'Music's New Trojan Warrior!'
Although the title of Is It Safe?, the follow-up to Dina D’Alessandro’s popular and well-received 2003 independently released debut Sweetness and Decency, began as a “fun little phrase” she got from the 70’s Dustin Hoffman thriller Marathon Man, the concept perfectly reflects the L.A. based singer/songwriter’s unique philosophy about her life as an indie artist.
While her first collection tackled the themes of love and romantic disillusionment, the songs on D’Alessandro’s latest album focus on the grittier reality of survival. “Struggling to establish oneself as an independent is tremendously satisfying from a creative standpoint, but it’s definitely a unique lifestyle that involves a lot of risks,” she says. “Friends and family members say all the time that it’s not a safe way to live, but I go out there and do it anyway because playing music for a living is my dream. And now that I’ve been out in the world more, I’ve become slightly disillusioned about people and their motivations. Life is definitely not like the Brady Bunch but the world is still a fantastic trip worth exploring. Reaching my artistic and personal goals is definitely worth the risks.”
Chatting recently with Dina, I first wondered what was going through her head that night as an 11 year-old strumming her sister's guitar, and trying to play 'Heartbreaker'?! "I knew at that moment that my life would change forever, for better or for worse. And I was right!"
What is it about the alternative British music scene - such as The Furs, The Cure, etc. - that you fell in love with? "That kind of music makes me feel like there is another world somewhere, one that is romantic and beautiful, that I could just live inside of forever. I guess it was a way for me to escape from the mundane reality of suburbia.'
Tell us more about why you captured the title of your new album Is It Safe? from the Dustin Hoffman thriller, 'Marathon Man'? "At first that phrase was just a fun quote that I thought sounded cool, but it just kept becoming more meaningful to me as time went on. I thought it would be perfect for the album because the phrase "Is It Safe?" exemplifies not only the ideas of the movie, that the world can be very unjust and can change instantaneously when you least expect it, but of life as well. But it's also about how people can triumph in the end by using their own personal strengths to get through difficult situations."
Your music is very emotive, real, but how many are personal stories in comparison to witnessed fables and such? "They are all deeply personal, except 'I Thought I'd Be There,' which was both prophetic and personal. It came from a very deep place inside me and at the time I wasn't sure why I was inspired to write those lyrics, since I wasn't ending any relationship of my own. Shortly after I wrote it, three couples I knew that had been together for a very long time either broke up or got divorced, so I must have been feeling something in the air. But even though I wasn't ending any relationships of my own at the time, I've had enough experience in that department in the past to know what words to choose!"
Being an independent artist always has its risks, so what has been the biggest risk that you have undertaken thus far? "Being an independent artist means that my paychecks are quite unsteady, and sometimes nonexistent. Lack of financial security is a big risk for me, but I can't stop making music!"
It's been claimed that you are an explorer and traveler by nature ... so, what is the most wondrous place that you have visited thus far? "St. David's, Wales. It's a magical little town on the water with a beautiful cathedral, castle ruins, a gorgeous beach with seals in the water and many kinds of birds living nearby, giant cliffs with waves crashing up against them, wild flowers, rolling green hills, horses - just picture perfect in every way."
What cheesy '80s song would you love to cover if asked ... and why?! "I think that A Flock of Seagulls are very underrated! I would gladly cover 'I Ran' or 'Space Age Love Song.' They were pioneers of modern guitar and keyboard sounds, but people got distracted by their hairdos instead of appreciating their musical gifts :-)"
If there were just 3 words that described Dina D'Alessandro, what would they be? "Patient, optimistic, determined."
If you were asked to record a single for charity, and had to choose 3 other KNOWN musicians to aid you in the project (and no one from you own band!), who would they be, what instruments would they play, and what would the name of the NEW song be?! "Guitar - Robert Smith,
Bass - John Paul Jones, Drums - Dave Grohl ... Song Title - 'Smells Like a Stairway to Disintegration'!"
Finally, I like Penguins, ... do you? "Very much so, especially Chilly Willy!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Dina's brand new CD, just answer this easy question: Dina sang the National Anthem at which stadium this past August 9th?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before October 31st with your answer and the subject title 'DINA D. SIGNED CDs' to: email@example.com
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