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Dean Anthony Cercone Jr. is a self-proclaimed psychedelic dreamer whose music will transcend you into another realm of chaos and color. His sound goes from sweet and slow strums of guitar to intense reverb and eccentric beats that drive listeners wild.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he is now a Brooklyn-based musician and artist. He can be found playing alongside his artwork that hangs on the walls of DIY venues all over Bushwick.
His family is packed with artists and musicians. His grandfather served as a musical mentor, providing guitar lessons when Cercone was only eight years old. The songwriter was recording his first songs by the age of 12.
He also knew that he was an artist early on in life–hosting his first gallery art show at only 14 years old. He confesses that his work, both artistically and musically, is weird to him now. He started off with a sound that can only be describe as teen angst, filled with emotional lyrics and acoustic guitar riffs.
Now, his art and music go hand-in-hand. Imagining frenzied paint strokes while listening to Cercone’s music is a normal and embraced side effect.
“They all sort of shake hands with each other,” Cercone tells BTR about the relationship between his many different creative outlets. “But they’re very different still. I interact with my recordings a lot like I would a painting.”
He also is known for putting on a very passionate live show.
“It’s a really intense experience, I think for me and for the live viewers, because I get pretty possessed,” he explains.
His live show is a solo act in which he plays several instruments on stage with no pre-recordings. He sings into a looping machine and plays his guitar or percussion instrument through a PA–giving him a rugged sound.
His most recent album, “Dream Monument; Know To Self,” is filled with uplifting lyrics and transcendental melodies that express hope in finding one’s self.
Cercone also concludes that this album has turned out to be his best at conveying the experience of his live performance.
“The song ‘Lost My Head’ is the closest thing that I have right now to what I sound like live and how I play live,” Cercone says. “When I play live it’s definitely very similar to the way I apply lines, just very chaotic and energetic.”
His past albums, like “Juggling Hot Coals” and “Deep Rest Calypso” still deliver a successful interpretation of Cercone’s art, but it’s also easy to feel a different emotion.
“Dream Monument; Know To Self” is drenched in hope, where as in his previous works the listener can feel the stress of the unknown, but also passionate determination.
“I basically wanted half of the album to be more chaotic and sort of strange,” Cercone says about his most recent album. “It’s almost like I want people to not know what I’m doing. It’s pretty intrinsic.”
His lyrics very much pertain to his life experiences, but in a way that feels almost alien.
“I don’t want it to be some average love song or anything like that,” Cercone says. “I try to make it a little less human in a way.”
His art is not just an expression of inner desires and an exploration of self; he also uses his talent to better humankind.
Cercone has been working with a non-profit called You=Love for over 7 years now. He met the founder, T. Klinkhamer, when he was very young and living in Pittsburgh during a rough patch in his life as a starving artist. With no job, he was squatting in a building for shelter.
Friends of his who played in a country music band introduced the two, and they have been working together ever since.
“She basically kind of saved me,” Dean confesses. “I desperately needed someone to help me out at that time.”
The non-profit works by creating books that Cercone illustrates, and sending them to underprivileged children. The books are about building self-confidence and loving who you are and spreading that love around.
Recently, they converted these books into coloring books for children to not only learn to embrace who they are, but also to give them the chance to utilize art as an outlet.
“We just sent a large package to a bunch of children who had never even colored a picture before, so it’s a pretty cool experience,” Cercone tells BTR. “It’s just genuinely kind.”
Along with his humanitarian work, Cercone is a huge supporter of the DIY venue movement in Brooklyn, which is snowballing to encompass a very large following.
Currently, Cercone resides in what is known to musicians and show-goers of Brooklyn as “Bohemian Grove”—a residential building that puts on many DIY shows.
Cercone declares that it all depends on the experience, but he tends to have a better time performing and attending DIY venues. He says that many times the atmosphere at legitimate venues can feel awkward and elitist.
“It’s stuffy, and you pay a lot of money to get a cab there and generally you’re not making the money back,” Cercone explains. “It’s kind of funny, like a bunch of younger people running a DIY venue, generally they’ll pay for your cab more than a legitimate venue will.”
He says he can always depend on DIY shows to have a crowd of open-minded and sincerely nice people. Though he does confess to having a great time playing at Rough Trade, a legitimate venue in Williamsburg.
However, his heart still sides with DIY.
“I obviously love the DIY venues, because it makes it easier to just have a great time and chill with finer people,” he says.
Make sure to check him out at the DIY venue Palisades in Bushwick on March 14th!
To hear the rest of today’s interview, tune into the Discovery Corner.