Think Chris LaRocca is poking fun at his hometown in his new combo video for “Dice Out” and “Test on Me,” premiering exclusively below?
But the visual pairing of songs from LaRocca’s sophomore EP Saudade, with its winking nods to The Sopranos and Goodfellas, does draw inspiration from the old school Italian flavor of life in Kleinburg, Ont., near Toronto, where LaRocca was raised. “It’s a VERY Italian area, a pretty different world,” the smooth R&B singer, who released EPs as Sextape prior to his 2017 single “Closer” and the EP Voila, tells Billboard. “It’s not, like a Mafia-run city; I’ve heard there’s some of that activity but I’ve never experienced it firsthand. But certain areas close to my house there are all these older folks walking around flaunting their money, looking like they’re straight off the plane from Europe, smoking cigarettes, playing Italian cards, a lot of soccer. We grew up with a lot of that traditional stuff. I wanted to celebrate and honor that in the music video.”
LaRocca’s manager encouraged him to include both songs in the video, which the singer feels “gives people a bigger offering of the EP and makes it a little more exciting.” LaRocca went into Saudade, which came out earlier this month, trying “to take a big dive deeper into myself. I felt like the first EP was a good starting point, but I was still learning. On this one I wanted to give people the idea this is actually music I want to write. Even with this video, it’s a little more honest and real and give people a little more taste of who I am.” Saudade was recorded with a Factor grant from the Canadian government, which allowed LaRocca to give up his day jobs (though he still works part-time as a dress-up character at parties and events) and spend more time focused on music, which he feels yielded great benefits.
“I really feel like I’ve found a sound that works for me,” says LaRocca, who’s in the midst of writing more new material. “My voice is really developed to the spot I’ve always wanted it to be. On this EP I worked with a lot of different musicians, a really great choir and string players, and at all times it was really inspiring and kicked me into gear. This is really what I want to get out of myself.”