One of the greatest things about music is its ability to move people. Regardless of the time, place, or emotion you’re feeling at that moment, there is a song out there that can affect you in a very special way. For Mike Gazzo, aka Gazzo, connecting with fans on a higher level through his music has always been a top priority.
Gazzo’s introduction to the music world was largely through his father’s work as a stereophile. Growing up listening to anything and everything from Iron Maiden to Bob Marley and Usher, Mike was able to have an incredibly diverse taste in music at a young age. However, It wasn’t until listening to Tiësto’s “Kaleidoscope” in 2009 that he got a real taste of electronic music that moved him.
“I had heard dance music in high school, but it wasn’t until then that I got deeper into it and was able to realize how amazing it was – the sound design, the production, and really the entire aura around it. The aura around dance music has so much positivity so for me and that was a huge attraction to it. Being positive at all times is a big thing for me.”
From then on, Mike threw himself into making music. He started posting tracks publicly in the beginning stages of the Soundcloud days. Before he knew it, after releasing “Never Touch the Ground” and having it top the Hype Machine charts rather quickly, Gazzo needed to have a very important conversation with his parents.
“I went to my dad who was my biggest supporter and my biggest critic. What I mean by my biggest critic is that he told me I had to get my degree first. My mom and my dad never finished college so they really wanted me to do that. I went to school at Towson University. I told them that I was going to do music, and if for some reason it didn’t work out, that I would go back to school. I didn’t have anything holding me back so that was my opportunity to go after it. Since then I haven’t looked back.”
Since then, Gazzo’s music career has been quite the learning experience. Between figuring out his brand, his sound, and channeling his ideas into a more specific genre, he has been able to learn a lot about himself and who he is as an artist.
“As a DJ you can get big off of a certain sound and then most people start expecting that certain sound from you. For me, I’m a producer at heart so I just want to make everything. It’s mostly been a struggle sticking to a genre, but more importantly figuring out my sound and what makes my productions unique. In the last six months I think I have finally figured out the formula that makes Gazzo, Gazzo. It usually takes a long time for that so I think it’s definitely a struggle. The best advice that I ever received was to “be yourself”. Everything you put out there is you so be who you are. I feel like there are a lot of people who try to fake it and not be themselves or be something else, and I wish that would change.”
Aside from the rewards of a growing fan base and the high-energy lifestyle of an artist, there is a much bigger reason why making music is so important to Gazzo. Having dealt with a number of friends and family members who struggled with suicide and depression, as well as losing two friends to overdoses, Mike has worked hard to generate awareness through his voice as an artist.
“Life is hard, and for someone who doesn’t see any real light at the end of the tunnel, it can be really difficult to continue to either pursue a dream or to really just go through the flow of life. For me a lot of my music and really the reason I’m even involved with music in the first place is to be able to inspire others to not only chase their dreams, but also to overcome life’s barriers. I want to provide an escape that isn’t fabricated by a drug. I want their drug to be music.
Music helps me cope with all of the pain and emotional distress that these things have caused me as a person, but also moves it in a direction that is positive. I’m very grateful to have the fan base that I do because they allow me to do that.”
Gazzo is currently in the process of building a platform for drug abuse awareness called “Artists Against Addiction” that is geared largely towards the heroin epidemic currently taking place in the United States. By expanding the platform beyond the reach of electronic music alone, the more people across the map will be able to help.
“Music has always been a drug for me. It’s been my escape – my happy, sad, mad, every moment of my life I can adhere to a song. My whole goal is to create an environment as an artist — musically, brand-wise, everything — to be an escape for other people. The struggle has been in trying to do that and keep it applicable to everybody. It’s very hard to make music for ‘everybody’ and on top of that make something that will help ‘everybody’ get through x, y, and z.”
As hard as that may be, Gazzo has already seen his efforts generate some of the most positive results. A fan that just so happened to be his manager’s Uber driver during Miami Music Week 2015 was the one who brought it to light.
“My manager, Rob Calabrese, had an Uber driver in Miami who was like, ‘oh I’m so boosted I was at a show and I saw Gazzo.’ My manager told him he worked with me and I ended up meeting up with the guy at like two in the morning. I had no idea, but he had been struggling with drug addiction. Then I met up with him again this last Miami Music Week in 2016 and he now has three or four different houses for addiction. He really took his addiction and moved it into something positive. He told me that a part of that was because of my music. That is what makes everything worth it. Not the money, not the free drinks, just being able to make an impact on someone.”
Moments like this are incredibly humbling for artists who dedicate a huge portion of their lives to creating something that helps others. With a bit more compassion and willingness to help those in need, just as Gazzo has done with his music, we can make this world a much happier and healthier place.