Max DeVincenzo addresses mental illness in new album


Max DeVincenzo was having the time of his life in Boston, Massachusetts, studying Film Scoring at the Berklee College of Music, a prestigious University with an impressive list of alums such as John Mayer and Ben Mckee. Everything was stupendous until his sophomore year, when he found out that his father, a small business owner of 30 years, lost the lease on his car shop. DeVincenzo left school to help his father get back on his feet by teaching music lessons.

“My dream is to someday go back to Berklee when the funds are there,” DeVincenzo said, whose father helped pay for his tuition.

DeVincenzo, who teaches music lessons around Boulder as well as produces music for various clients, started his musical journey when he was just a toddler. He started experimenting with a drum set at home and his parents quickly noticed his inclination for music.

“Pretty soon after that, a keyboard came to the house,” DeVincenzo said. “I took drum lessons at eight or 10 and stuck with it. I ended up dedicating my life to it.”

Along with the drums and keyboards, DeVincenzo knows how to play bass and guitar, and has played around with the cello, though he claims to be inadequate.

During his time in Boston, DeVincenzo noticed how fierce the competition was. When he moved to Boulder he observed a considerable change. While he says both cities have active music scenes, DeVincenzo was surprised by just how merciless people were on the East Coast, doing just about anything to climb their way to the top.

“It’s very competitive,” DeVincenzo said. “You have people throwing people under the bus and undercutting them all time, which is really disappointing to see. There were venues out there where, if you wanted to play, you would have to pay to play at that venue. You come to Boulder and you have this beautiful community of musicians where everyone is helping each other.”

When DeVincenzo moved back to Boulder he began to feel discouraged for having left college despite being surrounded by a supportive community.

“I was lucky to have gone to school for the length that I did,” DeVincenzo said. “I’m a very driven person and I was doing well in school and all of a sudden the rug got pulled out from under me.” As soon as he came back to his hometown he started writing songs to express his feelings.

“I wrote this song about hiding inside your own brain, and it kind of went from [that] one song,” DeVincenzo said.

It wasn’t until a certain woman—who will remain anonymous—came into his life, that he started writing more and more, eventually getting to 10 songs to form his upcoming album, Suspended Dreams.

“She showed me that it’s more important to feel than think a lot of the time when it comes to music,” DeVincenzo said.

It’s been one year since DeVincenzo has started writing and he has compiled all his tracks together to create the conceptual album Suspended Dreams. Although no release date has been set, he hopes to release the album before the end of the year.

The concept behind DeVincenzo’s album is pushing mental illness awareness into the public eye, making the topic one to discuss and not ignore. A lot of the inspiration came from DeVincenzo’s own struggles and experiences as he taps into his fears and anxieties with his music.

“It’s one of the things today that’s not taken as seriously as it should be,” DeVincenzo said. “I would love to show people that it’s something more serious.”

For DeVincenzo, the concept is to relieve his emotions and stress from past relationships and issues and pour it into something concrete. By working through his emotions and releasing the album, he hopes to gain some closure and begin moving forward.

“I found music soothes that anxiety [and] is a good way to express myself,” DeVincenzo said. “I thought I should finish it and give it to somebody else, the way [the album] affected me.”

Each track covers a range of narratives, from being in an abusive relationship without realizing it to finding that dreams are better than reality.

DeVincenzo doesn’t sing on the whole album, but he penned all of its lyrics. One track, titled “Beautiful and Complicated,” deals with the idea that everything that goes on in someone’s  head is a way to distract oneself from reality, and the idea of how something foreign or intrusive can be frightening.

“The sun only burns if you stare too long, I think I’ll keep my eyes closed,” DeVincenzo writes.

“Deeper in Love” is another track from the album. The song is rooted in jazz structures with buoyant piano ballads but melds history with the contemporary by fusing rapid drum beats and funk-style bass chords with crescendoing synths. The song is  rhythmic and dynamic, showcasing DeVincenzo’s skill as a musician and as a composer.

There will be several musicians and vocalists featured on the album, including Marco Garcia of Ghost Tapes on bass, and Alex Cazet, Mark and Matthew Wilkolak of Mercenary Horns on horns. DeVincenzo will be singing on half of the tracks, with Dechen Hawk taking charge of the other half, who also helped with the production and arrangement of the album.

Music is more than just a means of entertainment. It is a powerful tool that can help individuals cope with mental health. Listening to music everyday can help elevate one’s mood, aid in relaxation, as well as the ability to focus on a specific task, and help music fans and musicians create a unique bond.

For DeVincenzo specifically, creating music was a facet for him to express and process his deepest emotions. DeVincenzo hopes that by releasing this conceptual album it can help heal other struggling individuals like it had when he created it.

“My dream is to ultimately create music in one way or another that influences the world or influences people searching for validation or support,” DeVincenzo said. “If you get a powerful idea and put it in front of people, you can change the world.”

Dilkush Khan
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