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Reina Boone is a lifer.
How did you get started as a singer/songwriter?
After I graduated from college, I moved back to Orange County. I went to UC Santa Barbara. I was a film major, and I wasn't really planning on doing music. I got to a point where I didn't want to work in the film industry, so I worked at Crystal Cove State Park. They let me bring my guitar to work. I started writing songs. I was coping with a breakup. So I was kind of "kiosk girl with the guitar." After I wrote my first song, I decided to go to an open mic, two weeks before I was leaving—a late graduation present—to go to Japan. So I played an open mic every night before I left for Japan, and then I was gone for three months. I came back and started doing it again. But I didn't really plan on being a singer/songwriter. I didn't take guitar lessons or anything. I started playing when I was 19, and I didn't start to play every day until I was 21. I'm 26 now.
You went to Japan for three months?
My mother is native Japanese, first generation. She's from Hiroshima. I spent my summers until I was 12 in Japan. I hadn't gone for, like, 12 years. I went to visit my aunt in Tokyo and spent a little time in Hiroshima.
Is there any Japanese influence in your music?
My mom would sing to me when I was a kid. She played an instrument called the shamisen. My mom listened to the Beatles and Donovan—standard pop music. She grew up on a farm. She had to go to the barn to listen to her Beatles records. My grandfather took them away. It was a controversy back then. She listened to Western music. My father would wake me up with records on the stereo. My parents influenced me, but I don't know if Japan has influenced me.
How do you feel the "singer plus acoustic guitar" thing goes over in OC?
What I'm trying to do is play as much as possible to get people aware of what's going on here. I didn't realize until I was out of college that not everyone grew up the way I did in terms of going to local shows. I've been going to local shows since I was 12 or 13. I thought that was something that people do. It's difficult, but there are people who listen and it's growing. I feel that many musicians who are primarily acoustic or songwriters get discouraged and move on to other places, or they decide to quit. It's difficult, but I'm trying to stick it out.
You recorded your demo in the back of van?
When I graduated from college, I went through a really bad breakup. That was my first love-breakup thing. I moved back to Orange County, and I was pretty much getting out of bed just to go to jobs. I would go into my garage, and my van was parked there. I would go in and just play Motown songs on my guitar. Then I started recording them. Then I started recording my own songs. The reason for going in the van was that I was not comfortable with the idea of anyone hearing me, even the possibility of neighbors down the street hearing me. So it started out that way, and I got into a system in the back of my van, so I recorded everything back there.
Do you do music full-time?
Yeah. It's been a year and a half. It's really hard. [Laughs.]I go back and forth about it. I check job sites about once a month. I look at any job I would be hired for. For eight hours, I'd get paid a certain wage. But I'd get paid more doing a one-hour show. But of course I'm not playing a show every day. And it's not consistent. It's not secure . . . no health benefits. But it pushes you to be more aggressive and to use all of your skills and your talent, which is not something I would have done if I'd been stuck in an office job or something like that. I'm going to try to stick it out as much as possible, but whatever happens, I'm going to do music. This is what I've decided to do for my lifetime.
REINA BOONE PLAYS AT OCEAN AVENUE RESTAURANT AND BREWERY, 237 OCEAN AVE., LAGUNA BEACH, (949) 497-3381. WED. CALL FOR TIME. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT REINA, VISIT WWW.MYSPACE.COM/REINABOONE.