RECORDING ARTIST RELEASES HIS MOST CONCEPTUAL ALBUM TO DATE
Featured artice image courtesy of m.k.visuals & Aimless Focus
INDIE ARTIST JV RELEASES ALBUM ABOUT LOVE, ACCEPTANCE AND HARDSHIPS WITH MIXTURE OF EXOTIC AND HYPNOTIC TONES
NIE: Thank you for taking your time and having this interview with us. Congratulations on your recent album entitled “Endeavor’. What can you tell us about your brand new album?
Jared Vasquez: Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity! This album, Endeavor, is a little bit lighter than my previous album, Slow Burn. I started writing for Endeavor in the summer of 2018 and it was a completely different album at the time. I wanted to do more of a concept album like Janet Jackson packed with interludes and connecting storylines throughout but honestly, it wasn’t the right time to do that. I knew that I wanted to have a little more fun on this album while still staying true to myself as an artist. So you get your heavy moments but also your lighter moments, just like life.
NIE: What made you decide to call the album ‘Endeavor’?
Jared Vasquez: I decided to call it that because to me, the journeys in life are never ending. They always teach you something about yourself whether it’d be good or bad. So you get a sense of that when listening to the album, especially when it switches from “Head”, into “Sneakin’”. One minute you’re in your head full of anxiety and self esteem issues and the next, you say to yourself “I’m that b***h and I deserve to be happy”. It’s an endless roller coaster of emotion and we just have to take it for what it is.
NIE: What does this album mean to you and how has this experience help shape you for developing more music in the future?
Jared Vasquez: For me, personally, this album means growth. I’ve recorded a lot of music and this project is one that I will always go back to and say, “I was honest and it shows”. I have a lot of self esteem issues that stem from bullying I endured back in middle/high school but one thing that has always allowed me to be confident within myself is my music. Also, after dancing with my dance team, QWAM, I have gained a whole new level of confidence and I think it reflects well on this album. My song, “Sneakin’”, is actually dedicated to QWAM and is kind of like a “thank you” to them for how much they have impacted my life in the best way possible. I will take the time I’ve had them everywhere I go and because of that, it will most definitely reflect in any future music I make.
“Everything will happen when its suppose to, not because you want it to.”
- Jared Vasquez
NIE: You write all your songs, which is an amazing and respectful fate for any singer. What can you tell us about the reasoning’s and challenges of putting such raw and personal topics into lyrics and how they transpire musically?
Jared Vasquez: I don’t think I would have been able to get over any issues in my life if I hadn’t written a song about it. I suck at communication and when having discussions, I tend to get really anxious and fumble over all my words since my mind is running at a mile a minute. So what I like to do is write down all my feelings which helps me get points across and also any negative energy I may have. In turn, these feelings become songs. I think one of the biggest challenges having these feelings become a song is having people hear them, not so much recording them. And I don’t mean what I think people will think of the songs but more so... I’m putting my heart out there and being extremely vulnerable and people are going to hear this. One song on the album, “Head”, is full of my internal demons that make me think I’m not good enough and all the things I think about when I’m feeling unconfident. For me, it was important to write this song because at the time, I felt like what I was doing in every aspect of my life wasn’t good enough and I know it won’t be the last time I feel that way so whenever I am feeling that way again, I can go back and listen to that song and remind myself, “you’ve been here before and you’ll be okay”.
NIE: What was your favorite part of recording this album, and why? What have you learned specifically from this album compared to your previous work that will help you in your profession?
Jared Vasquez: The process of making an album isn’t easy and yet, has always been one of my favorite things. This time around, my favorite thing was working with my vocal engineer, Jason Petrin. He recorded every song except one and he was literally my saving grace. I have recorded music with a few people and unfortunately, things didn’t work out. When I found Jason, I recorded one of my interludes with him as like a test and when that worked, it was magic. We recorded the album in 5 months which is unheard of for me. He was always there when he said he would be, made the recording process as comfortable as possible, gave me ideas and never made me feel like my ideas weren’t good enough. It’s really important to work with someone you get along with and he really made this process as smooth as it could have gone.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from this album is to not be afraid to take chances. It sounds small but with me being me, I love being in a set routine and not really straying from that. I think I took some chances lyric wise and also sound wise that I probably wouldn’t have done in the past. And because I took those chances, I am really happy with the outcome.
NIE: Where did the desire to be a singer stem from?
Jared Vasquez: I’ve been a dancer since I saw Britney Spears come out from behind that locker at the 1999 VMAs. I would sing here and there, like in the car and at home, but I never really started doing anything with it until I was 11. I had this notebook and I would write songs without any beats to go with them. It was another gateway for me since I was dancing so many years at the point. Come 14, I was finding beats online and was writing all the time. I didn’t record anything until I was 16 and from there, I was recording all these songs I’ve had in the vault for a couple years now and learned a lot about my voice. Even though Endeavor is my 4th official release, I have 10 projects with over 100 songs recorded. Everything before my debut, All You Never Say, was a learning experience and I’m so grateful I have had the opportunity to record all those songs.
NIE: What process and techniques do you use to get to before recording the album? And what songs have been the most challenging for you, and why?
Jared Vasquez: I don’t do anything crazy before recording, to be honest. The only thing I do is make sure the water I’m drinking is room temperature since it’s easier on the vocal cords. I also like to memorize as many lyrics as I can before going in to record. I like to close my eyes when recording so if I have to keep my eyes open and read lyric after lyric, I tend to get distracted and not give my best.
There were a couple challenging songs on the album to record. Vocally, I would have to say “First Time” and “1 On 1”. When recording “First Time” I had a sore throat that day so I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to give my all but thankfully it all worked out in the end. Lyrically, I would say “After Hours” was my most challenging. It was the last song I added to the album, which I wasn’t going to put on the album in the first place, but like I stated before, life is a journey and every experience, good or bad, will help shape you into becoming something amazing. So I didn’t enjoy having to relive all the negative feelings that came with “After Hours” by recording it. And not only did I record once, but I re-recorded a lot of that song since I was sick when I recorded it the first time. So, I love that song don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I’ll be performing it anytime soon, haha.
NIE: What obstacles did you face with this album and what do you do to overcome and achieve your goals?
Jared Vasquez: Going back to when I mentioned Jason, the biggest obstacle for me was not having anyone to record me for months. I was frustrated for a long time and had all these songs I wanted to record but no one to do it. It was a blessing in disguise because with all that downtime, I got rid of a lot songs that weren’t connecting to me personally and added ones that did, which is now Endeavor. Once I found Jason, we would record 2 songs a month and book our sessions months in advance so he knew I was serious about getting this album done and with that, he reassured me that I had finally found someone professional enough to work with.
NIE: What do you personally take out of a song verse an album and what impact does it have on you that you want to convey to your listeners?
Jared Vasquez: An album is full of different emotions while a song singles in on that specific emotion. So for me, when making a song, I like to think of that specific emotion I want to convey and how my words can make that emotion come across. When making the album, I always come up with the title first and then feed off that title.
With Endeavor, there’s so many ways you can go with that. The three biggest things I chose were love, acceptance and hardships. So what I want people to walk away with after listening to this album is to not be afraid of what comes with life and living your life. These songs have helped me be more self assured and confident so if I can make someone else feel that way, I’ve done my job.
“You’re there for a reason. Don’t forget that.”
- Jared Vasquez
NIE: How do you prepare yourself before a performance? And how do you overcome your nerves? What helps you perform to the best of your ability?
Jared Vasquez: I tend to get really quiet before going on stage... and I know all my teammates on QWAM that are reading this right now are rolling their eyes since I’m the loudest on the team lmao. But it’s true! I tend to shut down before going on stage since the nerves are always there. But it’s good nerves. I’ve never been stage fright thankfully but my nerves are a reminder that I still love what I do. Before a performance, I like to breathe a lot and relax my mind as much as I can. Drink enough water so my vocal cords feel good and go over anything I need to do like a routine or lyrics. Going back to the nerves, they tend to go away if I see familiar faces out in the audience supporting me which in turns helps me perform at the best of my ability. Also with all the shows I’ve done in my career, I learn from each one and try not to repeat the same mistake twice.
NIE: What would you say is the biggest asset for any performer in the industry to achieve?
Jared Vasquez: I think internal success. A lot of times, people think success means having a lot money, selling out shows and selling a bunch of records. For me, I feel so successful because of how many albums I’ve released independently and all the opportunities I’ve gotten to share my music and my passion. I don’t make money off the albums I make or much of the performances I do so if I’m happy with doing what I do just for the sake of expressing my passion, that’s my internal success.
NIE: You also are a talented and trained dancer. Which field did you start in first? And how does your dancing career coincide with your music profession?
Jared Vasquez: I started dancing when I was 2 years old but didn’t start becoming a trained dancer until I was 11. I started off in hip-hop, which is what I currently do now, which in turn led to ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern, and a lot of Spanish folkloric dancing. I did a lot of salsa, merengue, bomba/plena, and flamenco as a teenager which I’m so thankful for since it really helped me connect with my Spanish heritage. After that, I went to college to peruse dance as a major, which ultimately didn’t last that long. However, the experience I got from moving away at 18 to another state still follows me to this day.
My dance career is something extremely important to me and something I hope to continue to do until my body can’t handle it anymore. So whenever I perform, you’ll always see me with a few dancers busting out a 5, 6, 7, 8. I am inspired by performers like Tinashe, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, [and] Janet Jackson that really take their performances to a whole other level. So dance will always be apart of my performances since it’s a part of who I am.
NIE: What are some of your secret tips that help you in this industry to keep grounded and focused?
Jared Vasquez: This is a very competitive industry. I haven’t even see half of it yet so I’m obviously nervous to reach that level. But I have an awesome support system behind me, family and friends. One of my friends, Peter, has seen the industry first hand. He was on MTV’s Americas Best Dance Crew and toured with Cirque Du Soleil but he’s the most humble person I know. Being around him the last two years has definitely level headed me and he always reminds me to stay humble, come correct and remain focused. I also think having the close friends I’ve had for years now helps me stay grounded since they’ve seen my journey from a super unconfident teen to a hard working adult.
NIE: Who inspires you to be better than you were yesterday?
Jared Vasquez: Personally, my parents are my biggest inspirations. They’re work ethic is insane and what they’ve sacrificed for me to fulfill my passions is something that I’ll never be able to repay them for. I just want to give back to them as much as I can and make them proud.
Musically, Rihanna is my biggest inspiration. I have been a fan of hers since Music of the Sun and have followed her career all these years. The way she would reinvent herself in between albums and make album after album consecutively was mind boggling to me. She introduced me to dubstep from her Rated R album and when that happened, I turned into a full time stan. Another inspiration for me is Tinashe. She was unsigned for a long time and not only wrote all her songs but also set up a home studio and recorded all of those songs by herself. Her performance level is off the chart and I really hope she gains more recognition because she truly deserves it.
NIE: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue a career in the field?
Jared Vasquez: Don’t ever feel like you’re not good enough. I battle with this a lot but it’s something that so important. If you’re confident within yourself, you don’t need to search it from anyone else. Your passion is YOUR passion and never let anyone tell you otherwise. You will also hear a lot of “no’s” before you get a “yes”. Don’t get discouraged and give up. Just work twice as hard.
NIE: What are the most impactful words of wisdom someone told you and who was it?
Jared Vasquez: This is so minute but one that really stuck to me. When I was in college, I was really discouraged during an audition because I felt like I wasn’t being respected as a dancer and felt like I wasn’t good enough. So I left crying and called my mom and the one thing she said to me was, “You’re there for a reason. Don’t forget that.” Very small but it’s something I think about a lot, especially when I get discouraged. It just reminds me that I have accomplished a lot so far and will hopefully continue to do so.
NIE: What are three things you would say to your younger self that you know now?
Jared Vasquez: Damn only 3? Haha so much but the first thing I’d say is BE PATIENT. Everything will happen when its suppose to, not because you want it to. Secondly, don’t be so naive. Keep your mind open but protect your heart. Thirdly, be more grateful. I think when I was younger, I performed a lot and some of those shows were amazing opportunities that I was too young to understand at the time.
NIE: We are so excited for you to drop your new album, however, do you have any exciting upcoming projects in different stages of production. What’s next for you?
Jared Vasquez: I’m so excited for everyone to hear the album. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to make and feel so confident about. After this comes out, I’ll be moving to New Hampshire for the summer. I signed a contract with SimonWill Entertainment to be a dancer/singer for their Taylor Swift Tribute and Twisted Circus show at Canobie Lake Park. I have wanted to do something like this for so long and I can’t wait to see how this journey treats me. As far as my music goes, I already have an idea of what I want my next project to be. I have a title and concept so I’m really excited to see what happens with that.
NIE: Thank you for this interview, Jared, but before we conclude, is there anyone you would like to thank?
Jared Vasquez: First, I want to thank my dance team QWAM for the amazing opportunities they gave me like performing at Boston Pride two years in a row to a crowd of thousands. Sharing my original music with a crowd like that was insane and something I’ll never forget. I’d also like to thank everyone who gave me their feedback on any songs I shared with them. Just to know that they were excited and eager to listen to the project meant so much to me. I hope they enjoy this part of my life and it inspires them to live their best life!!