About to embark on tour for the first time and with a new single “What's Your Secret” that just hit 100k plays on Spotify, Jasper Bones is an up-and-coming Latinx artist. The 19-year-old LA local plays self-described Chicano wavy-soul. I had the opportunity to talk with Jasper before he opened for Sad Girl’s In-N-Out themed show on February 3rd at the Glasshouse Pomona.
Where did the name Jasper Bones come from?
Basically, jasper is this rock, but it’s made up of different layers of brown, like other little brown rocks. I’m part Mexican and Guatemalan so I consider that different types of browns. I really gravitated towards that name. And then bones just because I’m slender. I’m a really bony person so that’s just where I combined the two.
When did you first start playing music?
I started taking my first guitar lessons when I was 9. My guitar teacher was cool and all but he was into a different type of music than me. He was into darker metal so that’s the stuff he’d have me learn and I realized like this isn’t what I want to do. He pretty much taught me how a guitar works and how everything functions but after that I stopped taking lessons then it was on & off. I started teaching myself and I’d just google everything.
Growing up what music were you surrounded by? Does it influence your sound?
I think the biggest influence on my voice is probably Amy Winehouse because lyrically she’s always been really raw. She just did a good job of capturing that rawness, not only the sound but the lyrics and her whole personality behind it. My parents really loved Amy Winehouse and then a bunch of oldies like Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Brenton Wood.
How would you describe your sound?
I call it Chicano wavy-soul, because instrumentally there’s some key board sounds that I put in it that are kind of wavy-ish like 80s keyboard pad sounds. But vocally I tend to lean towards more soul. Growing up I always listened to oldies like my dad was really into low rider culture. So I grew up listening to a lot of oldies and I love the sound of their voices so I try to emulate that and then mix that with the whole Spanish aspect of it, like embracing my culture, trying to bundle it into lyrics and stuff.
What is your songwriting process?
It changes. Sometimes I’ll be driving and I’ll think of a melody I want to sing & I’ll try to remember that or sometimes I’ll be playing with chords. But I think for the most part usually I’ll just sit down in my room with my guitar and keep messing with different chords until there’s one that sticks out more than the other ones and that’s when I’ll start writing my melodies around that. Usually it’s the instrumental first then I’ll start attaching melodies to that. It’s also usually guitar, that’s one thing that I start on.
You played Solidarity for Sanctuary* nights in the past, what importance did it have for you?
The main one for me was the DACA one because I remember I even went to the protest that was in Downtown [LA]. It was really cool seeing so many – obviously, it’s predominantly brown people – but yeah people coming together like it’s one big family. I feel like it’s one thing that’s big in Latino culture, the whole family aspect. So the fact that we were able to channel that into trying to make a change, that’s really powerful. That definitely hit me. It was different for me seeing how people can come together like that because I hadn’t really seen it that much. It was a big thing for me.
Does being Latinx influence you as an artist? In what ways?
Yeah it goes back to what I was saying about how growing up there wasn’t a lot of people that I gravitated towards like they were either strictly Spanish or it was just not in modern U.S. music. So that’s definitely one of the biggest things driving me right now. I want to be able to blend that into this indie world and to make it my own. Because honestly, I didn’t find myself listening to a lot of Spanish music growing up because of the same reason. I wasn’t really into the classical or reggaeton. I mean it’s fun to listen to like at an event but I wouldn’t find myself listening to it in my room. I realized I would listen to more Spanish music if it was in more of an indie style so that is where I want to figure out how to blend that into my own style. Pretty much make it into something that I enjoy listening to. Definitely the whole grasping of my culture and trying to pack it into this sort of new, modern era is one of the big things.
I noticed going to shows in LA it was mostly like white dudes in a band but then you would look at the crowd and it’d be mostly Latinx kids so that’s why I think it’s cool that there’s a new rise of Latinx artists.
Yeah me too, because I used to play in a couple different bands so a lot of the shows I noticed a dominant scene in LA is punk, which I respect but I couldn’t really get into it that much and of course it wasn’t as diverse as I would’ve hoped so it’s nice trying to branch out. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself trying to represent a whole culture, because that’s not what I want to do either, but at least from what I can embrace in my own culture and pack that into my own music. That’s what my goal is.
Who are some of your favorite Latinx artists?
Well right now it’s cool seeing a lot on the rise. I’d say the one that’s dominating I think is probably Kali [Uchis], at least with the local scene. She’s really like one of the spearheads of it. Then knowing people like Cuco. It’s cool being able to support the local ones and not only support them but the fact that they’re actually making a change too. It’s great being a part of that movement, we’re all trying to support each other so we have that representation. Because that’s what kind of lacked growing up for me personally. There wasn’t a lot that I could really name that are in modern times. It’s either classic Spanish legends but I feel like you don’t really see them crossing over into different genres or at least they do but they get suppressed sometimes.
What have you been listening to recently?
My favorite song right now is Kali Uchis’ new song “After the Storm.” I’ve actually been listening to a lot of disco, like Earth Wind & Fire. I always listen to disco on the way to a show or something. And I’ve been listening to this band Hiatus Kaiyote, because they’re so jazz based and that’s what I write my music around too. And the singer’s voice is crazy, I’m jealous.
If you could play anywhere in the world where would it be?
The dream is if I could travel and play music, what I love to do, that would be living the dream. That’s why I’m so excited for this tour because I’ve never been to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona so just the fact that I could reach these new cities and get a feel for how life works for other people – that’s so crazy to me. But as far as playing, if I could go to Europe one day that’d be crazy because that’s like a whole other world. Outer space too, if I could play on the moon that’d be tight.
What’s next for Jasper Bones? I know you mentioned the tour with Cuco and August Eve.
That’s probably the next biggest thing as far as shows go. I’m working on an EP right now. I haven’t set a date for it, I’m just feeling it out. I’m still in the studio working and I definitely have some ideas I’ve been letting unwrap. And then the tour, that’s going to be a whole month. I don’t even know how to pack for a whole month.
*Solidarity for Sanctuary events were started by Doris Munoz, founder of Mija Mgmt, to raise money to help undocumented families with legal fees in addition to those with DACA renewals.
Catch Jasper on tour with Cuco and August Eve!
Miranda Leibig, DJ
La Única Musica, Friday’s 7-8 a.m.