Home Lifestyle BandLab’s ‘Opportunities’ recipient Reno Rojas is in her rockstar era

BandLab’s ‘Opportunities’ recipient Reno Rojas is in her rockstar era

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Reno Rojas has officially left hibernation, emerging from the “inner worlds” she occupied while making her deeply personal debut record, “Libre” (or “Free”), over the past two years. Now, entering her “rockstar era,” the 24-year-old singer-songwriter is in the thick of a tour across her native country of Mexico, ready to play live.

As Rojas translates the songs she wrote for “Libre” to the stage — an offering of intimate reflections sung over a delicate blend of romantic boleros, the relaxed and silky style of Rio-based bossa nova, and current-day indie-pop — she is choosing to pursue authenticity over perfection.

By leaning into live jams and improvisation, Rojas is flirting with a more connected sound while furthering her love of collaboration. This is key for Rojas, who says she adapts through the music she makes with other artists. Her most recent single, “Me Hacías Falta Tú” (“I Miss You”), features local musicians Pablo Bailón and chimi.

With more live shows set for 2024 and plans to record a new record, Rojas’s journey is just beginning: as part of BandLab’s Opportunities program and the music creation platform’s ReverbNation service, Brooklyn Magazine has selected Rojas out of 3,000 emerging artists across the globe to highlight.

In this interview, Brooklyn Magazine speaks with Rojas about prepping her next album, the personal experiences intrinsic to her songwriting process, translating songs for the stage, the necessity of genre-exploration, and more.

So let’s get this thing started. Have you ever been to Brooklyn?
I’ve never been. But I think I’ll go for a music project later this month. My manager just told me that might be happening.

It sounds like you have a lot going on these days. Have you recorded your second album yet?
No, no, I was supposed to record in Cuba but it got delayed. Right now I’m preparing new singles, and am still coming off my first album, “Libre,” which launched in November.

How does it feel to have your first album out in the world?
It was super overwhelming because it’s a very personal album. I wrote all the lyrics about personal experiences, like losing my grandmother. Or “Retrovisor,” which is about the absence of the people you love. I have mixed emotions allowing so many people to listen to my words. But I felt free when it was released, just like the name of the album –– I had finally moved beyond the part of me that spent two years writing and producing those songs.

Did you discover your own personal sound while creating “Libre”?
I discovered the way I want to talk, the way I want to communicate my perspective on how I live life. But I don’t want to be defined by any specific sound. I see myself doing Boleros, and all these genres that come from Latin America and exploring them in the deepest way I can while being honest about what I’m experiencing.

So the singles you’re writing now are just as personal as the songs on “Libre”?
Yeah, they’re always going to be super personal in the subject matter. But the sound is new. I’ve been trying out this rockstar character lately. I’ve been traveling and partying more, so I’m producing a song that has more upbeat rock vibes.

Where have you been traveling?
I’ve been in the northern part of Mexico playing a small tour. I went to Monterrey to play, I’m going to Guadalajara to play this weekend, then next week to Morelia. I also went to Brazil, which was super inspiring because of all the percussive rhythmic sounds. People were singing and dancing in the streets.

Have there been any especially memorable moments from this string of live shows?
Every show has its own story. I’ve experienced incredibly intimate shows where I can be vulnerable and play my saddest songs and connect to people, even cry and laugh with them. But I also have these wildly exciting experiences, like going on stage with Bandalos Chinos in front of a massive crowd.

Do you have your own band that tours with you?
Yes, I have a band. I used to play with different musicians each time but I wanted it to be my band’s project as well. I want to make something that is different. I want to play shows that feel like we are all connected. So we jam and improvise. During the last show, I played a song on the drums, the bassist was on guitar — we were all switching instruments. It felt magical and free.

I love when bands give the audience something special they can’t get on the record.
Definitely. We were trying to do different versions of the songs live. Sometimes you become too focused on playing your songs super tight, but that’s not always the best way to go. You need to explore and experiment.

I noticed that a lot of your releases are collaborations with different artists. How has this influenced your music-making?
I’m a big fan of seeing the creative process of someone else. And I love merging the ways different songwriters make music. Getting to know how other people think is super interesting, I love it. Now I’m more secure about what I want to explore and create on my own.

Why are you thinking about recording your next album in Cuba?
The Boleros genre has made a music bridge between Mexico and Cuba. And I love to see how music has connected countries and people and culture throughout history. I’m curious to go there and explore the Boleros, which are very romantic and lyrically beautiful. So I want to infuse a classic Bolero with the perspective of someone living in 2024.

Have you ever listened to the Marias? They’re from Los Angeles, but some of your songs reminded me of theirs.
Yes! This December the Marias started to follow me and sent me a DM, asking why it took so long for them to discover my music. I couldn’t believe it. I love their project. Their new music is incredible; they’re always proposing something super complete.

Very cool. Is there anything else you want to tell the world?
Well, I’m excited to have new listeners in Brooklyn. I hope my music resonates.

The post BandLab’s ‘Opportunities’ recipient Reno Rojas is in her rockstar era appeared first on Brooklyn Magazine.


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