Making her way in a digital world
Blues/rock artist cancels upcoming Sweetwater show
At just 31 years old, Arielle is a veteran of the music industry, familiar with all the rewards and challenges it presents to an emerging artist.
A graduate of the Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, Arielle was “discovered” by Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt in 2010, before being handpicked by legendary Queen guitarist Brian May to be a part of the Queen musical We Will Rock You. She has graced the cover of Guitar Player magazine and even played on the main stage at Coachella.
“Arielle’s playing reaches places I never knew existed,” May said of the artist who was scheduled to stop by Sweetwater for a live performance Saturday, March 5, and a two-day workshop before the events were canceled.
Friends in High Places
In a recent interview with Whatzup, Arielle said her relationship with Bettencourt began at a time when she said she was actually playing pop music in an effort to get a record deal. Like many of the most popular pop artists, she started doing choreography and even dancing with the guitar, “which is hilarious,” she said.
In true L.A. fashion, her choreographer had a friend who had a friend who knew Bettencourt, and though she was pessimistic those things were actually true, eventually her number did find its way to the famed ’80s rock guitarist.
“One day, he just kind of came over,” Arielle said. “I wrote songs with him, and we recorded an EP that we shopped around. He even put together a music video. It was very cool.”
Even more impressive, Arielle counts May as one of her oldest friends, not necessarily in age, but in length of relationship.
She said they didn’t initially bond over the guitar like most would assume. Instead, discussions about mental health, which both artists have dealt with openly, formed the bond.
“We kind of became instant friends,” she said. “I did kind of feel like we were friends already, though. I can’t explain it other than I just felt it. Through the years we’ve done all sorts of stuff from when he invited me to be in We Will Rock You to our most recent project where we combined his guitar and my guitar (dubbed the Two-Tone) and are now selling them.”
While often classified as a blues guitarist or blues/rock artist, Arielle said her style has evolved and would describe it as “21st century classic rock influenced by the sound and songwriting of the ’60s and ’70s.”
Her newest album, Analog Girl in a Digital World, boasts a mostly autobiographical title track that describes just how out of place she feels in today’s technological world.
“I didn’t get my first smartphone until 2010,” she said. “I fought it really hard.”
But she has embraced that technology, specifically social media, albeit reluctantly.
“I think that social media is an absolute blessing,” she said. “Its purpose really changed, in my opinion, when the world shut down. That became the world. That became the access point to everyone when everyone was stuck at home all over the world.”
The shutdowns also changed ways the music industry does business or, at least, sped up the inevitable change.
Having a strong online presence, she said, means you can make a living online and have more flexibility in your life, but it also adds a degree of uncertainty and a few layers of extra work.
“It’s kind of scary because the purpose of a musician or a songwriter has changed to where we are not only content creators but we also have to be videographers and models and photographers,” she said. “There is an immense amount more pressure put on people as a whole, but especially in the entertainment world. Our jobs just quadrupled with how many hats we have to wear.”
‘They Get What I’m Doing’
Arielle has accepted she has an “old soul,” often feeling out of place because she approaches her craft in the way many artists would have approached it several years ago.
“I feel old,” she said. “I didn’t think that would happen until a few decades from now, but it’s like, wow, everybody is getting rid of their guitar amps and getting rid of a lot of technology that we’ve relied on for a long time because it’s easier to use the latest, most simplified tools. So, it’s funny the way that I approach things now, with a bunch of guitar amps, because I don’t use any pedals anymore, vintage instruments and an old-school band from the ’70s. That’s my whole branding. It’s definitely outdated at this point and not cool, but I’ve just tried to stop competing with it. I am not for everyone. In fact, I am probably not for most people, but the people who get what I do, the people who grew up in the ’60s or ’70s, or wish they did, that’s my fan base. They get what I’m doing. But if that’s not you, then I probably don’t make any sense.”