"This album has a lot more self-acceptance and self-awareness plugged throughout because as I get older, it’s easier for me to be ok with who I am and the faults I have. "
Los Angeles culture is a sometimes unsaid influence of genre bending artists, but Raquel Rodriguez has always been outspoken about the ways the city has inspired and motivated her. "There are so many different kinds of people and cultures here and that was always normal to me. The same thing goes for genres. LA has so many different kinds of music and I just thought of it as one big melting pot." With rooted and soulful melodies and raw lyrics, Raquel's city background comes through clearly. Although quarantine has set back countless artists, pulling the rug from under them, Raquel has found a way to upkeep her musical message through such times of unknowingness, through a livestream concert series on Youtube. We were able to talk to Raquel about making music in quarantine, her love of Los Angeles, and her upcoming project, "The Sweet Side."
Throughout quarantine you’ve upkept a Youtube livestream series called “The Sweet Side Show.” In what ways has it been beneficial for you to perform virtually and with a band during quarantine since you’re unavailable to perform in person for your fans? I feel very grateful that I live on a property full of musicians where we’ve been able to quarantine together. There are only 3 of us here, but that’s all we need in order to make the Sweet Side Show work. Being able to sing for and communicate with my fans has been so rewarding. It’s crazy to me how many people all over the world know about my music and continue to tune in to watch us perform. We’ve also done a couple “Front Yard Sessions” where the 3 of us set up on our front yard and our neighbors all watched from their own yards. It was such a fun experience and really connected us with our neighbors.
You’ve previously said that you draw inspiration from artists like Prince, Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, D’Angelo and Amy Winehouse. What type of music was played around your house growing up and how did your family’s music taste influence your sound? Whenever my dad picked us up from school, 9 times out of 10, he was listening to sports radio. He was never a huge music listener, but he’s definitely the first to get up and start dancing at a concert. Whenever my mom picked us up from school, 9/10 she had music playing from her car speakers. My mom is definitely the one that brought music into my life and showed me what good music is. She listened to everything from Tower of Power to Garth Brooks and so much more. She would tell me about all the concerts she would go to as a teenager and it really showed me how people can connect with music. Then, during high school, I basically just listened to what my brothers listened to. They were really into hip hop and R&B so that’s what I mostly listened to during that time in my life. No one else in my immediate family can sing or play any instruments, but they’ve got such deep love for music as listeners. That’s what started my passion for music and performing. How involved are you in the writing and production process for your music? My involvement in the music making process varies. Usually, I’m there for every second of it, but other times, I’ve had other artists/producers work on a track for me that I basically just end up singing. That’s how “I Know, I Know” with Amber Navran came about. She had a beat that I liked and she ended up writing lyrics and a melody for me that I really loved. Usually though, the process starts with a beat that someone has made, and if I like it, I’ll start working on lyrics and a melody right away. I hardly ever just start out with a set of lyrics that needs music behind it. Sam Brawner, my partner, produces, mixes and often masters all of our music and I’m really grateful to have a writing partner that really gets me and my sound. You recently put out a double vinyl for your 2 part EP “The 310.” Has it been surreal to be able to have a tangible form of your music? I saw on your Instagram story that you were emotional when it came in the mail. It’s always really cool to have a physical product of my music. It’s one thing to have everything online, but it’s really special when I can gift people my music through a vinyl or a couple of CD’s. There’s something nostalgic about listening to music from a physical product. You’ve talked about the importance of your upbringing as an LA native. In what ways has the city inspired your music? I get asked this a lot. I think the biggest thing that LA culture has taught me, is inclusivity and acceptance. There are so many different kinds of people and cultures here and that was always normal to me. Same thing goes for genres. LA has so many different kinds of people making different kinds of music and I just thought of it as one big melting pot. What can we expect from your upcoming project “The Sweet Side?” This album has a lot more self-acceptance and self-awareness plugged throughout because as I get older, it’s easier for me to be ok with who I am and the faults I have. To me, it’s a little more playful and groovy than my previous projects and it’s the first time I feel like this music is really me. It has a lot of crazy cool collaborations and I’m glad I was able to work with so many amazing musicians and producers. Some common themes on your tracks include “self love, empowerment, and identity.” Why do you think as a female artist that it’s important to push these messages towards your fanbase? I think in these days, especially when many of us are forced to spend a lot more time alone, we need to learn to feel comfortable being in our own thoughts. If those thoughts aren’t healthy, it’s important to figure out why and how you can change that. A lot of people don’t have a community around them to be able to go through these difficult times with, so it’s really important that we learn to take care of ourselves. If I can help spread that message, I will. What do you miss most about performing live? Dressing up! Is there a specific song on the upcoming album that you’re most proud of or that you’ve worked particularly hard on with your team? It’s so hard to choose! They’re seriously all my favorite at one point or another. I’m really grateful to have worked with Camille and MXXWLL on Crybaby, I think it’s such a Westcoast vibe, but if I had to choose a favorite, I think I’d have to go with “Read the Room.” This song will be on the second half to the release but I will definitely be playing it on the Sweet Side Show before then.
How have you been staying musically creative and inspired during quarantine?
I’ve been making my own merch! It’s not very musical, but it definitely connects me to my art in a way that I haven’t ever explored before. It’s been really fun and relaxing (except for the shipping part) to be able to create something from scratch. I continue posting new designs on my IG stories.