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Live From The 305: Adrienne Z On Being A Musical Chameleon In The Florida Keys

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Photo by Marsia Shuron Harris / Courtesy of Adrienne Z
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Adrienne Z has made a living writing music for film and television and performing across the Florida Keys.

Life is different in the Florida Keys. Anyone who’s taken the trip down the Overseas Highway, across a 125-mile chain of islands, knows the allure.

For 20 years, singer-songwriter Adrienne Zalondick has called that paradise home. That home was threatened and received damage caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017, which inspired one of her songs.

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

WLRN’s Luis Hernandez spoke with Adrienne Z for our series “Live from the 305,” which highlights the artists that contribute to South Florida’s diverse cultural landscape.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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

It was crazy what happened around here in my area. “Hurricane brain” was a common saying down here because you were completely like walking around like a zombie and there was lots of gray muck everywhere. I was very fortunate to have a lot of people helping me, you know. And I was very grateful that I had insurance, that was a big one. I've actually had people say that the song made them tear up. And I was feeling honestly really 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. I was very moved by that.

On her musical influences

Michael Kiwanuka, who's got a lot of songs in various films and TV — that's something that I'm really into doing right now, focusing on getting my music into film and TV. So I've been listening to a lot of more modern-sounding music. But my influences really, were Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young when I was younger. I love Peter Gabriel, Heart, Fleetwood Mac and James Taylor was a huge influence on me. I had to figure out his songs because I was into fingerpicking when I was younger. And I still sometimes will write a song that demands something like that fingerpicking, but that I'm really into a lot of different styles.

And I don't really want to have to pigeonhole myself into any one style. When I came out [with] my Chameleons record in 2015, if you were to listen to it, I've got a lot of different styles on it — a lot of it could be on different playlists. And I am not necessarily certain that's a good thing but I really like to be able to do what it is that I love and not necessarily having to stay in a particular style.

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

That song came really fast. It was about the end of a 14-year long relationship that ended in a bad way. It was very sad how it ended because it was my best friend. It was my way of kind of working through my feelings around how it felt to me. One time when I was performing and I noticed someone was being treated poorly in my environment and it brought back these feelings.

We were actually singing that song and I actually started crying when I was singing that song in the rehearsal. And so, you know, it can bring back feelings of what it was but I'm in a totally different place now and I'm so happy where I'm at right now so it’s not as hard to sing. I don't really let that bother me because everything happens for a reason and whatever it was that caused me to write something was the reason for it.

On being part of an online writing community and songwriting during the pandemic

I heard about this songwriter’s group and I was like, wow, to actually be accountable for a weekly song? That really has worked for me because I didn't realize I could write songs so fast. I've written a song a week, sometimes two since March [2020]. It's like, I’ve got zillions of songs right now — I got to record this stuff! And people give you feedback and you give other people feedback in the group. It's a Facebook group, basically. And it's very cool because a lot of people are really good writers.

I'm impressed and everyone's getting better. And it really tells you that if you do something consistently, you will get good at it. There are no two ways about it. If you are just consistent about anything, whether it's a habit you want to create, it's possible and it really changes your life to realize that.

Blue Day - Injade LIVE! Adrienne - Vocals, and guitar Chris Burchard lead guitar, bassist Gregg