Concerts / Music / Singers

Roméo Testa – Contemplating The End

Roméo Testa performing at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia on October 12.  Photo copyright 2014 by Ally Abramson.

Roméo Testa performing at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia on October 12. Photo copyright 2014 by Ally Abramson.

Roméo Testa – Contemplating The End

by Ally Abramson

Roméo Testa is a young singer hailing from Los Angeles. At only nineteen years old he is blowing up the music scene. Testa recently released his debut EP “The End.” The EP has six songs, each with its own special meaning to Testa. The songs range from heartfelt ballads to more upbeat and lighter tunes, but all are very relatable.

Testa has a smooth sound that smacks of bluesy pop and is reminiscent of singers like John Mayer and Jason Mraz. Recently Testa started a quick tour along with the band Bad Rabbits and Allen Stone. The tour brought him to Union Transfer in Philadelphia, where he sat down with us and talked about his favorite thing…music!

How would you describe your music?

I would describe it as big-soul pop. I have a lot of hip-hop influences, pop influences, movie music. I guess that’s how I would describe my music.

A lot of your music is based on real life experiences. What can you tell us about your song process?

It changes day to day. I could be with somebody and they’ll bring an idea in, or I could bring my ideas in. It all depends on the person and how comfortable I am with them. What kind of stuff I know they’ve done in the past so I know, “Okay this is what they can do really well.” So yeah, it all kind of changes.

Roméo Testa performing at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia on October 12. Photo copyright 2014 by Caroline Serling.

Roméo Testa performing at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia on October 12. Photo copyright 2014 by Caroline Serling.

What’s your favorite song on the EP?

Right now my favorite song is called “I’m So Down.” We just released the video and a remix by Christian Rich, who is a friend of mine. That song I absolutely love.

Besides your own music of course, what music do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of hip hop; Game, 2 Chainz, a lot of crazy stuff like that. I also listen to a lot of John Mayer and old school blues like Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters. I feel like my taste is a little all over the place.

Is it weird to hear your own voice and listen to yourself sing?

I try not to. It used to be really awkward when I was a kid and first starting to record. I had a really hard time hearing myself sing. I’d be like “Ah! Why! What is this?!” Now I’ve gotten used to it. I have to in order to sift through the songs for the album.

Who would you say inspires you as an artist?

John Mayer and Adele. They’ve been two of my biggest influences for a while. John Mayer is an incredible singer, but also an insane songwriter for pop music. Adele is just über talented. So the both of them are big idols for me.

Roméo Testa performing at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia on October 12. Photo copyright 2014 by Ally Abramson.

Roméo Testa performing at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia on October 12. Photo copyright 2014 by Ally Abramson.

So you’d want to collaborate with them if you got the chance?

Oh, definitely.

Why did you get into music?

My mom convinced me to play violin when I was seven years old. She made me stick with it until I was eighteen, so almost thirteen years. With that I started adding on instruments like viola and guitar. Then I started singing. It all kind of happened accidentally though with the singing. I never really planned to do that as a career. But, here I am now. I had a lot of music around me my whole life. I wasn’t that great at school, so this ended up working out perfectly for me.

So it was a natural thing. If you weren’t doing this now, what do you think you would be doing?

I would do something else in music. All the other subjects at school I was kind of lost, but as far as music there’s always something to do. I would probably be a violist.

Roméo Testa performing at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia on October 12. Photo copyright 2014 by Caroline Serling.

Roméo Testa performing at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia on October 12. Photo copyright 2014 by Caroline Serling.

Is the viola your favorite instrument?

Well, guitar is my favorite, but viola is what I was best at in the classical world so I really liked it. And, there’s a lot more opportunities for violists.

Where do you hope to go with your career in the future?

I would love to be touring full time. I am getting my first real taste of it now. I could definitely get used to it. I just want to be touring and making records.

What is the best part about touring?

It’s crazy. This is my third city in six days. I’ve never traveled this much in my life. It’s unreal to be able to play in front of huge audiences like this and go out and meet great musicians like Allen and Bad Rabbits. They’re really cool.

Do you have anything special you do before the show to prepare yourself?

I usually get pretty nervous a few minutes before the show, so I’ll go to the bathroom and say my little prayer-ish thing. I usually wear a few rings. I have some random little pieces; my dad gave me a ring and I wear my grandmother’s handkerchief on my wrist, and I’ve got these bracelets I wear all the time. Those things comfort me, just little things.

Roméo Testa performing at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia on October 12. Photo copyright 2014 by Ally Abramson.

Roméo Testa performing at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia on October 12. Photo copyright 2014 by Ally Abramson.

What do you do when you aren’t performing?

Well I don’t have a lot of free time. I work between work so I still have my 9-5 job. I deliver pizza for a restaurant. If I’m not doing this, then I’m doing that. If I’m not doing that then I’m practicing.

Well then I have to ask, what’s your favorite kind of pizza?

My favorite kind of pizza… Well my uncle has a pizza place in LA called Vito’s Pizza. We have this pizza that’s like chicken, onions and this serrano sauce, kind of a green salsa stuff. It’s incredible. That’s my favorite pizza.

I know you talked about John Mayer and some other singers earlier, but if you had to pick a favorite artist, who would you pick?

Probably John Mayer. Continuum was the album that I listened to hundreds of times, where I knew every guitar solo, every lyric. I probably know the words to that album better than I know my own music.

Do you think that’s influenced what you’ve been producing?

Oh, definitely. John Mayer and Bob Dylan were the two people. I was like I definitely want to be on Columbia Records. When I was little and we were watching this documentary on Bob Dylan, the word “Columbia” came up on the screen. I said “Dad, I’m going to be on that label some day.” I was around eight then. And here I am now. So [Dylan] and John Mayer are my favorite artists.

If you had to give some advice to singers trying to get into the business, what would you say to them?

First and foremost doing whatever you think is right is the most important thing. Like I said, this all kind of happened by accident. I just trusted my instinct to write this song that I thought was good. It snowballed from there. This person hearing it and this person hearing it, and here I am. Trusting yourself enough to know “Oh, I really like this,” or “I would listen to this,” is the first step to everything in music.

What is something that not a lot of people know about you?

Well I already told you I play viola, so usually it’s that I went to band camp. It was fun times. I went when I was in eighth grade for six weeks. I was a band geek. That’s my dirty little secret.

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