Musician P.J. PACIFICO Opens Up About Recording Solo Again, His New Single ‘Every Little Heartbreak’ and Much More!
After six years of being immersed behind the scenes as a songwriter, scoring a multitude of sync licensing placements for commercials and popular TV shows, P.J. Pacifico returns to his roots as a solo recording artist with his new single, “Every Little Heartbreak.” Its empowering, vocal harmony-driven chorus speaks insightfully to a world eager to embrace a fresh new day after a time of intense challenges.
“’Every Little Heartbreak’ is an uplifting song about taking risks romantically, career-wise, or in any other situation that a person may find themselves to be in when they’re ready to move on to a better place in their lives,” says Pacifico. He continues, “It’s being mentally in that spot ready to fail or succeed, to fall in love, to take the plunge, and to be willing to learn whatever lessons come your way. We were all pretty fresh in lockdown and freaking out when we did this session in April of 2020, and the sense of hope we express definitely came out of that sense of anxiety everyone was feeling at the time.”
Set for release on Viper Records, “Every Little Heartbreak” features co-writer Garrison Starr on harmonies. The song’s third co-writer, Valerie Broussard, is Pacifico’s partner in his pop duo Signals in Smoke, whose 2018 song “Coming Up For Air” premiered at #1 on iTunes’ Singer/Songwriter chart after appearing on Grey’s Anatomy, and then was featured on The CW show, Legacies. In early 2020, when the pandemic hit worldwide, Pacifico and Broussard had plans to release a new Signals in Smoke project, but it had to be shelved. To cope with stir-craziness during lockdown, the two co-wrote 20 new songs, and currently have two full albums ready to go.
Pacifico’s career got off to a fast start when his 2006 debut single, a ukulele-driven cover of “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” became a staple on SiriusXM’s The Coffeehouse. He was caught up in the album and tour cycle, averaging 125-150 U.S. and European gigs a year in support of his albums Always & Everywhere (2009), the Dave O’Donnell produced Outlet (2011), Surface (2012), the EP Overlooking the Obvious (2013) and several singles, including “Gin & Juice” (cover of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice,” co-written with Starr) and “Reaching.” It was Starr who sparked Pacifico’s interest in the publishing and sync licensing realm, when the two were on tour together in 2015. Starr set up Pacifico’s first songwriting session in Nashville, and he was immediately hooked on the experience of working in sessions with writers such as guitarist David Ryan Harris (John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Santana) and Emerson Hart, lead singer of Tonic. Pacifico thought back to his years playing hockey growing up in Norwalk, Connecticut, when his dad told him, “If you want to do something great, plant yourself in the middle of guys who are levels above you.” He quickly learned how to express himself in song “less cryptically and personally, and more universally.” A month after arriving in Music City, he scored his first national commercial with “Bigger World,” a co-write with Jeremy Silver licensed by Rogers Wireless in Canada.
After a series of writing trips to L.A. and Nashville in late 2014, Pacifico released his EP Ready to Run (co-produced by Starr and AG) in 2015. These five tunes led him to sign a licensing deal with Razor & Tie Publishing (now Concord) just before the project’s drop date. The EP’s first song, “All for Something,” was quickly licensed to “Switched at Birth” on ABC Family and “Heartland” on CBC in Canada. Over the years, Pacifico’s songs have been heard on Showtime (“Shameless”), HBO (“Hard Knocks”), MTV (“Teen Mom 2”), ABC, FOX, Syfy and many other networks.
Connect With P.J Pacifico Online Here: WEBSITE
Learn more about P.J Pacifico in the following All Access interview:
So what has this past year been like for you and your music? How are/did you get through the pandemic? Are things opening up now where you are? How do you feel about that? Did you get vaccinated yet?
This past year was quite productive, actually. I wrote and recorded about 25 songs with my friends remotely, including my new single. Writing and working through pandemic kept me sane. Thank God for technology. In March of 2020, I didn’t know if both the world and my career were ending all at once, but it certainly felt that way for a minute. Luckily, I have friends that wanted to work through it all, so we got into a routine and banged out a lot of songs which was a perfect distraction. That helped, along with making sure everyone that I love was okay. That was my main concern. I started reconnecting with old friends, checking in on my parents and sister more, and making sure my girlfriend and her family were safe as well. My dog got a lot of walks too. Things are definitely starting to open up again for sure. I did two house concerts over the weekend and my schedule is starting to fill up. Venues are reaching out for dates too and it feels great. Actually, everything opening up again and me being full vaxxed is all happening a lot sooner than I thought it would, and that’s pretty rad.
Let’s talk about your newest single, “Every Little Heartbreak.” What was the inspiration for this song? How would you say that this song prepares listeners for more music from you? How does this track compare to anything else that you have released?
I wrote ‘Every Little Heartbreak‘ with my good friends Garrison Starr and Valerie Broussard in the early stages of lockdown. The inspiration was knowing that lockdown would eventually be over someday, and we wanted to write something uplifting and positive for that moment. Something about freedom and being ready to break out and take a risk on something, anything, after a year of isolation. It could be romance, career, moving to another city, ending a relationship; anything. The writing session was booked with the intention of getting a song for the band that Valerie and I have as a duo, called Signals in Smoke. We tried a couple of different vocal arrangements and mixes before settling on it being a solo song for myself, which would feature Garrison on vocals with me. Garrison beautifully produced the track, as well. Viper Records and I had been discussing a possible new album release from me, and this song felt great as a first single. Especially with the release of the song coinciding with the world opening back up again. I think if the listener connects with this first single, then they’ll be pleased with what’s ahead. This group of songs on the new album are honest and personal, while also trying to remain universal and timeless. I co-wrote them with all of my friends and I’m super proud of all of them. As far as comparing this track to anything else I’ve released, I guess I’d have to leave that up to the listeners and fans. I feel like I’ve evolved as an artist and writer, in a good way, but again it’s up to them.
What does it feel like to finally be singing your songs yourself? Has this been something that you have wanted to focus on for a while?
It feels good! It’s been a while since I’ve released solo material and it’s great to be back. I’ve always loved singing in harmony with someone from a very early age and have had many singing partners. That’s probably why this first single and a lot of the tracks on the album have features on them. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy singing along as well, but there’s just something about the blend of two voices to me. I’ve been a sucker for it ever since Simon & Garfunkel. Singing alone hasn’t really been a focus of mine lately, I think it just happened this way naturally. A lot of the last five or so years have been spent writing for sync, my band Signals in Smoke, and for other artists. This album falling into place is a sign that it was meant to be, and I like that. It feels good to be back as a solo artist, serendipitously, and not forced.
I understand that you have had songs in numerous commercials and TV shows so I’d love to know what has been the most memorable one to have one of your songs featured on? Is there anywhere you would still love to hear a song of yours played?
I’ve had songs in more TV shows than commercials for sure. A couple of commercials, but mostly TV. The most memorable placement for me so far was on Grey’s Anatomy. The song was ‘Coming Up For Air‘ by my band Signals in Smoke, and by the time the east coast airing of the episode was finished, we were #1 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart and on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist the next morning. Those were some fun moments for sure. I’ve always wanted a song of mine played on a Sirius XM station. I released an acoustic cover of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand‘ by The Beatles years ago and The Coffeehouse played it on SiriusXM for five years straight. It was an honor and I’m thrilled to have been in rotation there, but it was a cover. I’d love to have a song that I wrote or co-wrote get the same love. But if I had to pick a TV show it would definitely be Ozark.
Do you have plans to release more new music or a whole album soon?
Yup, we’re setting up the release date with my record label, Viper Records, and details for the second single now with the full album slated for a late summer/early fall release, I believe. The album is called, “What I Missed In The Mirror.” You can follow the label on Instagram for more updates.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician? What do you think motivates you day in and day out?
I thought I was going to be a drummer in my teenage years for sure. I started off playing drums and I was obsessed up until I couldn’t take my drum kit to college. So I took the acoustic guitar I got for high school graduation to my dorm room and taught myself how to play a handful of chords. I started learning as many songs as I could and not really focusing on school. I’d go to class and do my work, but all I thought about was music. The first time I got paid for a gig is probably when I first caught the performing bug. I remember getting handed the $75 to sing songs at the coffee shop by day, bar by night on campus. I couldn’t believe you could actually get paid for doing something that you love. I’m pretty sure I was 19 at the time. A couple of years later, free beer arrived at gigs and it was even cooler. Then when I discovered that three or four chords can make up a song I became obsessed with songwriting. I took every gig I could and wrote really bad songs for a lot of years. But one day I said to myself that I could make a living at it if I dedicated myself to it. I gotta take the leap and do it full time, like most things. I’d have to sacrifice some stuff, but it could be done. I don’t think I’ve ever looked back since that day and I’m so happy I didn’t. I get motivated by all of my songwriter/artist/producer friends in the business. Watching, listening and learning. I love them all and they always get me stoked to write another song. If I’m ever down about something in the biz, they lift me back up and vice versa. We have each other’s back, and that’s gold.
Growing up, has music always been important in your life? If you weren’t an artist today, could you see yourself doing anything else? What is something else interesting/funny you are good at?
Music has been around me all my life. My mom used to host her barbershop quartet rehearsals in our kitchen, so I heard four-part harmony at a very early age, constantly. That definitely grabbed my attention, and then I fell in love with songs on pop radio, started playing drums in a couple high school bands and then landed on acoustic guitar in college. But I’ve been singing since I was a kid. I can’t remember not singing growing up and I constantly had headphones on. Sometimes, I zone out and think about what else I would do if I never went after music and I come up with nothing. Probably because music was around me so much and was so naturally interesting to me, I feel like I followed it. I didn’t really choose to chase music, it just appeared. Of course, as I got older and more serious about music I went after it and worked my ass off so I could support myself. But I can’t imagine doing anything else. I played hockey year-round from age five to 18, but I was too small to continue after that. Plus, I was burned out on hockey and all I wanted was to do was write songs and play music. I’m also a dedicated yogi. I actually started a TikTok where I’ve been posting my moves on there, combining my love for music and my love for yoga. So, if this music thing hadn’t worked out, I’d probably be a yoga teacher.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
That I’m still obsessed with music and love it just as much as I did when I first discovered it as a kid, if not more. Sure, it’s frustrating and challenging a lot of the time but the moments of elation squash all that stuff and make it all worth it. An email can absolutely crush me or can get me so stoked and send me spinning over the moon. I love that. It’s unpredictable and there’s no pamphlet or crystal ball in this biz, just the constant desire to evolve, grow and get better with each song that gets written. It’s not a career for everyone. It takes a certain type of person, that’s for sure. But the most important thing I keep telling myself is to keep creating and keep writing. That’s the difference between good and great; constantly honing your craft. The most unexpected challenge that I discovered years ago is the business side to it all. Once you write and record a song or album, the work isn’t over, it’s just getting started. After the product is done the music business machine needs to be fed, and that’s another subject entirely. I’ve learned that it’s definitely called the music business for a reason.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
A connection. I love it when a song of mine connects and has a personal meaning to someone. Just like the way songs hit me growing up and still do. People sometimes tell me why they like a certain song and how they interpret it and that fascinates me. I recently received a picture from a fan with one of my lyrics tattooed on her arm. Seeing that picture was a full-circle connection back to me, and it’s an amazing and shocking feeling that I find impossible to put into words.
I also love to connect with new fans on my Instagram and Twitter. Plus, if you’re new to my music they can hear it all on Spotify or check out my songwriter playlist: “Friends I’ve Written With”. I’m also on these platforms, too… Apple, Tidal, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, Soundcloud, or iHeartRadio.