It’s been a busy year for the DMV’s up-and-coming producer, vocalist and keyboardist Alessandro Di Marzio. While you may have seen him supporting local rapper Jahn Rome while opening up for the Wu Tang Clan at The Anthem or at Sonbyrd in recent months, Di Marzio is humbly taking his shot at the spotlight under his own project, Fabrizio.
Ahead of his headlining show at Songbyrd this Saturday, December 22, we sat down with this budding artist to discuss his newly released single, “Blu Daydream,” playing with a full band for the first time and how he thinks we should build sustainable music communities.
Last time we spoke, it was last spring, when you were opening up for The Neighbors in the Vinyl Lounge at Songbyrd. So much has happened since that show, and I want to dig into what you've been up to! I hear you've got a show coming up on December 22! This is your second time playing downstairs at Songbyrd as Fabrizio, but it's your first time headlining. What has that progress felt like over the past year?
Alessandro Di Marzio: I nearly grew up with TJ and Logan, as I met them at a really early point in my production career. We all knew each other we when we starting, and when they got that headlining opportunity upstairs, they asked me to open up for them. Before that, I wasn't playing any shows at all. I played The Manor back in December of last year, and that was it. I wasn't planning on finding any more shows or anything, I was just planning on working on stuff and seeing what happened.
I met Jahn Rome at that show, which is what kicked off all of the next shows I was going to get. From there, once we started working together and I started producing for him, he wanted me to be his collaborator, and sign up as a duo with him. So, I played his headlining show downstairs at Songbyrd about two weeks after I met him, and from there, it kept building and building. That definitely helped me to get my face recognized with the promoters for downstairs and my reputation with them. Jahn kept inviting me to play more shows with him, we just kept making more music, and that pushed me to start making more of my own stuff. It added even more passion to what I already had, like an extra kick that I needed. I owe a lot to Jahn for helping me get we're I'm at.
It's kind of like Fabrizio 2.0, right?
AD: Oh, yeah!
And you're going to have a full band, which I understand is a totally new performance set up for you. Walk us through your planning process for this show, how you are going to be involved with the band.
AD: I'll start it off by saying that everybody that I have been associated with, I've met through shows. I met Ben because he came to one of my shows in the Vinyl Lounge after headlining with Jahn downstairs. Ben came up to me and said, "Dude, I love what you're doing, and if you ever want to play with a full band, just let me know." After I finished that set, I knew that something was missing. I felt like I was disconnected from what I actually wanted to be doing. My music needed that extra effect live, it needed to feel more full. What I was doing wasn't clicking for me. When I was up there and was just playing keys, I had all these other elements going on, it didn't feel right just being up there by myself. So, that's when I reached out to Ben when I got the headliner downstairs, and I asked him to get a full band together.
Ben Rockwood: For me, before I started playing metal, I was a huge hip hop fan. I've always been a fan of hip hop over instrumentals, like Rage Against the Machine, Beastie Boys, and all that stuff. I always thought that it added an extra oomf that hip hop shows needed. It also gives it a unique energy you don't get from the album. As a musician, whenever you hear music, I always think of what I can add to it. When I hear EDM, I'm always thinking of drums I could add to a track. After seeing his set, I was like, "Damn, jamming to this would be incredible."
How many people and what kind of instruments will be on stage this weekend? And how will that change the experience of your music as people can hear it on the singles you've released online?
AD: The first time we sat down, I was immediately blown away. And it was just Ben and the guitar player, and we had the two of us sit in there and just see what happened. I didn't know what to do or how to approach the live instrumentation, and I just wanted to see how it was going to work. Within ten minutes, of us being in the room, the first song completely clicked. We're going to have an electric drum set, two guitar players, a bass player and then one of the guitar players will also be playing keys. It'll be a full experience, and it's exactly what I wanted. It's going to bring my songs to life. Rather than me just playing what I produced and singing in front of everybody, playing my keys, everyone is going to be making that song feel like its supposed to feel.
And when you produce your music, you create it all with digital instrumentation?
AD: Yeah, its just me in my room with my midi keyboard, and I do everything from top to bottom. But, when I meet with the full band, it's a surreal feeling. Something that I just created in my room is now actually being brought to life. Their energy is going to bleed through, and they're going to be a part of each song.
Ben, are there any particular moments or songs you're excited to play live?
BR: Definitely! I'm going to be holding down the rhythm, because I play bass, but it'll be really fun to see our guitarists do their solos and see what they add to it. For the last song, it'll be the coolest idea ever. We're going to do the whole song, and at the end, we're going to have each rapper that opened up the show come out and do a verse. It'll be like a whole cypher, and we'll each get a solo, too. It'll just encompass the whole vibe of the set. It's going to be a really fun set.
AD: What's also so cool is seeing how talented they are. At first, I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to give them each solos throughout all of the songs, but seeing how incredibly talented they are, watching them play with Brownman and noticing all the things they can do, they need to have parts throughout all of the songs. Through every single song, from top to bottom, you'll see the guitar player have a solo, keyboard will have a solo, and Ben will fill in a bass solo. None of it exists on the record, but live, you'll get a whole different experience.
Do you think your experience as a producer is contributing to the ease you seem to be having transforming your music for a live stage?
AD: Yeah, definitely. I think that because I'm familiar with building something from nothing, when I'm now given live instruments, bringing it all together just makes sense. If I wasn't making my songs from top to bottom, it would have been much harder for us.
BR: It was easy for you to tell us the energy you wanted.
AD: I'm really excited.
So, that's what we have to look forward to this Saturday at Songbyrd. In terms of the track you recently released, "Blu Daydream," what is exciting you creatively right now, and what other things are you working on?
AD: After we spoke last and I started collaborating with Jahn, I started focusing more on making another album or project again. That's how it all started: I really want to take what I'm going through right now, even my venture from having no shows at all to now booking shows every month, and wanting that to be my career, but its not yet. I'm stuck here. I took that concept, and I turned that into a full-length album. Obviously, wanting that to be your life, but it's not. You still have to grind for it, but you're getting a taste of what it could be like. It's extremely draining mentally.
BR: It makes the highs really high, and the lows feel so much lower. You can go from playing a crazy, sold out show, to having to go to your nine to five the next day.
AD: Exactly. It's really hard to deal with, so that's what I wanted to make the project about. It's not just about my experience, but about dreamers who want something way more than what they're experiencing, but feel like they're not there yet and they're also dealing with that mental aspect. I'll be depressed thinking about it, because I want this to be my life, but it's not funding me right now. It's really challenging to show up to work when you wish you could just be playing shows. That's my concept for the album, and that's the journey I want to take you through. Every song compliments a little bit of each experience.
"Blu Daydream" is the title track of the album. I really wanted to release that as the single because it explains what the whole project is. Not just my lyrics, but the way that it's structured. I start out really slow, and its just me playing piano in my room, and just trying to figure out the melody. It then progresses into that daydream world, where it's happy and I'm in that world on the stage, making money and my career is advancing. And then it slows down after that big build up, and we're back to reality again. I'm dreaming of a new life, is what I'm saying in the song. It builds up and explodes again, and ends with me saying "everybody's hoping, wishing and waiting." Everyone's grinding, and I'm saying in the song they can come with me into that mindset and we can embrace it together.
How do you keep the momentum going as you wait for that daydream between shows?
AD: When I sit down to write music, it is an escape. When I'm actually starting a song, its for me to escape and it's purely that. It's always me just trying to get out of the space that I'm in, but at the same time, making sure that I'm complimenting the people that are going through something. So, I'm trying to relate to the people that are experiencing this mindset. It doesn't have to be people that are dreamers, but just people that are hoping for something better than what they're going through. To keep that momentum from show to show, it's all about everybody that I'm surrounded by. It's definitely not just me that's pushing myself through it. The people that are closest to me in my life and are making this experience possible are the people I keep doing it for.
What are your goals for booking shows and making music in the new year?
AD: I want to be playing shows literally as much as possible going into 2019. The more realistic mindset is that I want to up everything I was doing this past year. Even if I'm not playing frequently, I want to be playing bigger. I want to be playing those shows because I'm freaking out because I've never played anything like that before. I also just don't want to make as much as I can, but as quality as I can. Everything that I want to put out should top the rest that I've done. I also want to meet more people that I look up to and that I aspire to be, and to grow this community more and more. Something that's really important to touch on about this upcoming headliner is that everybody that is playing are people that I really care about and want to see succeed. We all come from the same community and live in a 20 minute radius of each other. It was really important to me, at my first official headliner and the biggest show I've played until my name. I wanted my first one to be something where everybody that is opening for me are people that I want to take with me as I grow.
Do you think that kind of community love and support is what is going to take the DMV music scene to the next level? More artists that lift each other up and provide each other with opportunities like that?
BR: Definitely. You need to have a foundation to make anything. National acts aren't going to want to tour and stop around here if there's no scene. If there are big locals killing it, it'll give national acts more motivation to come here and have locals open for them. It'll make shows more profitable, and will keep all kinds of venues open. It'll create more opportunities for everyone in the scene.
AD: I think no matter where you're from, if you're not bringing the community with you, you're never going to actually succeed. It doesn't matter where you're from -- if you don't have a community of people that believe in you, things won't happen for you. If it that's not true and I'm completely delusional, I'm still going to always believe that giving back to the community and all of these artists will make us all successful. I want this upcoming show to feel like home, and that we're all together. That's why for the last song we're going to do in the set, we're going to have all of the openers come together. We'll have all played individual sets, and end with us all together, which will symbolize where we want to be moving forward.
Interview edited for clarity and length.
All photos by Meredith Wohl.
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