One-Man Band: Soapbox aka Rodrigo Rosales

One-Man Band: Soapbox aka Rodrigo Rosales (photo by Alan Benchoam)

Soapbox aka Rodrigo Rosales (photo by Alan Benchoam)

Anyone who listens to music radio in Guatemala will no doubt be familiar with the name Soapbox. The talented musician had a No. 1 hit with his first solo single Time, and his second release, Now I’m Gone, looks to be heading in a similar direction. But not everyone may be aware that the man behind the name, Rodrigo Rosales, is a home-grown, Guatemalan star who does everything (down to directing his own music videos) himself.

“I think that being in a group can sometimes be restrictive,” Rosales says. “But if you’re a one-man band, you don’t have to limit yourself.”

The Guatemalan artist says he has always been inspired by musicians who played multiple instruments and guitarists who challenged the conventional approach to performance.

“When I was 13 years old I saw a (television) special on Jimi Hendrix and it blew my mind,” Rosales says.
From that day forward Rosales admits only wanting to perform in a similar style. So, having learned to play the guitar when he was 11, Rosales later taught himself to play the drums and piano before building a recording studio in his room and teaching himself all elements of production.

“I used to lock myself away and just focus on my music. I didn’t go out much; I just practiced in my room and was a bit of a loner… but I guess it’s starting to pay off now,” laughs Rosales.

Even though the musician has appeared on four albums from other artists in the past year, he professes that the Guatemalan music industry isn’t an easy one to crack.

“You need to have someone in there. I would go to radio stations every day with my music and get rejected. It was really difficult and I nearly gave up—that’s what the song Time is about,” says Rosales.

But eventually he started to receive support from local artists, helping to propel his music onto the radio.

Like most successful Guatemalan performers, Rosales funds his music through another career. He works as a furniture designer during the week and spends his spare time writing songs and trying to get the best sound possible out of his equipment.

Having grown up listening to music in English, Rosales says it was a natural decision to sing in English, but the musician still considers his voice his weakest instrument.

“I’m not used to being a frontman, I feel more confident playing the guitar than singing. But I have to get used to it, and now I guess there’s no turning back.

“My greatest challenge has always been myself. I was afraid at the beginning and didn’t have much confidence so I’ve had to overcome that,” says Rosales, who originally called himself “Soapbox.”

“When I was growing up, people used to dismiss local bands and I thought that if I put my name out there I would get rejected, so I used the pseudonym ‘Soapbox’,” admits Rosales.

Although Rosales has toured with bands and composed songs for other musicians, he is now focusing on his solo career. His self-written, first album Soapbox Vol. 1 is out now in local music stores. For more information on Rosales’ upcoming tour dates visit: reverbnation.com/soapboxgt

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