American Idol Top-10 finalist Dennis Lorenzo offers insight on influence and a list of artists who helped sculpt him into a diverse music creator.
“So, what kind of music do you make?” This is a question people ask me all the time, and let me tell you, it used to be a difficult one for me to answer. Part of the reason is because I grew up listening to so many different genres of music, and I really was influenced by everyone one of them. There were two genres however that stood out from my childhood, and would later define me as a musician. I’m talking about Rock and Soul music.
When I go back as far as I can remember, I have memories of my Mom playing, “Frontline” by Stevie Wonder, “Beat It”, by Michael Jackson and every song in Prince’s catalog. All of this music had one thing in common, Rock “n” Roll. I didn’t really think too much of it until I became somewhat obsessed with the music in WWF promos, which was 99.9% rock music. One Christmas I asked my Mom for 4 albums, the artists were Three Days Grace, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, 30 Seconds To Mars, and Breaking Benjamin. I studied them all, and then some. I think one of the most defining moments for me happened at the final scene of my favorite film of all time, “The Matrix”. Neo says his closing line and then boom, “Wake Up” by Rage Against The Machine plays, that was when I knew I was a rocker at heart.
On the other side of the spectrum, which I happen to be most known for, we also listened to the likes of Donny Hathaway, Jill Scott, Boyz II Men, The Temptations, and Whitney Houston among many other great soul artists of my time and before. Actually, the first time my Mom found out I could “really sing” (as she puts it), was when I sang the high note at the end of “Love” by Music Soulchild in the backseat of her car when I was 10—and I didn’t think she was listening. Soul and RnB music was surely the default in my household growing up.
When I was 15, I’d ask my Grandma and Pop-pop to buy me a guitar, that gift changed my life forever. I taught myself how to play guitar at 17, and I haven’t looked back since. While my voice grew more soulful, you would find that rock had influenced most of the music I was writing. I listened to Jeff Buckley, Hendrix, Andre 3000, Circa Survive, Coheed and Cambria, and Donny Hathaway always, that pretty much sums up what my music was like back then.
Pushing ahead a few years to my time in Atlanta, you’d have found me with a laptop and a keyboard as much as you’d see me with my guitar. Compared to Philly, this was a completely different world for me. Picture this, I moved to Atlanta in 2013, we’re talking Future, Migos, Mike Will Made It, Rae Sremmurd, Rich Homie Quan, Young Thug, I mean the list goes on. Trap wasn’t just a genre of music in Atlanta, it was a lifestyle. I’ll never forget the first time I heard the “S**t” by Future. I was like “What the hell is this?” It was different from NY, Philly or Jersey’s style of Hip Hop, there were no boundaries, and the 808’s were booming! The song “Versace” by Migos and Drake pretty much shaped a new sound for hip hop, along with artists like Lil Wayne. And the Migos are from ATL. It’s almost like Atlanta trap became the new Pop music. I was immersed in the culture. So much that I taught myself how produce trap music! It became my favorite thing of all time. A common joke among my brothers and I was how they’d hear/see me late at night, breathing heavily, slamming keyboard keys, and being blinded by my MacBook light, with my headphones blaring (I’m laughing as I write this thinking back). By the end of 2015 however, I came to a realization that I didn’t want to fully accept: my time in Atlanta had reached its peak, I had to make a move that would take me to the next of my artistry, and not just as a producer, so I moved to LA.
IN MY BLOOD
About 2 and half years after I moved to LA, I got my first “big break” on American Idol. The most important part of that journey was when I sang “In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes. When I finished, Lionel Richie brought himself to his feet and said to me “I just want to congratulate you because there is a time in every performer’s life, when you actually break through the ceiling, and you’re introduced to your new self. You have just taken that next step my friend. I am very proud of you!” After that Katy Perry said that I’m “Alternative” and that I remind her of Chris Cornell, another one of my biggest influences.
After my stint on the show ended, I went on a short hiatus and began to really craft my sound which is now a blend of Rock, Soul and Trap. I believe that the sky’s the limit for any artist who really knows himself/herself. Finding your sound, and/or where you fit in is no small feat for artists these days, especially in an industry that demands more and more of what it already has. It takes courage, strength, practice, trial & error, and failure to find who you are in this business.
It also takes these things to win, because that’s what you do when you find yourself regardless of where you end up.
Dennis Lorenzo uses KRK ROKIT G4 RP7 Monitors