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Published on December 15th, 2014 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson


SteFano Langone: My Music, My Life

Let’s hop right into this new single and upcoming video of yours; ‘Lemon Squeeze’…Tell me about this particular track — How did it actually come to fruition?

‘Lemon Squeeze’ was one of the first songs we collaborated on for the project. Before the state of the art studios, before the whole team was assembled, it was just DMadd and I in my spare bedroom at my condo in Studio City. Noise complaints on the regular! Truth be told, I was in the kitchen washing dishes while D was producing, and I just started free-styling “sugar pie honey bun,” the rest is history. ‘Lemon Squeeze’ is definitely for the grown and sexy. We thought coming out with a record that was edgy and sexy was important, and sets the tone for the rest of my album.

Of course for it, you teamed up with aforementioned producer DMadd [SpeakerMind Productions] — How did this connection come about?

D and I went to junior high and high school together. I always knew D as a pure musician; played everything, an amazing drummer. Toured with Sean Kingston and other artists, so there was always mutual respect as far as music went. It helped that he was the homie. We really started collaborating while I was in college, and while I was on American Idol. He’s always been behind the scenes, (and) was in the ‘I’m on a Roll’ music video. In the summer of 2013, he finally moved down to L.A. and we just started working day in day out. The second key to SpeakerMind is JP. One day my boy Rush Davis introduced me to JP — head mixer at Atlantic Studios in L.A. — at a pool party at The Standard (hotel) off Sunset Boulevard. I told him all about what we were doing. In L.A. EVERYBODY talks…A LOT! But, I still figured I’d put in a good word and if I ever had the opportunity to show him instead of tell him we’d have our third important component on starting this company. Sure enough, we got that opportunity and D and I went into Atlantic with three beats and a prayer. I sang my ass off live right then and there…SpeakerMind was born.

It’s said to be from your long overdue forthcoming solo debut, Obsession — Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?

I guess you can say that it has been an “obsession” for me. This music/album has been the start and end to every single day of my life. There have been peaks and valleys through this experience, but doing it all on our own has taught us so many life lessons, and respect for the process. There is a record on the album called ‘Obsession,’ and we just loved how it rolled off the tongue for that title. But, the album is really a story ’bout a young bachelor in L.A., whose lust for women lead him to ultimately believing in love.

Although you dropped a pair of singles; the above mentioned “I’m on a Roll,” featuring New Boyz & Rock Mafia and “Yes to Love,” in 2012 & ’13 respectively, on Hollywood Records, how come it’s still taken so long for you to release a proper solo studio collection?

Both those records were released while I was with Hollywood Records. It was an incredible experience getting that opportunity, but I think a lot has changed since I released those songs. Mainly my artistry; my life, experience. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. As much as I enjoyed working for Hollywood, I don’t think I ever had a true opportunity to showcase my strengths. But after we parted ways, I took a second to really look in the mirror instead of looking through the magnifying glass per se. What was I going to do, not what everyone else was doing or not doing for me? It was about what I needed to do for myself, for my team, and for all the fans and my family.

Reflecting, how did you first discover your musical talent?

I was a baby. Used to listen to my father play music, it was infectious. I was always being bitten by the music bug. I was curious, I wanted to play. My dad had a Beethoven tape and I listened to the ‘Moonlight Sonata’ so much I ended up just going to the piano and playing it myself. My parents were kinda shocked I took it upon myself at such a young age. I didn’t start singing until I was about 11. Once I found out I could sing to girls, and they liked it…It was over!

Who have been your greatest inspirations musically and why?

My dad has been a huge influence in my life! MUSICALITY. The little things. Phrasing, control, dynamics were some of the things that were drilled in during the young stages of my career. I always viewed myself as a student before I was on American Idol. And, that perspective was installed by Mr. Langone. He’s just a boss, and everyone who knows/meets/played/hung with my dad will say the same thing. He’s as cool as they come. And, he’ll say “Eh now, be cool and true to your school.”

With that being said, how then would you describe and/or define the style of music that you create and perform?

I was a student for many years. Studying the voice in genres like Opera, Jazz, R&B, Gospel, A cappella, Classical. Influences, technique and execution in my music is all contributed by what I learned during those years. Now the sound has evolved into a R&B/ POP/ Alternative.

What do you feel you offer the music industry that we don’t already have in other performers?

I think my vocals and style put me on a separate island. I want to create something that hasn’t been done or heard. That’s what makes this process so exciting and scary at the same time. I don’t feel like anybody’s doing what we’re doing, and I’m proud of that.

Have you encountered any problems in getting to this point in your career?

Problems is a cynical way of looking at it. You just can’t stop! Tough skin is an understatement when it comes to the music business. But, not enough people really know / want to know or understand that concept. Peaks and valleys, peaks and valleys.

What do you want people to get from your music?

I want people to feel happy, sad, sexy, good moods. The way I expressed those same feelings in my music, is what I want to give to my followers and the people who hear it.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

Performing at Carnegie Hall, surviving in L.A. after being voted off American Idol.

If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Prince, The-Dream, Ariana Grande…So many dope artists out there. I’ve been blessed to collab with some of my heroes already. Looking forward to the future.

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?

Man, I wanna play anywhere they wanna hear me. I really don’t care. Getting an opportunity to show my light and gift, is what I feel I’m on this earth to do. I want to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl! I’ve dreamt about that for many, many years.

One track of yours that you think defines you and why?

I don’t think I’m defined by any one track. My music is my emotion, my love, my pain, my story, my life. Too many layers to peel in just one sitting. But at the moment, the one track that is real near and dear to my heart is called “Secrets,” which is a song my mother inspired me to write.

Lastly, since everyone probably remembers you best from yours days as a finalist on Season 10 of American Idol — In retrospect, do you think that having been on such a television juggernaut has worked for or against you as far as advancing in your own career? It seems like with past contestants, it’s been working somewhat like a gift & curse, do you agree? And if so, how come you think that is?

Idol was an incredible opportunity for me. Brought me to L.A., got me a record deal, toured the nation. To say it didn’t help would be a lie. I was a broken record after I got voted off the show: “I got my foot in the door, but I know I have lots to prove!” The reality is, the hill you have to climb up as an American Idol contestant that did not win the show, it’s a steep one. And, I’m then ready for the challenge!

Finally, do you keep up with any of your fellow friends and/or A.I. alum; Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, Haley Reinhart, James Durbin, Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams, Paul McDonald and/or Pia Toscano, to name some?

Only one I really talk to is Casey. Lives ’bout 15 minutes away from my place; amazing musician. Casey and I wrote music together while we were on tour, the RESPECT is there. And, thats why we’re cool!
Photo credit: Ryan Cleveland
BY: Todd Davis

About the Author

Publisher and CEO of The Hype Magazine. Follow me on Twitter @HypeJustJay

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