Stay From The 305: Adrienne Z on the musical chameleon within the Florida Keys

Life is different in the Florida Keys. Anyone who has ventured the Overseas Highway across a 125-mile chain of islands knows the charm.

The singer-songwriter Adrienne Zalondick has called this paradise her home for 20 years. This house was threatened and damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017, which inspired one of her songs.

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Her stage name is Adrienne Z and she made a living writing music for film and television and performing across the island chain.

Luis Hernandez from WLRN spoke to Adrienne Z for our “Live from the 305” series, which introduces the artists who contribute to the diverse cultural landscape of South Florida.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

In her song “Feeling Keys Strong” about the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017

It was crazy what happened around me. “Hurricane Brain” was a popular saying down here because you were walking around like a zombie and there was a lot of gray dirt everywhere. I was very lucky that a lot of people helped me. And I was very grateful that I had insurance, it was a big one. I actually got people to say that the song made them tear apart. And I was honestly very hopeful when I wrote the song, so it was a surprise to me that they felt that way. But it touched me that it touched people. That moved me a lot.

On their musical influences

Michael Kiwanuka, who has a lot of songs in different films and on TV – this is something I’m really doing right now that is focused on getting my music into film and TV. So I listened to music that sounded a lot more modern. But my influences were really Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young when I was younger. I love Peter Gabriel, Heart, Fleetwood Mac and James Taylor has influenced me a lot. I had to find out his songs because I was interested in fingerpicking when I was young. And sometimes I still write a song that requires something like finger picking, but I really like a lot of different styles.

And I don’t really want to have to classify myself into one style. When I came out [with] My 2015 Chameleons recording, if you listen to it, I have a lot of different styles – a lot of them could be on different playlists. And I’m not exactly sure if that’s a good thing, but I really like being able to do what I love and not necessarily have to stick to a certain style.

On her song “Blue Day”, which was featured in the movie “The Wrong Car”

The song came very quickly. It was roughly the end of a 14 year relationship that ended badly. It was very sad how it ended because it was my best friend. It was my way of processing my feelings about how it felt to me. Once when I performed and noticed that someone around me was being treated badly, it brought those feelings back.

We actually sang this song and I actually started crying when I sang this song during rehearsal. You know it can bring feelings back from what it was, but I’m in a completely different place now and I’m so happy where I am right now so it’s not that hard to sing. I don’t really let that bother me because everything happens for a reason and whatever made me write something was the reason for it.

As part of an online writing community and as a songwriter during the pandemic

I heard about this songwriter’s group and wanted, wow, to actually be responsible for a weekly song? That really worked for me because I didn’t know I could write songs that fast. I’ve been writing a song for a week, sometimes two since March [2020]. It’s like I have tons of songs right now – I have to record this stuff! And people give you feedback and you give feedback to other people in the group. It’s basically a Facebook group. And it’s very cool because a lot of people are really good writers.

I’m impressed and everyone is getting better. And it really tells you that if you do something consistently, you will get good at it. There are no two options. If you are consistent in everything whether it is a habit you want to create it is possible and it really changes your life to make it a reality.

Blue Day – Injade LIVE! Adrienne – vocals and guitar Chris Burchard lead guitar, bassist Gregg

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