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Up-And-Coming Artist: Raquel Rodriguez's Music Has Soul

Kristin Yinger |
February 17, 2011 | 11:56 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

(Photos by Kristin Yinger)
(Photos by Kristin Yinger)
Raquel Rodriguez, 22, from Los Angeles, California, is a Music Industry student at the University of Southern California. She recently performed some of her original songwriting and some favorite covers at Geisha Studio. 

I know this sounds like such an obvious question, but: How did you start singing?

I started singing when I was really young. In grade school I would get picked to do a lot of the solo stuff and I just started to fall in love with the way it made me feel when I got to sing for people. My family would always have me sing for random events too, which always made me feel really supported by them. Once I started singing, no one could shut me up. I would walk around singing all the Disney songs and a bunch of pop tunes, and I'm pretty sure I'm still like that. I sing all the time.  

What do you want to do with your singing and songwriting?

Ultimately what I want is to perform and record as much as I can. I love that I can share something so personal with people and they completely understand me. My music is like my child. And I want people to love my child!

When did you first start singing with a band? I know you said you added new instruments recently, like the trumpet and sax. Do you think you’d like to sing with an even bigger band?

Once I graduated from high school, I went to community college for three years. I started my own band with two high school friends of mine and one of their friends that I had never met. We got together a few times and I wrote some songs for them to play. After a few rehearsals I pretty much said to them, “Hey we should like, uh, play out or something!” Of course, they were having so much fun playing in my garage and kitchen that they couldn’t resist.

Eventually I transferred to USC and found even more amazing musicians in the music department. Most of these guys were my classmates, so we bonded a lot and saw each other all the time. I started a new band with a few of them and added more instruments like the ones you saw, and I absolutely love them all. It's such an honor to be playing with these guys; they're all so talented and incredible.

Who do you get inspired by in the music industry?

There are so many people in this industry, it's ridiculous. And a lot of them are super talented and crazy and cool! There's other musicians that inspire me, producers, writers, engineers, business people, everyone. Some of my favorite musicians would probably be Amy Winehouse, Adele, Etta James and Stevie Wonder. Some of my most recent (and favorite) inspiration has definitely come from the Derik Nelson Band, Pinot and The Cleanse. Derik Nelson is an incredible pop singer/songwriter that has recently been helping me develop an EP. Pinot is a bad-ass funk band that came out of USC. You can tell that these guys just love what they're playing and it really makes me think about how much I want to emote that same feeling. The Cleanse, unfortunately, broke up, but their music was pretty dope — hip-hop band with a horn section and everything, and the best part of it all was their rapper Harry Mack, a jazz drummer that nobody would even think is a rapper.

When I heard you sing at Geisha Studio, it seems like your songwriting is very personal, which I think is partly why it is so emotive and relatable. Are all your songs autobiographical?

I hate admitting it sometimes because then people know so much about me and my life, but I guess as a songwriter, that's what you have to do. So many people feel the same way I do; I just have this incredible opportunity to put it in song form. There have been times where I don't write completely about my own life, but what I end up doing is start writing about my own life, and then I make up a story about someone else and write about how I think they would feel. My songs are all pretty good representations of who I am. Even if I'm not proud of that sometimes, I am proud that I can admit it.

What do you think of the current music scene? Is there something you would change about it?

A lot of bands and musicians don't get recognized the way they should and I guess that's what breaks my heart and discourages me the most. When you know you're meant to do something, you just do it. It may come at the cost of living in a shitty apartment and having a busted car and living paycheck to paycheck, but all that means nothing when you get to play in front of a crowd of people that love what you're doing.

Reach staff reporter Kristin Yinger here.



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