by Chris Conde
Without even realizing it, I think audiences forget the time and effort a lot of our local SA musicians invest into the honing of their craft – as if the songs coming out of the speakers at any show on the St. Mary’s Strip didn’t require work, beer money, structure arrangements, rearrangements, key changes, and thoughtful time spent scribing lyrics.
But take a glimpse into the background of a good number of these artists and you’ll find a work ethic and focus overlooked by many and appreciated by few.
Case in point: Elena Lopez.
At just 20 years old, the San Antonio musician already has an enviable resume and is carving out a space for herself in the Texas indie rock community — and her efforts aren't going unnoticed.
From an early age, Lopez loved to sing and her inclinations towards music inspired her parents to enroll her in classical piano lessons at only 4 years old. “I know that [my parents] wanted to put my brother and I through [at least] one music lesson,” Lopez told the Current, "and I just really, really liked it – so I kept taking lessons.” Lopez liked them so much that she continued to take lessons for a total of nine years.
At 12-years-old, the pianist (who also sings, and plays several other instruments) began tickling the ivories at Bandera Road City Church, a place she credits with much of her growth as a musician and the communication skills she learned through working with other artists.
Eventually, she left the church band to focus on her own musical endeavors, and Lopez’s band Octahedron (who have been on hiatus since last summer) saw regional success, along with her side project Baby Bangs – a fuzzier, grunge/punk turn from the straight-forward indie rock sound of Octahedron.
Today, Lopez’s focus is Elnuh, a surfy, dream-garage outfit whose tracks sometimes have melancholy vibes despite the poppy vocal melodies that punctuate her songs. “Like, in the middle of night, what kind of music am I writing when I can’t fall asleep? That’s Elnuh,” said Lopez.
Which sort of makes sense as Lopez’s lush vocals seem to effortlessly float over her fuzzy guitar progressions: a recipe for the perfect afternoon nap in a park or THC-fueled bike ride along the Riverwalk.
For instance, on “May 2 June” off of The Split, a split EP with fellow SA indie rockers Booty Feet, Lopez whispers, “my friends all woke up late / and I’m all alone / recently it’s hard / to feel anything at all” as echoing guitars ring over a bouncing drum beat giving listeners this feeling that they might actually be asleep and Lopez is leading them through a dream.
With a debut LP, she hopes to release in October followed by a three-week tour through the northeastern U.S., Lopez is proving that every project she invests herself into turns to aural gold. Something that comes naturally after 16 years of hard work, focus and a drive to create her art.