DOMENICO is a multi-instrumentalist recording artist who is debuting his first EP, The Morris Code. At 18, he is also an entrepreneur and even had his own TED talk! On top of this, he even started his own label, il Dottore.
The Morris Code is a showcase of his soulful, R&B driven music. He’s already released the first two singles, Ultralight and Loose Ends, which have been highly received and garnered plenty of attention from music industry insiders. DOMENICO separates himself from other musicians and highlights his immense talent by singing, playing guitar, and does the drum and keyboard programming for all his tracks. Talk Nerdy With Us was able to chat with DOMENICO to talk about his new album and to see how he got to where he is and the inspiration for his debut EP.
What was the inspiration behind the title “The Morris Code”?
It’s sort of a play on words with where I grew up, Morristown, NJ. Without the luxury of a massive recording budget, I ended up producing most of this during class on my laptop and drew inspiration from conversations, sounds, and the social element around me.
Did you write and score the entire EP? Can you describe what it took to create and release your debut EP?
This was definitely a DIY concept from the jump. In the words of Kanye West, “I played all the notes!” (laughs). My senior year at Morristown served as the foundation for creating “The Morris Code.” I kept my head down and produced music through earbuds… not ideal conditions but the atmosphere was inspiring. I’m a firm advocate of cultivating passion in the context of a classroom, so I went out of my way to do so in order to show how fulfilling it can be.
Having your own TED talk is pretty incredible. How did you make it onto the TED stage?
TEDx decided to host an event in Morristown, and used the high school auditorium as its stage. In order to kill two birds with one stone, they interviewed students who attended the school in hopes that one kid would hold his/her own with other TED speakers. After a few interviews and lengthy emails, I got the job.
What drove your desire to change the education system with Real World Academy?
Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t. On average, by the time students hit freshman year in high school, their level of engagement drops by HALF. These, the most formidable years of your life are crushed by 19th-century ideals which divide students into categories solely based on “learning level” rather than gauging interest or ambition. Real World Academy tackles this issue by creating an ecosystem of engagement. We craft Academies and partner schools with the surrounding community, so students’ passions are put to use in the REAL WORLD.
You speak of knowing you wanted to go into music at a young age. In a world where so many people struggle to find their passion, how were you able to find yours?
Being raised by Italian-Americans from Jersey usually comes equipped with a HUGE support system. So, that helped. My father is a huge Beatles fan, which carried over on my behalf. The Lennon/McCartney fanboy thing is certainly embedded in my DNA (laughs), along with Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and Frank Ocean.
What has been your biggest challenge you have overcome breaking into the music industry?
The internet created a double-edged sword for new artists. On one hand, it’s easy to give people access to content. Consequently, there is so much stuff to sift through, which makes it hard to break through. It’s all about timing and consistency. If your product is good, people will eventually find it.
What drove you to start your own label?
(laughs) I am a control freak, and therefore need to be involved in every aspect of production, packaging, distribution, etc. My label, il Dottore also serves as a full-service production company. Eventually, I would like to delve deeper into apparel, and expand upon my already existing jewelry line. My focus is creating a culture that screams positivity through as many mediums as possible.
Is there anyone in particular with whom you would like to collaborate on your next song or EP?
I’m attending the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music next year… they’ve churned out some dope alumni. Gallant, for example, has been killing it lately and serves as a huge sonic inspiration. I would love to see what happens if we had a session or two together…