Born on the beach in Montezuma, Costa Rica, Roméo Testa spent the first few years of his life listening to an orchestra of critters and howler monkeys, a cacophony he enjoyed while sleeping in his favorite spot, a hammock by the water. Raised with the inspiration found in nature and songs constantly playing from his parent’s restaurant, his passion for music seemed to come from within and has been a driving force throughout his life.
At the age of three, Roméo relocated to Silverlake, California, where he continued listening to music that his parents enjoyed: oldies, soul, world music, gospel, blues and classical – music that would later serve as the building blocks of his own sound. “My parents were very supportive of my love of music early on,” says Roméo, “My father took me to shows and taught me the basics of guitar. I was introduced to rock & roll by a girl I had a crush on in elementary school. That sound has had a strong influence on how I write today.”
Four years later, after expressing an interesting in playing the violin, Roméo began his classical training with the Harmony Project, a non-profit program that provides music education to inner city youth. He received a full scholarship that lasted nine years and added both the violin and viola to his classical repertoire. Through this program, he was also able to further his studies via a scholarship to the Interlocken Music School in Michigan. There, he studied music composition and furthered his viola technique.
While Roméo may have spent his life studying classical composition, the root of his musical strength lies in his ability to craft powerful and relatable songs through his own experiences. At the age of nine, while he was immersed in learning guitar, bass, mandolin, and harmonica, Roméo’s brother passed away from cancer, inspiring him to write his first song entitled “Hey Ma’am.” The tune reflected not only his own personal loss, but his understanding of the world and the events surrounding 9/11.
At fifteen, Roméo signed to Columbia Records where he began writing his own emotionally complex songs and recording his debut album featuring Adele’s stellar songwriting and production team: Dan Wilson, Eg White, Fraser T. Smith, among others. Roméo’s current sound incorporates wide-ranging urban influences that paint his songs with passion, fusing melodic hymns with soulful choruses and a larger than life pop production.