Photo Credit: Matthew Im
Ladies, get ready to meet your next irresistible R&B crush…Chris LaRocca. LaRocca is a self-taught musician who has demonstrated the utmost dedication to his craft; he slaved away for 12-hour days at three jobs just to fund his debut EP in 2017. Now, LaRocca has unveiled his sophomore EP, Saudade, which is a dreamy concoction that only LaRocca himself could create.
Although the entire EP is R&B perfection, Saudade features two captivating tracks in particular that are especially deserving of a high-concept music video, and LaRocca delivers just that for “Dice Out / Test On Me.” The cinematographic narrative is inspired by The Sopranos, a popular crime drama television show from the early 2000s. Interestingly enough, LaRocca’s hometown of Woodbridge, Ontario, is populated by the largest Italian community in the world outside of Italy so he incorporated Italian mobsters into this creative piece.
Join Chris LaRocca’s crew in the “Dice Out / Test On Me” video below:
To celebrate the release of his new music, we recently chatted with LaRocca about his punk rock past, surprising music tastes, and of course, his fantastic new EP, Saudade.
OTW: Rumor has it you’re a self-taught musician… How did you first become interested in music?
LaRocca: My dad played a lot of music around the house when I was growing up; a lot of Coltrane, Miles Davis, Steely Dan, that kind of stuff. It kinda sparked something in me that made me feel really comfortable and happy. Around the same time, my mom had gotten me into piano lessons, which I hated at the time, but they allowed me to build a foundation for playing an instrument, and when I got older and had the urge to play again, it wasn’t as intimidating diving back in.
OTW: How has the Chris LaRocca we all know and love today evolved from your past work with punk rock band Elos Arma and the moniker SEXTAPE?
LaRocca: Musically, I guess I’m just much more open-minded. In all my other projects I always had my sights set on one specific sound; every song needed certain parts and moments, and it was more formulaic than anything. Nowadays I’m willing to take a song in any direction. I think I kind of just detached the idea of a genre from my writing process and now I’m able to explore a lot of different worlds while still being true to myself.
OTW: Your new EP Saudade is SOOO dreamy. Can you describe all seven songs in one word each?
LaRocca: “Yardsale” - Rural. “Heated Up” - Emotional. “Salt” - Fluttery. “Dice Out” - “A bop lol.” “Made U Cry” - Drunk. “Test On Me” - Paranoid. “Outro” - Dusk.
OTW: Saudade is all about memories and nostalgia. Can you share your favorite memory from when you were crafting this EP?
LaRocca: There’s honestly so many to choose from, but one that stands out was when “Yardsale” came together. I had written the song as SEXTAPE like seven years ago, and had kind of forgotten about it until I was on a writing trip in L.A. with my friends and collaborators Herag Sanbalian, Andrew McEnaney and Spyros Georgiou. On our last day of the trip with only about an hour or so left at the studio, Andrew said, “What about that song ‘Yardsale?’” I hadn’t thought of that song in so long, but I started to sing it in the air and Herag started playing the chords under it. Within what felt like 15 minutes, the song was pretty much written and the demo that we had bounced was just vocals, piano, and snaps since we barely had time to do anything else. That demo was powerful as hell. We all listened to it for the rest of the day and the whole flight back, it was so undeniable even then.
OTW: “Dice Out” is a stand out track on Saudade that quickly became a fan favorite. Is there a track on the EP that resonates the most with you?
LaRocca: For me, it’s really “Heated Up” and “Made U Cry” that hit home. These songs came from super emotional and vulnerable places and allowed me to be real honest with myself, and will always stay closest to my heart. I love all the songs, but these two hold some very important pieces of me within them.
OTW: Are any songs that were more difficult to write than others for this EP?
LaRocca: They all came together fairly easily. I think “Test On Me” was the biggest struggle production-wise, but after we got the mix back from Matty Green, it sounded better than ever and we were blown away. Beyond that, we had one song that we worked tirelessly on that which we had produced almost entirely before deciding it just wasn’t going anywhere. After we cut that one though, I wrote “Heated Up,” so everything happens for a reason!
OTW: What’s a music genre that your fans would be surprised to know that you listen to?
LaRocca: I listen to literally everything, but I guess the most obscure genre in regards to my music would be punk and heavier music. I’m literally listening to Title Fight’s "Floral Green” as I type this (although they kind of softened up on this one), and just had Show Me the Body’s “Body War” on before that. This is kind of where I came from - growing up I listened to a lot of metal and punk and then started to listen to everything else from there, so this type of music really was a starting point and is familiar and comforting to listen to even now.
OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch?
LaRocca: Young Clancy, always. One of my favourite artists from Toronto. Also, Loony - her voice is out of this world and I really think she’s gonna be up next. And last but definitely not least, one of my closest friends and collaborators Herag Sanbalian - although he’s not an “artist,” he’s one of the best producers around and you’ll definitely be seeing his name everywhere soon enough!
+ Check out Chris LaRocca’s incredible performance at our Northside Sessions!