It’s always good to be a triple-threat (or even a quadruple-threat) in any sort of field, especially the music industry, and finding new talent who posses three or four of these attributes can be a big deal that can lead to a massive career down the line. This is the hope for New York based poet, rapper, singer and writer Bruce Pandolfo, who goes by the name AllOne. With his fresh and unique take on how music is written, produced and brought out to the public, he does something that not many other artists today do which will hopefully translate to him being the next biggest thing in music.
AllOne, who hails from my hood of Suffolk County out on Long Island, has had a busy career to date as he’s been doing his thing for the past seven years. He’s able to do his own spin on each song that he creates, and incorporates everything from spoken word to rap and singing. The results are usually epic, and set him apart from the bland and stale music that inhabits our atmosphere on a daily basis.
He’s had a busy 2017 so far, which he discusses in our interview below. The conversation really is an introduction to who AllOne really is, from the projects he has released, his take on the industry, and so much more. Take a look.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve interviewed you. Would you like to reintroduce yourself to our audience and explain who All One is?
So “Hey ya’ll!” my name is Bruce Pandolfo, my performance and recording moniker is “AllOne”. I’m a poet, rapper, singer and writer based out of Long Island, NY. I released my first collaborative AllOne CD in 2010 and have released 9 projects (albums, EPs, compilations,) since then, fluctuating in genre and influence but with the commonality of a high regard for lyricism and emotionally and intellectually engaging and expressive content. I record and release music and tour independently, on my own dime and on my own terms in hopes to share stories and songs with people to connect and get us thinking and feeling together.
How would you describe your music and sound overall? It’s so different from everything else that is out there.
It varies from project to project, although the last few AllOne releases have been more straightforward hip-hop albums with my own little twists in them. The common denominator is always the intricate and literary writing I suppose. The songs tend to have a more introspective and vulnerable bent, incorporating abstract or beat poetry, the rap traditions of rhyming, wordplay and references as well as the common songwriting elements of storytelling, imagery and singing.
Have your inspirations for your music changed since we last spoke?
I think when we last spoke I had just released 2012’s “The Inevitable Effort”, which was very hip hop oriented. Since then I’ve released a split EP with a Rhode Island friend DRENT, two b-sides/demo/collaboration compilation albums “We’ll Make It Together” and “Stone Soup For The Soul”, another AllOne LP called “I’ve Been Thinking…” and the Almost Elijah folk project “For A Year”.
I’m currently working on two AllOne EPs to be due out by the end of the year, finishing up a big AllOne LP and in the last writing phases for a new Almost Elijah album. I think my inspiration has included much more music and considering musicality more. Since we last spoke I’ve started learning to play drums and I’ve been singing a lot more and incorporating that in my song-writing and performance repertoire. I started “ear training” and listening to a lot more music of all different genres and eras from early delta blues, to progressive rock like Rush and Yes, to delving into jazz records and various indie and local bands like More Than Skies and The Vigilance Committee, Ghost Pressure, Necter and Alexa Dexa among so many other talented friends.
I think my songwriting approach continues to grow because my thought process is so absorbent and I love trying new approaches to structuring or writing songs or using my voice and playing with words and so the more music I’m listening to and the more I’m reading the more I’m picking out little bits that I like and try to deconstruct what I felt the strengths of a particular song or performance were and see how I can adopt that and make it my own. My inspiration as far as how or why to do this has remained steadfast throughout: I create to survive. I have that intrinsically inventive itch to express myself and exorcise my demons and then the motivation to share it is to connect with people, to remind them that they’re not alone and to share my discoveries after I’ve dredged up what is within me and processed it through what I’ve been observing around me as well.
Do you think storytelling has a way into mainstream music today, and if so, is that the route you want to go?
I think storytelling has a way into anything, especially music! Most popular songs are in the form of narrative one way or another, even if it isn’t framed that way. I think stories are how we communicate, regardless of if we realize it, even as the interest in reading novels or books seems to plummet, we have at our fingertips a plethora of blogs and online articles, YouTube is rife with vloggers and we obsessively check and update our “snap stories” and “Instagram stories” on these voluntarily invasive apps on our phones. We are inundated with statuses and tweets, many of which are little flash-non-fiction blurbs that communicate a narrative to us either in images or in pithy messages and posts. So I think storytelling is very much an inescapable medium.
Is a more literary form of storytelling going to make its way into the mainstream? Look at the popularity of podcasts and story series like “Risk”, “Mortified” and “The Moth”, which are hugely successful and you have your example to the idea that people are thirsty for stories, they are hungry for a narrative and wish to be strung along a plot arc and taken in. Ten or so years ago, a great, wise and beautiful friend of mine, who sadly now is passed, Steve Minissale pulled me aside after a poetry performance at an open mic and told me he liked when I did narrative pieces because people relate to the stories of other people and all great songwriters were really just raconteurs. He warned me along the lines of “if you just pose everything as an expression of how great you are and how inventive you are that you came up with these epiphanies and lessons that you’re sharing with people, it will fall flat, but if you frame your thoughts or lessons or ideas in a story, people’s attention will be held and they will absorb the didactic moments or the emotions more willingly and naturally”. See? Even that was a story, and it proves my point (it was also true). Ever since then, I’ve written more and more songs as stories or poems as stories. It’s a direction I enjoy and one I will continue to explore regardless of if it is widely embraced, but I think it is and will be.
Tell us about your most recent project, “For a Year”?
“For A Year” is the debut EP from my indie-folk acoustic duo side project “Almost Elijah”. I sing in the group and wrote the lyrics and melodies to the songs and my best friend and bandmate John Paluzsek wrote and plays guitar and helped informed some of the melodies. My friend Gina, who has appeared on past AllOne songs sings the part of personified maternal “Spring” in a duet between Spring and a young boy. The album is made up of four anthems or love songs to each of the seasons written with vivid description and an unabashed love for life through my nostalgic and rose-colored child’s glasses. The music style is influenced by The Decemberists among other bands and there is definitely a rhythmic and wordplay aspect that is ever-present in my writing and the perspective or voice is informed a bit by the vivacity and excitement of Ray Bradbury (whom I absolutely adore as a writer and a person). I listen to so much outside of hip hop music, in fact probably much more other genres than rap and so this was my opportunity to sing and express these styles and moods and song structures. Almost Elijah is a great joy for me to write and perform as and we are nearly done with our second project which will be called “Halcyon Wonders”.
If you had to choose one genre to stick to, what would it be and why?
Ryan, you villain! I loathe this question! I don’t know that I could choose. The limitations of genre or specific form are annoying. I’d almost rather just write and write and write regardless of what it looks like. My writing takes a free-form poetic or rap sort of direction often at this point, but I try not to limit how it comes out. Sometime a story or an idea feels better explored and expressed as a short story, sometimes a rap song, sometimes a spoken word poem, sometimes an Almost Elijah folk song, sometimes an essay.
How I’d hate to feel trapped to only one mode of expression. I don’t know how people do that, I don’t know if it’s a lack of imagination or something outside of the creative sphere like “branding” or just a staunch clutch on a narrow artistic identity or a fear of exploring new skill sets but trying new things all of the time would be ideal. I guess again the common denominator would be that I’m a writer, a wordsmith, a riddler with a dictionary and a heart full of tales and a head full of conundrums. Whatever I have to do to continue to do that (to be what I am) that is what I will do.
What are you ultimately looking forward to in your musical career?
Unquestionably, the opportunity to find new ways to express myself, to challenge my pre-existing skills and to learn new ones while connecting with people and sharing art. There is so much talent around me and around the world and I love sharing mine while meeting and collaborating with new people and getting inspired by musicians and listeners and seeing what they have to offer and what I have to offer them! I’m not quite there yet but I would ideally like to be self-sustaining through creative pursuits so I could devote all of my time to creating and sharing and traveling and learning and making some sort of positive impact. I look forward to making many more multimedia projects, writing, singing, performing music, short stories and incorporating visual arts (both fine arts and film). Music and a creative life continues to allot me the gift of seeing new people and places and learn from them and absorb them and churn them into more connective art is precisely the most beautiful life I could ask for. Thank you for your time and support Ryan, I really appreciate the opportunity! Much love!
Check out AllOne’s official links here: