When Syracuse University Recording asked him to join their label last year, Gabriel Milluzzo, a senior studying music industry, jumped at the opportunity. He released his first single, “Addicted to You,” this past September on Spotify.
Milluzzo said he started writing the song almost exactly a year ago, on a “typical, Syracuse cloudy day.”
“It starts out in a happy place,” he said. “Then, you accept reality.”
Milluzzo said the song has taken to different meanings throughout the recording process—the bridge wasn’t written until right before he started recording and comes from a very different place, he explained. But overall, the song is about accepting the reality of the inescapable good and bad in every relationship. It’s about being so addicted to someone that you learn to love the good and suffer through the pain.
Since “Addicted to You” is his first single, Milluzzo said a lot of his initial attraction has come from friends and fellow students. He mostly performs at small, intimate venues, such as house shows around campus.
“The music industry program here is just fantastic,” he said. “I think just the campus community as a whole has been instrumental in getting my career off the ground.”
Having studied classically, Milluzzo wasn’t sure whether his style would take the pop route or the classical route—he wound up just doing what felt right. His taste in music is versatile. He listens to everything from country to R&B to Opera. He named Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande as some of his favorites.
“I’m really into Lizzo right now,” Milluzzo said. “There’s something about her music—you just can’t not be in the moment with it. It’s so honest and so fun.”
As an artist himself, Milluzzo said his main goal is to bring back the raw human emotion and authenticity which has been lacking in pop music. He wants to make the kind of music that compels people to stop their routine activities, whether it be scrolling through their phones or walking to class.
“You walk to class, work or wherever, and you just go about your day and listen to music,” he said. “What’s the difference between that and the music where, you hit play, and everything else disappears? It’s just you and your music. You’re walking and the music you listen to is your compass at that point. That’s the kind of music I’m interested in making.”
He also spoke about wanting to use his music as a platform to address issues important to him. For him, a major problem with pop culture today is the absence of consent and appropriate behavior in relationships. He hopes his songs could be an example, for young men in particular, of the way women should be treated.
Aside from other popular artists, Milluzzo’s family has been a huge inspiration to him. While most parents tend to sway their kids away from chasing careers in the music industry, his parents encouraged him to study music at Syracuse. His older brother, who also studied music in college, did the mixing and mastering on “Addicted to You” with a friend of his. Milluzzo said his grandparents tell everyone they meet, from grocery store clerks to nurses, to listen to their grandson’s song.
Milluzzo kicked off his singing career at just nine years old. Growing up in South Windsor, CT, he spent summers at his grandparent’s house in Black Point Beach, where he started singing at a local day camp. A year later, his fifth-grade chorus teacher was driving him every week to the University of Connecticut, where she directed a children’s choir. Milluzzo said from there he became more and more involved in taking voice lessons and singing solos in school musicals.
Despite that experience, he didn’t start writing his own music until last year, after signing with SUR. He’s been writing songs ever since.
“A place I go to a lot is the practice rooms in Crouse,” he said. “I write everything sitting down at the piano and just banging away at chords.”
For the “Addicted to You” singer, sometimes, inspiration comes when most inconvenient, like before bed. If he has an idea at midnight or later, he said, he’ll get out of bed, put clothes on and drive to Crouse. He’ll then sit at the piano until he can put together a demo to work on later.
“Either that or when I’m in the shower,” he said. “Anywhere that’s inconvenient, that’s where inspiration hits.”
Milluzzo has already begun work on his next project, an EP set for release in the Spring, which will include “Addicted to You” and other projects.
“I’m just really excited with the process of writing new songs,” he said. “Once you get into the recording process of taking a song you thought was finished, then it takes a new shape, all that is just so much fun. I love it.”
Featured photo by Adam Ontiveros-Oberg.