Although Sydney-sider Rocco Bene has been in the music industry a long time, his journey is just beginning.
Having been signed to a major label in his teens before touring the country with notable Aussie headliners, then taking a lengthy sabbatical, Rocco is back and better than ever.
He’s just dropped two singles in the last couple of months: ‘Nobody But U’ and a cover of Madonna’s ‘Lucky Star’, after his welcome return to the scene in 2015.
‘Nobody But U’ is the brain child of Rocco and Brandon Laze, and is a buoyant house record that lures you in and takes you straight to the dance floor.
Rocco spoke with us about his early start in the music biz and his reasons for coming back so strong.
“I started writing and recording when I was 15. I got signed to an artist development production company. They developed me as an artist through my teens. Then in my 20s, we won a competition on the radio with Kyle and Jackie O’s Hot 30 in Sydney and I got signed by Warner to a duo called Gemini,” Rocco says.
“From that, we released a single, and toured the country with Human Nature and Bardot as a support act and it was a great start. It was a great introduction to the industry. Things didn’t pan out as I hoped, though. I tried to do a few solo projects, but it didn’t take off and so I took time off.”
Seven years later, the 34-year-old returned to the industry a little older and a lot wiser.
“I had done well with Warner, but I didn’t have the right management at the time, so I took a sabbatical. Things were out of my hands. When you’re young, you trust people and hope things will take off but people can let you down. It was a great lesson to be learned,” he says, earnestly.
“I went away to Melbourne and disappeared for a while and enjoyed my 20s. When you’re a teenager doing music all the time, you don’t really go out and have a good time with friends. Then I got a call from a producer who was looking after a musician at the time and he hooked us up and we started writing together. He had gone through the same thing with another label. We wrote music together and I met people through that and opportunities grew from that and I thought, maybe I am meant to be doing this!”
Influenced by the 1980s and EDM music, Rocco chose to cover one of the Queen of Pop’s earliest hits.
“I love ‘80s. I’m influenced by the 80s. Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, also The Presets, Lana Del Ray, The Verve, Madonna, Prince, the list goes on. As I go on, I find new artists to love and become obsessed with,” he says.
“The label asked me what cover I wanted to do and the first song that came to mind was ‘Lucky Star’ by Madonna because I love the 80s and that sound and the video represents the 80s, but in a cool way. I love how lazy she is in the clip, so I was lazy in my clip! I figured I could be as lazy as her. I was in Tokyo at the time and I filmed it there.”
Rocco is planning to write, tour and record for the rest of the year with a possible trip to Adelaide to share his new music.
“We’ve just done a single launch in Sydney and we’re booking some dates so hopefully we’ll get to Adelaide. All my live dates will be on my social media,” he says.
“An EP is in the works, but I am looking at doing another cover with an original track as a double release. I’m enjoying the process of changing up old songs and making them my own. If they work out, I’ll put them up.”
Keep your eyes and ears out for Rocco Bene as he traverses through the next phase of his career, he’s a genuinely passionate musician with a creative spirit and some great tunes.
By Libby Parker