RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW GLASGOW ARTIST DANIEL ANTONIO
Hiya mate, thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
The realization was quite gradual. I became obsessed with music as a teenager and naturally fantasized about performing in a band in front of a lot of people, but as I got older and started to understand the intricacies of song writing and production, music became more and more appealing as a path. I remember the deciding moment for me was when I watched Bring Me the Horizon headlining All Points East Festival in 2019, at the end of the show I burst into tears and made the promise to myself “this is what I’m going to do”.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
My name is Daniel Antonio and I’m a solo artist based in Glasgow. I was born in Italy and relocated back to England with my mum and sister when I was nine, I spent my teenage years growing up in Sheffield. My parents aren’t musicians but the music was always a big part of the house growing up. The first song I ever remember liking was Gimme, Gimme, Gimme by ABBA, then as a kid I was listening to whatever was on my mum’s iPod; Queen, Aerosmith, Michael Jackson, Beyonce and Britney. My uncle – who now produces and performs drums on my songs – introduced me to heavier, darker music like Breaking Benjamin and Rage Against the Machine, and that opened the gateway to metal and hardcore which I became obsessed with as a teenager.
I started singing in my bedroom at fourteen but I was also doing a lot of acting and musical theatre when I was in school, so my singing developed a lot through performing. In my late teenage years, I got super into pop, electronic and hip-hop and that’s when I started to mess around with producing and song writing in my bedroom. At first it was creating loops and samples and then that evolved once I started getting to grips with writing an actual song and I began to explore a way to fuse different genres together which leads us to what I’m doing now.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
I’m only just getting started so at this stage everything still lies ahead of me. I’m just really glad to finally have this first song out as I’ve been working on it for a very long time. At this stage I’m looking forward to getting into a release pattern, working on new songs, putting them out and gradually building up an audience over time.
How have your song writing skills developed over time?
In many different ways. When I first started writing songs I’d write melodies to fit around lyrics I’d already written, which is the complete opposite of how I write now. To me getting a strong and catchy vocal melody is key so now the melody always comes first and then I write lyrics to fit that melody. Another big learning curve for me is that less is more – It’s really easy to get excited and throw 20 different ideas at the song but I’m learning that a song can be much more hard-hitting with just 4 or 5 really well-crafted layers.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about females not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
I’ve recently been seeing bands address this issue at shows which I think is really good. I read Petrol Girls are running this “all girls to the front” incentive and I recently saw SCENE, QUEEN, live and during one song she instructed the crowd to make a girls-only mosh-pit. I think these kinds of things make a big difference. Whilst everyone is there to have fun, it needs to be a safe space so I think artists checking in with the crowd and being attentive to what’s going on off stage will ensure everyone has a better experience.
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
We’ve reached the point where a really great song isn’t enough anymore to get people’s attention. People want something more, whether that’s an interesting visual, a compelling backstory or a character. To me the visual theme of the music is important, it adds a different context and creates a universe for the music to exist within so I put a lot of care into that, it’s the lens I want people to listen to my music through.
What’s your thought on Spotify monopoly on the music industry?
My thoughts on this are quite split, to be honest, it’s murky waters. On one hand, the success of a song or album is completely in the hands of an algorithm, which can very easily not work in your favour, and that’s quite unsettling. On the other hand, a new artist could have a song reach the charts with no major label backing, all because it did well in the algorithm and was pushed by playlists, that’s not something that could have happened thirty years ago.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
I’m not a conspiracy theory guy. But my girlfriend is really into that stuff so you can ask her that question!
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
When I tell people I’m half-Italian they’re always surprised I speak English so well, so probably that.
What makes you stand out as an artist?
As a solo artist who loves so many different styles and types of music there is no limitation on what kind of music I could make. I don’t have to adhere to a set of instruments that a band has to play with so the possibilities for musical exploration are endless. In theory, one song I release could be thrash metal and the next one could be a new wave song, nothing is off limits and that makes it really exciting for me.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.
I have a new song out called ‘everything I touch and it’s my first single as Daniel Antonio. If I had to describe the song, I’d say it’s a dark, dramatic electro-rock song with some pop sensibilities.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
Lyrically, the song is about taking accountability and admitting that there’s something wrong with you that you need to work on. I reached a point where I had to make a change in the way I was treating myself and those around me, and the first step of making change is admitting “I have a problem and I need to do something about it”. The lyrical subject matter is quite dark but the song has a hopeful message that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The lyric “there’s heat when we merge souls and I feel it in my bones” is me acknowledging that in changing I can become more present and create meaningful connections with those around me which makes it all worth fighting for.
What was the recording process like?
I worked with producer Jared Harding on this song, I took the demo to him in December of last year and initially the production was entirely electronic. I felt like there was something missing so we went back to it and added guitars and drums to give it more of a band feel, and that’s when I started to feel like we had something good.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
Learning when it’s time to let the song go. In hindsight I spent way too much time working on this song, going back to it and making changes. I needed to trust my gut instincts and not second guess every choice I made because that way you’re sure to lose the original character of the song.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Absolutely! But like I was just saying I think the song in its current state exists as a specific captured moment in time and that’s what gives the song its life. I tried to remove or polish parts of the song and it just didn’t have the same emotional pull, and to me music is about feeling something rather than creating something that’s technically flawless.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Thank you for listening! If you like what you’ve heard so far then stay tuned because there’s a lot more coming.