INTERVIEW: Diane Gentile Talks New Single ‘Walk With Me’, Life In The Industry, Upcoming Album, & More

Diane Gentile, a seasoned artist and music industry professional, is ready to captivate audiences with her upcoming album, The Bad and the Beautiful, releasing on September 15th.

The Bad and the Beautiful is a collaborative effort produced by James Maddock and Jesse Malin, and is akin to a scrapbook of vignettes, each showcasing endearing yet poetically flawed protagonists. The lead single, “Walk With Me,” features a seamless exchange of verses and harmonies between Gentile and fellow tenured songwriter Alejandro Escovedo. 

Gentile embraces the raw energy and emotive power of punk rock, pop-rock, and anything that stimulates the senses. Through music, she shares not only her own stories, but also those of her community—eccentric, fun-loving individuals who continuously challenge boundaries and push limits.

Born and raised in New York City, her artistic path was influenced by her late sister, Elda Gentile, who was a founding member of The Stilettos with Debbie Harry, and was an integral part of the NYC music scene in the 1970s.

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We got to chat with Gentile to learn more about her latest single, her sister’s influence, upcoming album, and more.

I’m seeing a quote at the top of your ‘About’ section on your site that reads, “My priorities have always been music driven, hence the difficulties and exuberances in my life.” What specific difficulties and exuberances as it pertains to music are you referring to?

Money and sustaining a long term relationship would be the difficulties. Writing a song is one of the exuberances. Playing live and having a communal experience with the audience is one too. 

How big of a role did your musical upbringing and sister Elda Gentile play in inspiring you to forge your own musical path?

Elda was a creative genius and I don’t say that lightly. She was much older than me, so I didn’t get to realize that until I was already in my 30s. 

When you grow up with people around you playing, and you begin to play at a young age, it’s not like it is a special thing. It’s something you just do, so I never saw playing music or writing songs as something unique. I thought everyone around me had the same connection to music that I had. As I grew older, I realized my friends really were not connected and had very different interests. For me as a young girl, playing music was an isolating experience. But it kept my soul insulated.

“Walk With Me”

I see you also worked on the music business side of things. How did that help shape/educate you when it came to putting your own music out?

Haha. I laugh sometimes about the music business stuff, but it was serious business. At the time I worked in the business, MTV and VH-1 were huge. Artists’ careers were at stake. That’s where it was rough for me. I knew how important success was to those artists signed to the labels and not every artist that was signed to every label was going to succeed. I hated that. I learned much about the insides of the way the business of music worked, but in all honesty, I know nothing today because the landscape of the business of music drastically morphed with tech progress. I learned that nothing can be done alone. You always need to have a team of people and a strategy to achieve whatever it is you set out to do – and I believe that is universal to all careers in every field.

Your latest single, “Walk With Me,” featuring Alejandro Escovedo, just dropped. Does the song connect to a specific moment in your life?

I wrote it because our world needs more understanding and more kindness. I saw people around me going through tough situations and couldn’t understand why they were suffering so much alone. My answer is to take a pause, find a way to work things out, walk side by side in a non-judgmental way, and figure it out through empathy and kindness. Love cures. I am sure it relates to my life somewhere, but haven’t thought about it in relation to myself and actually don’t want to for fear I may discover some unwanted feeling! 

How did you and Alejandro get connected and decide to work together? 

I’ve seen him play in many places. I am a fan. He is a spectacular songwriter, intuitive as hell, and deep. His song “Castanets”, “Five Hearts Breaking”, “Chelsea Hotel”, “Sensitive Boys”, “Always A Friend”, “The Crossing”, “Sister Lost Soul” are some of my favorite songs. He has released over 20 albums. His band, The True Believers, were astonishing. He is so connected to his heritage. I have huge respect. 

I had visited with him and his wife Nancy in Austin, briefly. I loved their vibe. Months later at home, I wrote “Walk With Me” and there was something about the melody and feel of the song that reminded me of him. So I sent him a bad recording of the tune and the lyrics and asked him if he would be up for it. I just kind of heard his very specific voice on the song. It was a fabulous experience for me. Working with a master taught me something valuable.

“Walk With Me” artwork

What can you tell us about your upcoming album, The Bad and The Beautiful? Any common themes or motifs throughout?

This record is simply about people, the good and the bad. It’s not about the ugly, nor the great. It’s just about people, who I think are all beautiful, and bad at the same time. I don’t believe the human condition is made any other way. 

How would you describe your sound or style in this new album compared to your previous works?

I think it’s probably very much the same. I don’t fit into boxes, but I love writing what I call “pop rocks” songs. For me, they are really fun – “Motorcycle” and “Little Things,” my past singles, were just fun, uptempo pop-rock songs. The new album will have “Shimmy” – a fun pop rock song, “Lace Up Your Sneakers” has a classic Blondie disco beat and is way fun, and “Walk With Me,” a little more serious lyrically but with those jangly guitars I love so much, and a killer rock’ roll drum and bass groove propelling the tune. Mastro’s guitar solo is classic on “Walk With Me.” 

What was the most rewarding/fulfilling part of making this album?

Finishing it. Seriously – I didn’t have enough money to do it all at once, so it took 2 years to get it done. Never again. I like recording everything at once. Recording just a few songs every 3 months made me crazy.

What song or two do you think or hope might be fan favorites? 

“Walk With Me” because of the sentiment, “Lace Up Your Sneakers” because James Maddock sings on it, and he has the deepest most growly British voice ever, and “Sugarcane” because it is so very sexy.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your years in the music industry?

Live in the moment. Believe in yourself. Don’t expect someone to hand you a music career. Just do what you do and do it seriously. If you don’t love what you do, don’t do it.

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