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Psychedelic singer-songwriter R.ariel adapts to her environment

By Michael Grondin
Photo: Iam Clontz

Photo: Iam Clontz

CALGARY — The idea of being a musician and playing music for others has its charms as well as mysteries. However, the process can be difficult and strange for the many small artists out there that tour and travel and try to reach people with their music and art.

R.ariel is one of these small music projects, led by Phoenix, Arizona’s Rachel Crocker. R.ariel is a do-it-yourself, one-person project of psychedelic singer-songwriter music, drenched in reverb and nuanced with environmental recordings. Crocker’s soft and quiet voice is full of introspective desperation, yet sounds hopeful. Its melodies are calming.

“I started playing music four years ago. I was a photographer for eight years and a lot of crazy stuff happened in my life and music was a better form of expression,” says Crocker, adding that she writes and plays all of her music, but sometimes has other hometown musicians help her record. Her hometown affects her music in other less positive ways.

“A lot of my songs end up being a lot more spacey and dry because I feel like that’s the environment I’m in. It’s super hot and there’s no water. There’s a lot of racism here so trying to be open takes a lot of effort,” she says. “So that is definitely a part of Phoenix that does push on me where I kind of write songs to alleviate that oppressiveness.”

R.ariel has spent time touring parts of Europe and the United States, filming small videos while on the road. She says touring can be strange yet eye-opening.

“Touring can be weird for sure. Sometimes you’ll show up and people who have already listened to your music are really excited about it, and then other times you’ll show up no one knows who you are or there’s one person at the show,” she says.

R.ariel will be touring Canada for the first time this spring with help from her a visual artist friend, who projects splices of her videos while R.ariel plays live.

“We’re trying to create an environment that goes with the music,” describes Crocker. “It will be interesting to see how we work with each environment.”

CORRECTION: R.ariel will play at Fingers Crossed Railway Club in Vancouver on April 10, Railway Club in Vancouver on April 11, Broken City in Calgary on April 15 and Wunderbar in Edmonton on April 16.

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