Jason Vitelli

Jason Vitelli

 New York City, New York, USA
BandAlternativeArt Rock

Cinematic rock music with a vision; this is Jason's sound in a nutshell. His songs are vignettes, narratives, painting a picture with intertwining lyrics and melody. Much of his writing is influenced by the experimental rock of the late 1970’s, marrying folk sentiment with the avant-garde crosscurrent of Berlin era Bowie, Kate Bush, Olivier Messiaen, James Joyce and Eric Dolphy. The excitement of “going for it” is what Jason strives to capture in each moment.

Biography

Blending dramatic arrangements, folk sentiment and audiophile production values, NYC artist Jason Vitelli presents Head Above Tide. On his third full-length release, striking lyrical poetics highlight the suite of 14 songs, which sparkle with musical immediacy, and upon repeated listening, reveal an expansive emotional landscape. 

​“These songs coalesced around the idea of facing adversity and overcoming obstacles,” says Jason. “Over the years I’ve resolved my angst and became more sympathetic.” Romantic relationships, family, literature, fantasy and the culture surrounding him have become his personal points of reference in these stories. 

What inspires Jason are characters in circumstances far different than his own, yet sharing a common thread of humility. For his song “Labyrinthine,” the pointed lyrics evoke the protagonist in the William Styron novel Sophie’s Choice, with driving string lines and tumultuous rhythm propelling her toward certain oblivion. The call and response harmonies in “Three Marionettes” portray the hardships endured by child refugees in the Second Sudanese Civil War; their oppression a symbol of the boundlessness of human cruelty.  “In a greater sense, none of us can emerge out of any trauma unscathed,” he notes. 

For “The Persecuted,” he references recent history when the New York State Supreme Court validated marriage equality. “When you are going through a difficult moment, it helps to realize that persecuted people, even in the throes of despair, have found ways to overcome their struggles,” he says. With the evocative “Autumn Hymn,” Jason imagines echoes of Charles Ives and the sound of a marching band disappearing into the dusk, a metaphor to mirror the passing parade of life. 

Born and raised in the village of Dix Hills, Long Island, Jason recalls his first imaginative instincts as a child. “I was interested in creating something from nothing, and sharing it with other people. I felt like an outsider to some degree; introverted and intrigued by intricacy.” After attending Binghamton University for Music Composition and studying film scoring at NYU, he apprenticed with acclaimed TV composer Gary Pozner and subsequently wrote music for various short films, documentaries and mixed media projects. Soon however, Jason felt the urge to shift his focus to live performance, opting to reinvent himself as a singer-songwriter. 

​Uniting lyrics and his rich baritone with a musical language that came so naturally to him opened up new possibilities. “Though I loved composing for film because of the visual component, I was sitting in front of a computer all of the time. When I did my first open mic as a performer I was hooked – I wanted to commune with an audience directly.” 

​New York City provided plenty of opportunities in historic venues like The Bitter End, Café Wha? and Kenny’s Castaways. With his facility as an instrumentalist, Jason also joined various aggregates as a sideman, and for the experience of performing in a public space would be drawn to often play music in the subways. In 2009, he self-produced his full length debut No Photographs and overdubbed most of the parts on his own. Producer and engineer Barry Diament was so intrigued by the work that he produced a live direct-to-stereo recording of Jason on his boutique label, Soundkeeper Recordings. The next album, Confluence, brought his skills as a bandleader and live performer to the fore. For the new album, Jason employs a combination of traditional overdubbing techniques and live stereo tracking. “I want the musicians reacting to each other in real time as much as possible,” he says. “Often the interaction is what makes something distinctive and alive.” 

​Integrating live performances with engrossing storytelling, Head Above Tide confirms Jason’s commitment to exploring the human condition through song. “The reason that we love film and art is that they bring us out of ourselves, show us someone else’s reality, and in doing so, allow us to understand ourselves more through the process,” he says. “It is my goal to help people open their eyes to a broader horizon. As hard as life can be, grace and compassion will always keep our heads above the rising tide.”

Lyrics

Apartment

Written By: Jason Vitelli (ASCAP)

Many a time I wait at your door
and fall asleep on the floor
and as I awake,
all of these papers surround me.
The Times and the Post,
they help keep me afloat
with their witty interjections about
life in this boat,
this torrid boat called New York.

I wake up with my lonely person
and you are just a fascination
I’m dreaming of.

Lately I recall, I’m getting too old
to crawl or is it just pins & needles
that are falling off my bones?
Maybe I’m not tough enough
for this old town.
Apartment hall sleeping
isn’t sleeping so sound.

I wake up with my lonely person
and you are just a fascination
I’m dreaming of.

I’m reaching for another life,
one that’s sound and cozy
and you’re my wife.

One day we’ll stand up tall.
Rise upon a cool forest floor,
wondering if this is the place
we have always belonged.
And nowhere else to go
but down some musty old road.

Toward the unknown.

Copyright © 2008 Jason Vitelli

June

Written By: Jason Vitelli (ASCAP)

Everything in her shines,
from her dark, haunting leer
to her proud, rousing smile.
Everything in her shines,
it makes me so blind,
shines so bright, makes me so blind.
All that I’ve ever known
steers me toward her howling moan.
Oh, her moan.

Her name was June, that’s all I knew.
I danced with her poetry,
tight black curls got me in a lock.
She put her foot down,
threw my head in the closet,
and a paper trail in this heat
caused a knife in my fire.

Care just explodes and zaps away
my poor unfortunate thoughts.

And now June slides on top of me,
twisty as a turntable,
silken sheets wear her wide set hips,
pouring paths so lascivious,
oh the miles of tastiness
are a haven to a Persian heiress.

And the prize
for which so long that I’ve sought
has given rise
to the crimes that I’ve wrought.

Everything in her shines,
though her spirit still breathes
while I’m parked in my car.
Everything in her shines,
as I drive my way towards
the riverbank to bury her charms.
Cold stones washing over our bones.
Thought I saw headlines beaming us
toward the road.

She’s staring through the headboards
singing Billie Holiday
and I’m forever in her chords
folding body, mind into slumber.
Like the world’s dimly lit lounge
we sit; her head resting upon my
shoulder.

And sweet as her scent is pure,
the guitars jangle and tambourine hits,
but I can’t exist
until I feel the moist skin upon her lips.
And the drums begin to transform our
pulsing motions into such
pushin’ and pullin’.

We take the cab downtown.
We take it all the way around,
beyond the Battery over the steel rails
holding us inland,
into salty seas,
will she remember me,
when I sing my song or when I awake
from this deep sleep?

Copyright ©2008 Jason Vitelli

Long Way

Written By: Jason Vitelli (ASCAP)

I’ve got a long way to go.
I’ve got a long way to go
before my eyes are reaching yours,
before my mind gets too roiled.

She can make it or break it
or lose her cool and just hate it,
but I got a long way to go
before my eyes are reaching yours.

For I been running out toward this sun
and I didn’t think I could include
anyone.

It’s hard enough just being myself
so I’m gonna go it alone.
I’m gonna go it alone.

It’s been happening too often,
this weight within my head.
This bus couldn’t be too slow,
but I know I’d be better off at home.

She’s a hard one to handle
and my mind’s filled with scandal.
But I’ve got a long way to go
before I pass my stop once more.

For I been running out toward this sun
and I didn’t think I could include
anyone.
It’s hard enough just being myself
so I’m gonna go it alone.
I’m gonna go it alone.

There’s gotta be a better way,
as she flips back her hair gently
in the brake light haze.

It’s been so long
that I forgot how it felt,
but as she stands up to go
I know my journey toward the sun
must go on.

I’ve got a long way to go.

Copyright ©2008 Jason Vitelli

The Worst Thing

Written By: Jason Vitelli (ASCAP)

You may be the worst thing
that has happened to me.
I’m now crazily infatuated
and oh so lonely.

You stood in front of a roaring
flame; I miss you.
Your thighs wrapped around my
wanton frame; still miss you.

I look around now and feel so empty;
feel so empty.
I plead to you darling, your curves so
belonging, I think of them constantly.

‘Cause you may be the worst thing
that has happened to me.
I’m now crazily infatuated
and oh so lonely.

The moment you stepped into my life; mesmerized.
Climbing & driving to your doorway
ringing & ringing & ringing.

Spent all my money on fancy clothes,
just so I could see you strip them
down to your panties, oh!

Round about eleven PM
you come by my window.
Whispering sweet nothings
out from lips so soft and pure.
While lulling me to sleep,
only then could I breathe deeply.

’Cause you may be the worst thing
that has happened to me.
I’m now crazily infatuated
and oh so lonely.

Copyright ©2008 Jason Vitelli

Morning Sun

Written By: Jason Vitelli

Morning Sun
©2008 Jason Vitelli

Trying to validate my intentions.
Trying to unleash insinuation
and wait until the morning sun.

Trying to fill the weight
of my obsessions
to allow them no absolution
and wait until the morning sun.

Someday I’ll find that place,
where baby tigers sneak under
leaves and lie
in waiting for their morning sun.

Swaying as a little pony,
with eyes as wide as a roly-poly.
Just falling for the rolling sun.

Waking up to the lance of the lot.
As I fall backwards it feels so hot
rocking to the rolling sun.

They’re running along the beach.
Waves a’shimmer and a’sparkle
until they drop.
Sleeping under lovely love.

Bits and pieces swelling to emotions
spin a tapestry of sweet conversation.
Wait until the evening’s come.

Ships are sailing along our blue sea;
it’s about time for afternoon tea.
Wait until the evening’s come.

Someday we’ll find that place
where those tigers sneak under
shooting stars,
waiting for their morning glow.

Last Rites

Written By: Jason Vitelli

Now we're reading these last rites
only for the chance
that it's our own found love
saving us from this last dance.

Throwing it all away
shouldn't be so hard
but it's our own found fears
sinking us into the floorboards.

Peeking out for only the reasons
we had known before
and as life passes us by,
we're hoping for more to hold on to.
Rivals are communicating
and keeping their tabs on our score.

If I try to find you,
could I be beside you?
Running all around with my lights
blown out in this crowded train.

Tripping over old ladies' suitcases,
their hot coffee spills and
just one slip and I fall over
with no dream left to hold on to.

Now we're breathing and heaving
in our lonely cell.
Our moment's passed us by
and left us prone on the floor.
It was a captivating, insane game
but lost upon our own.

If I try to find you,
could I be beside you?
Jumping all around,
kids screaming about,
I climb to my rue.

But I'm caught between cars
with both doors locked,
the wind’s freezing my tears as I fear
my time’s already over, save yourself;
save yourself to be somebody new.
Be somebody new.

©2008 Jason Vitelli

Discography

Head Above Tide - 2018
Confluence - 2011
No Photographs - 2009