Danny Parente is a talented musician and founder and, at the moment, a sole member of the band The Fond. Music that Danny writes is a mix of different genres and influences that he had as a teenager and later on in life like Radiohead, Nirvana,Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Debussy, Puccini, Miles Davis, Django Reinhardt. Danny has a very deep, interesting and unique voice. The music that Danny writes has a very relaxing effect. I picture it in the romantic movie about New York. It is a perfect fit for some roaming scenes around the city late at night while the main characters think about the purpose of their lives and this world.
Tell us about your band
The Fond is a group formed in October of 2018, comprised of myself on guitar and vocals when playing live, and bass and keys in the studio and hired guns for the things I can’t do (drums, violins, violas, cellos, etc…). I write all the songs, lyrics, string arrangements, programmed samples; kind of like Tame Impala in format but couldn’t be further in sound or aesthetic.
The Fond originally had an awesome cellist named Gina Santangelo and she and I played a bunch of open mics in New Jersey and New York, but due to conflicting schedules we had to part ways. The summer of 2019, I got into a reasonably priced yet quality assured studio at Veltri Studio in Jersey City, and began recording the Thirteen Songs album like it was the last mark I’d make in this life. On these recordings, Christian Finger performed drums and auxiliary percussion for all the songs. Nicolas Mirabile and Naomi Florin performed Violins 1, 2, and Violas. Gina Santangelo and Tim Leonard performed cellos. Because mixing and mastering are expensive and I’m paying for the whole thing out of pocket, rather than being able to pay to just have the whole album mixed and mastered at once, I’ve had to release songs in monthly installations. We’re so far, up to 5 songs released to the interweb and when we get to 13 Songs, probably in early-mid 2021, I hope to release the album via vinyl and cd.
Who inspired you to become a musician?
Music has always been a huge part of my life. My background is extremely musical. My dad is a piano teacher and my mom was a very active violinist for a lot of her life. I was like typical kids who took classical piano lessons involuntarily but in hindsight, I’m grateful I did. So I’d say, my parents.
What was your musical journey like? What are the ups and downs for you?
Wow. It’s been a long journey. Taking piano lessons was good for my foundation and giving me tools to communicate musically, without a doubt, but it wasn’t fueling the voice that wanted to speak and say something original. As a moderately hearing-impaired individual with congenital hearing loss, my speech, verbal, and communication abilities were cut down considerably. This burdened me with alienation and loneliness which gave rise to an obsessive desire to communicate through other means. I discovered the early 90’s Seattle Sound (Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone), Jimi Hendrix, and punk rock when I was in my preteens and knew it was the avenue I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life. I picked up a guitar and bass and was lucky to find like-minded friends and musicians. We formed a band in middle school called Dogwater Calamity, later it became just Dogwater. Together we played shows at local venues in and around Montclair, NJ, wrote and recorded two EPs and one full length album, and rehearsed about once or twice a week up until we were about 18 years old. We also won Battle of the Bands.
Then it was time to go to college, Dogwater disbanded, and I had picked up the classical bassoon and managed to get scholarships and colleges practically gave you money if you could put a bassoon together. At first it was good, but the outlet for musical creation was completely blocked. I was violently thrust into a world where no one cared of the life and reputation I had attained before, because I was now a classical bassoonist and had to pretend to love Mozart. During this time my identity was in a tug of war. Despite being surrounded by musicians, there was no one who wanted to play my music and form a band. My identity, from the looks of it, were all but erased. Nothing was giving me the vitality I felt with Dogwater.
Then I got a call from Rutgers, a state school in NJ saying that I was invited to do a Master’s Program in Bassoon with a full ride scholarship and stipend. This time it was the real deal. Between the flicker of much needed confidence it gave me in this time of immense envy along with not wanting to burst everyone in my circle’s bubble, I succumbed and agreed to a chapter that would end up consuming virtually the rest of my 20’s.
Despite having one of the world’s most talented musicians for a teacher and the signed and sealed contract, it was one of the most difficult chapters of my life. The whole time I continued writing music, and was trying to find like-minded musicians, but the story was pretty much the same. The level of talent, musical chemistry, and commitment that I had achieved with the members of Dogwater couldn’t be replicated anywhere. The bassoon started to feel like this appendage simultaneously tripping me on the path to anything I wanted and defining me in a way I didn’t intend to be defined. I took a hiatus which eventually led me to completing the degree when I was 29.
Thankfully, with this master’s degree in music and years of experience, I was able to justify raising my piano teaching rates and eventually consolidate my teaching to one town, the one where I live. With this newfound time, I was able to start learning lead guitar. I listened to blues giants like Freddie King and Buddy Guy. This would eventually become a big part of that which would be fused to the sound that is The Fond. Lessons learned from the past ten years dictated that one must depend on oneself to do something one believes in, despite all the evidence advising against it; and with that I embarked on recording Thirteen Songs. I recorded Thirteen Songs like a madman and what you hear on the recordings, plus the work of my producer Ryan Kelly, is the result.
YOU HAVE A VERY UNIQUE SOUND AND VOICE. WHAT IS THE REACTION OF OTHERS WHEN THEY HEAR YOUR SONGS?
Aside from some nice compliments I’ve received from a handful of individuals, it’s been really tough getting blogs or radio stations to notice or take a chance on my music. I have also experienced some difficulty in getting people excited about The Fond on social media. At this point, I just have to chalk the tepid response up to the fact that it isn’t easily categorizable or marketable with a brand or a sub-niche that’s deemed acceptable and that this isn’t evidence of my work lacking in artistic merit. I do have many moments of incredible self-doubt and am constantly wondering if these contacts who are musicians are listening and just shrugging it off.
From what I’ve gathered, The Fond’s music is very different from what most people are used to hearing these days, so I suggest listening to it at least a couple times. I can’t tell you how often people listen and say “it’s not really my thing” but fall in love when they listen a second time
Do you have writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
When it comes to writing music I often don’t. I’m able to arrive at my sound easily because I’ve found the shapes and chords that please me. You just get into a chord pattern, find a suiting melody and you’re halfway there. I always have music sounding in my head and record a ton of song seedlings on my phone. Let’s say said seedling is a verse that I’m happy with. Figuring out a suitable chorus or bridge is what can sometimes present more challenges. Lyrics, on the other hand, do not come as easily. One thing I will say is when I used to write lyrics, I had this orthodoxy against using ideas that didn’t already exist in my head. But I learned about chance composition and composers rolling dice to arrive at decisions. I sometimes think of creating as a scavenger hunt that some higher power organized. You have to have a childlike mentality and be open to possibilities when you create. Sometimes you have to take yourself out of yourself and look for clues, or themes that will only be found going on a walk. Sometimes you just become a vessel for ideas that seemingly didn’t originate from within you.
What else would you do if not music?
I most likely would either be a home chef, a sommelier, or a food or film critic. I’ve always been a foodie for as long as I can remember. The basis of “The Fond” comes from a romanticized mind movie that I have, that is comprised of sharing a meal with some wine, with good company after we’ve rid ourselves of our chains both imposed and self-imposed. I love celebrating things that are so primal and foundational: a good movie, a good meal, a good bottle of wine, relaxing with beautiful people. Food, wine, and movies and their ability to bring people together, like music, are really important to me.
DO IT BECAUSE YOU LOVE IT
Tell US MORE about your creative process. Where do you find inspiration? What places, EVENTS and situations give you the best ideas?
There’s no one way that I create. A lot of times I just hear music in my head that I feel would sound good outside of my head, and I’ll just record the melody, chord progression, or write down the lyric. Sometimes if I don’t have the luxury of not having a deadline, like I often did during the depths of recording Thirteen Songs, I’d just have to sit at the piano and excavate, dig, excavate, dig and sing to myself until something would be claimed. My depression gives rise to some gorgeous ideas that soothe me through the depths of despair! I wrote some of my best music during my time at Rutgers. In many ways, songwriting is a form of self-medication and therapy. Sometimes I get ideas just walking in nature or visiting one of my favorite local gems, Paterson Falls.
Do YOU THINK musicians have any social responsibilities? Do they have to use their platforms to SPEAK UP? Or do artists only exist for entertainment ONLY?
I absolutely think some musicians and artists should have social responsibility and that up until recently with BLM, the music scene has been mostly apathetic. I’m a firm believer that one of the major purposes of art should be to hold a mirror to society. Unfortunately, in a time when music could be a rallying force at the forefront against every major societal grievance we find ourselves in during these times, the corporate media has the music industry in a chokehold to mostly produce music that challenges nothing. I think of a lot of today’s music as having two purposes: distract and cajole us back to work. It’s music that drives you to keep your winkers on and work yourself to the bone; all for the benefit of the elites. It’s music that espouses hustle culture. The last thing the corporate media wants, especially for audiences in the US, is for people to be in the streets demanding paid vacations, UBI, healthcare you don’t need to work at an S&P 500 company for, shortened work weeks, police that treat all of its citizens like people, etc. There seemed to be much more room for rebellion in past eras. I think there’s a real amnesia amongst the Millennial generation when it comes to past eras of music and the role it played in society and rebellion movements.
Who creates visuals for your music?
I’m the one who comes up with the ideas, but my girlfriend Bianca Anglero, who is a visual artist & photographer, is the one with the eye, who takes the pictures and makes the graphics. I’d say we’re a pretty mean team. The goal with our art is to have certain aspects of the music coincide thematically with the image. I just hope that the images aren’t the be all end all of capturing people’s imaginations.
What are your biggest dreams and goals as a musician?
My biggest goals are to put out records that are moving and bring people of all shapes, colors, backgrounds, and sizes, together. I’d love for my music to contribute to modern day resistance movements across the world, as my music is basically protest music. I want my music to contribute to bridging the gaps that are so insignificant yet cause us to be distracted from attacking the real problems of these times. Since we live in times where elites dictate the lives of the majority of humanity to such an unbalanced degree, all hands need to be on deck as far as achieving balance in the lives of working people. I like to think my way of helping is with The Fond. In more down to earth goals, I also want to be able to contribute my music to film and TV shows. That would deprickle my currently prickly disposition, and make all the struggle worth it.
What is your favorite memory from the live shows?
My favorite memory back in the early days of The Fond was this open mic night Gina and I played at a Vegan grocery store in New Brunswick, NJ on a freezing night in winter 19’. We played for about 6 people, but the feeling was completely amazing and everyone there was really into it. The host and all the attendants were visibly supportive and receptive of what we were doing. I really felt embraced and accepted for who I was in that moment.
IS THERE ANYTHING you wish people knew about you as a musician?
I worry that because of my complete change of course back into creative pop/rock music, that people assume I hated the bassoon, orchestras, and classical orchestral music and that I didn’t like anyone I went to school with. That is simply untrue. I want people to know that I can simultaneously think those things, and be completely at peace with the fact that it was really hard for me having to abandon that.
I’m still struggling to find my place in the world and very much relatedly, an audience for this music. I admit I’d be much better off playing music in any genre other than what The Fond plays, but then again, any other music wouldn’t be true. I’d just like to say that if the music finds a way into your heart, please support me. I want people to know The Fond represents my brand of bringing beauty into the world, my turn to speak, a rebirth, starting from scratch, and just being unapologetically honest and myself.
What do you want to say to the beginner musicians?
If circumstances allow, do it because you love it. If you don’t eat, breathe, and sleep music, don’t even bother trying it as a career. If you are scared off at the idea of carrying your instruments in the snow, shoes snow-filled after a full day of work, needing to be fully alert and awake to perform for maybe 3 unenthused people at a bar, don’t come near. If the idea of practicing one phrase 100 times and still being unable to play it scares you, don’t think of music as anything other than a hobby. You need to have an obsessive love relationship to it. Don’t do it because of pressure or status attainment. Do it because you love it.
You can support The Fond by listening the music on Spotify, YouTube, iTunes or buy the music on Bandcamp. If you are interested in using Danny’s music in your projects, galleries, stores, events, contact him on instagram @dparentemusic or @thefondband.
Thank you, Danny and The Fond for answering the questions.