Back in January, saratoga living included the über-talented, Troy-based solo artist Girl Blue (a.k.a. vocal powerhouse Arielle O’Keefe), on our “8 Female Musicians From Upstate New York You Should Be Listening To Right Now,” and since then, she’s played a steady stream of live dates in and around the Capital Region, including sharing a stage with two other artists on saratoga living’s list. She’ll be headlining Glens Falls’ Park Theater this Friday, April 12.
A quick refresher: O’Keefe first gained national attention when she appeared on the short-lived E! reality series Opening Act, opening for music legend Rod Stewart in Las Vegas. She then got positive reviews for her 2016 single “Fire Under Water,” which garnered more than 1 million streams in its first month on Spotify. In 2017, O’Keefe released an EP, I Am Not A Star, and has since recorded/released a smattering of singles.
Of her songwriting process, O’Keefe says, “It’s [about] finding a story. Sometimes I’ll get a loop or a progression going on an instrument, and then I’ll find the story of the song through a little note and keep going from there. If it can become a story that I can see then I can write the rest of it pretty quickly.”
She’s be putting that process to the test of late, as she’s been working on two upcoming albums: a live solo record, to drop this year, and her first full-length studio album, coming some time next year. saratoga living caught up with the songwriter about her craft and upcoming show.
How did you first get into writing music?
I’ve wanted to be a musician since I was like a baby, since I was like two years old. As long as I can consciously remember, I’ve always wanted to be a singer and a musician. I took piano from the time I was five, and since then I’ve been singing and writing songs. Honestly, I don’t know why I was so drawn to it. I just went that way from the very start.
You were living down in New York City for a while before you relocated to Upstate New York. What convinced you to make that move?
I actually just moved to Troy, like, a week and a half ago. I’ve been Upstate for about five years. I didn’t have any connection growing up here; I just have good friends who live up here. While I was living in New York City, I’d come and visit and play music with them. The more I visited, the more I grew to like it and sort of prefer it over the city. So I came up to record for a month and I found a little apartment. I was just going to stay for a short time but I ended up finding a really great musical community here. So I ended up staying.
Your catalog has been steadily growing over the past few years. Can fans expect some new music from you this year?
I’m going to be putting out a live solo album that’ll be like six or seven songs called Home Movies. Everything is one take—it’s just me and guitar. It’ll be some new songs and some stripped-down versions of old songs. I’ve been playing so many solo shows the past year or two, so I wanted to do a little something that represented that part of me. That’ll come out in the summer, right at the beginning of June.
That’s exciting. Anything else?
Right now, I’m also tracking a full debut album with a working title of Heavy Heart. That’s sort of the big thing that I’ll be working on this year, but it probably won’t be out until early 2020. And I predict there’ll be some singles before that comes out as well.
That’s a lot of new material. How are you able to write so many new songs?
I’ve always been that way—I’ve always written a lot. It keeps me on track. It gives me a way to regulate my time. As a musician, I’m not on the clock all the time, so it’s a good way to remember how much time has passed. [Laughs]
So will fans at the Park Theater get to hear some of this new material?
Yes, definitely! They’ll hear some of the new songs and old ones. I’m going to have Jimi Woodul of Dark Honey play with me. He’ll bring his cajón [drum] and electric guitar to add an extra element to the music. It’s going to be a great show.
In addition to the Park Theater, you’ve also performed at Caffè Lena in Saratoga. What do you think of that venue?
I love Caffè Lena, I love performing there. It’s one of my favorite venues in the Capital District. People come to really listen and are always so warm and receptive.