Interview: Rocco Bene is rebuilt
Sydney singer, songwriter & producer Rocco Bene has already dropped two killer singles this year, ‘Nobody But U’ and a cover of Madonna’s ‘Lucky Star’. We have a chat with him:
Hi Rocco and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us. You have been on a musical sabbatical for a little while, what were you up to during that time and did it allow you to come back with a new vision and fresh approach?
I was in my early twenties and even though my career looked like it was taking off to everyone there were a lot of things going on behind closed doors. I was young and worked very hard to be signed to a major label and was lucky to have had that break. After seeing the opportunity deteriorate out of my control I felt lost and beaten down. I rebelled and experienced life, which has made me who I am today.
I moved to Melbourne to escape the distraction and rebuilt who I was. In that time I always wrote lyrics hoping one day I would have the opportunity to create music again. Luckily I received a call to collaborate with a producer from Sydney who went through the same experience that I did and from that point I have never looked back. It’s so rewarding to see my journey unravel. I’m proud to say I have rebuilt my career and I’m enjoying the process instead of chasing it.
When working on new material, do you look abroad for inspiration and what is happening globally in the house scene or prefer to keep a localised approach and focus on what is happening here and now?
To be honest harmonies and lyrics pop up in my head at the weirdest times and I record them on my iPhone to capture the idea, so when DJ and producers send me their music I have a phone full of ideas and inspiration. I know I have said it a few times but I am inspired a lot by the 80s and I take inspiration from music from all decades. I just do what I love and don’t worry about the trend. To me you shine more as an artist when you let go and follow your instincts not trends. I’ve learnt to listen to myself this time round instead of following the rest.
Given the opportunity, what venue/event would you most like to be on the bill for?
Any of the huge dance music festivals in Europe. Overseas they really embrace dance music and their energy is so alive.
What electronic acts have you caught that really grabbed your attention for how they worked the crowd and made their set a real standout?
I love the 80s and love acts who embrace parts of that in their music and image. Ones that really stand out for me are The Presets, Robyn, Empire of the Sun and Lana Del Rey. To me they own who they are and the songs they are singing.
For your own sets, do you have a clear structure from the onset or does it tend to be an organic approach that is shaped by the crowd/setting/venue?
Every gig is different. I like to change things up sometimes and add a few mash-ups with the songs I love and have grown up with. I love interacting with the crowd and just want them to dance and embrace the music.
On a technical level, what is in the kit?
Just my microphone. I work with a lot of different DJs and different venues so soundcheck is very important. Even if it means to hire a sound guy to make sure everything is organised and there’s no hiccups during the event. Trust me there have been a few, ha-ha.
You have recorded a cover of Lucky Star by Madonna, out of all the possible artists to choose, why Madonna and why Lucky Star?
I love the 80s and I get a lot of my inspiration from that decade. I always felt that song was cool especially the production and the video. I wanted to do a track that hasn’t been done to death and wanted to bring my influences into today’s world of music.
What does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?
So far it’s off to a great start musically and the response has been rewarding. I feel like I am where I’m meant to be and things are about to take off. Let’s hope. And a thumbs-up from Madonna would be great!
Keep up to date with Rocco on Facebook.
Interview by Courtney Dabb. Photography by Jeffrey Feng.