Songwriter Stephan Moccio out on his own

UWO graduate releases his first personal album, Exposure

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Stephen Moccio

ARE YOU SURE YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO RUN INTO ME IN A DARK ALLEY? Western graduate and acclaimed songwriter Stephan Moccio is coming back to London this weekend. Apparently he can’t get enough of our sub-zero temperatures.

“It was always cold. There was always a handful of snow kicking around. It never let us down.”

Stephan Moccio no longer lives in London, but he definitely remembers the weather. Moccio, who graduated from Western with an honours degree in composition and piano performance, is now a prominent Canadian songwriter, penning tracks for artists like Celine Dion and Sarah Brightman.

Originally signed as a songwriter for Sony/ATV, Moccio now runs his own imprint, Sing Little Penguin Inc. He recently released his first album, Exposure.

Moccio says the album is about simplicity.

“For me, personally, life was too complicated; there was a lot going on,” Moccio says. “Being a studio owner, a songwriter, travelling, and I also had a newborn girl at the time " I wanted to bring back some simplicity. More importantly, an experience that sort of translated that simplicity [to people through music].

“People could just have that hour to lose themselves in something. I specifically chose to do this soft record because of that.”

Listeners shouldn’t expect the same sound from Moccio’s future efforts; the composer insists he won’t let his sound become stagnant.

“I’m sure I will go back to something hard at one point. Art is all about contrast,” he says. “I went to the extreme on this one and just specifically stuck to the piano. Usually, I might have a hundred tracks or instruments going at once while working on a song.”

Moccio used his original instrument, piano, for the album.

“For myself, it’s like a reminder that I still have that muscle to flex,” he says. “The more sparse and naked things are, the more courage it takes to do. You can’t hide things or manipulate them or disguise them. It took me a month to record this record, while other times it might take me a month to record a single song for someone else.”

Moccio recorded Exposed in his own professional studio.

“I did it all there with my engineer, just the two of us,” he says. “There were mixing people afterwards, but it was just the two of us mainly. I’ve worked on records where there have been hundreds of people working on the final product. I was just tired of those types of records.”

However, he plans to continue writing for other artists.

“I don’t think I’d be complete without either aspect,” he says. “They really go together and complete each other. I’ve been doing it for so many years, being the sideman or behind the scenes for so many big songs. I just want to take a break from that and go somewhere else completely, which is what I can do with this album.

“Mainly right now, I am promoting the record; I’m really on a vengeance to sort of spread the word on this piano music, kind of get it out there.

“Of course I will stop once in a while; there are things you can’t refuse... right now though, my focus is this piano music.”

Moccio says working on his own material eliminates one of the most frustrating and rewarding aspects of songwriting: compromise.

“Working with other artists, sometimes you’re not always happy with how a song turns out,” he says. “Other times though, you’re blown away. Sometimes, people don’t put in the energy or the time that you think the song deserves.

“With this record, I didn’t have to compromise. I’m very pleased with it myself, and I believe there’s a place for it out there. It’s an uncompromised record, and I think I achieved what I set out to do.”

Stephan Moccio plays London’s Aeolian Hall tomorrow night. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available at 519-672-7950.

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