The Five Question Challenge with Nick Stefanacci

Nick Stefanacci

Saxophone artist Nick Stefanacci tackles “The Five Question Challenge.” (Photo courtesy of Nick Stefanacci)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

Nick Stefanacci is set out to bring pop fusion to another level of excellence.

For the past 10 years, Nick and his own jazz group traveled across the country to play in venues in New York City, Hawaii, Miami and Atlantic City.  In addition, he had the opportunity to perform with talented musicians including Mario Sebastian, the Derek Trucks Band and the iconic Four Tops.

Besides his musical career, Nick founded the J. Chuck Sastre Memorial Scholarship for high school students who pursue degrees and careers in the music industry.

In this edition of The Five Question Challenge, Nick talked about his songwriting process and the challenges that he faced while recording his EP: Status.

Jacob Elyachar: When did you get interested in music?

Nick Stefanacci: I started playing the saxophone in the fourth grade. Like most students, I had my share of growing pains when I was a young musician. I really gained interest when my parents took me to see my private teacher perform. One of the earliest experiences was when he played with the one and only Ray Charles, we went to see him at New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and that was amazing.  I was hooked!   

JE: Who are some of your biggest inspirations? How do you incorporate them into your sound?

NS: Inspiration comes from everywhere, whether it is Mike Tyson or Steve Jobs, I try to find that edge in anyone that dominates and figure it out. Musically speaking, my inspiration is to have my name be in the history books alongside Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Lennon and Michael Jackson. I want to be the next evolution in the music world, a defining moment when the sound/ style changes and I think we are doing that. My sound is a definite blend of many styles, that is why we developed our own genre and call it “pop fusion”. You’re going to hear some gritty rock and roll, along with smooth R&B, and then we funk it up. Let’s not forget my jazz influence, and the straight pop vibe, then you throw some horns and vocals and my saxophone on top, and you’ve got pop fusion!

JE: Could you please describe your songwriting process to my readers?

NS: Songwriting is a complex lady, you know. You think you have it figured out, and then you are stuck with nothing on the page. It is different for every song, sometimes the lyrics will be all laid out in poetry, and then I’ll style the music to fit it.  Other times, I’ll have this groove, that’s just electric, and I’ll write lyrics to coincide with it. I’m happy that I do not have a so-called “process.” I love that when I sit down, anything can happen and most of the time it does.     

JE: What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced in recording your EP: “Status”? How did you overcome them?

NS: This EP was laced with challenges. I met the singer Michelle Manzo via Skype while she was in Malaysia singing. The first time we met face to face was at the airport and I really didn’t know what to expect once we were at the studio. The studio itself moved two times throughout the recording process, so every time we went into the studio, it was a new situation with a new problem to overcome…it was pretty intense. Then, my artwork designer backed out two weeks before the CD was going to pressing, so I had to find someone else and with no time to do it. However, JP Leal did an amazing job with no time and me being on him 24/7 to crank it out. He was awesome!
Adversity can do two things, break you down or make you stronger. I always go for the latter, and besides, stories are my inspiration, so what better way to find that next melody, then on the previous recording! (Laughs)

JE: If you had the chance to meet with aspiring musicians who want a career in the industry, what advice would you share with them?

NS: I meet with musicians everyday, being a full-time music teacher.  In fact, as an elementary music teacher, I get to make that first impression that will hopefully transcend some students through high school and beyond!  I’m very tough on my young students, but for those students brave enough to make it through my program, I send them to middle school, absolutely sure that they’re going to kill it at that level.

I love seeing my kids “get it,” they light up brighter than the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, it’s amazing. As far as my older students, I am very straight forward with them about this industry, you need to survive and pay bills, so study music, perform your butt off, but most importantly get a degree that you can go out and earn a paycheck with benefits! Most students do not want to hear that, but after I show them my three solo albums and they hear what I can do, then they ask why I am not winning Grammys and on MTV, that is when they get it, that is when I did my job to educate them!

For more information about Nick, visit his website: http://www.nickstefanacci.com/

You can also connect with Nick on Facebook & Twitter!

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar