There are plenty of singer/songwriters who have a stab at it and precious few who break through. That’s doubly so in the dance music scene where the formulaic approach is often misinterpreted as simplistic. But crafting a dance track with a real hook that connects is no mean feat.

Melbourne singer/songwriter Anthony Defina seems to be doing something right. On the verge of releasing his debut album, Sex Vs Religion, Defina is not only getting traction overseas (he’s recently signed a lucrative publishing deal with Royalty Network, N.Y., U.S.A.) but thanks to airplay on community radio stations such as Joy FM 94.9 and Kiss FM he has a loyal local fan base.

Defina is more than aware of the competitive nature of the music business.

It’s very hard and I’m very thankful that Joy has picked up the singles, he says. They’ve put me on high rotation every day since I’ve given them my first single -“ it’s been really overwhelming.

It would be easy to write off such support as community lip service to local gay talent. Defina’s music ticks a number of Joy’s programming boxes but the songs also stand alone as distinct dance tracks. Framed around light, airy vocals with easily accessible lyrics, It’s All About Sex and If You Want My Love have mass appeal, a fact recognised by Southern Star which picked up Sex to promote the Aussie Big Brother series.

The man pushing the buttons behind Defina’s songs is Sam Panetta. A respec-ted local producer, Panetta has worked with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Kids in the Kitchen and Among Thieves. These days he works developing young talent and can claim credit for the success of Kisschasy’s debut album Hymns for the Nonbeliever among others.

Describing Panetta as the technical brains behind his music, Defina says the relationship is collaboration in the true sense of the word.

I come up with melody and sound that I think would be suited to the idea and Sam and I sit down and he starts building the song from there, he told bnews.

Defina has also forged strong working relationships with UK DJ Paul Jamison, who did the remixes on If You Want My Love, and up and coming local DJ Jeremy K.

I got him to do some mixes and he did a fantastic job, he says of the Melbourne-based DJ. It’s funny ’cause when I went to the US, the publishing company actually loved what he’d done -“ it’s because he’s young and out in the scene and all the passion is there.

All Defina’s tracks are released through his own label, Sheik Records, with outside licensing and publishing deals. The freedom of the independent model suits the singer who, by his own admission, is extremely hands-on, having a big say in the design and marketing of the product.

That’s a good thing because if something were to happen then the control lies with me -“ which is much more satisfying, he says. I’ve always said I’m not after big success, I just love writing songs and I’m thankful that I’ve got to this stage to have them all on an album.

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