NAME: Lenny Fontana
CURRENT ALBUM/SINGLE: Fire (Lenny Fontana & Shirley Lites) Midnight Riot/Karmic Power
RELEASE DATE: October 2018
How are you managing an extremely busy work schedule against making sure that you have some time to yourself?
You have to find the right balance all around. Working as an International DJ / Artist and label owner today is surely not easy and as well when you have a family. I am finding you need to attend to everything also the trick is learning to balance it all. The internet moves so fast you have to be great at time management. Make sure you keep yourself very well organized and plan forward always.
If you had to explain your skill with three words, what would they be and why?
Make People Happy. Sound and music is the key to making someone either feel great, sad or excited. Producing music gives me the chance to express my inner feelings and to be able to create emotion. See Music is there to help people forget what’s going on during those moments in there life that may not be so great. I always felt through music you can somehow help heal people and there souls which to me was always the most mportant part. As well if you are lucky enough to have your music played for such a wide audience and knowing that it is making someones day or year is an incredible high. Thats what makes me keep going.
Who encouraged you along with your career?
My wife Cathy has watched it from the beginning. I could not do it with out her. She has always been right there every step of the way. Good, bad, or indifferent she has never stopped believing in what I do and have done. She is an amazing person and I am so glad she is right by my side.
What moment did you decide this is where you wanted to take your life?
The Mid 1980s when I started to see guys like Shep Pettibone starting to remix every record around and Tony Humphries was on the radio in New York with his mastermix. Tony was a huge inspiration to me. I said to myself I can do this and I want this in my life. From that point I never looked back. I can count my lucky stars that my grandmother arranged piano lessons for me when I was a very young child. I became Classically trained and it was a lot easier to produce and write music having that under my belt. As well in New York City Baird Jones who is no longer with us was a big party promoter and he was doing parties all over the city at Studio 54 and The Underground and many clubs. Well thanks to him he hired me and I became his resident dj. Well the rest is history went to play at many clubs after that travel the world helped shape the landscape in house music.
Where do you want to take your music and what’s your ultimate career goal?
Well the challenge today is to crack the younger audience. This seems to be my self marathon to see which record is going to be the one that everyone gravitates to commercially. So far the contender is “Fire” with Shirley Lites singing. I have been so blessed to work with artist such as D-Train and Alison Limerick. The focus has been to tackle the world of streaming and running the day to day of our record label Karmic Power Records. So two things I would say one is to achieve a hit record in the world of Streaming and make our label Karmic Power Records famous for quality music. This has been my focus and goal since I started the label in 2013.
How has the industry changed since you began, and how have you adapted to the changes?
When I started on the business side it was an Analog Vinyl, Cassette, and a CD record business. Looking back now, it seems like a dinosaur comparable to how fast things move and are handled today. Back in the day you needed a lot of lead time getting a record pressed and a promotion plan was planned out and scheduled. The most important part as well writing a record that you believed in to put your money behind. of course produced properly and the final mastering to achieve the best sound you can. Now everything seems like it is done in minutes not even days. Things change so rapidly and the technology keeps ever changing rapidly. If you cracked the old game as we use to call it you had chances of making success much easier especially in dance music. Now since everything is so fractured you have to work 20000 times harder to make sure everyone sees and hears your music. This is not for the faint hearted or someone who believes they are going to work very little and sit back with big rewards. The biggest difference today is everything is seen on a global scale. Before the internet took over it use to be a regional or to say in your own town you would achieve fame, maybe it would happen slower but the success lasted much longer. A record would be around for a lot longer comparison to now, its seems every two weeks there is a new release or everyday. So since I saw this change I decided to work longer on promoting a single so that I get a song a chance to gain maximum exposure. It seems to be working but it takes a lot more effort and work but my philosophy is “If you believe you will achieve.”
Are you prepared to take chances with your music as musical tastes change?
I have already in the past and I am not stranger to the ever changing times that come with music. If you cannot adapt you will be left behind for sure. You have to stay within the times but also finding the right balance of keeping your signature sound as well. Not many can do this and that’s why a lot don’t last or lose the feeling to want to write the music and stop. People over the years always asked me how can I stay in it like I do or how are you stil feel so excited over the music. I tell them if you have the chance to be in this business and have success there is no other job like it period. It is a blessing and curse all wrapped up in one. Music is my drug and I get a high when it works for everyone.
What makes your fan base go and buy your music?
I think for starters the quality of artists that I collaborate with and then if you are into the singers and you like there voices, we always try to write singalong hooks or anthems. My music has always found its way to making a dance floor keep moving and that is why dj’s love it. Michael Gray from Full Intention recently said to me “Lenny you have always been great at making disco house music.” Well then when your fellow Dj Producer Remixers tell you this I have to believe I am doing something right.
Let’s talk about your gigs. When on stage, how do you connect to your audience?
First I always look to the dance floor to see how they are reacting to the music. I will adjust my set according to the crowd who is in front of me. I am a people pleaser and I want to make them happy and excited. So if they are into the music that I am known for then I am going to make the experience one of the best for them.
When do we expect to see you live on stage doing what you do best?
All the time. I been working on that now I have new management and there is excitement to have me playing again in UK and Europe.I am doing a big Studio 54 Gig around the release of the documentary film at the Escape Club in Amsterdam right before Amsterdam Dance Event in October. As well there are disco gigs coming in for Uk and Europe and house gigs as well.
You seem to have that magic musical touch…what’s the secret ingredient for any new DJ/ remixer artist coming through?
Study the music that came before you. There are lot of things there to learn from. As well listen to other dj’s play and learn from example. You will always pick up a trick here and there. Now because of youtube you can see dj’s sets from everywhere and you will learn quickly how others who came before control the mood and the energy. Also stand out don’t try to copy anyone otherwise you will be in the shadow. Practice with your computer laying beats down and keep doing it till you get the hang of it. There are many how to videos on how to produce dance music with Logic or Reason. So there are no excuses to getting up and running. Before the internet you where on your own and you had to do things by trial and error. So you have technology on our side to help you along. Of course learning how to play an instrument would be a huge help pushing you further. So if you can at least take maybe a music appreciation class. If you can’t do these things try to hook up with other aspiring producers and writers and work in a studio and bounce ideas off each other. That will help get the process moving and maybe you can learn some techniques from the others that you are with.
What musical era would you like to step back to and why?
1970s when Disco began. I would of loved to experience it and be a part of it but I was too young. Oh well I am still very lucky to have the association and friends. For example I have my one close friend Richy Condina who in 1969-1970 happen to start a club in Brooklyn called Dr FeelFunnies. He explained to the owners of this bar that he wanted to start playing to the people and get them dancing. So what he did was he took these Irish owners of the Bar in Bayridge Brooklyn to see another famous Dj of the time named Francis Grasso who he happened to be friends with. He showed them the club Sanctuary and they loved it and they said ok we will give you a shot with your idea. Think about this it is 1969, so there were no real discoteque type clubs yet. Except in places like Manhattan, London or Paris. The deal they made with him was that he would play 40 minutes live with 7 inch vinyl and then the jukebox would play for 20 minutes every hour. So I then asked him who won and he said well I did in the end. They built him a proper dj booth and bought him a sound system and from there the true Saturday Night Fever began. By doing what he did he inspired and showed a whole load of people how to play music and the craft of DJng found its way. I have another friend named Ralphie Dee and I told him this personally how all of us as kids where in awww that he was the resident DJ at Odyssey 2001 and how he became the star DJ after the movie Saturday Night Fever was released. My grandmother lived in Bensonhurst Brooklyn and one of the woman on the block said your grandson Lenny take him to the kid disco at the club called 2001. Her loving me as much as she did she let me go with the kids from across the street, I went to the teen disco and from that moment I was hooked. Brooklyn was banging with Disco Music all over the place so I use to ask my mom and dad to take to me my grandmas house every weekend. Thank God that happened and here I am today doing what I do. I have a whole list of people that have contributed that are the true unsung hero’s. I can write pages on that alone but I wanted to share this part with you.
What’s the best moment in your career?
Working on Signing my production Powerhouse Feat Duane Harden to Strictly Rhythm with Gladys Pizarro and not to far after Simon Dunmore calls me and says he is going to sign it to his new record label Defected in 1999. We go to Top Of The Pops and perform the record and the rest is house music history. Even Today you hear that record played on BBC Radio 1 on the daytime rotation. Its crazy.
In the way of your music, what have we got to look forward to, what’s next?
Well right now the time machine has taken us back musically to 1977 so right now I been focusing on making true disco. This is not easy and of course I will start making what I was always known for house music that touches your soul. So I am looking into whats next for me in house music. It seems for most everyone wants me to go back to my old sound. So we will see how this unfolds musically. Stay Tuned
What’s in your diary for the next 3 months?
Family time, Studio Time, Gigs. Amsterdam Dance Event. Sleep. Eat. Work. I will announce the gigs shortly you can go to my page www.lennyfontana.com to stay locked in to my movements.
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