“About Time” by Ronan Sidoti ’23 is a song that sneaks up on you. Starting quietly, the track opens with drums that beat like a heart. A bouncy synth line meets the drums, and the bassline anchors the blossoming sound as Sidoti begins to sing. There’s a softness to his voice, while lower harmonies add contrasting friction and depth to the vocals. Released on Jan. 25 with a music video, the single is undeniably catchy, but also far more layered than its playfulness may imply.
On a Wednesday afternoon, I sat down (on the floor of the Old Bookstore) with Sidoti to dive into his song. “About Time” is rooted in duality and a contrast between music and lyric. Sidoti elaborated, saying: “I always want to make music that, you know, my friends can hang out to and vibe to. So the inspiration was just…a feeling of moving on with things, yet also holding a grudge…I’m always attracted to songs that do both—give a message that’s twisted in a weird way.”
The warmth and weightlessness of Sidoti’s guitar, drums and synth play against relatable, grounded lyrics: “Hey, it’s about time/ To get on where I’m going and leave you behind.” This profound realization is not inherently good or bad; it simply is. Sidoti takes a big moment and simplifies it. This is life, and moments like these hurt, but they also heal.
Sidoti’s musical upbringing is similar to that of many others: his parents forced him to learn piano when he was six. And, as others with the same experience may understand, he saw piano as a chore rather than something enjoyable. But Sidoti’s perspective about music shifted when he was ten: “I played Beatles Rock Band on the Wii for the first time and it blew my mind.” Soon after, Sidoti began learning drums, followed by bass and guitar, fully immersing himself in music.
Citing influences like Phoebe Bridgers, Tame Impala, Arctic Monkeys and John Mayer, Sidoti described his sound as “guitar-centered, sort of feel-good music,” while emphasizing that he’s still discovering his style. All of the instruments on the track are played by Sidoti himself, an occurrence born out of quarantine but one that ultimately makes his music more personal.
“About Time” was similarly shaped by the spaces Sidoti occupies at home in New York City. He explained: “I wrote most of this song looking out of my bedroom window…Lately I’ve been getting inspired by just walking—when I’ve been home walking to the water on the west side of Manhattan. And I don’t know, just watching people…putting an unfinished piece of a demo maybe in my headphones and walking around the city and sort of listening to what pops into my head.”
A moving image— encasing yourself in a world of your own words and music, while wandering through a much bigger, louder world. Both comforting and solitary, this is another instance of the conflicting and coexisting ideas in Sidoti’s work. He discussed the often solitary nature of songwriting, noting, “[I]t’s always been a really isolated process for me, and I was like if I’m gonna do this music thing it’s gonna be by myself…[But] over break I was able to work with a few producer friends of mine in the city, and we were able to make some fun stuff and it sort of opened my eyes to what you can do together with people.” This collaboration prompted Sidoti to become more involved in Vassar’s music community, as he is starting a band this semester.
For the “About Time” music video, Sidoti worked with friend and previous collaborator Ian Herz ’23 to bring their shared vision to life. Herz has been shooting music videos for around four years, and I met with him over Zoom to chat about this project. “We kind of just had pieces that came together,” Herz explained, when describing the process of creating the video. “We knew we wanted a green screen bit, we knew the panda had to be in there. I wanted some match cut weird stuff, and so I mean it really just came down to going line-by-line, sort of just figuring out what we wanted to do for that particular lyric.”
Herz and Sidoti shot the music video over four days and edited the project over Zoom. Sidoti noted, “Someone said to me that it’s sort of like a love letter to Vassar.” The video follows Sidoti all around campus, where he keeps running into a mysterious panda-masked person as he tries to escape conflict, stemming from both a rocky relationship and conflict within himself. Herz shared his interpretation of the video: “I sort of thought of it as, you know, Ronan was kind of growing as a person…We kind of thought [the panda was a symbol of] maybe his demons or a bad breakup or something.”
At the end of my conversation with Sidoti, he mentioned that this was his first time being interviewed, a remark that stuck with me. I think that this will be the first of many interviews to follow. Sidoti’s future is wide open, and it’s about time that he steps into it.