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Pretty girl, dance grooves
Despite what she may say, local singer-songwriter Angelina Lucero has built quite a fan base in the more than three years she’s been working solo. Primarily a vocalist, she overcame a massive hurdle, diligently teaching herself how to play guitar at the age of 22. Lucero is now making her way through the Chicago music scene with an enchanting voice, brutally beautiful lyrics and a simple yet captivating guitar styling. She has made a name for herself not only in Chicago but around the country by lending her vocals and touring with the Brooklyn-based Pretty Good Dance Moves. 2012 brings an excitingly new chapter in her career, as her debut album, tentatively titled “In the Company of Men,” is due by the end of the year.
The Chronicle sat down with Lucero and talked about the challenges of songwriting, her upcoming album and the importance of being adventurous.
The Chronicle: You seem to be consistently creating new material for your musical project Paper Plant. Would you say you’ve always been this prolific?
Angelina Lucero: I’m constantly writing. When I have dry spells, I learn a bunch of cover songs. I feel like I’m just trying to keep myself busy or my mind occupied, trying to learn new things on guitar. I am first and foremost a vocalist. I picked up guitar when I was 22 and I taught myself how to play. That being said, I’m not great at guitar and there’s always more for me to learn. I find that when I’m not writing and trying to learn cover songs, it helps me learn new things vocally or instrumentally.
The Chronicle: As a vocalist, did you initially find it difficult to write your songs on guitar to accompany your vocal and lyrical pattern, or did it come naturally?
AL: Yeah, it was pretty easy. Any instrument, there are so many ways that you can use it. I personally would Google Image [search] “guitar chords,” and I would sit for hours in front of the computer and learn formations and strumming or picking patterns. Then I tried to use chords or strumming patterns that I didn’t hear a lot in other people’s music.
I don’t know exactly what it is, but in a lot of female singer-songwriter-type music, you hear a lot of the same type of strumming pattern that’s kind of happy and a little bit on the sad side. I just wanted to do dark or sad or use lots of minor chords. And I’m sure lots of other people aim to do that too, but that’s what I was trying to go for at the time. So I would learn three or four chords and then I would put the ones I thought sounded best together, and it just came out.
The Chronicle: Do you choose your covers carefully to reflect your style, or do you like to take on challenges and try
AL: It’s really just whatever I love at the time. I don’t think I have a style. Well, maybe I do [laughs]. But I just get excited about other people’s music sometimes and say, “I have to try this.” A lot of times I’m not capable of playing guitar like they do, so I have to alter it. But most of the time I hear a song and think, “Holy s–t! This is so amazing and I want to play that.”
The Chronicle: You recently made a big move to New York. What was it that drew you there and what brought you back?
AL: Oh man, I’ve been thinking about this so much lately. I went to New York because of the electro-pop band I had been singing with on and off for three or four years. They live in New York and it was getting really difficult to fly back and forth. I decided I would just move to New York to be with them. I think New York is great, and I love it a lot, but it is just so expensive.
I didn’t know how it would be possible for me to be creative and pay that type of rent. You’re working so much because you’re afraid you’re not going to be able to feed yourself or pay rent, and that could be an excuse as well. I think that if you really are an artist, you will find a way and the time to do it. I think that I was just in a big city. And even though I come from another city, it was so overwhelming and terrifying. I think that I would love to live there again, but I need to get all my stuff together first. [laughs]
To listen to Lucero’s work, visit her SoundCloud site at SoundCloud.com/AngelinaLucero. For updates on her music and upcoming shows, visit Paper Plants Facebook page.