Austin based alternative electro/pop artist Mark DiLillo, better know by the moniker Welsh Avenue, has been steadily gaining the attention of critics and fans alike with his commanding songwriting and clear, steady production. DiLillo was classically trained on the piano from the age of 8 until the age of 17, later learning the clarinet and drums, as well. With his love of music well established early in life, he began to write solo piano songs while living on a street named Welsh Avenue. He decided to start producing his own music in college after learning and getting creative with Ableton, which paved the way for his solo musical project. In 2015, DiLillo moved to Austin from Central Texas in order to move forward in his music career and gain opportunities that his hometown couldn’t provide. In 2016, he released his debut EP The Great Exchange that showcased his newly developed sound. His latest EP, New Ways, was released in July and was inspired by the patterns of life that he has observed while living the aspiring artist’s dream. He dove deeper into his own emotions and experiences rather than just discussing topics and got poetic with the lyrics. The new single from the album, “Disco Moon” was recently released along with an accompanying video that showcases themes of exploration and living in a joyful existence, which DiLillo says are themes of the song. With some shows planned for the fall and some new music in the works, DiLillo is definitely an artist to keep on your radar. Staff writer Emily May recently spoke to DiLillo via email about the new EP, his latest single and what’s next. You can stay up-to-date with all upcoming artist, music and tour news via the following links. You can stream the new EP on the Spotify link below.
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You were classically trained on the piano from the age of 8 until you were 17. How did your love for the piano develop? Did you develop a love for music at an early age?
Initially, my parents made me take three years of lessons and then it was my choice whether to continue or not. I kept with it and I’m definitely thankful now that I did. I added clarinet in the school band and taught myself drums later on in life. My love for music definitely developed early. Not just listening to it but performing it as well. I have piano recitals at an early age to thank for that.
What led you to want to learn how to produce your own music, which you learned to do via Abelton?
I had a roommate in college named Colin and we formed a project together called Lunar Caustic. He already knew Ableton and that’s how he recorded our music and he kind of showed me the ropes. Shortly after college I got Ableton and started adding layers to piano/keyboard work and just loved getting creative with it.
What can you tell me about working with Josh Rumer and Invengo Productions? How did he help to shape you into the artist you are today?
Josh is a great person to be around, and an excellent mentor. In the studio he has helped with everything from songwriting technic to adding just the right amount of sonic candy soundbytes into a song. He provides wisdom about the music industry, and he really knows how to turn a demo into something with real commercial appeal. We have become great friends and take fishing trips together. He has excellent character and doesn’t compromise on achieving the best.
How do you feel that your backgrounds in science and philosophy have helped to shape your sound as an artist?
I would say my background in science helps shape my philosophy which then informs my lyrics. Studying science is really just studying the patterns upon which physical life exists. Now I also believe we are more than just physical, that we are also soul and spirit and those are also themes in my writing. Obviously transcendental properties are hard to measure but the spiritual is manifested in our physical world which is where science comes in.
You recently released your new EP entitled ‘New Ways’. What was the process like in making the EP? In what ways do you feel the songs differ from your previous music? Did you approach the writing and recording of this EP differently?
For this album I wrote most of them, with the exception of Disco Moon, on my upright piano. Only one song from my last album was written on it, but it’s an amazing instrument. I’ve just really grown to sit there and improvise until something marvelous comes out of it. Lyrically I dove more into my emotions and experiences rather than just writing about a topic, and really tried to make the lines poetic. I also recorded birds from my back yard and put them in the title track. Overall this album is definitely my best work yet.
You’ve mentioned that your favorite quote is “chance favors the prepared mind” and that it has been a mantra for you in your life since you started writing songs. What is it about that quote that speaks to you so deeply?
I’ve noticed that life is full of surprises but it’s also full of patterns and routines. In short, there are some things outside of one’s control but there are also actions that a person can take to make life better for others and themselves. That’s the easiest way to explain it I think and there are intonations of this mantra in my music. It also came from a forward thinking mind named Louis Pasteur who revolutionised the field of science. And I want to be a revolutionary person.
You mentioned a few years back that you would be open to producing music for other artists who want to create and share your same artistic vision. How would you describe your artistic vision? Have you had the opportunity to produce for others yet or had future opportunities present themselves?
My overall artistic vision is to be as creative as possible to make art that influences the listener’s soul and to hopefully add joy to their life. I don’t just want to make art, I want to leave a legacy. That can come through many avenues such as touring and collaborations but I’m open to pretty much whatever. As far as producing for others goes, not a lot of that has happened yet, but Josh sometimes has me help out with other artists.
What can you tell me about your latest single “Disco Moon”? What was the idea behind the music video for the song? It’s a cool video and looks like it was fun to make!
The whole process was absolutely a lot of fun. We filmed it in several locations around Austin. For the video we wanted to have themes of both exploration and living in a joyful existence, which are kind of the themes of the song. We wanted to keep with the extraterrestrial concept as well. After filming, we really worked at making it a multi-sensory stimulating experience by experimenting with filters. Eddie Rodriguez did an amazing job both filming and editing.
You currently reside in Austin, TX. I have heard the city described as genreless and as a very supportive and creative environment for musicians. What led you to move there and what do you love and find most inspiring about being a part of the city’s music community? Do you find the blend of so many genres of music especially inspiring?
I definitely moved here for music opportunities that my hometown couldn’t provide. Most of the scene is very guitar-driven and has a lot of rock influence, however the musician network is very supportive. There’s usually plenty of people willing to help out. I do enjoy the blend of genres. All kinds of bands come through here and it’s often easy to catch a unique and audibly pleasing show. Austin is definitely a creative hub but I believe it can be milked some more.
What was the idea behind the cover art for the ‘New Ways’ EP? Who designed the artwork?
My roommate Colin who taught me Ableton designed this album and by debut EP as well. For ‘New Ways’ I just had him listen to the and gave him creative freedom with the music as inspiration. My only requests were to make it colorful and vivid. I think he did an amazing job.
Your album release show on July 5th was your first time playing with a full band! What was that experience like for you? What were some highlights from the show? Do you have plans to play with a full band going forward?
That was probably my favorite show to date; we rocked it out from the very first downbeat. There was a decent amount of people there and the feedback was great. I opened with “Two-Door Coupe” and that drew people’s attention instantly. Another highlight was our cover of Nathaniel Rateliff’s “You Worry Me.” A lot of people had their phones out filming that one. I am definitely playing with a drummer from here on out except for various intimate shows. Still working on getting a permanent bassist lined up.
What’s next for you?
I’m just booking some more shows for the fall. Check my website/social medias for updates. I have some demos almost finished but whether I get into the studio again before the end of the year or not just depends on life really. I’m not in a super rush.