10 Questions with ... Dominic Balli
July 4, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- American Dream (July 26, 2011)
- Public Announcement (2008)
1. Tell us a little bit about your musical journey.
I grew up in a very musical family. My mom writes, sings and plays piano and as far back as I can remember all of us kids would gather around that piano and sing together. I was in the studio for the first time when I was 9. That's when I recorded my first "rap" called "Reading Rap." My mom wrote it and we put it on a family album called "Learn Something New." I loved music and singing but I was utterly, completely tone deaf with zero rhythm. I started playing guitar at 13 and eventually developed some rhythm but still totally tone deaf. I started a band called "The Skamericans" and tried writing songs but people would say, "Hey, the music sounds kinda cool, but maybe you should get someone else to sing."
At 16 my life drastically changed. I grew up in Church my whole life but never really "knew" God personally but then I encountered Jesus Christ and he flipped my life around. For the first time in my life I felt genuinely content and satisfied and with a reason to be alive. I came home from Church camp, picked up my guitar, started to sing some praise songs and all of a sudden my ears opened and I could hear pitch. For the first time in my life I could hear that I was off pitch so I started to train myself to sing on pitch. Over the next couple years I "found" my voice and starting writing about my life and began to see music as a way to share my life and my story with world around me.
2. What is the story behind the single "American Dream"?
It started the first time someone asked: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" From then on, I began to think that my life was all about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. No matter how many times my mom told me, "Dominic Balli, the world does not revolve around you," it was engrained in me that my life was all about my comfort, my success and my dreams. For so many of us the American Dream was all that we were living for, and when the economy crashed a couple years ago, so did our dreams. I think it was then that so many of us realized that the American Dream was not all it was cracked up to be. No matter who you are or where you're from, we can all become consumed with this "dream."
For me, these last couple of years were exactly opposite from most Americans. For the first time in my life, I began to experience the "dream" for myself but it was much to my demise. The comfort and self-centeredness of that lifestyle crept in like a cancer and began to consume my joy, my faith and my purpose in this life. The reality is that this life is not about me and making something great of myself. What's important in life is loving and serving others, and loving and serving God, so when I dream that's what I want to dream about.
3. Is there a particular message or theme to the songs on "American Dream"?
I didn't write this record with the intention of there being a theme or common thread throughout but as I listen to it from top to bottom, in addition to the "American Dream" theme, there is definitely this idea throughout that no matter how hard life gets, we're gonna get through this thing. There are moments of tension for sure, but all in all it's a pretty hopeful record.
4. Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Yes. Well kinda. My favorite song sonically and feel-wise is "Favela" but my favorite song as far as the raw song goes (with or without production) is a tie between "Take My Love," "Again and Again" and "American Dream."
5. If you could perform with any artist from any time, who would that be?
I'd probably have to say Bob Marley. Not just because I love and write reggae music but he's a legend. He was a brilliant songwriter/arranger and his band was ridiculous.
6. Do you have a favorite song that you perform live?
We haven't started playing the new record yet so I'm sure this will change in the next couple months, but right now I'd have to say "Zion Mourns" from my "Public Announcement" album. It's a lot of fun to play and sing live.
7. Who inspires you personally, spiritually and/or professionally?
My wife Emily and God
8. What song do you wish you had written?
So many but a one of the more recent ones that comes to mind is Kanaan's "Wavin' Flag."
9. Fill in the blank: I can't start the day without:
Jesus and a shower (sounds like a Country song title)
10. Do you have much time to check out other artists' music? What are you listening to right now?
As far as right now goes, my daughter is learning to read so we've got the Sing-Spell-Read-Write "Phonics" song on repeat at our house right now.