Shelton High senior embarks on music career

One Shelton High senior took what began as a class assignment and is turning it into a career in music.

CJ Dioguardi began his music career by choosing Darth Fader Records LLC and RVP Studios as the place where he would complete his Capstone project.

His 50-hour Capstone experience (35 hours over the minimum) began with him as an intern at Darth Fader Records, an independent punk rock record label, with the owner Craig Mills as his mentor.

“The main reason I picked this as my Capstone was because I wanted to get my foot in the door with the music industry,” Dioguardi said in an email. “Music has been my passion since I was a kid, and I wanted to work it into a career.”

As an intern, he sat in on recording and mixing sessions. One of the projects he worked on was the mixing process for the track “Devil” for the band Wore.

“[While being an intern], I helped book shows, recorded drum parts, learned a bit of music theory and sat in on the production of many projects,” Dioguardi said. “Most notably, the mixing process for the track ‘Devil’ ... We’re really proud of how the single turned out.”

Halfway through his Capstone, his mentor’s brother, Luke Mills, became talent buyer at RVP Studios in West Haven, Dioguardi said. At this moment, Dioguardi had the opportunity to become Luke’s assistant and truly immerse into the music industry.  

“Luke and I book tour packages and gather bands to try to rebuild the Connecticut music scene,” Dioguardi said. “I essentially got the full ‘music industry’ experience from the production aspect, and then the ‘demand’ aspect through shows.”

Dioguardi now works part time at RVP Studios as assistant talent buyer and plans to extend his Capstone into the summer by recording an EP with one of his bands, Ghost Tones.

“The goals with [Ghost Tones] is to play at least one show a month, and also go on to play some bigger festivals in the tri-state area,” Dioguardi said. “My role in the band is the drummer, and I write all my drum parts.”

Dioguardi will be attending The Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford this fall for a double major in music management and music production, while also training as a jazz percussionist, he said.

“I learned a lot from this Capstone; most importantly, how to be diligent with recording, mixing and time,” Dioguardi said. “I also learned the hardships of owning and operating a mixed business. Everything I learned in this Capstone will sow seeds that will grow throughout my career.”