Alicia Solo reboots her music life by going it alone and doing it all herself
When her band the Beautiful Bodies broke up, Alicia Solombrino was beyond disappointed.
“I slept for like two months,” she said. “I didn’t want the band to break up. I didn’t want to go solo. But sometimes you can’t choose what you have to do.”
She has emerged from the darkness. Earlier this year, she released “Solo,” a three-song EP she wrote and recorded under the name Alicia Solo. On Wednesday, she released the video to the song “Good,” which was shot around Kansas City. Saturday, she will perform in the Power & Light District as part of the Red, White and Boom concert, on a bill with Flo Rida and Aaron Carter.
The recording and live show represent many things to Solombrino, primarily how she turned her pain and disappointment into initiative and ambition, how she took the reins of virtually every aspect of her career, from the recording and production of her EP to the design of her stage show.
“I learned sound, lighting and other technical stuff,” she said. “I learned Abelton (music-production program). I designed my own stage show. It was all very challenging but I had to figure it out, and I did. And it’s all me. After being told ‘no’ or having ideas shot down for so long, I forgot who I was and how I write.”
“Solo” comprises three big-beat, high-octane dance songs that evoke what Solombrino was hearing in her head as she wrote them, such as the song “Fevah”: “I wanted this Timbaland sound with, like, Jack White guitars — dance beats with distortion.” Mission accomplished.
She worried a bit at first how they’d translate into live performances, but she has navigated that transition. Saturday’s show will be her third live performance. She plays guitar and is backed by guitarist Phil Park, the Bodies’ former bassist Luis Arana and, when feasible, backup singers Julia Haile and Danielle Metz. All the vocals are live; some of the instrumentals are backing tracks.
Her first live show was in the Encore, a venue that’s part of the Uptown Theater.
“That was great,” she said. “The Encore is a small room. I invited friends and family and it was cool to see people singing the songs with me. It felt really good.”
She has generated some interest from record labels, major and indie. But Solombrino is both wary of and wise to the industry as a business. The Beautiful Bodies signed a deal with Epitaph, a major independent label, in May 2014. In June 2015, they released their debut full-length, “Battles,” and toured extensively. In 2016, the band imploded unexpectedly. The breakup became official earlier this year, when Solombrino announced it on social media.
On her Solo project, she is applying some advice she once received from Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage.
“She told me, ‘Always make sure to stick one foot into the industry and then take it out,’” she said. “What she meant was: ‘Make sure you’re aware of everything around you, who’s in charge of this and that and where money is going. Make sure you have your ducks in a row, then get out. People can get sucked into the business part of it and then become bitter.’
“You have to focus on your art and being creative, but you have to be aware of what’s going on around you as far as business decisions. I learned that way too late, but I’m using that advice in my new situation.”
She has also gained some perspective on the past four years or so.
“I’m really grateful for all the opportunities (the Bodies) provided. We signed with Epitaph and got to tour with some really cool bands,” she said. “But each project serves its own purpose. This new project’s identity me doing it all for the right reasons. I’m so happy now.”
She has also surrounded herself with the right people, from those in her band to friends who participated in the video and to fans of the Bodies who are interested in her next step.
“I get asked, ‘Why do you live in Kansas City?’” she said. “Because I love Kansas City. It is so supportive. I don’t think I’d have gotten out of bed if so many people hadn’t asked me when I was going to do music again or come out to my shows.”
Alicia Solo performs Saturday in the Power & Light District as part of the Red, White & Boom concert. Show time is 4 p.m. Tickets are $9.93 to $75.