Interview with DL Rossi

I first discovered DL Rossi back in the beginning of UBL when I saw him open up for Flint Eastwood just over two years ago and immediately fell in love with his emotionally raw songwriting. I was reminded of why I became enamored with his music and intimate live performance when I saw him play Fusion Show’s Eighth Birthday Show a few weeks ago when he new music from his recently released The Apartment EP.

First off, why don’t you introduce yourself and give us a little bit about your background.

DL: Hi, my name is DL Rossi. That stands  for Daniel Luigi Rossi. I was born and raised in Sterling Heights, MI. I have been playing music in bands since I was 15. I actually started out as a drummer, and I have only been performing as a singer/songwriter for about 4 and a half years.

Is there a moment in your past where you just knew that music was what you wanted to do?

DL: I would say when I turned 18 I realized I wanted to play in a band with my brothers. That’s how I fell in love with music, it was a way to spend time with my two older brothers (who I worshiped and thought were the greatest).

I started to become more driven as a song writer playing in that band with my brothers and then over the past 10 years I developed into someone who began to rely on song writing as my way of processing my life. Almost like therapy for myself.  When I first started writing I thought I was doing it for other people, to better their lives. It was very much an “evangelical” exercise, but as I have gotten older I realize how flimsy that idea is for me as a motivator. I think it didn’t work for me because music for me isn’t just a tool or a thing I do for a living or to be popular. It’s become my method for processing life.

Your lyrics are very personal and confessional at times, do you ever feel uncomfortable being that open?

DL: Oh yeah, every time I write a song I show it to my wife or close friends and ask them if it’s ok to share it. Often I write songs that are way too raw, and there is a balance you have to find. I have found that there is such a thing as too honest.  But it has more to do with learning how to tell stories that you enjoy more than writing stuff that offends people or makes them uncomfortable. I’m honestly not too worried about that, I don’t make any money off my music, so being concerned with my audience isn’t that big of deal. The bigger thing for me is just asking myself if I feel like I can sing a song a bunch of times in front of people and not feel silly or bored or too whiny.

What is your writing process like?

DL: I typically just pick up a guitar and start messing around with chords and melodies. Once I come up with something I like I put it on my phone’s voice memo app. Then later I’ll record a demo on my phone and flesh it out completely. I try and set aside a few hours each week to writing at the least. I also try my best to force myself to finish any song idea as quickly as possible. Sitting on a verse or a chorus for weeks or months and judging it in a vacuum seems silly to me because you can’t look at it within the context of a whole. I re-write my songs constantly, and I re-demo them. I also always share my songs with my brother, Nolan, who is my producer and my other brother, Bryon, who is a great songwriter himself. They normally tell me if an idea is strong enough to keep working on. My wife, Jenny also is a great editor.  She is cold blooded and will tell me if a song just sucks and isn’t good enough. Basically I put a lot of time into writing, I like to be in the studio with complete ideas when I finally record an EP or an album.

How did the tracks for The Apartment EP come together? Were they just tracks you had written previously or was this completely new material?

DL: I honestly just had a bunch of songs, gave myself a deadline and started trying to put an EP together. The idea of what songs and how they would be arranged didn’t fully come together till about 3 weeks before the release date. I had asked a friend of mine, Brad Kelly (who has his own project called Bradlii and has released other music under the name YRLK) if he would track some of the acoustic song ideas I had at his studio space. We started tracking the first few tracks from the EP and sent them to my brother Nolan for mixing and extra bells and whistles and gradually Nolan and Brad helped me flesh out the EP.

I know you wrote “Against a Wall” for The Acoustic Guitar Project, what was the process of that like?

DL: That was wild. I didn’t think I would have a song by the end of the week about 3 days in. I was so focused on the EP and the songs and ideas I had written. The last night I remembered a verse idea from a few months ago and it all came together. Then we fleshed it out more for the EP and I was super happy with the final product. I was really blessed to be able to be apart of the acoustic guitar project. Greater Alexander asked me last minute to be apart of it and I’m super thankful he did!

What do you hope people take away from your music?

DL: I hope they enjoy it, that they find comfort in the stories and that they can relate to it. I think my music is heavy, and not always super accessible so it’s always exciting to me to hear someone actually liked my songs and felt connected to it. It’s nice to know there are other people who feel / experience life similar to you, connection makes us feel less alone, and ultimately less afraid, and I think that fear and loneliness (which are some of my biggest themes in my songs) are both super powerful emotions that can take us down dark roads. But, I also think it’s crazy how much fear and loneliness can be powerful connectors because they lead us back to our core desires to be loved and to share love.

Do you have a favorite song that you’ve written or have a song that you’re most proud of?

DL: That’s tough, I think The Apartment EP and my Self Titled release are pieces that I am super proud of. I really enjoy those albums and the music I did. As far as specific songs, I think I like “Hold On” a lot. Depression is a hard topic to sing about and not come across like a load or like a super preachy / self-righteous prick. I hope that “Hold On” doesn’t come across that way. I hope it just encourages people who are in a really heavy place to not give up. It’s hard to weather the storms depression and anxiety can create. People get pretty tired of you, and you get pretty tired of yourself. It takes every once of energy to hold on sometimes. I also just love the way Nolan and Brad produced that track, they made it SO much more interesting and musical than my original demo. They brought a lot of strong parts to the song.

I know we just got The Apartment EP, but are there any plans to release new music in the near future?

DL: Yes, I am writing another EP right now. I hope to track with a full band live at my brother’s studio and put together a good old rock’n’roll album.  I also have a show coming up in Kalamazoo on March 18th at Louie’s. I’m also doing a Real Feels TV session on March 13th that I’m excited about doing.

Make sure to check out my review of The Apartment EP which can be picked up on Amazon, Bandcamp, and iTunes.