“To have done a rock album without my crew would be treason," the troubadour who is currently calling himself Rodrigo Solo told us. "I love the label of rock and roll but I wanted to do a more diverse project. I wanted to try to generate feelings without using a distortion pedal.”
Some might know Solo better by his more renowned name, Rodrigo Gonsalves. It was under that name that he found fame as the lead singer of the Venezuelan Latin Grammy-nominated rock group Viniloversus. But Rodrigo Solo is trying to establish a different voice. “Rodrigo Solo is humble. With Viniloversus it is more testosterone driven. It’s the same guy who sings in both, but I’m trying to take a step away musically with this.”
Growing up in Venezuela, Rodrigo Solo first picked up a guitar at 13. Inspired by Nirvana, Bob Dylan, and the Argentine singer Gustavo Cerati, he found great success with the four-piece Viniloversus both inside and outside of his native country. The band took a break last year, but Solo wanted to keep creating music.
The resulting album, No Estás Solo, is a Spanish language record that is gentler than what his fans are accustomed to. It has a style Solo describes as more feminine. “I wanted a female presence on it both vocally and instrumentally. I called up some hidden gems in the Venezuelan music scene like Alissa Maria — who is the Miles Davis of Venezuela — and we made an album with Latin feeling.”
Solo will be bringing those songs to his new home in Miami with upcoming shows July 23 at The Chill Concept and July 26 at R House. He already had an art exhibit in Wynwood which featured one drawing for each of the dozen songs on the new album. Visitors could listen to the artwork’s corresponding track on headphones. Solo's future plans in South Florida include transforming back into Rodrigo Gonsalves when he rehearses and records a new album later this year with Viniloversus.
As he wrapped up the interview, Solo expressed a desire to have a career like Jack White where he can change his persona like a chameleon with each project. Like many of Solo’s musical heroes, White sings in English, so it had to be asked if Solo ever planned to write music in his second language. “I started writing songs in English the last few years, but I want the stuff I produce in English to be as good as what I do in Spanish.” I pointed out that his English was better than many American musicians I interview, but he insisted he is not ready. “I don’t want to encourage the idea of recording in English until I manifest my heritage as a Latin American artist.”
Rodrigo Solo. Sunday, July 26, at R House, 2727 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-576-0201; rhousewynwood.com. Tickets cost $20 to $30 plus fees via wantickets.com.