Theater actor, singer and musician, John Paciga, has a knack for the dramatic (effect that is), whether it be for the stage, playing a large venue or a small venue, Paciga shines on all platforms. His musical prowess has been compared to legends like Billy Joel and powerhouse , John Legend.
His recent new music video, “The F-Word,” was born out of Paciga’s admiration of one of his biggest musical heroes, Ben Folds. Paciga began school at Yale University last fall, and landed himself a coveted spot in the a cappella group, Spizzwinks, which is the oldest a cappella group in the United States.
The group will be performing for thirty-six months throughout every continent, excluding Antartica, and Paciga has only just begun. “The F-Word” isn’t what one assumes, except it’s about being friend-zoned while in high school, or better yet, college and adult life, as it still happens at all stages in life.
Paciga self-directed “The F-Word,” and his full-length album, No Alibi, is available across all digital platforms. Discover what all Paciga chatted with me about Ben Folds, his music video for “The F-Word,” singing in Spizzwinks, and his love of music and theater.
You have a love of theater and music. How do the two help you express your love of them both when you play?
John Paciga: I always try to let my acting experience inform my performances at the keys. Whether I’m recording in the studio or playing a live show, I think it’s extremely important to imbue the performance with a degree of theatricality. Like acting in a play or a musical, it’s all about achieving an emotional, entertaining performance that captivates the audience without being bland or too over-the-top.
It’s known that one of your biggest musical heroes is Ben Folds…can you tell us why and what do you most revere about him?
John: Ben is equal parts musician, storyteller, and comedian. His songs are extremely entertaining and uniquely his. He can tell a compelling story while dazzling you with his piano chops while making you laugh hysterically. Some of my favorites are “Zak and Sara,” “Rockin’ the Suburbs,” and “Song for the Dumped.” He can also tell heartbreakingly beautiful tales as he demonstrates with songs like “Brick,” “The Luckiest,” and “Landed.” He’s completely unabashed and unapologetic in his craft, something I admire greatly.
You landed a highly coveted and revered spot in the a cappella group, Spizzwinks. What are you most looking forward to during your time in it?
John: Being a Yale Spizzwink is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’ll get to travel all over the world—all expenses paid—while making amazing music with my best friends. In a couple weeks we’re traveling to Iceland for our Spring Tour. In May we’ll be touring Asia, singing the music we love and making unforgettable memories. Who could ask for more?
Was the theme behind your new music video for “The F-Word” your idea, or was it a more collaborative process?
John: I created the concept and storyline for the whole video. I sat down about a month before the shoot and mapped out every scene, line by line, finding the moments that could pack the greatest comedic punch. Of course, I couldn’t have done it without the help of my fellow Spizzwinks and some other close friends, who were gracious enough to lend me their time during finals week last semester.
You self-directed the music video too; has that always been a desire of yours, or did it happen by chance? Would you do it again?
John: I had this very clear vision in my head of what I wanted the video to be, and I just rode out the creative flow that began when the idea first popped into my head. I’ve directed a couple of original one-act plays and it’s definitely a labor of love. But as challenging as it is, I’ve always been attracted to positions of leadership. Directing this video was a blast and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Who was your first concert and your first theatrical play you remember seeing?
John: My first big concert was Van Halen at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ with my dad. We always listened to their songs before my little league baseball games to get hyped. When they got back together to tour we knew we just had to see them. And it was epic.
I’m not sure if it was my first Broadway show, but I’ll always remember being blown away by The Lion King. It was one of my favorite childhood movies and seeing the Broadway production truly immersed me in the world of the Pride Lands.
What was your first album on CD and/or vinyl?
John: One of my best friends from high school recently got me a turntable to get me into vinyl. The first record I spun was Ben Folds’ Rockin’ the Suburbs, and I have to say that I’ve caught the bug. The same friend recently got me Dear Evan Hansen—my favorite musical—on vinyl and I’m only freaking out a little bit.
Which five albums or artists would you not want to live without?
John: There are SO many more than five that I couldn’t live without but I’ll do my best: The Stranger (Billy Joel), Off to the Races (Jukebox the Ghost), Rockin’ the Suburbs (Ben Folds), Ever After (Marianas Trench), and I’m completely certain I won’t be able to live without Ben Platt’s debut album, Sing to Me Instead, once it drops.
Who would you most like to collaborate with in theatre and performing music?
John: For music, the dream would be to collaborate with Ben Folds, Jukebox the Ghost, Ed Sheeran, or Taylor Swift. For theater, Robert Lopez (a former Spizzwink himself!), Ben Platt, or Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Do you have a guilty music or entertainment pleasure?
John: I LOVE Taylor Swift’s latest album, Reputation. Only reason why it’s remotely “guilty” (I will never be ashamed of loving her music. How could anyone be?) is because a lot of people I know are bigger fans of her older songs and don’t like the new direction she’s taken with Reputation. Yes, her old stuff is brilliant, but I’m all for re-defining your sound and brand, shocking people with something totally unexpected and innovative. Also, her lyrics are incredible, all around.