Interviews / Music

Marco DeLiso Fights for His Own Identity in New Single “Round & Round”

Marco DeLiso first became acquainted with the joy of music while learning piano as a child. He’s continued to carry that discipline throughout his life and career and understands the importance of achieving balance in life – especially in order to sustain his commitment to music. His new single, “Round & Round,” addresses the struggle to form and keep one’s own opinions free of endless external influences. He values internal identity, or how you perceive yourself, over external identity, or how you are perceived by others. He remains in search of internal peace in spite of modern society giving us perpetual anxiety that we are less than or constantly lacking something. Listen to “Round & Round” HERE.

Cliché: How did learning the piano awaken your love of music as a child?

It was the first instrument I practiced. It showed me the relationship between action and sound. I learned about discipline and steady growth. It sounded so beautiful and I felt so relaxed playing. 

Talk about your EP, Balance

I have been recording my own music for over 10 years and have fallen in love with the process. I much prefer doing it on my own as opposed to going to a studio. It means I am free of the pressure; I can record whenever there is an open window of time, from wherever I happen to be. Balance was recorded slowly over many sessions in different places – my bedroom, EMF practice space (RIP), Studio 52 in Allston, MA, hotel rooms, Airbnbs. And We Fall, Round & Round, and Make That Call each went through many iterations to get to where they are now. Harmonious Resistance fell out of 1 or 2 sessions and seemed completed without much tinkering or additions.
I love overdubbing vocals to create sections of cloudy lush harmony. When listening to music, I notice how my attention is distributed between the various components of a section. The majority of it is typically concentrated on the lead vocal, especially if it is alone. But it tends to spread out in sections where the lead is not clear, there is no singular melody within the vocals. I played with this effect on Balance by having a variety of vocal distribution within each song. Listeners can have their own interpretation as they condense the melody from the cloud. 
I recorded everything into Ableton using the Akai EIE Pro interface. The vocals were recorded with a SM7b dynamic mic in noisier places, AT2050 condenser for quieter environments. Guitar was direct in from my Hughes & Kettner amp. Beats from the Korg Volca Sample & stock Ableton libraries. I took the sound as far as I could on my own, but knew that I needed a pair of objective ears to do the mixing and mastering.
I asked my friend Lucas and he agreed to provide his professional services for mixing / mastering, as well as light production. Since moving to LA, he has been very active in the music scene. He leads his own project called Snugs, and has also done production for a number of artists. The timing of my request coincided with him founding his own studio in West Hollywood called 369 North.
He had just launched an IndieGogo to raise money for studio gear, to which I contributed as payment for his services.

How would you say you’ve achieved balance in your life?

I’ve achieved balance by growing healthy relationships, having a job to pay the bills, keeping the meat sack healthy, and budgeting time for introspection. Only by sustaining these pursuits can I maintain a happy head and stay organized enough to continually allocate time to music.

Why is introspection and finding a balanced lifestyle so essential to you? Does it improve your perspective on your music?

Introspection and the balance lifestyle are essential because they give me steadiness and from this I can continually allocate time to music in a relaxed fashion.
This balance is my personal solution to the problem of being a creative individual in a society that makes it difficult for someone to live off of their art. Many of my closest friends are musicians. What is common to us is a desire for self-expression. It’s hard to explain why it’s important – it simply is. The challenge is the difference between this personal value and what is valued by the external world. From this deviation, we are given a set of constraints that end up defining us. We are always developing and changing our solution to this common problem as we proceed through the seasons of life. We are scientists of time and output.
I suppose it does improve my perspective on music as well. It grounds it in reality and makes sure that it’s an end to itself, rather than a delusional escape from a life of problems and dissatisfaction.

Describe your new single, “Round & Round”

I’ve noticed that it’s difficult to form and keep my own opinions. The world is constantly trying to convince me what to believe, selling me illusions. I feel like the struggle of our modern time is keeping the bright, attractive parade from entering ours senses and filling our minds with desire and longing. To achieve inner peace, it’s necessary to block it out.
I really have to fight to declare my own identity. For me, it is creativity and my craft is music. So practically, this fight is all about having my life well enough in order that I can open windows of time in the future where I am able focus completely on my music with a clear mind. Round & Round is about hanging on my time and continuously allocating a portion to music.

How do you go about accepting yourself in an industry that often pressures individuals to become different people or repress certain parts of themselves to succeed?

I don’t succeed – hahaha. At this point I have accepted that I will probably never make a sustainable salary from music. So in that regard, I have failed. But that failure also means that I am free from the pressures, free to stay true to myself and make music that I like. Perhaps someday this approach will be recognized and valued by the industry. But frankly, I am relatively unconcerned by this. I am happy with where I am and want to help others see the good in their own situations too. 

What’s the difference between internal identity versus external identity?

To me, internal identity is how you perceive yourself. It’s the person inside looking out at the world. External identity is how you are perceived by people. It’s how you come across in social situations, and how you are presented online.
I have been shocked by the vast difference between the 2 in myself and others and have witnessed how this can cause suffering. This tension seems very complex to me. To succeed, as most strive people to do, it seems important to present certain sides of yourself in a calculated manner, dependent on the context. Some people are really good at this, others are not so good. I think I’m somewhere in the middle.  

Do you think we can ever fully separate our internal sense of self from external expectations?

I don’t know. Probably not. I realize the ideas I’ve presented highlight two opposite poles on a spectrum and that reality is much messier. However I think looking at the poles facilitates a discussion of the system which hopefully helps someone else better understand themselves.

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Marco DeLiso Fights for His Own Identity in New Single “Round & Round.” Photo Credit: Rafael Avcioglu.