Songwriting student balances classes, concerts and album releases

Singer-songwriter and junior marketing major Mike Cappelluti has released two albums, performed a summer tour and sang in Ireland on the same stage Ed Sheeran played, all while balancing a normal college lifestyle.

At the age of five, Cappelluti placed hands on his first piano, mastering classical music by age 11.

Junior marketing major Mike Cappelluti has been playing music since he was 5.
Photo via Facebook/Mike Cappelluti

“I was in a family friend’s basement, smashing my fists against a piano,” Cappelluti said. “I was told I couldn’t touch it unless I knew how to play—I then started taking lessons.”

Cappelluti’s incentive to play piano then led him to pick up guitar, which accompanied his role as lead singer and electric guitar player in his first band, “Detour.” The band broke up when Cappelluti was 12.

“It was short lived, but a good experience,” he said.

Cappelluti is from Marlboro, N.J., attended Colts Neck High School and at the time was in and out of pop-rock styled bands, which he referred to as having a “bubblegum pop” sound.

Nina Accardo, a senior accounting major, attended Colts Neck High School with Cappelluti.

“I always knew he was really into his music,” she said. “When I found out he was coming to Seton Hall, I was looking forward to seeing what he would bring to our university with the drive he had for performing.”

His second band “Reality Check” played the local music festival Bamboozle in Asbury Park, N.J., and his third band “First to Friday” played the festival Skate and Surf held at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J. Both bands played at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park regularly, he said.

Jake Antelis, a music producer and mixer/mastering audio engineer, has produced Cappelluti’s music since the very beginning of his career, through every band, single and album.

“I give him a lot of credit for working with 12 and 13-year-olds,” Cappelluti said about Antelis. “That’s the prime age for figuring out what your creative process is.”

Antelis said that Cappelluti was the youngest he has produced musically in a professional capacity.

“I see Mike as a talented pop, folky, indie artist with a talented classical piano background—he’s very well trained in that,” Antelis said. “I feel his voice is unique in a sense that it’s relatable and also pleasant – he sounds great vocal wise, doesn’t need auto tune to sound good. He is very modest – people would not know that he didn’t have a big ego, which is positive for an artist.”

When Cappelluti began college at Seton Hall, he said that a way to adjust to his new atmosphere was through songwriting. “Everyone has their way of expressing themselves,” said. “I channeled adjusting to college with writing music—I wrote a lot of songs freshman year and finally put out my first full length album.”

In the spring of his freshman year, Cappelluti released his album in January titled “Hurricane,” containing 10 songs currently available on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify and SoundCloud.

“I have a journal I write everything in,” Cappelluti said about his songwriting. “There are times I have writer’s block and can’t figure out what to say, so I write everything down and go back when I’m ‘cooking’ with myself and remember what I felt and then am able to write lyrics. So many songs recently are combinations of three of four songs, salvaging a line or two here and there.”

In February, Cappelluti studied abroad in Ireland and had the opportunity to sing his songs on the alum twice, one being on the Whelan venue stage in Dublin where Ed Sheeran has performed.

Following the album release, Cappelluti said he went on a summer tour in 2016 around the nation, covering 22 states and performing 18 shows. “It went as far north as Maine, as far west as Indiana and as far south as Florida,” he said.

“I don’t view myself as a singer, I just tell people I’m a songwriter—some people get caught up in trying to please other people, but I try to write songs that mean something to me to some extent,” he said. “One thing I’ve learned after that album [“Hurricane”], I don’t like the attention, so I’ve been playing a lot less – I write music for me and how I express anything has become metaphorically introspective, and it’s tough sometimes to get in front of people and sing because it means something to me, making it somewhat exhausting to perform.”

He released his second album called “None of This Will Matter in a Year,” as a sophomore and since then dropped three singles.

“The goal was never to be a famous musician,” he said. “It’s more for the hope it will resonate with someone—people have a lot to say in their 20’s, so I can’t see myself stepping away from it just yet.”

Christina McDonald-Vitale can be reached at

Author: Christina McDonald-Vitale

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