Stream: Roberto, ‘Up in the Sky’

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Roberto Ortiz — who releases music under the mononym Roberto — debuted the next iteration of his songwriting journey in August with the single “Dorrigo,” an affecting, “Graceland”-influenced bop.

He returns today with another single from his forthcoming debut, “The Salvaje EP.” “Up in the Sky,” speaks more directly to his fascinating personal journey: He grew up as a half-Black, half-Mexican kid in a small Midwestern town and at age 18 bicycled across North America and then Mexico to find his family, spent a year in the Amazon making a documentary and wound up in L.A. mired in the struggling-artist life.

“‘Up in the Sky’ is me just trying to keep my head high during a hard time,” Roberto says of the new song, which like the previous one is collaboration with Miro Mackie and Daniel Chae. “I had moved to a new part of the city, was commuting three hours every day via train to my restaurant gig and to top it off I couldn’t get it up one night just because I was so stressed. It’s moments like those where all you want is to escape, to dream, to fly. At the time, this one day in the studio was the closest I got to escape, so I said what I could. Coincidentally, it makes as much sense as someone reading Shakespeare while gargling salt water, but it sure is a groovy son’abitch.”

Indeed, it’s all groove and attitude, a spindly feel-gooder built from acoustic guitar and tinkling piano … and further evidence you don’t need a blunt of big production to get high.

||| Stream: “Up in the Sky”

||| Previously: “Dorrigo”

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