What a girl wants

Singer-songwriter Xochitl may write cute, but she's serious about her craft, dog and boyfriend's video-game obsession

<p><b>Careful, or Xochitl might write a song about you. Then again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.</b></p>

Careful, or Xochitl might write a song about you. Then again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Photo by Steven Chea

Catch Xochitl on Friday, September 27, at 8:30 p.m. at Luna's Café & Juice Bar, at 1414 16th Street. Cover is $5; for more info, visit www.facebook.com/xochitlofficial.

Xochitl was 18 when she decided it was time to finally dip her feet into songwriting. She’d been playing music since she was 6, and her ear for notes was already so good she could sit down at just about any instrument (although she preferred guitar for its portability) and play just about any song she heard on the radio.

In that first batch she wrote, there was one called “The Chico Song.” It took her all of five minutes to write, but the response from others, she says, was huge.

The track is a cute, whimsical, straightforward folk song written for her dog, Chico, with lyrics such as, “Getting kind of sleepy / You peek inside my room … Turn on the TV / You get real close to me / Watch a little Glee / And then we fall asleep.”

Goofy? Perhaps—at first, Xochitl (pronounced “so-chee”) says she felt nervous sharing it.

Nonetheless, it struck a chord with people because so many could relate.

“Who doesn’t sing to small animals? That’s not just me. Other people do that too, as I’m totally learning,” Xochitl said. “I still feel weird, but I’m just more socially acceptable now.”

“The Chico Song” wasn’t the only song that resonated with others.

The singer-songwriter also penned one called “Game Over,” in which she lamented her boyfriend’s preoccupation with video games instead of her.

As with the song about her dog, once Xochitl started playing it for people, she says she realized she wasn’t the only one with this dilemma.

“There’s girls that come up to me after the show, and they’re like, ’Thank you so much. That song is my world.’ I’m like, ’Dude, you’re welcome. I feel your pain,’” she said.

Since that initial rush of songs, Xochitl, now 21, slowed down and crafted many more, mixing elements of folk, jazz, blues and pop. Some of them are cute and funny, like those early ones, but many are more serious and heartfelt.

“[Songwriting] is my only form of expression. It’s the one thing I’m good at. So when I feel all these emotions take control, I just write them down, and I’m like, ’Oh, I can make a song out of this,’” Xochitl said.

It also makes for good communication, she says.

“I wish I could carry my guitar, so when people [ask], ’What do you think about this?’ I can play a little song,” she said. “I don’t know how to use my words in real life. I’m a very socially awkward hermit.”

Still, Xochitl didn’t let potential stage fright or feeling ill at ease stop her from performing. Once she had several original songs ready, the singer hit the open-mic circuit and then eventually graduated to booking full sets. For a brief period, she even used a backing band.

“It changed my sound completely. I’m really glad I had them. I write a lot bigger now,” Xochitl said.

These days, she’s back to playing solo, working on new material and planning an October visit to the East Coast to play a few shows.

Currently, she’s not quite ready to write a full-length record—though that might not be too far off in the future, she said. Instead, Xochitl is sticking to releasing singles and updating her YouTube channel with performance clips—some recorded at home.

She considers the video feed something of a personal challenge.

“Electronics are not my thing. Finally, I was like, ’Just do this, get a camera.’ So I have a camera, and I’m trying to tape myself everywhere,” Xochitl said.

“I just want people to be able to see me, like my fans. I’m not hoping to be the next Justin Bieber.”