P.J. Pacifico shares his life experience fighting cancer through his music. He has a new five song EP “Ready to Run” out May 5, 2015 pm Viper Records. On the new EP, P.J. uses drum beats and synthesizers to accompany his clenched, storyteller’s approach to the upcoming collection.
“Among the Living” is the EP’s emotional song about facing his guilt surviving cancer. P.J has never used his surviving cancer as the subject of his music, but did an amazing job writing and performing this song.
You can listen to “Among the Living” track here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMIB8KflPzw
P.J will be performing live on May 7th at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut (with Antigone Rising). If you have the chance please show your support by attending the upcoming concert. Tour dates for P.J. can be found on his website : www.PJPacifico.com
Follow him on Facebook for up to date information : www.facebook.com/pjpacificomusic
P.J. took some time to answer a few questions for us:
When did you first decide you want to be a musician and who were your influences and biggest supporters?
P.J – I remember two instances during my childhood that made me decide I wanted to be a musician, but I can’t remember which came first. One was seeing footage of a Kiss concert on a TV show called 321 Contact that used to be on PBS. They were doing a segment on pyro technics and Kiss was their example. I remember being amazed by their music & stage show and thrilled by their energy. The other was hearing my voice through a Donny & Marie toy store bought microphone that was hooked up through the radio in the kitchen. My Mom hooked it up and I can remember first turning on the microphone and hearing my voice come through the radio and amplified. Once I heard that I was hooked. It also lead me to figure out how to tape myself singing along with my Rick Springfield records on my Mom’s little dinker tape recorder. The feeling of hearing my voice back on tape was amazing. I’ve been hooked and chasing music ever since. I grew up listening to a lot of the singer/songwriters of the 70’s; Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Fleetwood Mac, etc. My aunt used to play her records around the house all the time and the warmth of the more acoustic sound really drew me in. But I actually started on drums and studied for a number of years before getting an acoustic guitar for high school graduation. I taught myself how to play guitar in my dorm room at college and took a stab at writing songs. I became obsessed with singing my own songs, even though they totally sucked at first. I knew music was what I was going to do for the rest of my life. My parents are easily my biggest supporters. They never blinked an eye when I told them I wanted to take the leap into the music business full time. They were all for it and still are. My Dad asks me more questions about my career than the record label does. He’s up to date on everything, always. Both my Mom and Dad are supporters to this day and have been ever since I got that Donny & Marie microphone.
Starting out performing and getting noticed by agents and labels is almost near impossible – how did you go about getting your music listened to ? What advice do you have for someone who is just starting out and wanting their big break in the music industry?
P.J –The overall answer to this question is when you’re ready for a manager, agent or label, they will find you. Usually. If they think they can make money off of you, they’ll come knocking. If you’re searching for them, you’re most likely not ready. When you’re ready for a manager or agent, you’ll know. Trust me. Until then, focus on writing great songs.
I was an intern out of college at a music management company in NYC. I wanted to dive into the biz as soon as I could and being an intern during the day to get a sense of the business and gigging at night was a great way to start. The internship led to a label management position at Viper Records, where I played some acoustic demos of some songs for Jonathan Stuart, the owner. Jonathan liked what he heard and after I went back and polished the songs up a bit, he released them. I’ve been on Viper since 2006 and I absolutely love it. It’s a family.
Another answer to this question is “don’t stop”. Don’t stop writing, don’t stop booking gigs, and especially don’t stop working your ass off. A lot of artists around my home town have come to me asking how I’ve gotten to where I am, and I always say “you just gotta do it”. Just get out there and make it happen. It’s not gonna happen on the couch. I had no pamphlet or “how-to” guide for this crazy business. Nobody did. We all just got out there and did it. Hit the pavement and take every opportunity that comes your way at first, even if it’s for free. If you’re good at what you do and work hard, the money will come. If you want it badly enough, you’ll get there. You have to make it your job, and by that I mean all of it. You have to get up and write, book and get on that computer and find ways to advance your career every single day. Trust me, there’s ALWAYS something to do. And in the beginning (and especially as you progress) it’s a 24-7 job. It has to be. It must be a full dedication and must come first before everything. And write great songs. Not okay songs, not pretty good songs, GREAT songs. In the end, the tunes do the talking. It’s all about the song. If you have a killer work ethic, can brush off a little rejection from time to time (this biz is not for everyone), know how to network (it all comes down to people) and have GREAT songs, the world is yours.
When writing your music – do you lock yourself away for days at a time? Or do you welcome the input family members or friends have when they listen as you are writing?
P.J – I used to write by myself all the time. Up until last year, I pretty much wrote everything by myself. But that’s all changed through co-writing. I recently signed a licensing deal with Razor & Tie Music Publishing which has opened up a whole new world for me. The majority of my songs these days are co-writes and it’s made a huge difference. I used to frown on co-writing but now I can’t get enough of it. It’s the best way to write for me. If I lock myself away up in New Hampshire and write in the woods (which is what I used to do) I can’t get any feedback from the deer and squirrels. In a co-writing session it’s an immediate reaction of what works and what doesn’t work. And when you’re looking to write the best song possible, that’s the way to go. Two or three heads are better than one. I used to run new songs by my Mom because she’s a pro singer, but she’s obviously biased and she’d always love everything I played for her. She’d probably release my Donny & Marie microphone demo if she could. I love that woman.
What music do you listen to besides your own? Who are your favorite musicians and have they influenced you in any way?
P.J – That’s a great question. I only listen to myself if I have to listen to a mix of a recent session or a master or something like that. If I hear my music elsewhere I always get embarrassed for myself and get that goofy feeling. My favorite musicians these days are all my peers and my friends. I really only listen to my friends and their new releases, pretty much. There’s nothing more inspiring than that to me. It’s so cool when your favorite new band happen to be your good friends. I love that. Through writing in LA and Nashville during the past year, I’ve met a lot of fellow musicians and artists I’ve looked up to over the years and have now become friends. There’s something about hearing what all my friends are doing for inspiration. That energy from it being a community is special. I’m so proud of them all. They make me better and are all a pleasure to look up to. Artists like Garrison Starr, AG, Peter Bradley Adams, Matthew Perryman Jones and Greg Holden, to name a few. All those artists I just mentioned also have had great success with their music, and I like to listen and learn what works. I’m always learning from my peers and I’m sure I always will. The three albums that are on repeat in my car right now are the new releases from My Name Is You, Greg Holden and The Silent War. I also can’t stop listening to the new TV On The Radio album, but I don’t know those dudes.
What made you decide to write your new music about your surviving cancer? Did someone influence your decision to take this step with your musical career?
P.J – The new EP was co-written between me and the producers of it; Garrison Starr and AG. The three of us had been wanting to work together for a while, and after our initial writing session, AG put together a rough mix of our work that day, which was the song All For Something. The vibe of that song lyrically and musically was exactly what I was going for. So once we heard the rough we knew we wanted to create more together. The record label was over the moon with the new sound as well and told us to go make more. Knowing that I was about to create more with my friends and already having the record label psyched about the project, I was at ease going in. I didn’t feel pressured at all because I knew whatever the three of us were going to write was going to be great. Garrison and AG only produce great stuff. The nerves came into play once the girls pulled me out of my comfort zone, lyrically and vocally. But the pit in my stomach fueled me. I wanted to change, I wanted to evolve, I wanted to stay current. The girls wanted to tap into some powerful topics and especially stuff I’ve never written about before. Before I knew it, I was telling them about my struggle with survivor’s guilt after going through cancer a number of years ago. I started letting it all out and it felt good. I started to cry a little and it felt a little better. We started to write and I started to sing and it felt awesome. Years of keeping it all in, essentially, had come to an end and I can’t thank the girls enough for getting it out of me. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have written a song about that subject on my own. I’d get that goofy feeling again.
The release of “Ready to Run” is May 5th – is there someplace your fans can pre-order the EP?
P.J – I’m afraid not. No pre-orders. It’ll be available in North America and Europe digitally on May 5th at iTunes, Amazon, etc. For a physical copy, please visit www.viperrecords.com or pick one up at The Ridgefield Playhouse show in CT on May 7th when I open for my friends Antigone Rising. I’ll have them available that night. Tickets here: http://www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org/event/antigone-rising
Being a cancer survivor have you donated your time as a musician for charity events locally? Have you thought about offering your performances at them and if so how would someone get in contact with you for that purpose?
P.J – Yes. I’m involved with performing and talking at healing workshops through a non-profit organization empowering cancer survivors called CT Challenge (http://www.ctchallenge.org). I do it every couple of months. The organization and facility here in CT are both amazing and I’m proud to donate my time. It’s an honor. I’ve also written a new song for them which will be released in the upcoming months and have proceeds of sales go towards CT Challenge. We are in talks now of setting up a release date and national plan. I will gladly offer a performance for anything related to cancer charity events and I can be reached at email@example.com.
P.J thank you for taking the time to answer these few questions, we look forward to hearing more of your music in the future.