E.J. Maldonado, formerly known as “Adverb,” is currently on a search for a stronger identity. His first step was a much needed name change. “The person who I am onstage is me in every aspect, and I’ve been hiding that through ‘Adverb,'” says the 32-year-old solo acoustic artist. “It’s time to put the real me out there and not be afraid of who that is. … It’s all about finding myself.” Part of that is trying to figure out exactly what he wants out of his music career and sharing who he is with his listeners without holding anything back or setting up a disguise.
Maldonado says the song he holds closest in his heart is “Falling in the Morning.” He says the song is “about an unattainable desire,” which is something listeners can relate to alongside Maldonado as he proceeds to let go of the past.
Being the fragile soul he presents himself as, Maldonado openly admits that he goes through a hell of a time getting ready to step onstage and reveal his heart to his listeners. “I have kind of an unwarranted routine before I get out there and play,” he says. “I get stomach pains like you wouldn’t believe. I can’t eat. I can hardly breathe. It’s like that tingling feeling you get when you’re next to the person you want to be with.”
Living in the land of inner butterflies before opening up to the world seems like it would hinder a performance, but that isn’t the case for Maldonado. Tearing up the stage with acoustic tunes that are comparable to the sounds of Damien Rice and Jeff Buckley, you’d never know that he was nervous. Rocking back and forth, eyes shut, guitar in hand, Maldonado seems to feel emotion in every song he writes, as though he were playing it for the first time.
Before Maldonado went on a journey to discover himself, he played with the local indie band Ordinary. “I’ve just decided to branch out and do my own thing because I always knew I’d be good at it and wanted to see what it would be like,” he says, giving props to his old band while leaving it behind to move forward on his own terms.
“I would say my music blends together the depressing aspects of the beautiful things in life,” says Maldonado. “It’s about finding your place at the dinner table and trying to make sense in a world that simply doesn’t make much sense.
“When I write, I write about blatant human emotion,” he says. “I’m fascinated with human qualities and imperfections, including those of my own. I like to write from a different aspect of things, from someone else’s perspective. Say you got your heart walked on, I’ll write from the point of view of the person who walked on it, instead of the one who’s left broken.”
Maldonado adds, “There’s not always something wrong when I’m writing my music. I’m not always sad or releasing painful energy. I write for every feeling. My music is a break from Reno, and that makes me both accessible and inaccessible.”