ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Alyssia Dominguez, Ben Mulwana

Linneman’s welcomed a charming night of live music on Sunday featuring Alyssia Dominguez, Ben Mulwana, and 7000apart.

Alyssia Dominguez is a singer-songwriter based around the western Milwaukee suburbs, known for blending her Hispanic roots with country music. She’s been performing since she was a teenager, as she explains.

“I was about seventeen years old when I started really performing out; my mom would actually book me places, and then after a while she said that if I really wanted to do this then I have to learn how to book on my own. I remember being like a year into it and I would make this spreadsheet of all these places that had live music, and then I’d cold call but I was really shy at the time (laughs). From then on I eventually got into places and I’d make friends with people…it’s cool now because a lot of places are calling *me*.”

She shares her influences.

“Growing up, my grandma played a lot of old school Mexican music…music was big in our family so every Sunday my parents would blast the radio and we’d have get-togethers where we’d have menudo. When I was young there was an artist named Selena – who’s now gone – and there was something special about her. When I was little I’d sing, and my dad sat me in front of the TV and told me that if I wanted to pursue music then I should watch Selena over and over because she’s the person to learn from. I really soaked that in, so the Mexican music runs in my blood. Then my family moved out to Dousman and the country music was everywhere…Taylor Swift was big at the time, so I really fell in love with her style and songwriting.”

Last summer she dropped the tune “Out of the Blue.”

“That one is one my favorites because I wrote it with my friends Jessie and Chadley Brassfield. It was during 2020 and I was outside a lot, and I was looking up at the sky and eventually I came up with the idea for the chorus. I brought it to them and we wrote it outside…on the work tape I’ve got the birds in the background. It’s a cool song that happened in one writing session. It’s about that feeling of falling for somebody when you’re not expecting it.”

Then in November she dropped the tune “Better Me.”

“I wrote that one on my own, and that was a song that was difficult for me to put out because it felt like writing in my diary and sharing it with everyone. As a musician, it’s been like ten years I’ve been playing now, and when you’re first starting you don’t know much and there’s a lot of personalities that you run into. There’s also a lot of learning curves to go through, and I’ve had my fair share of people who have come in and out of my life whether it was both our faults, and I wrote that when I was going through a working relationship that went sour. I was thinking of all the things in my life that have gone wrong with music and taking ownership of what went down to become a better version of myself.”

She shares what she’s working on now.

“I just recorded two new songs that I’m releasing this year, and I have another song in the works that I’m trying to get recorded. Right now I’m just releasing singles but I do plan on releasing an EP and I’m still working on ideas for that. I was going to do that this year but I felt like I was rushing it so I’ll probably wait till next year.”

Alyssia Dominguez plays SoLu Estate Winery in Cascade on April 16th and Hot House Tavern in Menomonee Falls on May 21st.

Ben Mulwana plays soulful rock music that aligns uniqueness with familiarity. Originally from Uganda, he resides in Kenosha and plays with a full band; himself on guitar, Patrick Greer on bass, Rafael Escobedo on drums, and Justin Hall on keys. He’s known Greer and Hall since college and met Escobedo while playing a wedding he was in.

Mulwana’s influences range from gospel to indie pop, as he explains.

“I grew up in a Christian home so a lot of it comes from gospel music, and you can probably hear that in a lot of our songs. I grew up on a lot of Ron Kenoly, Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, but then people more recently like X Ambassadors and NEEDTOBREATHE are really big influences of mine…also The Wild Feathers and Desert Noises…a lot of high energy Southern rock.”

His last single “Lies of the Devil” was released in December 2019.

“The term ‘lies of the devil’ my friends and I came up with when we were younger, and it means a lie that is being told among a group that everybody knows is a lie – something that’s so plainly obvious that it’s in your face. I went through a bad breakup before I wrote that song and it was one of those where I was realizing that there was something underneath my nose the entire time and I should’ve known. I chose to ignore it and that’s what happens in a conversation when a lie is being told, and so that song starts with that initial feeling where you accept the truth and come to realize the anger that comes out. Then it talks about the revenge that you seek on and it gets a little dark towards the end. There’s a song that follows it called “Letters to You” which is about getting over it and wishing a person well. “Lies of the Devil” is one of those that’s hard to sing now because I’ve moved on, so every time that I sing it, I try to find something that’s bothering me that day and feed from that emotion in order to sing it in half of its truest form. Catch me on a bad day and that song will be rocking.”

He’s got a new single titled “Home” dropped on March 31st.

“It’s featuring one of my good friends Rebecca Rivera, who’s a very talented singer; she’s actually singing my mom’s voice in the song. It’s talking about feeling at home here and holding onto memories that make you feel like you’re in the place that you need to be, because a lot of us are transplants miles and miles away from home. It’s a reminder that it’s not about where you are; it’s the memories that are still intact. It’s the first song being released with these guys so I’m really excited to not only have them on the record but for my mom to hear it.”

He shares what else he’s got in store.

“The last song that we played tonight is called “The Outside” and it’s coming out on the first day of summer, and I’m really excited about it because it sounds really happy and you can dance to it but the lyrics are super dark. It’s talking about immigration, racism, abortion…a lot of those things. The song got its name from me being sent outside all the time because in school when you were being a brat, the teacher had two options; they were either going to beat your ass or send you outside, and I found myself in one of those two situations almost on a daily basis. Then I realized that all the people that I still talk to and am friends with are people that are “outside” with me. We’re thinking about these times where we felt like we’re on the outside of many things, whether its because of the color of our skin or whatever…it doesn’t matter because there’s only love out there, and if you find yourself “outside” with me then welcome to the club. So I try to bring that out with the playfulness of the song.”

Ben Mulwana plays Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre on April 9th, Art Bar for the Riverwest Spring Rummage Sale & Flea Market on June 4th, and Tosa Tonight with Tae on July 13th.

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