jACQ Steps Back Into the Spotlight With Her Debut EP “Cosmic Affair”

Photo: Javier Ruiz

Photo: Javier Ruiz

The Dallas-based pop/electronica singer jACQ has been singing since a very young age, performing the national anthem at age seven in the 1991 World Series. Since that time, jACQ has been one of the hardest working artists and songwriters known for catchy collaborative singles and EDM/dance tracks. Ready to break free as a solo artist, jACQ just dropped her 4 song EP titled Cosmic Affair showcasing her versatility and ability to make any song she touches a hit. jACQ will perform her debut EP at her release party tonight (June 30th) at Cinderblock. We caught up with jACQ earlier this week to talk about everything in her career that lead up to this point and her eagerness to debut her EP for a live audience.

You’ve been singing since a really young age, at what point did you knew this is what you wanted to do for your career? 

Ever since I could remember, because I was so young doing it. I just always thought I was supposed to be a singer. But I also wanted to be a hairdresser and an astronaut and just random other professions. Probably around high school I just knew, singing was just my everything. I took a break to see what else I liked — I learned guitar, got into songwriting. If it’s not performing on stage it’s definitely songwriting because I had a knack for notes and melodies and putting them together.

Towards the end of high school I was doing more writing. I was in poetry, so started writing full songs around 17 and 18. I was in Sade cover band and a classic rock cover band. And all my bandmates were way older than me and my parents would come out and support me. We’d play at beer gardens, and this hotel in El Paso called Camino Real — a really historic old hotel. Performing live was fun for me because I got to do that at a young age and as I grew older, it’s fun to finally come back to it — I’m anxious for it.

Who were some of your early-on music influences?

So I’m Mexican, and I have a lot of influences on that side as well. My parents spoke to me in English and Spanish and showed me music from both. Okay, let me tell you — there’s tons... Linda Ronstadt, Debbie Gibson, Billy Joel, Juan Gabriel - he’s the most famous songwriter in the whole world really. In Mexico, he’s like the Godfather of songwriting, I think he’s written more songs than The Beatles. Bonnie Raitt - she’s very bluesy country. Whitney Houston, of course. Mariah Carey - Music Box, that was my favorite. Of course, all the classic rock bands, but I didn’t start falling in love with those until later on. When you start performing with live musicians and bands, you want to know more about where this sound comes from. And that’s when I got into Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, of course then fell in love with harmonies and production. Once I got signed to Sony I went to Miami to work and that’s when I got super interested in production. I saw all the artists going in and track all the instruments separately — and that was when I realized what I want to do. That’s what I plan to work towards, to produce more.

How did you get into electronic music?

I was always exposed to it growing up, like De La Soul and those different types of mainstream dance music. But honestly, once I came here to Dallas and started working retail-life, I would hear it all the time and when I would travel I would hear it too — and I just came to love that stuff so much. And I would listen to the hooks, and I’d be like, “Oh that’s cool! But if it were me, I would change this or I would sing it like this.” When I was working at this Indie label in Spanish, I would tell them, “Oh, I could do this” and they’d be like, “Nah, you should stick to Spanish, the English market is way too competitive.” But I really see myself trying to do it anyway. I just left that whole camp and decided to just do me. You know, you enter different phases in life and I felt like I was in a long relationship for a while and I wasn’t giving it my all — and at that time I was doing stuff out in Miami. But I felt like if I wasn’t in this I would be more successful and happy. And after that I made a huge change for myself, I worked ten times harder, and everything just started happening. I’m such a believer in the right time and the right place. And if you work hard, the stars will align for you.  

You’ve mentioned that this EP is about personal growth, how do you feel that you’ve grown as an artist? 

I think that I’ve grown just because I’m trying new and different things, and I’m singing in ways that I want to and not for others. I make sure that I’m not copying other artists. I mean, I’m me so I have a different vocal tone. I can do soul, but I can do pop as well. And it’s fun and it’s challenging. I’m always pushing myself. You have all these songs on the radio that are down-tempo and alike or fast dip-low remixes, it’s like okay that’s great, but I just heard a song like that - the same exact progression with a different hook. So “Back to Life” is more about the music. You’re going to hear more melodic and vocal riffs, but the chorus is the star of it, and nothing else shines in it but the chorus and the music that hugs it. I want to make unconventional but conventional music. So maybe the format isn’t exactly that of a pop song but it kind of meets it halfway.

Photo: Javier Ruiz

Photo: Javier Ruiz

So your EP is called Cosmic Affair, can you tell us the meaning behind that title?

So I think it’s just the feeling of the whole album. It’s the feeling of euphoria and falling in love with the music. To me, when you listen to the band collectively with the sounds and harmony, it provides a feeling of love and cosmic energy, like you’re out doing something wonderful or at a music festival. Just that feeling and I think that’s going to project well at the EP release.

Tell me about the “No Cliques. All Genres”.

Yeah it’s basically what it sounds like. No cliques. I think it’s true in the music industry, everyone likes to clique up, and that’s cool, you’re going to make magic and hits with that group and that’s great, but why do you have to stop there? You can go ahead and camp up with other groups too. I’ve worked with hip-hop, pop and indie artists. I think if you’re really serious about being a songwriter or producer it’s very important to open up your box and work with everybody. You may have a sweet spot, but you can grow from there. But that’s my thing, I like to dabble in everything. And all genres means everything from people, to color to music. It’s meant to be very inclusive. I have big plans and dreams, but nothing set in concrete. I am working on my label later on this year and all through next year, putting singles out in every genre. But the thing they’ll all have in common is that it’s all very well-produced music. 

What are your plans moving forward after the EP? 

I definitely want to get out and tour with what I have. But we’ll see if people like it — from what I’ve heard, our live shows are there. I’d like to include more visuals. But of course, I’d love to do that. I’m a big believer in just letting things flow and if it’s supposed to happen naturally then it will. But I will be working on dropping more singles and more albums, of course. But my goal this year is to write more — just write tons of music. I think there’s a lot of artists I want to work with in Dallas as well. I just hear them and I think I would write this for you, so I’ve got stuff cooking.

jACQ's EP Cosmic Affair is out now, check out the Spotify link above to listen to it and be sure to check her performance out tonight at Cinderblock.  RSVP to the release party here.