Elio in the hallway of the Soul Shop

photo by Richard T.K. Hawke

A musician from a young age, Elio DeLuca (b. 1979) was classically trained in piano by Nini Perlo, and studied improvisation, composition, & harmony at New England Conservatory with David Zoffer, Ran Blake, & Bob Brookmeyer. He also studied Javanese Gamelan with Barry Drummond at Tufts University, and gigged throughout the Boston area as a jazz pianist. He released his first album of original compositions in 1999.

DeLuca abandoned a promising career as a pianist in his early twenties to concentrate on reinventing his attitudes toward performance, seeking an approach that valued musical substance over technical prowess. During his three-year period of woodshedding he became self-taught on an additional half-dozen instruments, most prominently a two-string guitar of his own invention. While not making music of his own, he delved deeply into other aspects of the industry, booking performances of improvised music under the name Advanced Idea Mechanics (a.i.m.) and releasing recordings through local & national distribution on his own DIY imprint, Telepathy Records.

DeLuca returned to performing & recording as a multi-instrumentalist in 2004, and formed the genre-shattering R&B band Keys to the Streets of Fear with guitarist/vocalist Patrick Grenham, who also became his songwriting partner. The Streets of Fear paved the way for a generation of Boston bands, and were a source of inspiration to the nascent NYC outfit Titus Andronicus.

DeLuca played piano & Fender Rhodes on the first Titus Andronicus album, The Airing Of Grievances. He continues to be a lynchpin of their organization to this day, performing on every studio album, as well as arranging horns & strings for their critically-acclaimed 2010 opus The Monitor. He appeared live with the band to support The Monitor, and toured internationally in support of their 2015 double-LP The Most Lamentable Tragedy.

After years of becoming self-taught in the art and tradition of analog recording, DeLuca progressed from homemade cassette four-track sound collages to working as an on-air mix engineer at WMFO-FM, and eventually an over-ten-year career as a live sound engineer, including a long stint at renowned Cambridge venue T.T. The Bear’s Place.

Dissatisfied with the potential for analog record-making in the Boston area, DeLuca & Grenham opened the Soul Shop in Medford, Mass in 2007. Built by hand in a former piano restoration shop, the Shop is an all-analog recording studio in the tradition of classic tape facilities of the 20th century. DeLuca divides his time between projects that require his transparent role as an engineer, in support of the artist’s vision, or his fully-immersive role as a producer and guiding force, as likely to be writing horn charts and arranging backing vocals as moving microphones. At the Shop, DeLuca has worked as an engineer/mixer/producer on recordings by Bent Shapes, Wilder Maker, Katie Von Schleicher, Dan Webb & the Spiders, Peter Matthew Bauer, Quarterly, Eternals, and many others.

In 2016 DeLuca scored his first feature film, Beyond the Wall, produced by the critically-acclaimed Northern Light Productions. The documentary premiered as a selection of the Independent Film Festival of Boston.

He has recorded & toured with such artists as Faces On Film, Blinders, Craig Finn, Boy Without God, and Hallelujah the Hills. His projects have shared stages with artists as diverse as Magnolia Electric Company, the Walkmen, the Buzzcocks, and Rocket From The Tombs. He has a new collection of original music coming in 2017 under the moniker The Pisces.

He lives in Somerville, Mass.