Carmen Rizzo Biography
Fittingly, the lush, cinematic, beat-driven disc is called The Lost Art of the Idle Moment (The Lab/Universal). Rizzo’s first solo album features collaborations with a wide range of guest vocalists including Esthero (Canada), Jem (Wales), Kate Havnevik (Norway), Ladybug Mecca from The Digable Planets (NYC), Grant Lee Phillips (LA), Thomas Heinrich (Germany), Alpha (UK) and Diedre Dubois (France).
“The reason I chose this title for the CD is based on my life having become so busy with career and family that I realized I had lost the art of the idle moment,” Rizzo says. “I no longer knew what it was like to have any idle moments in my life. Making this record was a way to express that and to escape and do music from my heart. I wanted to make something I would buy and that I could play for people with no excuses.”
And he has. Already, tastemaker Jason Bentley, Nick Hartcourt & Ann Litt from L.A. radio station KCRW have championed the disc before he even had a record deal.
Rizzo recorded all over the world, in friend’s homes, hotel rooms and studios, wherever and whenever he could, using all the wonderfully eclectic influences he’s picked up over the years. The songs include gorgeous vocal tracks, particularly the dreamy “Too Rude” (with Esthero) and mysterious “Travel in Time” (with Kate Havnevik), and atmospheric instrumentals such as “Overlooked Happiness.”
The quality and eclecticism will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Rizzo’s work. The two-time Grammy nominee has, after all, worked with Alanis Morissette, Coldplay, Seal, BT, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cirque du Soleil, among many others, and made records with a slew of notable producers, including Marius de Vries, Trevor Horn, David Foster and Don Was.
In 2000, Rizzo’s band project, Povi (Nettwerk), released its first disc, a down-tempo electronic record in the style of Portishead and Massive Attack. Rizzo’s current band, Niyaz (Six Degrees), is currently lighting up the world music market with its #1 self-titled I-tunes debut, a world/electronic record that the trio has toured in support of, from San Francisco and Washington, D.C. to New Delhi, India.
As Rizzo will tell you, “Any creative person who makes a living working for other people needs an outlet.” While making music for Paul Oakenfold, Carmen’s manager, Dave Holmes said “You really should start to do your own music again.” Rizzo felt the spark.
“I enjoyed co-writing again and collaborating with people I admire, especially longtime friend Jamie Muhoberac (Seal, Rolling Stones), who was very instrumental in making this record,” Rizzo says. “What I sought to do was make an album. I really wasn’t interested in making a bunch of songs that were single formatted. “I tried to make an album that was seamless.”
Rizzo grew up in northern California moving to Los Angeles at 19 with $1,000 and the phone number of a friend of a friend of a friend in the music business. He got a job at Westlake Studios as a janitor in the morning, a runner during the day. At night, he hung out with producers and musicians, discovering that he wanted to be involved in making records behind the scenes.
His first break came producing Kristin Vigard in 1990 for Private Music/ BMG, which helped him break into a Los Angeles music scene that included up-and-coming bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, N’dea Davenport of The Brand New Heavies and Amp Fiddler. Since then, he’s been in high demand as a producer, mixer and remixer.
Rizzo plans to get back to that work, but for now, he’s enjoying getting to focus on The Lost Art of the Idle Moment.
“In making this record, I was constantly putting myself in the listeners’ seat” he says. “Often times you’re compromising for the record company or for chart success. I listen to an awful lot of music from all over the globe, and none of it is chart related, so it was important for me to create music that is fearless and I could enjoy as a listener.”