A singing eye doctor who write songs about Christmas? Well let’s see just where this goes as we sip some eggnog, pucker up for a “Christmas Kiss” and have a tête-à-tête with the multifaceted Dr. Austin Marolla.
NFZ: Where were you born?
What’s up No Fly Zone readers! I was born in Brooklyn and raised on Staten Island, NY. While my parents were living on SI, they wanted to have the same doctor that delivered my older brother, Rob, so they drove over the bridge and had me at the same hospital in Brooklyn to have me come into this big beautiful world. I have to say I really loved growing up on SI though. In fact, I still keep in touch with my best friends from kindergarten at Our Lady Star of the Sea, whom I grew up with. One of them, now an amazing director, Brandon Herman, produced the videos for “The Santa Shake,” “Miracles” and my newest single being released this week, “Big Fat Christmas”. You can check the video on the Austin Marolla YouTube channel or go to the link below as well.
NFZ: What made you interested in becoming an optometrist?
When I was a little kid, I always knew that I wanted to help people. Whenever someone I knew was sick I wanted to help them and be there for them. I realized after I became an eye doctor, that when I was giving my patients eye exams that I was helping them see there dreams more clearly while I was assisting them correct their vision. With each song I write, my dreams are becoming clearer as well.
When I was a freshman at Binghamton University (SUNY), I saw that there was an early decision medical program to go to SUNY Optometry in NYC that you could apply to and made. While I was a college student, I then interned with several doctors of optometry and learned that there was so much to the human eye and vision care. Years later, I learned that it isn’t seeing is believing, but believing is seeing! My whole career in medicine and music is built on my belief in myself and the success that comes from it.
NFZ: What got you interested in music?
When I was younger me and my friends, would sing songs that were on the radio and make home videos of ourselves trying to be like the artists in them were. I went to university and got to perform a lot. Then moved to the city while I was in Optometry school and afterwards began songwriting when I didn’t even know how to play the guitar. So I began taking guitar lessons and got to learn songs form the best artists throughout music history by learning from the masters: from the Beatles and Elvis to Bo Diddley to today’s great artists. My teacher Val MacKend, she made a curriculum for me that was different than any other student. Each of her students have to just play the song. I had to not only play the song, but also sing the song and write another song in the style of the artist to get credit before moving on to the next chapter in the amazing guitar studies. I was so excited to learn the patterns and strums that made each of their songs so amazing and then write another song using different chords but utilizing their picking pattern and rhythms.
I’m inspired by so many things. I love listening to all different genres and artists. From Pop, and A/C top 40 to EDM, Country, Latin and of course – I love Holiday Music! I just saw my favorite holiday movie again over the thanksgiving weekend, “The Christmas Story” – all the music that fits perfectly in with every scene. Just brings me back to my favorite memories during this time of the year. Holiday music makes me happy. Seeing everyone in the giving spirit also makes me wish that everyday was like Christmas. I wrote a song called “Can It Always Be Christmas” because that is truly how I feel. Check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/austin-marolla/can-it-always-be-christmas
I also love writing love songs and I knew that I could marry the two forms because of my love for both. The way I write music is by putting out there my intentions into a song. Similar to the laws of attraction. I’m putting out there the things I want in life. Every song I write has an intention, whether it’s love, forgiveness or happiness. I’m writing my own script in life through my music.
NFZ: Is there a story behind the inspiration to write and record your “Christmas Kiss” record?
The idea for the album came about seven years ago when I was invited to perform at a friends holiday concert at The City Winery in New York City. I thought it would be a great idea to write a holiday song about just needing that one thing for Christmas…that Christmas Kiss. That was the inception of “Christmas Kiss” the title song for the album. “Christmas Kiss (Deluxe Edition)” is a collection of nine all new original holiday songs that cover the holiday season from top to bottom. The Deluxe Edition includes the YouTube videos for the albums first single, the fun new holiday dance song “The Santa Shake” and the albums second single, a moving video in a Josh Groban-esque holiday song called “Miracles.” The video for my third single off the album, “Big Fat Christmas”- I’m excited to say will be out at the beginning of December. You can check out the YouTube videos for those two singles below. I truly had a blast making this album. I’m so excited that you guys can finally here and see the videos.
NFZ: What are your 3 favorite songs on the Christmas Kiss album and why?
My favorite songs on the album are “Big Fat Christmas”, “The Santa Shake” and “Miracles” all the songs that I did videos for which you can see on my YouTube or Vevo channels and watch for free.
When I was a kid in school we all learned the classics and loved singing the twists on them like “Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg….” but the one I remember best is “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” – it was the version where all the kids would echo “like a lightbulb” after we sang “had a very shiny nose” – we always got a kick of that song as kids in school. Learning songs like that and “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” inspired me to write a comedic sequel to the iconic classic song “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” which I call “Big Fat Christmas” Check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/austin-marolla/big-fat-christmas
The Santa Shake was inspired by my love of dancing and wanting to come up with a new holiday dance for kids from 1 to 92! There was a song in my neighborhood that became popular a few years back called the Harlem Shake and I though to myself – “It would be fun to write a holiday shake, but who does a holiday shake??? Santa knows how to do a holiday shake!” So I came up with this idea that in order for Santa to get into everyone’s home’s after eating all the cookies and cakes…well he has to do the Santa Shake!”
Lastly, my third favorite song is called “Miracles”. In 2012 Superstorm Sandy hit the tri-state area and my brother who is a fire-fighter with the FDNY told me a story about how the water breached so high when he was trying to save families from their homes, on Staten Island, that he almost didn’t make it out alive. I decided to write a song about a couple that loses all their material things but that they still have each other. Which is the greatest love of all. I also wanted to honor my brother, Rob and all the FDNY and those people who were victims of the storms. If you watch the video you’ll see me wear a fire-fighter uniform. My brother was gracious enough to lend me his so I could portray a firefighter waiting to see if his wife had made it out alive from the storm.
NFZ: And what’s your favorite all time holiday tune?
My favorite holiday song growing up was “Last Christmas” by Wham! It’s a perfect heartbreak/love song wrapped up in a Christmas song. The melody is so memorable and it’s still being sung and covered by so many today. George Michael was an amazing Pop R&B singer-songwriter, who I aspire to write like and I love hearing his recordings – even with the synth pads all over it – the song is timeless.
NFZ: Do you have another release in mind after the holiday season is over?
Actually my next Pop album is set to be released in Spring/Summer of 2019. I am beyond excited to be releasing this upcoming album of music. It’ll be a mixture of dance, pop, folk and rock fused all into one. I pushed myself into creating and adding a new sound for myself. Essentially, I wanted to have fun and be able to use my background in music and combine dance into that so I can have more interactions with my audience and fans. I’m putting this out there and my dream is that it will connect to everyone on a higher plane; make us happier, feeling uplifted and inspired to create and go off into your world to do great things for yourself when you hear it!
NFZ: Can you share with us the artists who’ve inspired your career?
I grew up watching Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album explode when I was a little kid. He was so amazing as an artist, singer and dancer. He created dances and videos that connected the world to his sound of pop music and brought us all into a higher level of consciousness while doing so. I’d love to be able to tap into some of that energy so that my music can relate to the world as he did. He also had a large capacity of love that he put into his music that was very transparent. He wrote about connecting people, being aware and nurturing the planet, children and also crossed color boundaries while doing so. I can also say that watching solo artists, like Queen’s Freddie Mercury and George Michael who had the most amazing voices and were great songwriters inspires me to want to go out there and be fearless and give everything I’ve got for my audience. They were all so inspiring instruments for a new wave of music.
NFZ: Any thoughts regarding the current state of the entertainment industry and are there any things you’d like to change?
I think there is room for everyone in this industry. The industry would be better off if they could see the potential of artists of all ages. The entertainment industry looks at numbers (Instagram followers, how much an artist is liked on Facebook, etc..) to make up there mind on talent and how much money that artist can attract via social media. It would be great to see more of the industry look and think outside the box and open up the scope of what talent is out there regardless of numbers. If you look at the talent contests on TV – there is only one winner in the end. However, the truth is people like Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson weren’t the winner’s of the contest for that year, but they were definitely the winners over time. I believe, it has to come down to the artist and their drive and willingness to push themselves to succeed. Personally, I’m grateful that the music industry is welcoming me, on my third album with open arms and loves all my new music. From my Holiday songs to my upcoming Pop album. Is so happy that the “Christmas Kiss (Deluxe Edition)” album and videos for “The Santa Shake” “Miracles” and “Big Fat Christmas” have all received rave reviews across the board. When you put music out there, you pour your heart and soul into it but you never know how people are going to react when the time comes, you know? I think if you stay in it long enough and don’t give up, you’re time will come.
NFZ: Are you involved with any political issues, activist causes or charities you feel passionate about or participate in?
Yes, I’ve volunteered and have given free eye exams to the homeless for many years. I also work for a non-profit in NYC giving eye care to the home bound as well as children in lower income areas. In addition, I am a supporter and donate to the Humane Society for animal rights and protection and I a supporter of the Human Rights Campaign.
NFZ: What is something about you that Austin Marolla fans probably don’t know and would be surprised them?
Well, most people wouldn’t know it, but I really love to dance at my shows while I’m performing. I trained for many years and love all kinds of dance. If you come to one of my shows you’ll see me shake my booty for you all. You can tell I love to dance by my new holiday song, “The Santa Shake” that I created. My love for dance and my love for the holidays all come together in this song.
NFZ: How can people follow and stay in touch with you?
That’s easy! You can follow me at https://www.instagram.com/austinmarolla or on https://www.facebook.com/austinmarolla/ or go to my website www.austinmarolla.com – Would totally love to hear from you so hit me up!