KRK ROKIT G4 user Dennis Lorenzo is an inspiring and accomplished modern singer/songwriter/musician whose story is unlike most. Growing up in PA, he turned some adverse situations into positive outcomes through optimism and music, eventually landing himself on American Idol as a Season 16 Top-10 contender. We are fortunate to have Dennis as a “KRK Blog-takeover Artist” who has shared his American Idol story with us through his eyes:
Being a modern music creator these days is dynamic! Not only am I constantly songwriting, producing and mixing at home, I also have to keep up digitally with my fans—which at times can be the perfect outlet for any artist. In my case, it’s dope to be able to engage with people online since most of my fans aren’t able to make it to my shows. It also gives me the opportunity to learn about people all around the world! What’s even cooler is the story about how I gained my fans. I’m one of the lucky ones who got through to the American Idol platform, and I figured it would be interesting to share my story on how I got there.
It all started with a phone call from a friend when my business partner and I were about a week into working on another artist’s project. This day had been “personally challenging” for me as I was craving to start work on my own music after grinding day in and day out on someone else’s. To get a break, I stepped outside the studio lobby to about 77 degrees of that good ol’ LA weather, which was the opposite of the humidity I’d faced in Philly. The studio owner was outside and before he headed back in he gave me a nod and a “What up D? – Y’all in there workin!” I’ll never forget laying down on a bench between two lion statues outside this studio, looking to the sky for 15 minutes and wondering, “man, what’s next?” I had been grinding, working hard and doing everything right, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to get to the next chapter—the next level.
Getting back into the studio, I sat down to listen to what they’d recorded and as soon as my bro Aaron pressed play, my phone began to vibrate. I excused myself once more to take the call and it was my friend Ranae, her tone was excited but serious. She got straight to the point, “Hey Dennis, so this is urgent! I have a friend who is a producer at American Idol and he’s looking for talent. He asked me if I knew anyone and I immediately thought of you! This is no joke—super serious!” Before I could spit out my response, she said, “If you’re down, please send me a video of you singing and playing guitar, ASAP!” Of course, I said, “Well hell yeah I’m down—I’ll send it right over!” To that she responded, “I’m so excited for you! I’ll forward it to him when I get it, and he’ll call you today or tomorrow, so glue your phone to your hand or something!” He called me that same day and well, the rest is history…
Later that week I found myself standing in line with thousands of other musicians, each of us about to take on the opportunity of a lifetime. I stood in front of Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. I grew up listening to a lot of rock and artists like Lionel, and not many people knew how big of a KP fan I was. Sometime after I had first moved to LA, I went to Runyon Canyon. Me and my bro Will overheard a tour guide from the bus yelling “And THIS is Katy Perry’s house!” That was a big deal because again, I loved Katy Perry. I said to myself “One day, I’m gonna meet her out here.” What were the odds that the American Idol show would be revived, I’d get a call to audition, and that KP would be one of the judges? – good enough apparently!
So there I stood, in front of three juggernauts of their respective genres. Teamed up with my broken guitar with a hole in it, I sang “Unaware” by Allen Stone, another big influence of mine. That performance got me a golden ticket and etched a new chapter in my music career. The experience was like being inserted into the thick of the music industry overnight. There were very late nights, really early mornings, euphoria, stress, and butterflies in your stomach all at once. It was awesome! I made it to Top 10 on the show, which was incredible to say the least.
A lot of people ask what my overall take away from the experience was or what did I learn, and here is what I normally say. Firstly, if you think your career is set for life after becoming Top-10 on a show like American Idol, think again! That’s when the real work begins:
- Be sure to maintain/cater to the fan-base you’ve acquired and stay on top of your Social Media.
- Create something EVERY SINGLE DAY, even if you write one song, sing and create every day.
- Play as many shows as you can (If you have management, they’ll get you to where you need to be).
- Some may challenge this, but don’t veer to far away from your style on the show; be who you are. Don’t be afraid to try new things, or take chances, but remember, you don’t want to experiment too much during your “opportunity of a lifetime.” So take your chances, but don’t make every performance something different,—trust me, I know from experience.
- This last one is very important, and it actually applies to every facet of life, remember to live in the moment. Don’t let thoughts of winning or losing consume you. I say this because I’ve seen it happen. And remember this, do anything you do in moderation. So, it’s totally fine to acknowledge the fact that you will technically either win or lose, however, the moment you allow your psyche to become riddled with those thoughts, you’ve lost yourself. There is no way to maintain your truth or yourself while those things are ruling you. Because the truth is, the moment you get that golden ticket, you can take that win ANYWHERE.
There’s also one final thing I want to share with you! If you’re an artist and you’re reading this because you’re a fan of mine, or because you just want to read what some guy who almost won American Idol has to say, get a home studio setup! To those who already have one, and I know there are many, you’d be surprised how many artists don’t take that leap. So, here’s what you’ll actually need:
- A computer (laptop or desktop/Mac or PC—it does not really matter anymore).
- DAW (Digital Audio Workstation—there are some great free ones available now).
- A microphone – you would be surprised how great some mics under $100 sound these days.
- A pair of decent studio speakers – I use the KRK ROKIT G4 as they adapt to my home sound-environment with the KRK Audio Tools app.
- A keyboard/midi controller – (not a necessity, but I highly recommend one for creating music.)
- Mic stand.
- Interface – this is the unit (box) that plugs into your computer and goes between your mic, guitar, keyboard, bass, etc. Again, there are some decent low-cost choices out there these days.
- A comfortable studio chair (these are in NO way overrated 😉 ).
Here’s a list of what I use: MacBook Pro, Logic and Ableton Live, Apogee Hype Mic, a pair of KRK Rokit 7 G4s (these are really great speakers for a home studio!), Yamaha Portable Grand, Stage Stands mic stand, Audeze LCD-1 headphones, KRK KNS800 Headphones (for mix reference), Apogee Duet, and some random studio chair I found a few blocks from my house.
One final, final thing to note: I know how this business can be, so getting help as you navigate through is a must. With that, I hope this article was of some help to you, until next time, rock on!