An email interview with Dominic Balli.
Can you start out by briefly introducing yourself?
My name is Dominic Balli. I’m a follower of Christ, and I’m in love with my wife. I have two kids, and I play CaliRockReggae music.
How would you describe your musical style? Who are your influences, and how did you come to put it all together in the way that you did?
We call it CaliRockReggae. Sublime, Lauren Hill, Real Big Fish, and Bob Marley are most responsible for shaping my sound. From the first time I heard a reggae song, I fell in love. I felt like I was home. I’m not really sure why. I’m just a white dude from Cali. But it struck a deep chord in me. When I started to write my own music, that’s kinda just what came out.
Your new record is getting some attention, in part due to some notable featured artists. How did you connect with people like Sonny from POD? What was it like working with him?
I met Sonny at a festival last year. He was kind enough to take some time to hang with me for a bit. A few months later I was producing “American Dream” and I thought, “I have to get Sonny on this track.” I knew it would be a long shot, but I reached out, and he dug the track. He’s seriously one of the most unassuming, meek dudes you’ll ever meet. I produced while he was tracking his vocals, and he was a real pleasure to work with. He’s the real deal.
That song, “American Dream,” has a really strong message behind it. How do you hope people will be affected by it?
When the stock market crashed a few years ago, so many of us realized that the American Dream is not all it is cracked up to be. I believe there’s more to this life than money, success, power, and comfort. That “dream” was consuming my life… robbing me of everything good and pure in me. Then I heard this pastor preach a sermon that changed my whole perspective and woke me up in a real way. Once I got my focus right again, I wrote this song. I had somehow forgotten that what is really important in this life is loving God and loving my neighbor. Simply put, that’s what I want my life to be about, and I believe that’s where we’ll find our greatest joy in this life because that’s what we were made to do – love God and love others. My hope with this song is that some people might see the same thing I saw and will be set free to live the way they were created to.
The rest of the album then covers a pretty wide range of subjects lyrically, just as it features a wide range of styles musically. What are some of your favorite songs, and where did your inspiration come from for those tracks?
Most of the inspiration from these tracks musically came from within. I don’t get to listen to much music anymore which is good and bad. The downside to that is that I don’t get to listen to much music. The upside is that it makes me have to be myself in a more pure way. I think “Favela” is my favorite track on the record from a sonic perspective, but “Take My Love” and “Again and Again” are my two favorite songs, as far as songwriting goes. In addition to that, “You Are There” is probably my favorite song to sing on the record.
What role does faith play in your music?
My faith is my life and my lifeline. Everything I do in my life is filtered through, and fueled by, my relationship with God, including my music. I was tone deaf before I met Jesus. He healed me – body, mind, and soul, and gave me true hope and peace. I believe that art (including music) is an expression of who you are and a medium by which you get to communicate to the world around you. Because my relationship with God is everything to me, it definitely comes out in my art.
How can people find your record, and where can they see you in concert this summer?
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
People always ask how to pronounce my last name… it’s Balli like Cali. Not like Dolly. Thanks for having me.