On the Verge in theAlternative Scene: Araujia

The release of the single, “Moth to a Flame,” defined this summer for Araujia. The song is an amazing culmination of modern rock and a unique alternative sound, beautifully summarizing the prowess the artist puts in all of his music. Araujia is Andres Alfonso, a sophomore in the SFS from Miami, Florida. Ahead of the release of his EP Dreams/Nightmares, released on October 1st, I had the opportunity to sit down with Andres and speak about his views on all things music. He has been anxiously awaiting to release his music after the success of his previous singles, and because of this I wanted to understand his musical inspirations. We shot the shit: we talked shoegaze, boomer rock n roll, live performance inspiration, Mexican noise rock, and much more. Why don’t we start with who you are, and how would you describe yourself as a musician? My name is Andres Alfonso, most people call me Andy. I’m also known as the musical artist Araujia. I would say [I am] Radiohead meets shoegaze. I usually like to blend a lot of things like quiet moments and ambient songs with a lot of, like, the loud, heavier walls of guitar. Recently, I’ve been adding a lot more electronic elements into the whole “wall of sound” area. Are you a songwriter? Yeah, I do everything for the songs. I write the drum parts, the bass, the guitar; I record, I sing. How did you get into music? I actually grew up listening to Guns N’ Roses because my mom would always play that in the car. She was a big fan of them and this 80s alternative band from Argentina called Soda Stereo. So I always grew up listening to rock, but later on I started discovering the guitar, learning more about music. I started playing the guitar actually because I was just bored after the hurricane. I think it was Irma in, like, freshman year, or whatever. I had no power for like a week and a half. And I just never stopped [playing guitar]. How would you describe your playing style? My playing style definitely changes depending on context. I have live performance roots in jazz improvisation, and I did that a lot throughout high school. I was in the Music Appreciation Society, and all we would do was jam on blues and stuff. Although I’m kind of rusty when it comes to jazz now, when I’m recording, [I feel its influence is] a lot different because I’m thinking of lines and what fits the song best. Some sections you really want a thin guitar line, something that sits in the background, and it’s moving the song forward. Other times you want the guitar to, like, take the lead over the vocals. How did you arrive at your stage name? I originally arrived at it by looking up my mom’s side of the family from El Salvador. Our family was called the Arajo family, and we’re pretty famous. I just went through the Wikipedia page one day, and I found this random guy who discovered these plants that were semi-poisonous. They were named Araujia. What’s your writing process for songs? It depends a lot. Sometimes I start with the lyrics. Sometimes I just start with either a beat or a guitar riff that I really want to write. Sometimes even some chords. But it’s always section by section, and I always want to start with the climax of a song, and build stuff up to there. So usually, if I start with lyrics, it’s usually one line or a metaphor, like my single, “Moth to a Flame.” I saw this TikTok, it was semi-sarcastic, about how moths are attracted to light, but they’re nocturnal, so they never see the sun. That’s sad. That’s brutally sad. And then I’m like, I’m gonna write a song about that. And so that’s how that song came to be. Take me through when you perform live—do you enjoy it? I do. It’s just tough for me to perform live, because it’s just me. I have to set up a backing track and take out the lead vocals, take out the guitar, etc. But I always love doing it. It’s always so fun, especially when I try to add something new or add some new flavors to my music. That’s something that I really like to do, like Hendrix—he would never play a song the same way live. So I always like to do low embellishments. A month ago, when I performed “Moth to A Flame,” I would add a little different guitar and solo parts at different parts in the song rather than just having the normal riff that’s on the live album. It adds to the dynamics. How was your writing process during quarantine? That’s actually when I started writing stuff that I’ve deemed good and acceptable, because previously, I just released music and it was just not good, honestly. I really don’t like listening to it. And I think quarantine definitely gave me the solitude and focus I needed to actually get done with something. Now when I write my music, I usually get it done in like two or three sittings just to have a finished product and to be content with it. In the past, I was a super perfectionist. But at the start of 2020, I got into that sort of mindset, that “I’m gonna get something out and make it good, but I’m not gonna work on it to an obsessive degree.” Do you think music is important to current events? I’d say so. Politically and socially, music is a means of expression, not only for everyday individuals, but for movements as a whole. Specifically counterculture movements. If you look at music from the late 60s, there’s definitely a tradition of music in Vietnam protests. Bringing back to Hendrix, when he played the National Anthem at Woodstock, he did all those embellishments to simulate the sounds of what was happening in the Vietnam War—that’s really powerful. How important is music to your life? Super important. I’m always listening to music. And I’m always trying to look for different types of music to listen to from different artists, bringing different perspectives. Recently, I started getting into the Mexican noise rock band, El Shirota. I think they're really good. They released an album towards the start of quarantine and I think it's phenomenal. I've been listening to it on repeat. Is rock and roll dead? People who say rock and roll is dead typically are the boomer crowd. And they’re usually saying things like, “Oh, rock and roll isn’t popular anymore.” That’s because popular music as a whole has shifted as a genre, and rock isn’t necessarily synonymous with what’s popular [anymore]. But I don’t necessarily think rock and roll is dead, because it’s still alive and there are still great rock bands, creating great albums and innovating in the genre. What’s next for Araujia? Definitely, if the opportunity arises, I will perform live. The closest thing up next is promoting my newest EP that comes out October 1st, on Spotify and Apple Music. It’s called Dreams/Nightmares. It’s six songs I wrote in the span of a month. I feel like, narratively, they’re all connected. It’s a loose concept EP because a lot of the songs sort of segue into each other. When I was writing the latter half of the songs, I realized that they could take themes from previous songs and then evolve on them. In my song “Moth to a Flame,” the concept that’s established there is a relationship that’s tearing apart and is described with the metaphor of, like, the moth who can never see the sun. On a later song called “Web of Lies,” the themes and motifs from that first song on the album come back in. What sort of advice do you have for other aspiring local artists? I’d say create music that will resonate with people. And at the end of the day, I personally don’t care if five people are listening to my music as long as it’s music that resonates with them and music that resonates with me. So it isn’t that bad being, like, an obscure local artist. If you have a fan base that cares about your music and likes you, as an artist, be proud of the music that you put out. Photo courtesy of the artist Bonavita is a Reviews Co-Editor and a Sophomore in the SFS studying CULP

On the Verge in theAlternative Scene: Araujia