name of that song? Summer Nights? Tell Me More? I can hear Olivia singing it right now and I know all the words. Ah damn it. The best part about forgetting is the rush you get when you remember. No rush.