Many factors impact the pursuit of artistic greatness. For keyboardist Tony Gallicchio’s newest song, it was time—the origins of his latest single, released last week, are from years prior.
“It’s been kicking around for a while,” admits Gallicchio. “Some (songs) come out just in the moment, some take years to come together.”
Gallicchio has been keyboardist for Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad for the last decade, a band known for its reggae and jams. However, his single “My Baby” reaches back to his love of funk and soul music. Faced with the stress and uncertainty that came with the pandemic, Gallicchio chose to feed into the opposite emotions of positivity and love.
“I generally tend that way as a songwriter already. I think it’s easy to talk about love or being in love as an emotion,” Gallicchio says. “At the time, it felt like ‘Give yourself a break and treat yourself to some fun.’”
As the song’s lyrics and chorus make clear, the song is an anthem of appreciation for people who “give you love.” At the time of writing, that person for Gallicchio was his wife, a partner who “kept me sane” during the days of quarantine. He suggests listeners project on those close to them.
The playful energy of “My Baby” is also reflected in the cover art, a piglet playing a keyboard while floating among the stars. The songwriter says it has nothing to do with the actual message of the music, but is indicative of his self-described “goofball” style.
“I heard someone say you should close your eyes while listening to a song and imagine what the art should look like from that. I definitely don’t see a pig in space playing piano,” Gallicchio says with a laugh. “Partly it was because I needed something and partly because, maybe if it’s goofy enough, people will see it and think, ‘I got to listen.’”
In chasing after a “70s Motown vibe,” Gallicchio also used the song as an excuse to pair with other artists he had an admiration for, particularly with the vocals. While he had played with Yanick Allwood’s band before, this was the first time Gallicchio was able to collaborate with the Canadian funk singer.
“If I sang (the single), it’d be a disservice. Yanick more than nailed it, he got what I wanted to get at and gave so much more on top of it. It wouldn’t be what it is without him,” Gallicchio says.
Gallicchio was able to work with local Rochester artists he admires on “My Baby” as well. Joining him on the song are Sean McLay, bassist and fellow member of the band Funknut, Jimmy Grillo, a longtime Rochester drummer, and John Viviani, guitarist with The Ables and former band Filthy Funk with Danielle Ponder. In addition, the single itself was recorded and engineered at Green Room Audio, a Rochester staple in the local recording world.
“If you look anywhere in the country, no matter the size, you’ll be surprised at the level of talent in a place. And Rochester has all that talent but there’s also this sense that everyone is willing to contribute,” says Gallicchio. “Just like (with ‘My Baby’) everyone brought their own best to the song.”
“My Baby” is the first of several singles Gallicchio will release this year with other Rochester-based musicians such as rapper Mdot Coop. He hopes they will be accepted as another part of the vibrant scene here.
“It’s a seriously good time here and I’m lucky enough to be able to make music with my favorite talented people in Rochester,” Gallicchio concludes.
Jacob Schermerhorn is a Rochester Beacon contributing writer. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].