By MIKE CHAIKEN
As a female artist, Arielle is a bit of an anomaly in the music world.
Many female vocalists are restyled by their labels to play up “their sexiness.”
Also, there are few female artists who play an instrument for any other purpose than to give them something to hold while they are told to act sexy.
But Arielle is a guitar-slinger extraordinaire as well as a distinctive vocalist. And she’s left any effort to make her “sexy” in the dust.
However, despite her resolve to be true to herself these days, Arielle still recalls the pressure from the industry to change.
“Sexism very much exists (in the music industry),” said Arielle, who is coming to Connecticut on March 10 to open for guitar hero Eric Johnson.
When she was younger, Arielle explained, she had a recording contract with a big label.
While with that label, like most artists, Arielle would step in front of a still camera to produce publicity photos for press purposes
However, Arielle explained, whenever she went into meet with the record executives to choose the new publicity shots, they would circle parts of her body in the images. They then told Arielle that these areas looked “disgusting” and told she had to lose weight.
“I became anorexic,” said Arielle.
The label executives also made her dress in ways she was not comfortable with. And she let them.
“I didn’t want to voice my opinion,” said Arielle.
Exasperating Arielle’s predicament with the label was that she played lead guitar.
“Record people look at me dumbfounded,’ said Arielle. They’ll say, “I don’t know what to do with you.”
“They didn’t know how to market me,” said Arielle.
These days, though, Arielle is finding her own path. She also is finding herself becoming a role model for young girls.
Arielle said she often has spoken to parents after her shows. She said that when the parents heard a female artist was opening the show, they were wary. “They feared I’d be a bad influence (on their daughters).”
But the parents would tell her they were pleasantly surprised by Arielle. They also were quite taken with Arielle’s positive image.
“I don’t swear in my songs,” said Arielle. “I don’t dress inappropriately. And I talk about the meaning of the things I write.”
“I try to be a good influence,” said Arielle. “I want to be a good person who is true to herself.”
Arielle’s recordings are unique in 2018 because— rather than punching in the right notes via a computer and letting technology take over— there is an organic feel to it to the sound.
“I feel a little old,” said Arielle. “I don’t tune my vocals… I try to have everything as organic as possible.”
When you listen to Arielle’s latest EP, “Mind Lion,” it is clear she is an accomplished guitarist. However, Arielle puts the emphasis on the songs rather than the instrument accompanying the composition. The guitar is servicing the song and not the other away around.
Arielle said this musical approach is a tribute to her musical influences.
Arielle explained artists like Queen, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and even Led Zeppelin approached the sound of the guitar in terms of what the song needed first. The guitar played service to the structure, the flow, emotions, and story of the song.
Arielle said she knows she could easily showcase her technical skills on record. But she said the musicianship must play second fiddle to the song.
For this tour, Arielle — rather than coming out with a full band—will be performing alone on stage, accompanied by electronic musical loops and backing tracks.
“I have a lot of dynamic moments,” said Arielle of her show. “There will be emotions. I will be laidback.” Stylistically, she said, “It runs quite the gamut of what has inspired me.”
Arielle opens for Eric Johnson on Saturday, March 10 at the Infinity Hall, Route 44, Norfolk at 8 p.m. Tickets are $44 and $69.
For more information, go to https://www.imarielle.com/