By: Joseph R. Castel
Photos by: Jordan Lake
In Greek mythology, Dionysus is the god of wine, festivity and theatre. This Dyonisio, however, lives in Orange County, and his gift is music, not wine. Adelante sat down with Dyonisio, who just released his album “Taste of You” (Sabor Amor). His debut song, “Alone” received 80,000 hits on Spotify and despite being in the U.S. for only three years, he’s already working with Ariana Grande’s producer to make sure he succeeds with such stunning music videos as “Treat Me Bad”. At the risk of comparing him to another pop star, Dyonisio does sound a little like Enrique Iglesias, but he’s definitely tuned into the LGBTQ community.
Joe: So where are you from?
Dyonisio: I grew up in Cancun.
Joe: Your music videos, “Alone” and “Treat me Bad” are really great. They’re beautiful. Who did the amazing cinematography?
Dyonisio: The first video, the cinematography was done by a good friend of mine. His name is Emanuel Giella and he’s also an artist. I met him because I did a casting call for a telenovela and he was the casting director. And even though I didn’t get the part that I audition for, I did get a part in the TV show and we became friends. So I started writing music for him because originally I was thinking just to do songwriting. And he was the one that kind of pushed me in to release my own material and go to the studio and produce a video. So he has been kind of like a mentor for me.
Joe: What telenovela was this?
Dyonisio: The name of it is Sueño de Angeles. It was mostly broadcasted online. The main plot was about immigrants that come over to the United States to follow the American dream and become singers. I got the role because of my real-life situation, but it was a Mariachi theme. It aired three years ago.
Joe: You hit the ground running, didn’t you?
Dyonisio: I was very lucky at the beginning, like I met the right people. And the producers that helped me to develop my album, they are also really high-profile producers that have worked with Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Lana Del Rey. I was very blessed to be able to collaborate with this amazing, amazing crew.
One of my producers, is Killian Cruiser. He’s British and he is just amazing. He did “God Is a Woman” for Ariana Grande. And the name of the other producer is Chris Garcia. And he did the album Ultraviolence for Lana Del Rey.
Joe: How did you meet these producers?
Dyonisio: There’s this online platform called SoundBetter and you can upload your demo songs. Like in my case, I would upload acapella songs because as I told you, I was mostly a songwriter. So I just uploaded my demos with just the vocals and the producers reached out to me. The first producer to reach me was Killian Cruiser when he listened to the main single of my album, “Taste of Love”. And he liked it and he was like, “Hey, why don’t you come over to the studio and let’s talk about it.” And so I did and he was the one that introduced me to Chris Garcia, the one that produced “Alone”.
Joe: And when you say guidance, from whom?
Dyonisio: When we have a dream and we have intention around it, you are guided by the universe or by whatever energy you want to call it.
Joe: I was curious because I saw in one of the photographs that you have these beads which have a high vibration, they’re from India.
Dyonisio: Well, I am a yoga instructor actually. I’ve been doing yoga since I was like 18 years old. And even though I don’t follow a particular religion, I consider myself a very spiritual person. I just like to believe that we all have a purpose and I think my album was meant to happen, when I released “Alone,” it was in the middle of COVID. And “Alone” talks about human connection, it talks about oneness, it talks about feeling that we can support each other during hardships. When I would perform the song live, people would cry and they would tell me that they would feel very connected through the song.
Joe: Where have you performed it?
Dyonisio: I have performed in different TV shows. Like my last live performance was in Merida on a TV show. I also performed on Australia TV, and at different venues like Pride Festival 2018.
The song that has gotten the most attention so far is “Alone,” it has 80,000 hits on Spotify and that’s only in English. It’s also on iTunes, Amazon music and all the digital platforms. It has also been played in iHeartRadio and different radio stations in the United States.
I use a distributor company that the name is DistroKid and basically you upload your album and your material and they help you distribute it around the digital platforms. And yeah, then if people like it, they add them to their playlist and they share it online. And I did a big campaign for both singles. I performed in Pride Festivals and in different venues around Hollywood. I guess that really helped me to get all that attention for them.
Joe: Then you’re getting revenue from these platforms, correct or not?
Joe: And it’s doing well?
Dyonisio: Well, you know how it is with music, there’s not really a way to know it if you make it, till you make it big. I am in the process. It is kind of like a new release still, so I don’t have a reference to know how it’s going to make long-term, but this is what I would like to do for life.
Joe: Your family, are they all back in Mexico City?
Dyonisio: I am the only one of my family that lives here in the United States. My mom she’s retired, she lives in Cancun. She has that type of amazing life of retirement. And my brothers, they live in Mexico City.
Joe: What prompted you to come to Los Angeles alone?
Dyonisio: I was in Mexico, 29, and performing in a casino in Cancun. And I had this show, and I would do covers of popular songs, like from Rihanna, Justin Bieber, et cetera. Then one night, when I came down the stage, there was this girl that I’ve never seen before, and she approached me afterwards. And she was like, “What are you doing here?” And I was like, “What do you mean what I’m doing here? I just performed a show.” And she’s like, “No. I mean, why you are not in a bigger place where you can get exposed to better opportunities.” And I was like, oh wow, she’s right. If I don’t try to make it big, it’s never going to happen. I’m going to stay here in my little casino show forever.
And that’s what got me into this brave resolution to just quit everything that I had in Mexico, because I had a life set up. I had an apartment and a job and a car and my family. But if you don’t try, you will never know. And life is too short to wonder what may have happened. So, I’m glad that I moved to the United States, even though I did have challenges like with the language and the culture and getting a job and making money at the beginning. But I wouldn’t change anything about the experience, even the hardships.
Joe: Was it difficult getting over here?
Dyonisio: Yes. I came originally with a tourist visa. Then I started getting into the process of legalizing my status. Now I’ve got a green card. Even that went well. It has been a very challenging process, adapting culturally and just getting used to the United States’ way of living.
Joe: How so?
Dyonisio: For example, the racism situation, it is real. The classism situation is way real. I think it is important for Latin artists to bring awareness to these situations because white privilege is something that we don’t talk enough about.
Joe: Can you explain?
Dyonisio: I’m talking in general, because it’s something that is so subconscious that people don’t realize it. For example, the objectification of Latin men. The fact that my accent is always a conversational dis every place I go. And sometimes I get comments like, “Oh, papi, talk to me in Spanish.”
Things like that, that people just don’t realize that it can be kind of racist. When I first arrived, I was the cool new guy releasing an album. And I got all this attention initially, but it would be funny because like guys would sleep with me, but they would not introduce me to their parents. So that’s when I realized that it was like racism… I have black friends and they would be kind of jaded about how racism operates in the United States. And they would just describe to me their experiences. And I would not take it that seriously until it started happening to me. And that’s why I realized that it was very important to just talk about it, because sometimes it is subconscious.
Joe: Are you with a partner now?
Dyonisio: I am that type of guy that doesn’t’ do boyfriends. I like to love freely, so I believe in polyamory, like you can have as many partners as you can, share ethical and deep connection with. I don’t really like to label myself as gay or straight, bisexual or whatever. Like I’ve even dated girls, I fall in love with the soul of the person.
Joe: What are you trying to say in your Alone video?
Dyonisio: To me it’s very important to address social issues, not only from the United States, but all around the world. And privilege, it is an issue. We all behold privilege in certain ways. And by that, I mean, sometimes we don’t realize that others lack basic needs until we get into a situation that makes us vulnerable. The fact that I wanted to portray the homeless situation in the video was precisely because sometimes we, even including myself, have been blind about social issues.
We just don’t perceive it as poverty because, for example, in this small town where I grew up, there would be surrounding communities that didn’t have basic services, like electricity or clean water. And sometimes you are just so immersed with your own experience that you don’t really pay attention to what’s going on around you. And I think “Alone” says, “Hey, we are all the same.” If your brother is hurting, you are hurting.
I really think visibility is important. The other day, I painted my nails. I grew up in this community where you would be a target of bullying if you displayed any feminine features. And therefore, I grew up with that fear subconsciously. When I moved to the United States, I started dressing more flamboyant for my shows or getting my nails painted or stuff like that. And people back at home were like, “Why do you do that? This is for girls,” blah, blah, blah. And then I would tell them, “Because I think visibility is important, because it is through visibility that we are going to prevent our new generations from getting bullied. It is important to show who you are and embrace it and be proud about it.”
Check out Dyonisio’s music videos below:
Dyonisio “Treat Me Bad” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XGVuaKoE7E
Dyonisio “Sabor Amor” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgAYQkS_XWQ