Artist Profile: DeNero
DeNero Montez, a 22-year-old LSA senior at the University, obtained an intense, bordering on obsessive, work ethic from his mother.
“My mom taught me to work hard. She taught me that if you work hard, the beginning and the end of every journey become less important,” explained Montez. “If you consistently work hard, despite if whether or not you fail or succeed, you will leave the experience having created and learned something. And that’s what is important.”
This work ethic has infiltrated everything about Montez’s lifestyle. He practices a strict four-hours-a-night sleep schedule to accommodate his hectic life. With his school days spent on the pre-med track, DeNero balances a heavy workload against his pay-the-bills job at Panera Bread. Every other empty moment — whenever they arrive — is spent with his music.
“I’ve got composition books at home filled with lyrics,” Montez described, “and for this the ‘Never Enough’ EP, I picked from over 100 original songs of my own.”
For the Never Enough EP, released about a week ago, Montez chose songs that conveyed his range of talents. Like so many millennial musicians, Montez prefers to reject the cultural constructs of music genres. Instead, he floats from a harsher rap to a frothy, piano-based R&B to a remixed, high-intensity dance track throughout the ebb and flow of the eight-song EP. This musical variety, as Montez explains, was very calculated.
“If anyone goes looking at my music, I want them to know that I can play with a lot of different styles. It lets them know what I am capable of.”
In distancing himself from any specific genre, DeNero is effectively presenting himself with an obvious risk. The music industry prefers structure. It prefers to box in the talent to something that can be sold. And yet, in the promotion and performance of his first EP, DeNero’s risk has appeared to pay off. Instead of confusing his listeners, or distracting them with the various taste options, Montez finds success in the ability to be a little more random.
DeNero is interested in giving the most engaging performance he can. In something a little reminiscent of Usher, Drake or Common, DeNero wants his crowds to feel his music. With experience and lessons learned in the harsher Detroit music scene, DeNero is beginning to understand what works and doesn’t for a live performance.
“I’ve had dead-faced crowds in Detroit. I’ve had those crowds with no visible enthusiasm, but they come up to you afterward and tell you how much they’ve enjoyed your set. It’s confusing, but it has prepared me for a lot of my upcoming performances.”
So with something sweet, sensual and honest, DeNero hopes to both sonically and physically bring the intimacy of his music to his performance. He plans to connect the messages of his music — loves lost and emotional struggle — to the stage. The new phase of his journey, the one where he will finally man the stage, is set to launch. And with calculated thought and evaluation, DeNero will surely conquer it.
Montez hopes for his music career to carry into his post-collegiate life. He plans to relocate to the Los Angeles area and continue his journey with the same work ethic and intense drive that has motivated the rest of his successes to date.