SPOTLIGHT ON: Ariel Piazza

English creative writing major junior Ariel Piazza—also known as “Gypsy Freight”—is a free-spirited performer who creates songs and meaningful music as an emotional outlet. Playing the guitar, ukulele and piano, Piazza uses music to alleviate stress and bring together those around her. Music has always been an important part of Piazza’s life. She explained that her parents constantly had music playing around her house, which was a significant influence on her early love of music.

Piazza started playing instruments at an early age, teaching herself the piano and how to read music. For her, music seemed to be a calling. “I didn’t really have anything that I was particularly good at … growing up,” she said. “But then once I got my hands on a piano one day … I definitely felt connected to that and wanted to continue teaching myself from there and learning about that part of myself.”

Piazza began writing songs in high school, but she didn’t feel comfortable sharing them with others. She noted that her early music was very personal and she used it “like a stress reliever, like an emotion release.”

Although she started cultivating her musical skills early in her life, Piazza really delved into the music world in August 2014. She explained that she now wants to share her music in public with others. “I really want people to hear [my music] and understand it and listen to it … I really enjoy sharing it,” she said.

Piazza discussed the fact that her main sources of inspiration are Daughter lead singer Elena Timerand and Irish singer Enya. She added that she likes to imitate both of their sounds and styles. Piazza strives to keep her own music as “a hybrid of ambient and acoustic stuff together.”

She noted that her inspirations to write, however, are more intimate. “[My inspirations to write are] life experiences or memories that I want to particularly hold onto,” she said. “I try to write music … with a person or an experience as a focus and the sound develops around that.”

Piazza is currently signed with record company Bangkok Blend, a “do-it-yourself” label based out of Maryland and Rochester. She explained that label employees came up from Maryland and met her in Rochester for her first show.

Piazza said that what she most enjoys about performing are her interactions with people during her performances. “There’s this calm intimacy there. I really enjoy that,” she said. “And it opens up a lot of things for conversation after performing and stuff, which is also really important to me too.”

Although she wishes to pursue her love for music after college, Piazza noted that she has other plans on the horizon. With her major in creative writing, she hopes to go into editing and publishing—though she admits that her music might lead her elsewhere. “We’ll see where the wind takes me,” she said.

Although she has received some backlash regarding her stage name “Gypsy Freight,” her reasoning behind choosing the name bears no negative connation toward Romani individuals. Piazza explained that she did some research on the Romani people and her personal cultural background and ancestry. “I always thought it was really endearing to call somebody … a free spirit,” she said. “I really felt connected with that.”

“Freight,” on the other hand, alludes to the sense of alleviation she feels from her music. Piazza acknowledged that some people may take offense to the name, but stressed that there is no malice behind it.

“It’s part of my culture. I understand the negative connotations of gypsies and freight and those two words together and stuff like that, but if you listen to the kind of music I make, this is not a slander account at all,” she said. “It’s quite the opposite—if anything, I’m trying to honor that ancestry and that group of people.”

With the help of her music, Piazza can continue to entrance and connect with audiences as they bond over their shared love of music.