By Gabby Redding | April 11, 2023
Rory D’Lasnow is an up and coming musician whose work is undeniably informed by his knowledge of the mental health industry. His introspective and evocative songwriting is driven by a desire to create music that resonates with listeners who may be facing similar challenges, hoping to offer them a sense of connection and support.
While talking to the groovement, Rory discussed his career thus far, including his first gig, musical influences,and aspirations–including touring and performing in unique venues, and he answered a few questions for the groovement:
What was the first show you performed?
I played at the Englewood Library in my hometown, and they gave me an hour to do a little concert thing. My first New York gig was at Kenny’s Castaways on Bleecker, which was probably my first proper venue gig. Not that the library wasn’t awesome.
How did you first get started?
My dad handed me his guitar, and I picked it up in the mirror image. So that’s why I play upside down and backwards because he played rightie. So I just took it to try to look like him. It’s a sweet thing, he was a cool guy.
How would you describe your music just by overall genre or vibe, what were some of your influences?
I grew up on the Beatles and Billy Joel, a lot of older music, but I love Jimmy Eat World, and that’s who I’m always trying to sound like in the recorded stuff. More like Jimmy World or Taking Back Sunday, but I’ve heard it called Sad Boy Soul, and I feel like it’s kind of accurate. Somebody coined that term for me, and I was like, ‘I get that.’
You spoke tonight a little bit about your other career in mental health. How does that inspire your songwriting?
It’s huge for me, because there’s a lot of overlap between mental health and music. A lot of the folks that I work with who have mental illnesses love music, and that’s a common unifying thing for both of us. And then a lot of folks who are in music are doing it as a coping mechanism for mental health issues. I’m on both sides of that spectrum. When I’m feeling down, sometimes music helps. That work is something that closely aligns with my spirit, I guess it’s the best way to put it, you know?
Is that who you hope to inspire with your music?
I would say that the biggest thing is wanting to connect with people who are going through similar struggles, wanting to help them feel seen and identified, identify with their issues.
I want to talk a little bit about the work that you and Jackie June are doing with Writer’s Round NJ.
Jackie approached me, and we both played this Writers Round out in Los Angeles called Writers Round L.A. My buddy Greg Gilman started it, and it’s just a really cool community that felt supportive, and people were really enthusiastic about it. So when we came back to Jersey, after Jackie and I had both played it, we thought about making a chapter out here. Greg was gracious enough to allow us to carry on the name and bring that kind of spirit and community out here.
What’s your dream venue to perform?
I think it’s Bowery Ballroom, I played at Mercury Lounge a few times, and they’re owned by the same people. The ballroom is just so cool. Mercury was like the Mecca for so many great artists. And now that I’ve played there, I’m like, ‘Oh shit, what’s next?’
I would like to play at Madison Square Garden or other big venues, but I think the peak level of popularity is playing at venues with a unique and eccentric quality. These places have enough people to feel the energy, but they also offer something special. Unlike a stadium, which is just a big circle, ballrooms and theaters have a unique charm. It would be a cool level to aspire to play those kinds of places.
Is Mercury your favorite venue to perform at so far?
Yes, it is. I have a soft spot for places like Rockwood and Bitter End in New York, but Mercury is pretty cool.
Do you have a favorite city that you’ve toured?
I really liked Birmingham and Knoxville. Nashville is amazing, but the communities in Birmingham and Knoxville were so supportive. It’s a special feeling to be in a state you’ve never been to before, like Alabama, and feel like you fit right in and everyone’s enthused.
What’s your role in the Songwriter Showcase?
I host three songwriters from around the world every Monday at 8pm Eastern. It started during Covid when I was trying to get my act together, and people had a desire to continue doing it, so I continued hosting. It’s a fun way to meet other musicians and hear other styles.
What’s next for you? Can you tell us about your upcoming songs?
I have two songs coming out, “Maybe Tonight” and “Real.” I think they are among my best produced versions. They are very Jimmy Eat World-ish, and “Maybe Tonight” is a little bit like The Killers. I’m hoping to continue touring and reaching more people to help them feel connected and understood through music.