Indie pop songwriter takes a humble approach on a pitch-perfect debut album
Dominic Angelella is a charismatic debut artist, he occupies a strange space between thoughts – where the instinctive work, shaped by eclectic influences makes light of dark, and dark of light. On his album Goodnight, Doggies, the Philadelphia resident brings a punk ethos… meaning he’s determined and expressive, with a soulful approach to singing… meaning he brings his heart out for inspection, and an indie approach to instrumentation… meaning he knows how to make this stuff friendly and danceable.
There are psychedelic twists, there are rockier moments, but at the core of Dominic’s work is the kind of songwriting that defined his heroes, Harry Nilsson and Van Morrison – so amongst the darker, more heartfelt moments, progress is balanced with a self-effacing wit that relies on audience intelligence. It’s great stuff.
ARTISTdirect caught up for a very quick chat with Dominic, just as he was taking care of dirty laundry, literally. We spoke about his approach to craft, the heroes that shaped his sound, oh, and very nice doggies, of course.
Where are you right now?
I’m in a North Philadelphia laundromat cleaning my clothes before I go back out on tour.
Tell us about your new project: Who did you work with? Where was it recorded? What’s it about? Is there candy?
It’s called ‘Goodnight, Doggies.’ And it was recorded with some of my best musician friends at Kawari Sound in Wyncote, PA. It’s a super beautiful studio and there’s an amazing park across the street. It’s where we shot the album cover too.
The album is a group of songs, some autobiographical in nature, some fantastical and imagined, and some in between that. And there’s no candy. It’s not good for you.
How do you describe your music to new friends?
Someone who really likes Harry Nillson, Danny Brown, Van Morrison and Prince trying to make it sound like all of that at the same time.
Other than your music, what should your hometown be known for?
There is a never ending stream of great music coming from Philadelphia right now. We should be known for that and also as a city where the mayor is rad enough to want to keep this place a sanctuary city, even when being threatened with federal budget cuts.
Please look around you right now and please describe the first item or person you see that’s significant to you.
I’m having a really nice conversation with the owner of the laundromat and I’m petting his dog.
What first inspired you to pursue music? If it was a musician or a specific piece of music, please tell us all about why you find it so inspirational…
It was probably Magical Mystery Tour. I was seven or eight the first time I listened to it and it was so freaky to me. There was no going back after that, and so many of the albums that I gravitate to have the same weird feeling. I like records that are genre-hopping curiosities, and in a way it’s what I’ve tried to do in my music.
What’s the best advice anyone has given you about pursuing a life in music?
Recently a friend of mine told me that ‘Goodnight, Doggies’ has nine fingers in the past and a pinky in the future and that I should try to have all the other fingers follow that pinky, and I’m still thinking about that.
Not including your current crew, who (alive or dead) would you love to have in your van for an all day drive from gig to gig?
It would be nice to have a small rotating cast of family members with me, so I could show them what I do and they could keep me in check.
What song best sums up your life right now?
There’s rarely ever just one song that I can focus on. I was listening to a bunch of Why? songs this morning. Specifically “Eskimo Snow.” Lots of Kate Bush too.
What is the best reaction to your music you have experienced so far?
It’s always just nice when someone pays attention, or cares about something I’m doing. I know there’s a lot out there to consume and it can be pretty numbing and make you wanna tune out, so it means a lot to me when someone feels a personal connection with something I’ve done.
Take a moment to dream – Where do hope to be a year from now?
Making another record.
What’s your next step towards that dream?
I guess I should write some more songs.
For more information visit the Dominic hub on ARTISTdirect