interview / news

Interview: Luke Dapuzzo

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Luke Dapuzzo is a self-publishing artist that produces all his music and works on different aspects such as mixing, songwriting. Based in Colorado, his music has been released his work on Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and other platforms. His unique style takes influences from 1950s’ rockabilly and “do wop”, while also exploring punk, metal, emo, alternative rock, and indie rock. He began his career through YouTube, posting instrumental covers in early 2017 featuring bands such as Attila, Motionless in White, Bring Me The Horizon, etc.  He has recently self-published debut album Mid Century Modern was released on October 31st, 2018 consisting of 11 new songs.
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It’s a pleasure to interview you, mind telling the readers about yourself and how you got into music? Any artists that influenced you?

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As a self-taught eight-year-old guitarist and drummer, I enjoyed playing along to songs recorded by my favorite bands. After a while, I took voice lessons, and I sang along while playing guitar or drums. I found a local music studio that put kids together into bands and supervised them as they learned to play songs.  At the end of each “semester,” the studio organized a gig for us in town.  Playing in a band was awesome! I found that being part of a whole, contributing my skills, and feeding off the energy of my bandmates and the electricity of the crowd, was an entirely different experience from playing by myself in my basement. I was hooked!
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At the music studio, I received quality instruction on guitar, drums, and voice and expert band supervision.  I worked with the studio for many years even as the band members changed.  When a new band formed, I would often invite the members to my house to practice.  I had dreams of being part of a band that would bond, that would work hard playing cover tunes and writing original music together, that would record and ultimately tour together.  Sometimes band members would come over and play for an hour or two, and that was great, but as hard as I tried, as many times as I offered, I couldn’t get anyone to commit to working with me to take the band to the next level.
I felt hopeless and didn’t know where to find other dedicated musicians.
I reached out to the public.  For more than a year, I published classified ads. I hung posters in music stores and at my school.  Still nothing. Not ready to give up on my dreams, I began using my laptop and a USB microphone to record myself drumming. Then I would play back the recorded drum track through my loudspeakers while playing guitar and singing.  It felt so good to have a band that I could work with day after day and late into the night, even though the band consisted of only me.
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I taught myself to play keyboard, and I adapted my guitar skills to bass guitar, upright bass, and ukulele.  I researched how to use MIDI, and I studied songwriting and music theory, which opened a world of creativity I didn’t know existed.
I watched hours of online videos on using Garage Band and began recording.  I would record drums first, then bass, then rhythm guitar.  Once those tracks were recorded, I would add lead guitar and vocals.  I would then record accents – guitar riffs, backup vocals and harmonies, keyboards, and MIDI tracks.  Finally, I would master the songs on Garage Band, and then as I got more advanced, on Ableton and Logic Pro. At first, I practiced these skills with other artists’ music.  Then I began to write my own music back around 2015.
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After much hard work, I released a five-song EP complete with album cover artwork that I created.  Entitled “Ignorance is Bliss,” the EP is about overcoming the challenges of growing up.  I developed a one-man act with live lead guitar and vocals performed over my pre-recorded instrumental and vocal tracks, and I have been reaching out to venues to perform it. I know that going forward I will face a lot of rejection, but I feel I have the confidence to navigate through it. Today I continue promoting and developing my solo music career while still writing and recording new music.
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Since you write all your music, what type of genre do you mainly focus on? What inspires you to write?

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I tend to naturally write towards a “Pop Punk” or “Emo” sound but really like to mix it up and get outside of my comfort zone. In my latest album Mid-Century Modern, I tried to get a little more experimental and include a huge variety of genres ranging from 1950s style rockabilly to Metalcore. One thing that really inspires me is mixing different genres of music together or combining musical influences from different decades to bring people with different music tastes together. When I want to capture a specific sound of a genre, I will find some characteristics of musicians in that genre and try to incorporate them. For instance, I have been working on writing some new 1980s inspired electronic music and have taken inspiration from the layered melodies of the Talking heads and the huge powerful drum sounds of Bruce Springsteen.
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You’re a vocalist and a musician as well, which instruments do you play? Any favorites?

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I originally started playing the drums back around 2008. I really enjoyed it and still play drums but wanted to try the melodic side of music as well. So a year or two later decided to teach myself guitar and sing along with it. Throughout the years I continued picking up new instruments and now can play Drums, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Upright Bass, Piano, Ukulele, and some Trumpet.
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Can you tell us why you decided to produce and publish your own work yourself? Which apps do you use/recommend?

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While I was in several different bands throughout the years, I’ve never found one that was dedicated enough to practice regularly or even try to find shows to play. I got frustrated by this and decide to just try and record all the parts to my own music. This was very rough at first and I started off just recording using the same single microphone for every Instrument. I had no idea what I was doing but through years of research and experimentation, I’ve been able to really hone in recording, mixing, and mastering music. I switch back and forth between Ableton Live 9 and Logic Pro X for my DAW but both work great. I would also really recommend the GGD Modern Drums plug-in for working with digital drums and the Ben Bruce JST plug-in for a virtual guitar amp. I typically record a live drum set and record my guitar amp with a mic, but these plug-ins make it very easy to change your tone or rewrite a part while writing a demo.
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What’s the hardest part of writing a song? Where do you start?

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For me, the hardest part of writing a song is breaking out of the generic, Verse Chorus Verse Chorus, structure and adding a creative bridge or interesting pre or post-chorus breaks. I love bands that always have a different song structure such as Pierce the Veil, where there is still a clear Verse and Chorus, but a lot of clever additional parts are added. I really tried to experiment more with this in my song “Currents” and love how it turned out. This song was the hardest to write on the album but It’s definitely one of my favorites off of it. When writing I typically start on guitar or piano and start playing until I find a chord progression or riff or melody I really like. From there I decide If I want it to be used for a verse, chorus, or intro and write it out in MIDI to create a digital demo with a simple lead synth and MIDI drums. This is typically where I start for writing songs but have also written songs by starting off with a vocal melody, bass line, or even off of a drum beat.
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Do you have any preference with lyrics or instruments? Which one do you think is more important?

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It’s really hard to think which is more important because they both really complement each other. Even if there is an amazing instrumental for a song, It will be ruined by terrible vocals and vice versa. While I do spend a lot of time and hard work getting the Instruments to all sound their best melodically and sonically in all of my recordings, I usually spend more time on the lyrics and vocal melody. I’ve always been drawn to music with very powerful and melodic vocals and try to incorporate that into all of my music. I could spend weeks just trying to get the right vocal part for a song just to get the right sound and feel I’m looking for. If I have an inspiration to write off of for a song, lyrics can come to me very easily and make writing lyrics a breeze. But occasionally, there will be a song fully written except the lyrics and I will just be stuck on coming up with the words. When there isn’t a topic I can think of for a song, I really have to try hard to pry out every single word and it makes the process exhausting and frustrating.

 

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How do you manage by yourself all the different areas? (Writing, playing, publicity, producing, uploading to music sites, etc.)

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As said earlier, I record, write and mix all of my own music. After a project is finished, I will upload it to my distributor “DistroKid” where it is copyrighted and send to streaming services and digital music stores. On top of this, I am constantly contacting venues to book my own shows, reaching out to record labels and artist management companies, writing to instrument companies for artist endorsements, and promoting and managing my social media pages (SoundCloud, Instagram, Reverb Nation, Twitter). It is a large amount of work to do on my own but I need to do it all to even compete for a spot as an artist in the competitive music industry. Sometimes I can get very burnt out from all of the work and have needed to really work on time management and knowing when I need to take a break to stop myself from overworking.
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What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced during the making of your newest album, Mid-Century Modern?

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For me, the hardest part was balancing out working on new music vs school work or focusing on promotion and booking. By August 2018 I decided I needed to solely focus on the album and recording so I could put all of my efforts into it and make it as good as possible.
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Can you tell us about the creative process and all the different aspects of self-publishing and making an album?

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Self-publishing is definitely a difficult thing as a solo artist. With a band, there are many different opinions coming together to make the song, but for me, I really have to trust my instincts while writing and ask anyone I can for their feedback and opinions on my work in progress. I also have to be the one to make the call and decide if it is ready to publish or if it needs more work. It is difficult but I do really enjoy having full creative control with everything from writing to recording. For most songs, I try to write with a general theme or topic in mind that I’m going to sing about, but very often I will only have an idea for the instrumental and this makes writing lyrics a painful process since I won’t even know what to write about. For my last album “Mid-Century Modern” I included songs from a large range of genres and wanted to see which writing style people gravitated towards. I am really happy with how it turned out but in the future, I do not see any of my albums being this split in genres or in theme. I am very interested in writing a concept album in the future with a story being told throughout the album. I’ve seen a lot of bands do this and I’ve always loved figuring out the full story told by all of the individual songs put together.
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Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians that wish to take a self-publish route like you? What are the pros and cons?

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The biggest piece of advice I have is that it takes a large amount of time and work. If you want to take this solo, self-publish rout of music, you have to be prepared for all the work you’re going to do or try should find people to help manage you or book shows for you. It is very tough but there are a lot of positives to it. It is so rewarding to see your music in all of the stores and streaming platforms and be able to say “I did all of that”. Some people may be overwhelmed by it but I also love having all creative and production control while working on all of my music.
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Anything else you’d like to add?

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While I do a lot of my songwriting solo, I do really enjoy collaboration and working with other songwriters as well. The song “Indigo Sky” I co-wrote with musicians Abby Kenna and Dacey Curran while I was living in Manhattan this summer. When we were writing this song, we got to incorporate the ideas of songwriters from different genres to make this cinematic, vampire bloodbath of a song.

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Finally, where can we find you to support your work and follow you on your musical journey?

I have my music out on all major streaming services (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, SoundCloud, etc.) and can be found on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter by searching “Luke Dapuzzo”.
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