Sal DiAndrea has written the perfect song to soundtrack a warm, clear summer evening in Denver's Northside.
“On My Way,” released under the name Northside Joyride, is an ode to the north Denver of DiAndrea’s youth and his memories of growing up in the late ’90s and early ’00s, at a time when Denver was only beginning to morph into the sprawling city it is today.
“I wrote this song about how things have changed since I grew up,” says DiAndrea. “I want to tell people what it was like up there, being with my friends, running around. People have come and gone; things have come and gone. I just want people to listen to it and remember a time when they were having fun.”
In “On My Way,” DiAndrea sings about taking a joyride down memory lane, which for him is Federal Boulevard, and playing basketball in the alley behind his house with Andy, David and Blake — childhood friends who are still very much a part of his life.
“Those three guys were and are my three best friends,” says DiAndrea. “While we were in the alley shooting hoops, we would listen to the beats I was working on when I was just getting started. These guys have always been there for me and are a big part of my story, so I only felt it was right to include them in this song, and I truly attribute those summer nights shooting hoops in the alley to what made our friendship so strong.”
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“On My Way” also includes another Denver musician, rapper Dooney West, whom DiAndrea met at East High School.
“We didn’t actually talk in high school,” says DiAndrea. “We knew each other but weren’t friends.”
The pair reconnected on Twitter a few years ago and began to collaborate, with DiAndrea providing basic tracks that he and West preen into their final forms.
“We make all this music ourselves,” he says. “I make the beats. I do my verses, he does his. We try to take elements from all the music we love — synth wave, indie pop, hip-hop. We’ve thought about doing a joint album together. There is a lot more to come.”
DiAndrea, who lives part-time in Los Angeles now, says Denver has a reputation all around the country, but not necessarily for its music.
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“When I tell people I’m from Denver, all I hear is marijuana this, marijuana that,” he says, “but it wasn’t always like that.”
Giving people a taste of the city’s other qualities, he says, is his mission with “On My Way.”
“I feel like I hear people from other places,” he says. “They tell the story about where they’re from — New York, L.A. I wanted to talk about north Denver, the Highlands, Sunnyside. This is the place I wanted to talk about the most. I want to put that on the map.”
Listen to Northside Joyride and more favorites from Westword writers on our Westword Staff Picks playlist.