Sareena Dominguez Gets Her Groove on With Moonbeams

In this week's issue of Phoenix New Times, we profiled ten new(ish) bands we expect to dominate Phoenix iPods and boomboxes this long, hot summer. We'll be focusing more deeply on those artists over the next couple days here on Up on the Sun.

See the entire list: 10 Phoenix Bands You Should Be Listening to This Summer

As she wraps up the final touches on her debut album, Moonbeams, Sareena Dominguez has been doing a fair amount of reflection, examining the demos and rough drafts of songs that speckle YouTube and her Bandcamp profile with a critical eye.

"A lot of people are going to be able to listen to [the new album] in a different mindset," Dominguez says. "As opposed to listening to my demos and hearing them and going 'Oh, this is good, this is soft, this is pretty, this is cute.'"

Moonbeams is something else from Dominguez, a bold, confident statement. "When they hear the official album version they're going to be able to listen to it differently," she says. "They're going to think 'this is serious; this is really good.'"

Which isn't to say the demos were bad, but many of them have been scrubbed from the web, and Dominguez is eager to discuss her transformation from a Courtney Marie Andrews-style singer/songwriter (Andrews is also signed to River Jones Music Label) into something new, while retaining her dreamy vocals and starry-eyed aura.

But those aren't the only changes the Gilbert-raised singer made in the last four months. At first, she was merely experimented with fronting a band, but now bassist Matthew Vierra and drummer John E. Hopkins are playing with her full-time. Dominguez explains that learning to step away from the straightforward singer-songwriter model has given her more confidence as well.

"It's not just me playing the instrument and it's not just people focusing on my guitar playing and my singing," Dominguez says. "They can focus on the drums and the bass and the volume and excitement it adds. And they can actually dance to my music now and groove a little, more as opposed to sitting back and listening to it, taking it in. They can actually get into it."

Dominguez has enjoyed having the band on the road, including a gig at Northern Arizona University's KJACK Day and an exposition at South by Southwest at a River Jones showcase. In that time, she's branched out in Phoenix as well, playing shows everywhere she can, from The Trunk Space to The Crescent Ballroom to coffee shops like The Fixx.

Dominguez says she digs the music scene in Phoenix, especially how tight-knit it's become.

"Everyone's close with each other and supports each others music. It's getting bigger, too. A lot more people are coming out with their albums and playing shows," Dominguez says enthusiastically. "I don't think they thought they could play shows in Phoenix before because the scene is so small. A lot of the music coming out of it's really awesome too. I've been listening to a lot of Tobie Milford lately. He's really awesome and it's crazy to think that we have such talented people like that here that we have all to ourselves."

Down in Tucson, Dominguez even filmed a music video with Tobacco Flicks for her debut's title track, which should be released sometime this summer. Originally, Moonbeams was set for release in the spring, but numerous setbacks have pushed the launch to early July.

"It's really intense coming out with your first album," Dominguez claims. "I haven't been rushing it, either, even though I feel like I should. I don't want to put something out that I'm not happy with or in love with."

Already, Dominguez is thinking how her next album is going to sound, saying that Moonbeams was a source of major growth for her.

"This first album is my adolescence and my high school experiences and being young. When you have something like that come out and you hear yourself being young, it helps you to grow up," Dominguez explains. "It helped me realize what I want my next album to sound like and I want it to sound a little more adult. I want a lot of help from everyone - I want it to be a group effort. I don't want it to just be me. I want it to be a lot of people putting their heart and soul into it, which is why I'm glad I have my band. They're going to be writing with me and I'm really excited about it."

Sareena Dominguez is scheduled to perform Saturday, June 16 Stinkweeds Records and the Trunk Space.

Follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah