Renee Arozqueta has constructed an engaging modern folk sound on a foundation of classical piano instruction and self-taught guitar skill. With the addition of an accordion to her repertoire in 2007, her sound continued to develop. Her music carries with it a certain realness, that can be tongue and cheek at times; an unvarnished truth hidden by the lyrics of a hopeless romantic, whispered or belted out. Her voice has been compared to the voices of Natalie Merchant and Fiona Apple, but is multifaceted and dynamic.
Renee's songs are lyrically grounded. Her music is a base for her poetry; minimalistic, highlighted occasionally by jaunty melody lines and always by her vocal range. Her voice is at times haunting. But it can be full of vitality, playful, and at times, playfully cynical as she looks through the starry eyes of a romantic at a world that is anything but.
Renee Arozqueta recorded her self-titled first album at the age of 16 at the behest of her teacher and mentor, Kevin Stever. Her next album, The Second Take, came at the age of 20. Both albums thus far had been largely piano based. With the third, Plain Jane and Pistol Pete, at 21, things began to coalesce into a cohesive sound identity. The poetry in her lyrics improved and she gained more control of her voice.
A two year span separates Pistol Pete and her upcoming double release of albums four and five, No Sorrow Tomorrow and Lullagoodbyes, respectively. Those two years saw the end of a long period of development as an artist. They bring with them a sound mature in technique and tone; a maturity that comes from experience and healthy doses of heartbreak. Previous recording efforts saw albums full of teenage love songs and the occasional up tempo, traditional folk style tracks.
No Sorrow Tomorrow is the chronological, logical progression through more simplistic, older songs into some powerfully personal piano and accordion ballads. Lullagoodbyes serves as a stark contrast to the big ballads of No Sorrow. This album is mostly composed of sweeter, softer, stranger songs. It continues the chronological catharsis of her work thus far.
Look for Renee on her first tour beginning in mid-October through mid-November. She will be moving through 15 venues up and down the state of Florida. And watch for her next album, Dreams, in 2009.
Renee plays piano, she mostly composes on guitar and the accordion feels like her lungs.
Self Titled - 2002
The Second Take - 2004
Plain Jane and Pistol Pete - 2006
Double Release - 2008
No Sorrow Tomorrow
Dreams (upcoming 2009)
Renee Arozqueta is back in town
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MAEGAN OUTZEN • GOPENSACOLA.COM • AUGUST 6, 2009 Singer/songwriter Renee Arozqueta was working ...MAEGAN OUTZEN • GOPENSACOLA.COM • AUGUST 6, 2009
Singer/songwriter Renee Arozqueta was working a minimum-wage job, struggling to pay bills and still trying to find time to play music, when finally, she decided to pick up, hit the road and live address-free for a little while.
"To be honest, working my minimum-wage job wasn't paying the bills, just barely, but I was slowly sinking into debt," she said. "And going on tour was just barely paying the bills. I figured, what am I doing? And then it got a little bit difficult to tour, I guess because of the economics and so forth. You can kind of look at this like my first year of business. I couldn't afford rent anymore. It didn't seem feasible to go on the road for three to four weeks, come back and pay rent that I really didn't have, to just leave again."
Arozqueta and her boyfriend Chad Bishop, who do a duet act together called Spider + Octopus, started traveling around playing music in November, hitting cafes, bars and coffee shops all around the Southeast, particularly circling around Knoxville, Tenn., where her mother lives. Arozqueta plans to be on the road until November, marking a year on tour, when she will move to Knoxville permanently.
Traveling hasn't always been easy and Arozqueta admits that she's definitely had to give up a few things, but "that's the point — I want to play music and I want to travel. These two things are luckily married together."
The couple has endured some interesting experiences out on the road, which comes in hand when you don't know where or with whom you're staying with at the end of the night.
"Usually, we'll find some place," she said. "We usually make friends with musicians. When we're playing in bars, sometimes it's someone who wouldn't necessarily take you home at the beginning of the night, but by the end of the night, they're like, 'yeah sure, come on over.' Those situations are always really weird. And then we wake up in the morning and pack up and leave as fast as we can. Which is like the randomness of tours, which is fun."
They only try to stay in hotels if one of them is sick, and even though they haven't had to camp out yet, they do carry a tent with them.
Arozqueta is making her way back to Pensacola and will play at the Port City Farmer's Market at the corner of Palafox and Main streets at 7 p.m. Wednesday; Sunsets at Plaza de Luna at 5:30 p.m. Thursday; and at the End of the Line Cafe, 610 E. Wright St., at 7 p.m. Aug. 14.
"Bobe Street (the band Arozqueta is playing with Thursday) is more upbeat because Patrick (Hutchinson) plays banjo and he's from more of a punk background," she said. "So those songs are a little bit cruder, a little more upbeat. And with Spider + Octopus (who she is playing with Wednesday), Chad is a folk singer/songwriter, so (the songs) are sometimes softer, a little bit more experimental, which is super fun because we can do whatever we want.
"I prefer his songwriting. We have a similar style, but he's got quite a few years on me. I admire it. I get to play accordion and I get to sing and we both play as many percussion instruments as possible — like free hands and feet. It's like a coordination game."
Arozqueta plays guitar, accordion and piano and she is always writing songs. She tries to steer clear of autobiographical songs, making them more abstract, and eventually would like to start writing songs that are from another person's perspective.
Her latest CD, "No Sorrow Tomorrow & Lullagoodbyes," is comprised of 22 tracks of love in chronological order. The first, orange disc details the ups and downs of dating a hobo and the second, purple disc is "when all the awesome songs come out; when I started being human again."
Arozqueta already has a lineup of songs for her next "wrap-up Pensacola CD," it's just a matter of her getting into the studio to start recording.
"(The CD) is between the release of 'No Sorrow' to the time I left (to go on tour)," she said. "It started out where I wanted to leave and I have these ideals of what it would be like to travel. It started off kind of like a love song. Like, 'oh you're going to travel, that's going to be so great.' And then the songs just get different. Like dealing with a boyfriend that travels all the time. Wanting to travel but then being scared. Financial crap. It's a leaving album; getting ready to leave."
Renee has a 30-45 minute set of 7-10 songs, switching between guitar and accordion.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.