American Idol Top-10 Finalist and KRK User Dennis Lorenzo Offers Insight on Influence, and Becoming Your Own Artist

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT Blog 2 1American 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.

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 1ROCK

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.

SOUL

Musiq SoulchildOn 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.

ATLANTA

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 Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 7 2Future, 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

DLAbout 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.

MORE INFORMATION:

IG: @dennislorenzo

FB: @Hllywdrenz

TW:  @DennisLorenzo

Dennis Lorenzo uses KRK ROKIT G4 RP7 Monitors

Advice from American Idol Top-10 Finalist and KRK User Dennis Lorenzo on Being a Modern Music Creator

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:

Dennis Lorenzo
#LiveLoveLorenzo

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 5a

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.

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 9Getting 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…

American Idol backstage KRKLater 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!

DLSo 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.

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 1A 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.

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 2There’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 😉 ).

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 8Here’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.

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 6One 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!