For Dominic Grijalva, heartache and grief become a song to dance his troubles away

When we bid adieu in Fresno a couple of years ago to Dominic Grijalva, a mainstay of the local theater scene, we knew he was going to do big things in New York City. I was expecting it would have something to do with graphic design (one of his great talents) or theater. However, Grijalva is making waves in yet another creative endeavor: indie singer-songwriter.

Pictured above: Dominic Grijalva will make a music video to accompany his new single. Photo: Michael Hull

His new single, “This Feeling,” drops on June 25. Grijalva’s news release is headlined: “Queer, Latine singer-songwriter, debuts new heart-reaching bop just in time for Pride.” He says the song is meant to “send you from being in your feelings to the club floor. We want you to dance off those pandemic woes or past relationships from the year in quarantine that you no longer have to let have control of your life.”

Here’s my catch-up interview with him:

Q: Can you tell us about your new single? Was writing this song inspired by personal events in your own life?

A: “This Feeling” tells a story of intense internal struggle riddled with heartbreak, tinted with denial and anguish. The events described are personal, and the details are inspired by multiple experiences over the last few years to tell one narrative whole. I’ve had some less than great events take place in my love life. Writing this song forced me to confront some trauma, which oddly enough created a healing experience.


Though the lyrics are rooted in grief, rhythmically it’s got a great groove and energy — it really drives and builds. This is something you can move to. During this process I’ve learned that It’s difficult to create a song that is so somber lyrically but grooves well. I think we’ve really nailed it.

Q: How did you fund the music video for the single?

A: I’m happy to say that we are fully funded on Kickstarter! I can’t believe it only took two weeks. The page is still up and will be up for additional contributions through July 2. We are hoping to access better materials and offer more pay to my production team with the additional funds.

As for the video, it’s a pretty simple idea: an apartment, a space, being haunted by memories of a failed relationship. When we lose somebody that we love, whether in a breakup, death, or otherwise, it is natural to feel the weight of their missing presence everywhere. In this instance, I am being haunted by the memories of a former lover, surrounded by walls now tainted with betrayal and broken promises. We plan to incorporate neon lighting and video projections all around the space to illustrate this, as well as choreography. I will be dancing!

Dominic Grijalva in the recording studio for his new single, “This Feeling.” Photo: Robin Lai

Q: Lots of people know you as an actor and graphic designer. How did recording artist get added to that list? What’s life like for you in New York these days?

A: I know, right? I just keep adding hyphenates.

I have always loved to sing. It was my first love, before theater, before design, before anything else. I’ve always wanted to sing my own music and express myself through performance. Theater proved to be a great outlet for that, and over the years I have been met with a lot of opportunities. I’m very grateful for that and have no intention of stopping, but I want to do this new thing for a while now, too.

The song was produced by a new label, Indie Chameleon Inc, which is based in NYC and Seattle. I’ve been with the label as a designer since its inception. When they learned I could sing, they asked, “Have you ever thought about writing your own songs?”, and, here we are!

I wrote the song with Taryn Sweeney, who is also with the label as a producer, songwriter, and artist. It was a great experience working with her and the team at Indie. They’ve truly been so helpful and great in this endeavor. I couldn’t have done it without Taryn, Ry Armstrong, and Robin Lai.

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Q: Are you still staying involved with the Selma Arts Center?

A: Absolutely! I still design pretty much all of their promotional materials, and though I’m not as involved with the marketing and staging of the shows, I still hold that place so very close to my heart and check in all the time. If I’m in town, you can bet I’m helping out at SAC in some way. Who knows, you might see me back there soon.

Q: Your dog is adorable. I love when she wanders in to give you a kiss during your Kickstarter video. Introduce us, please.

A: Haha! That’s Nala, my Shiba Inu. I adopted her right before everything went down last year. She is my little pride and joy, and she is very spoiled. Nala is pretty much the boss.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say?

A: This is a very exciting time for me. I have been in New York for a few years now and this whole time I’ve been working toward some goal, though I haven’t really been sure of what it is. I’ve put all of my talents on display and there have been some great opportunities (especially recently). I feel like they are all coming to a head with this and I’m looking forward to see where it all goes.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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