A voice like this doesn’t come around very often. That is why I was SO excited when I was first introduced to ΔNGELO. There are several other artists out there with the same name, but NO ONE uses the Δ, which I find both artistic and unique. That just adds to my feeling about this talented performer. I actually asked him about the asked him about the Δ in the interview. ΔNGELO has a new single out called Terrible Heart. The story of that single is quite interesting, as it was first inspired by the infamous Edgar Allan Poe. But his voice is what I keep coming back to… that, and his lyrics. I will just stop talking about him, how about that? It’s my absolute pleasure to introduce you to ΔNGELO.
I have to know… what’s with the A in your name. That’s not like any other A I have ever seen.
The Δ is technically the Greek Delta symbol, 4th letter of the Greek alphabet, which also serves a multitude of mathematical, alchemical and magical properties. I started using in lieu of the traditional ‘A’ as more of a graphic treatment for my name – it presents a little bit of a problem when people search for me though, not many folks are familiar with the shortcut to the delta symbol.
Really digging the new single Terrible Heart. I really like the lyrics, too. Did you write those? Do you write all of your own lyrics?
Glad you like it! Terrible Heart actually started off as a poem (strictly) before we set it to music. Most of my songs start as sketches for poems or free thought. I write all the lyrics to my songs.
Tell me a little bit more about Hands Down EP.
Hands Down is the first single off my record Narcissus Drowned – it was one of the first songs I recorded for this project, so it felt right to release it as the single leading the charge. I feel like the remixes also lend different insight into the song – each mix feels like a different incarnation.
You are from San Diego… where the weather is pretty much always perfect. Now you are in New York. Why the move from one coast to the other?
I always knew that I would end up in NYC. I have a fairly nostalgic view of life here; my family is originally from New York, so in some ways I guess I came back to my ancestral roots. I also bought into the mythology of NYC when I was a kid… It’s probably why I live in the East Village now, it’s still gritty and raw everyone here looks like they stepped out of a Maripol Polaroid. I love it. San Diego is beautiful, and I will always consider it “home”; I do miss the easy lifestyle (and the beach) but my pulse is set to the speed of this City.
Tell me about your relationship with AZTEC Records Ltd.
The relationship with AZTEC happened very organically. They had been on my radar for quite some time – and oddly enough a friend approached me about them before we had even asked for an introduction. I respect the fact that both Ariel and Laura are brilliant musicians themselves, it’s important to work with other creatives who understand both the logistics of the business and the artistic process. They are committed to assembling a solid roster of talent and I wanted to be a part of that community.
You have a new album coming out here pretty soon. Tell me a little bit more about producing Narcissus Drowned.
Narcissus Drowned is a biopic, like pages out of some kind of an aural journal – it chronicles thoughts and memories. Producing this record was a bit of a feat – the bulk of the record was recorded in Nashville, with production support coming in from all over the world. Terrible Heart was written in a matter of hours at my friend Scott’s place in San Francisco, Narcissus Drowned was produced in Barcelona… I am lucky that I have a band of patient and amazingly talented producers and musicians who contributed to the project, it couldn’t have happened in just one time zone.
Who are some of your biggest influences, in both life and in music
I am influenced by so many artists musically it’s hard to narrow it down to a select few; the genius will always Michael Jackson, but musically I could list Nina Simone, fado singer and powerhouse vocalist Mariza, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Madonna, Jeff Buckley, Jaques Brel… Kylie… It’s a very eclectic mix. In life, I’d say some of my biggest influences have been family and friends. My great aunt Mae (who I reference in Sinner & The Saint) probably had the biggest impact on me… My older brother, my sister, teachers… Dan Savage.
Is that your hand on the cover of Hands Down EP?
Yes, that is my hand. I had to pose for that piece. The image is actually an oil painting, part of a triptych that I had commissioned for the album by artist Stephen Workman.
Do you have a job outside of music?
I do. I own and operate a small consulting business specializing in advertising production and brand imaging. It affords me the opportunity to stay involved in various parts of the industry while funding my music career. In this business you’d be remiss not to have several irons in the fire.
Do you tour very often? What can someone expect from a live show?
The bulk of the last two years has been spent recording, so a tour would be great – but there is some leg work that needs to be done in order to pull that off. Previous shows have been more vocal/down tempo… with me; you can always expect to be entertained. I love being on stage, and I love singing. There’s no lip-syncing going on at an Angelo show – this stuff is live.
Who are you listening to these days? What’s on your iPod?
I’ve got Lady Gaga’s Born This Way album on regular rotation (there are some real gems there), but I’m also listening to a lot of Iron and Wine, Bach and older Janet Jackson. Sometimes when I’m in a writing phase I can get distracted by current music, so I need to peel it back a bit. I’m currently in a bit of a writing phase so I’m actively avoiding the radio.
What’s It Gets Better, and how are you affiliated with that project?
The It Gets Better Campaign is a virtual YouTube phenomenon – started by columnist/writer Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller in reaction to the rash of suicides among LGBTQ students. The videos (or testimonials) have been submitted from people from all walks of life, encouraging viewers to re-think or reassess their circumstance if they were contemplating suicide or endangering themselves. It’s become a virtual outlet of resources for people who may not have had access or knowledge of them before. I felt a responsibility to put my own message out there in the hopes it would find its way onto someone’s computer screen. Later, when Dan’s team reached out to ask if they could include an essay of mine to be published in the book chronicling the messages of support from the campaign – I felt extremely honored. I had the chance to meet Dan and Terry in NYC at the book release event, Dan is definitely a personal hero of mine and he proves that just one person with an idea can make a huge impact, something that we all need to be reminded of.
You seem to have all the social networks covered. Who runs all of those accounts? Do you have a favorite social site?
I always think that I have room for improvement when it comes to social media, but most everything is run and managed by me. I have a few friends and a couple people that I bring on board for support, but I am essentially a one-man show. Right now I’m seriously addicted to Twitter.
How many tattoos do you have?
Much to the chagrin of someone who shall remain nameless, I have 15 different tattoos.
I just LOVE that graphic for Terrible Heart. Who designed that?
Eric Scot shot the image, and I did the layout and the design for the cover.
What would you be doing if you were not performing?
I’d be in the shower. Or at the gym.
I love the beach… what was the purpose of the Malibu photo shoot?
That was the first shoot that Eric Scot and I did together. It was originally meant to be an update to my portfolio/book – as someone in the arts it’s important to keep images of yourself updated every time you make a change (even a haircut) – I went through about seven months of training to gain about twenty pounds of mass – so I needed to update my book. It wasn’t my intention to have pin-up-boy pictures floating around the Internet, but a few sites picked up the shots and the rest is history. I recently saw myself on a flyer for a club night in Brazil… I’ve never been to Brazil, so let that be a lesson to you.
Speaking of that photo shoot… you must work out a LOT! How do you keep that figure? (That’s coming from a guy who hasn’t seen the inside of a gym in years!)
I’m actually quite lean and because of my body type if I don’t workout I drop weight very quickly. On average I workout at least five days a week, it’s something I actively have to build into my schedule.
What’s the last movie you saw? Looking forward to any blockbusters this summer?
I cannot remember the last movie I saw in a theater. I saw Gnomeo & Juliet on the plane from LA recently. I quite enjoyed that. I’m excited to see the last Harry Potter… I think that’s about it.
You have been able to get pretty much instant international exposure. How cool is that having your tunes heard all over the planet?
It’s fairly surreal to know that even a few people outside of my network of friends know about me or my music. I have received really amazing messages on Facebook and Twitter from people who are really enjoying the music. That means everything to me. I am hoping I can reach an even broader audience.
In your opinion, how has the Internet changed the way people absorb music?
Well, everything can be accessed instantly, so in some ways it takes some of the anticipatory build or pageantry out of the business, which was part of the fun part… the digital world has forever lifted the veil. Then again, I think it’s forcing people to move with the technology to supply music in ways that could have never been thought of before. I don’t think can even guess how the Internet will really change the business of music yet… we’re still figuring it out.
From the looks of it, you have traveled all over the globe. How many stamps do you have on your passport?
Well I lived in Europe for a bit, so I did a lot of country hopping then, but I’ve been able to sneak away to several places recently and I’m hoping that will continue… the goal would be to travel AND perform… I’m SO ready for that.
Is that Michael Jackson I hear?
I am sure it is… the song is called ΔNGELO VS MICHAEL. I wrote a song about Michael Jackson called Time Bomb and after his death I approached Buffetlibre to do a mashup with Billie Jean – you can download it for free on my SoundCloud account… it’s pretty kick-ass.
Speaking of the King of Pop, how did you react to the news of his passing? Will anyone even challenge what he has done for music?
I was on a photo shoot in LA when I heard. The entire studio froze it was if no one believed it… in true Angelo fashion I had been playing MJ tunes all day that day, so it was eerily too close to home. That night my friend Chris picked me up and we went to Hollywood Blvd. to see the makeshift memorial that people had spontaneously put up on his star on the Walk of Fame. I was totally numbed by the whole experience.
Let’s move forward in time a little bit here… where do you see yourself in five years?
I see a lot of things in my five year plan… but if I tell you all of it, what fun would that be for you?
When this is all said and done, what do you want to be remembered for? What’s the ΔNGELO legacy?
I want to contribute to a healthier, more socially conscious, self-actualizing world. Artistically I would like my music, words etc. to reach people – provide them with even one pure moment of connection –and in terms of my life’s goals, I want to make a positive effect on others… be a good brother, spouse, dad, friend, patron, goofball.
In all of the interviews that I do, I always let the artist get the last word. Go.