Behind the fauxhawk and rippled muscles, Angelo D’Agostino — just call him Angelo — is an Italian-Catholic boy who always knew he was different. But what he would initially attribute to his being an artist would later turn into his being gay.
“I was one of these kids that very innocently and non-assumingly did not associate sexuality with any points of difference,” he recalls via telephone from New York. “I thought I was an artist and that I was different, and people saw me differently because of that.”
When he was around 19 years old, Angelo collected enough money from part-time jobs to buy an eight-track recorder, a device capable of recording multiple inputs into one sound. Several weeks ago, Angelo says he found his old eight-track and two shoe boxes full of cassette tapes.
“It was all very analog, what I was doing,” he says with a hint of nostalgia. “And it’s funny, sort of, in an ironic way. In terms of indie rock and indie pop music now, people are sort of reverting back to that sound.”
Angelo says those initial choruses, harmonies and musical threads stuck with him in creating his newest project, an eight-track EP that should be available for purchase by the time this is published. He calls these songs pieces of him, like the piles of spiral notebooks diarists may fill composing their life’s story.
“They’re pieces of me that I’ve kept in a mental drawer, and who knows where they’ll end up,” he says. “We’ll see if I can go about the arduous process of looking through all those to see if there’s anything to harvest.”
“Hands Down” and “Terrible Heart” are songs from the EP Angelo is proud of and most excited for people to hear. But by and large, he can’t decide on just one or two as his favorite. He says, “…all Christmases are pretty kick ass if you’re a kid and you’re getting what you want. And to me, this project is like a Christmas present. I have eight little presents that I’ve been able to sort of unwrap for myself, and they all equally mean something to me.”
“Narcissus Drowned,” another track listing, is what he calls “a little high-level for electro-pop music.” He says it illustrates not only his song writing, but also how he views himself best represented musically. And perhaps his music is a bit intellectual for pop, although he affirms he’s no “crazy poet or hard ass or something.”
Graduating from San Diego State University with a degree in art history and language arts, Angelo says he wants people to know there’s more than just a one-dimensional musician meat bag crooning in people’s earbuds. “It’s important for me as a person for people to know that I do have a brain and that there’s more to me than just a sick beat or some plumped up bass,” he insists. “There’s something behind all this, and if that responds with someone, then great.”
One of the most profound things Angelo does, besides craft songs with layers of depth that reveal themselves following each listen, is support the LGBTQ community just by living authentically. Last year, he recorded a video for the It Gets Better Project, an initiative created by columnist Dan Savage and his husband around the time LGBTQ youth suicides permeated the media last fall. In the video, Angelo sends his message of hope and acceptance, telling whoever watches that things really do get better.
“There’s so much amazing art and writing and philosophy and so much dynamic social work that’s born out of oppression of sorts,” Angelo says. “And it’s hard sometimes when you’re in that situation, whatever that circumstance might be, to kind of look outside of yourself” and say what I’m experiencing now may be useful later.
“My frustration is, when you get a little bit older, you start to realize how insignificant these experiences become in the scheme of things,” he continues. “If people could look into a crystal ball and see how life is going to play out, they’ll know that these sort of bumps in the road are just that. They’re bumps. They’re not mountains. They’re not insurmountable objects; they’re just bumps. So I say channel that energy into something productive.”
Angelo’s EP, which he admits has enough songs to be a full-length album, is available in both physical and digital versions from ASORADA Publishing, a division of ASORADA Creative LLC/Tunecore Albums.
“I’ve got all kinds of stuff brewing,” Angelo says. “I’m not going to rest on my heels. …Whether you want to dance, whether you want to swing one back after a hard week or whether you just want to sort of mourn the loss of a love that you never had, there’s something for you on this record. … I mean, I like it. But I’m a little biased.”