Sareena Dominguez: "I Wouldn't Say I'm 'Super Folk'"

Ambition goes a long way -- just ask Sareena Dominguez, who signed with River Jones Music Label a scant six months ago, is releasing her debut in the spring, and is currently booking her first tour -- and she's only 19.

Raised in Gilbert, Dominguez came from a rather large family in a suburb, to her, the perfect place to focus solely on her creativity because as she puts it, "I almost had to make up my own. There wasn't too much creativity going on where I was."

Her deep admiration for old classics like Etta James, Janis Joplin, and modern soul singers like Amy Winehouse and Adele, is driven by how they "take command of an entire room." With her soft-spoken, laid back demeanor, Dominguez is kind of the opposite, lacking the deep contralto vocals, but still able to grab your attention with her coffeehouse jams a lá label-mate Courtney Marie Andrews or Ingrid Michaelson. Like a harp, Dominguez plucks gently at her acoustic guitar, her voice a less sugar-coated version of Lenka, with a lot more suave and rockstar personality.

Sareena Dominguez is scheduled to perform Tuesday, February 28, at The Fixx in Tempe.

"I wouldn't say I'm super folk. The style I would say is..." Dominguez trails off. "I'll just go with indie-acoustic for now. I never really focus on style -- it's always different."

Singer-songwriters abound anywhere you go, but Dominguez is still fresh, and sometimes (like at her upcoming show) joined couple bandmates from Colours, which turns things "a little jazzy," as she says. Matt Vierra plays bass and Johnny Hopkins does drums, giving a whole new atmosphere to the stage, as Dominguez describes it.

"I think I'd want to front a band all the time," Dominguez says. "I'm actually trying to look for a guitarist to help me write the music for my next album. My first album hasn't come out yet, but I'm done with it, so I'm already thinking of the second album."

While Moonbeams, her first release is still getting mixed by Curtis Douglas (who also produced Steff Koeppen's self-titled debut), she's preparing to film a music video for the album's title track. Dominguez describes the song as being about letting someone go, like that breath of fresh air you get the moment a bad relationship ends.

"It's mainly about distracting yourself and finding beauty in newer and different things that you didn't find beauty in before because you were so focused on one thing," Dominguez explains. "There's so much more beauty going around me as opposed to that beauty that was in that relationship."

Many of her songs have a bright-eyed grasp on young relationships, such as "Fourteen," which talks about freshmen love and broken hearts.

"I think it's more about infatuation and feeling like that's the only person you're ever gonna be with," Dominguez says. "Basically, this whole album is about being young and being in love and having heartbreak. It's mainly about youthful relationships and feeling all these things for the first time. It means so much to you. That's pretty much what the whole album is about."

A release date for Moonbeams is tentatively set for late March or early April, on River Jones Music Label. Dominguez is more than enthusiastic about working with River Jones, partially because of the opportunity, partially because of the inspiration.

"[River] helped me grow so much - not only musically, but with my confidence," Dominguez gushes. "I've never been able to sing as loud as I can now. Before I was very meek and not very open. He just threw me on the stage and it's made everything a lot more fun and a lot more easy. I couldn't imagine starting off with any other label."

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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