Joseph Tonelli: Boulder's "Newest" Singer-Songwriter Tells Us About His Situation

By: Hannah Oreskovich

We're pretty obsessed with Joseph Tonelli's situation.

Born in Chicago, former vagabond-turned-Boulder-resident Joseph Tonelli has been playing music for years. The banjo was his first love, and he actually used to strum in a band with friend and fellow musician Dango Rose (of Elephant Revival) back in their highschool days. After college, Tonelli did a lot of traveling, spending years at a time out of the country. But he and his five-year-old son are now settled here in Boulder and through a series of life events, Tonelli turned back to music and is working on his debut solo album.

“The album I’m making now is sort of the tip of what I’ve been doing for a long time; the tip of my story, you know? I’ve been writing songs for years, but never properly produced or shared any of my music. Most of what I have done in the past is loads and loads of demos. This is different. [After recording] DIY in my living room, I sent everything to my friend Valentino in Italy for production and instrumentation. I found that recording was the easy part- now it’s everything else: promotion, distribution, the album artwork, music videos- I’m doing this project DIY in its entirety. But one of the best parts is, I’m working on all of those parts with a lot of friends.”

And Tonelli sure has a lot of those. He’s currently working on the album artwork with a connection in Asheville, his recent music video release was done by a buddy overseas, and he’s chatting with some friends about the possibility of a vinyl release in the spring.

“Vinyl has been a part of my life for a long time- I remember going through my dad’s 45s as a kid and choosing the ones I liked and separating them from the ones I didn't. I just really value the whole experience [of vinyl]- the smell and the weight and the sound; some of it is straight nostalgia. So I’ve been battling with the idea of releasing it that way.”

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When it comes to the stories behind Tonelli’s songs, he told us, “All seven tracks are super personal; uncomfortably personal. That’s the music I love, that’s the music I listen to, that’s the music that keeps me company. So that’s where I write- to move through things or to say something to somebody when I’m not that good at talking to them. The first song [on the album] I wrote in 2006 and the last one I wrote about a month ago, so I’ve picked songs from different transitions and highlights in life. I don’t write heartbreak songs, but a bunch of these songs are in that vein of the heart in relationship to other people. All of these songs have been collected through my experiences and emotional stuff.”

Following his plans of a spring release, Tonelli wants to continue working creatively with collaborators on his music, to play more live shows, and to keep writing new material.

“I felt like I couldn’t move on until I got some of these older songs out,” he said, “But these were the songs that presented themselves. I finally feel like I’ve been able to sculpt the record that I’ve been trying to sculpt for a long time.”

Stay tuned for updates on Joseph Tonelli’s official release date, and in the meantime, check out the new, awesome animated music video he just released for his first single, “My Situation”:

-Hannah

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All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.