Diego Sandrin realized he wanted to a performer occurred at age 8, when he dressed up like a cowboy and sang Adriano Celentano songs—emulating the Italian singer, songwriter, comedian and actor.
That’s an unlikely starting point for this “son of sailors and bricklayers” who, as a teen, turned away from an offer of a professional soccer contract to pursue a passion for punk. His first success in the music business occurred at age 16, when his band Ice and the Iced scored a recording contract. Compulsory military service ended that portion of the dream, but he was undeterred.
He made his way to the States, landing first in Baton Rouge where he was taken with delta jazz and blues. Sandrin returned to Italy and formed Sentemo Records—a jazz label—before realizing that he was spending so much time on the business side of the recording studio glass that he was ignoring his creativity.
Sandrin sold Sentemo and once again returned to the U.S. for inspiration—this time landing in Los Angeles, where his first band included an all-female quarted. His got his big stateside break was when Lisa Marie Presley literally grabbed him off a stage and co-wrote a song, “Gone,” which appeared on her To Whom It May Concern album, which would sell over 900,000 copies.
He’s clearly traveled the “road less taken.” as An almost-pure experiential songwriter, he not only writes what he observes—he lives it. “I have this strange technique for my writing; I observe something or imagine it from something I see and then I try to become that character.”
Sandrin has kept his eyes closed for a day to experience blindness, spent a week in a wheelchair to write about a person with a disability, and lived in a rented trailer in Vegas to effect a “white trash” experience. The result is lyrics that are poignant, deep and lodge in his listeners’ souls.
The result is songwriting that touches a wide range of universal themes: “45,000,000 and 1” is an anthem to everlasting love; “Aged 14 Years” tells the story of a boy on trial for killing his abusive father; and “My American Friends,” a commentary on the consequences of shallow friendship.
“I want them to feel like that want to have the CD and be alone in their cars so they can listen to the stories and imagine it’s them singing; that the songs are about them and their life,” he says.
His listeners will experience that with a new CD, A Fine Day Between Addictions, which was recorded at Acustic Studio in Venice. He veered away from convention here, too, by having Romeo Toffanetti produce the album. Toffanetti, a movie director and comic strip designer, had never stepped into a recording studio before working on the album.
“I thought he would give the songs a fresh slant because they’d be driven by the world of storytelling and image synching,” Sandrin says. “He always kept the connection between my word-pictures and the images on film in mind.” In the song "45.000.000 and one,” the drummer used roses instead of drumsticks—an arresting visual in itself, but even more striking when the sound is actually captured as part of the recording.”
This record got also recognitions by professional juries. A Fine Day Between Addictions was picked by Sony and preloaded in all new Vaio portables and got into the final round of the International Songwriting Competition, landing a mention of honour, along with other eight folk songs selected worldwide.
Diego Sandrin is an indie Renaissance man, a collector of scotch; sailor; painter; and regular in L.A. rooms such as HOB, Viper Room, Troubadour, Gig, Dragonfly and Luna Park. His regular following includes Lisa Marie Presley, Juliette Lewis, Daryl Hannah, Giovanni Ribisi, Jason Lee, and Danny Masterson. He has written for Brooklyn South and indie movies.