Just in time for the summer, Universal Motown’s newest rising star, Damato, is rolling out some made for the beach tunes that are all as catchy, catchy, catchy as the hook in his debut “Angels”. The SoCal native spent some time with Lemonade over the phone just before embarking on his tour supporting, Hugo.
Lemonade Magazine: Hey! How are things?
Damato: Good man good, life has been good, can’t complain.
LM: You’re just getting ready to open for Hugo now right?
Damato: Yeah, the tour starts in a couple days with him in Seattle.
LM: What I loved about your music when I first heard it was that it was so easy to love right away. What lead you to develop that “surfer soul” sound?
Damato: Yeah, I think like with any artist who’s work is a constant evolution. I grew up in San Diego with a very surfer, soul and gospel background. All these elements, as well as getting inspiration from people like Gavin DeGraw and Jason Mraz, then mixing that with John Legend and Sublime, but at the same time keeping a lot of soul. I am a huge fan of Motown and artist like Smokey Robinson too, you know?
LM: That’s what’s kind of cool about this movement lately with guys like yourself and Bruno Mars. You’re mixing two worlds that I really love, like the Beach Boys, as well as Motown.
Damato: Yeah, that’s definitely true.
LM: Like a lot of artists, you had a bit of a bumpy road on your path to where you are now. Tell us a little more about it.
Damato: Yeah, I took off from home at a really young age. For lack of a long story, I needed to get away and figure out who I was and what I wanted to become. I’m religiously a fan of music. It’s been my saving grace. I moved to LA and lived on the streets and couch surfed for a good three and a half years. There we are a lot of trials and tribulations, but I had to stay focused, as we all do when we are aiming for something we want.
It’s like that mind set of the bird who keeps banging into the window until it finally breaks ::laughs:: and finally gets through to the other side. I met up with my manager at Pepperdine. I wasn’t actually going to school there, but was staying on someone’s couch and after we met, he helped me go on from there. I recorded my first EP, Floating Down The River. That was the first recording I had ever done. We let that simmer and got some good feedback. The industry is really hard, especially these days, it takes a lot of dedication and a lot of let down, but we eventually got the greatest opportunity ever with Universal Motown. We did a bunch of showcases for different labels, but everyone at Universal Motown believed in my dream and saw my vision.
LM: Universal Motown’s lineup is so good right now! It is so nice to see that you got on with them. So many of my favorite artists who are so talented seem to be coming out of Universal Motown.
Damato: Yeah, I am so lucky! I wake up every morning and I have to be humble. There are so many talented artists out there who aren’t getting an opportunity like this, they deserve this sort of opportunity, it’s not that I deserve it more than anyone else. Just a lot of luck and a lot of hard work.
Damato: Everything! I had never made a full length album before. They flew me out to New York and I got to work with the production team, Espionage, who just won a Grammy for “Hey, Soul Sister” (Train). It was great to be part of the process in a traditional way. You sit down and it’s like your building a house. You build it around what you are writing, so I would say the overall process of getting to write with them was my favorite part.
The whole album is very inspirational. It’s about overcoming failure and getting past all the setbacks. My favorite song on the album, I mean I wrote them all, but we wrote a song called, “Weight of the World,” and I really can’t wait for everyone to hear that one.
LM: You just got done finishing a video for “Angels” right?
Damato: Yeah, it was amazing. It’s the same as recording and it’s so surreal to finally be doing something you shed so much blood, sweat and tears for. It was really exciting and I look forward to doing more videos too.
LM: What was the first thing that made you fall in love with music as a kid?
Damato: You know, it’s funny you should ask that, there is a really interesting answer. I actually wasn’t allowed to listen to much music. My parents were very strict and they wanted to keep us clean from all the media outlets, so I basically only got to listen to Christian music. However, I remember getting a casette tape when I was 10, I guess or even younger, it was a ::laughs:: a karaoke cassette tape somebody had given to me. Yeah, it was “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men and I just remember listening to that over an over and over again. It was so beautiful and I remember thinking, “I want to do this!” It was like eating candy for the first time or something.
LM: What’s really making you move on your iPod right now?
Damato: I am really into Bon Iver right now. I love Kings of Leon, especially their earlier work. I really have to say though, my favorite song of all-time right now is “Doubting Thomas” by Nickel Creek. It’s such an amazing song and he and I have very similar upbringings.
LM: Outside of music who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
Damato: That’s a really good question. There are a few people who come to mind, I have a really close relationship with my band and a really close relationship with my manager. There are so many people, I like to be the kind of person who can be inspired by anyone and I am a true believer in people. I am a firm believer that all together is better than one alone, so I would say people in general are my biggest inspiration.
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine
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