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Meet Jacob Jimenez of Velvateen in Artesia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jacob Jimenez.

Jacob, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was four years old when my father became a single parent. He was left to care for two children on his own in what some would call, an unforgiving city. There was no pity being handed out so he worked his soul to the bone to take care of us. With this, it left his constantly tired. I could never repay him for that but because of this, I was constantly left to my own devices. I was constantly in search of some sort of attention.

In my youth, I wanted to be in front of a camera. I would spend hours in front of a mirror distorting my face and making up personalities. I would do this because it felt better to be anybody but myself. I felt comfort in not having to be me for a short time.

I was pursuing these aspirations as a child with dreams reaching for the stars. In 8th grade I discovered poetry. This was yet another way for me to step out of myself and express how I felt. I would write in notebooks all day and bury my head in novels to gather more inspiration. I never thought of putting these words to anything at that time. I was just painting with my words in the same fashion that I saw Jim Morrison doing.

Fast forward to my high school years. I joined the theater class at my high school. I thought that this could a place where I can finally fit in. I was told these were outcasts and that they would take in fellow outcasts. I could not have been more wrong. These peers of mine were far more vicious than the outside world. At this point, I was an outcast amongst the outcast. I had nowhere to go. My dreams of acting were dwindling and I had nowhere to hide and I was starting to have to find a new way to step out of my own head.

Lightning struck my senior year of high school. I started dabbling with music here and there where I would try to put my words to different melodies. This all came to the forefront when I wanted to audition for a concert type deal at my school. I wanted a friend to play guitar for me as I sung my words. He decided an hour before the audition that he did not want to play and I was left crushed.

At this moment I decided that nobody could be trusted and if I wanted anything done, I would have to go out and do it myself. Another light bulb sparked shortly after that incident while I was listening to my dad’s box of CDs. I stumbled upon his Eric Clapton record, “Slowhand”. I tried with so many different types of music going from R&B to folk. It never struck me to put my words to the music I grew up with because of my father, Rock and Roll. I was floored by Clapton’s guitar playing and decided at that moment that I had to learn to play guitar and this would be my new way to express myself along with my words.

There was one roadblock for this though. I did not have a guitar nor did I have the money for a guitar. My dad was not going to buy me the guitar because I had a habit of giving up everything else he had paid for. This was the best thing he could have done for me because it made me determined to work hard and get what I wanted. I spent months tutoring and doing odd jobs for neighbors so I could save up enough money to get my guitar. The day came when I was outside working with my dad on his car. The brown UPS truck stopped in front of my driveway and the delivery man came and gave my guitar. I was so excited that my 17-year-old self ran upstairs like I was ten years old again. I opened the box and there it was.

In hindsight, it was an extremely cheap guitar. The strings were high off the neck so I had to push down really hard to play but I did not care, it was something that I could call mine. I slaved for hours at a time to learn to play this new piece of myself. The first song I ended up learning was “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton. After this, my school was having a senior event at the end of the year called “Candle Rose”. I had been playing for a little bit and decided to audition for it.

I had no expectations to be picked to play but then I saw that I was picked…I was mortified. I was scared because this event was a going away type rally for the senior class where they had a few performances and a slideshow presentation that would be shown in front of the whole senior class and their families. I remember sitting in the crowd waiting to go up and perform. My hands were sweaty and I was many different kinds of nervous. The biggest crowd I had performed in front of at that time was when I auditioned in front of the judges which was about four people. I had to go from playing in front of four people to playing in front of 400 people. So there I sat in the front row with.
Playing the words for the Lifehouse song “You and Me” over and over in my head so I would not forget them. Then I hear my name and all eyes turn to me. I wanted to do more than puke at this point. I wanted to pass out and possibly make a mess in my pants. Instead, I walked up onto the stage, plugged in my guitar and started playing. The crowd sang along with me and at the end, I turn my head and see one of the teachers crying. It was at this moment that I realized I wanted to play music and make people feel different from how they feel in their everyday lives.

Now I’m in college. I have been playing in bands here and there but I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. I would try to bring lyrics to the table and they would always shrug me off and just tell me to stick to guitar. This brought me down but I wanted to play so that’s what I did. This happened until I decided to start my own project. I left the band I was in and started out for a drummer.

In my head, If I had at least a drummer, I could start making this thing happen because there were bands out there that were huge and they only had two members like The White Stripes or The Black Keys. I played with multiple drummers trying to find one I meshed with until I saw an online ad of a drummer near my house who was looking to start a band. That is when I met Sky.

We jammed once and we both felt something there. So much so that he decided to leave his whole drum kit at my house after the first jam because he knew he wanted to come back and jam some more. This was the start of the first stage of Velvateen, “The Blinds”. After about a month, we played our first show at a BBQ joint in Moreno Valley. I was nervous and excited because this was my first performance with this group and I was going to be playing my own songs for the first time in front of an audience. We did not have a lot of people at this gig but I was happy none the less. Playing in a band and being able to present my own work was a feeling I had not yet reached.

All things must come to a gradual end though. After constant bickering and in-band fighting, I decided to part ways with Sky for the first time. After this, I decided to change the name of the band to Velvateen. This was mainly because there were so many bands with “the” in their names and I just wanted to have something different from all of them. So with a new drummer in hand, I fashioned a new name that I thought could resonate and be remembered. Eventually, Sky and I found our way back to each other in a musical sense but then again, we split. It was at this point that we decided we were both too much alike to be able to play together.

We are both some of the most stubborn people ever and we both want a certain vision to come to life but our visions never aligned. We are still best friends to this day and will occasionally jam together for fun but that’s about it. We both are far too passionate about our music and neither of us would ever sway in another direction.

This leads me to the present. I am currently working with Sam Santos on drums. He is a great drummer and together we bring about an aggressive in your face performance that the crowd will not soon forget. With my heavy guitar riffs and unique sound and his disciplined drumming style, we bring together our two worlds. He comes from an Orange County upbringing and I come from my Los Angeles upbringing. Two worlds and two different stories but the chaotic art that we bring to the stage is what one would get when two worlds collide.
We bring sounds from our different interests. My interest being that of Queens of The Stoneage, Alice In Chains, Metallica and The Doors to name a few and his musical interest like Blink 182 and drumming greats like Niel Peart and Buddy Rich. Now we are working on our debut album and working on one thing only…destroy everything and everybody that gets in our way. We know that we can make a permanent mark in the world of music and we won’t settle for anything less than greatness.

Has it been a smooth road?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. I am constantly dealing with rejection when it comes to my band. Be it from promoters or booking agents and whatnot. This is all numbers game and you have to know the right people to get anywhere. People will not give my band a chance unless we have the numbers to back us up as in crowd size, social media following or money. Our music is not a genre that fits into every other genre that is around the Southern California area.

For example, Ska and hardcore punk are really big in the underground backyard scene in LA county. We don’t fit in there just like how we don’t fit in with the indie or surf scene in the OC. We are either too heavy or not heavy enough for the scene in the area. So constant rejection is a huge struggle that we have to deal with. This would go hand in hand with another struggle. Promotion. Without being able to fit into one particular genre, many people don’t want to work with us because they don’t know how to promote us.

I am finding out that I have to work three times as hard as most others so that I can try to get in on any kind of scene or show. It is paying off though because our crowds are getting bigger slowly but surely and we can see that those who are following us are loyal and I appreciate those people so much.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
Well, Velvateen is a Hard Rock band. It is our job to present a show that the viewer will not forget and that they will be talking about for days at a time. We also have all of our merchandise done by local friends like our shirts and pins. We like to try to keep our business in the community as much as possible. I can say that I am proud of our performances the most though.

I am such a picky person in the studio and will never be happy with anything that I record but when it comes to a live performance, that is a moment that happens right there and then and then is gone. What sets us apart from other bands is that we are a two-piece. We don’t have four people on stage. It’s bare-bones with us. Even though we lack the numbers on stage, we are the heaviest band of the night usually. With me jumping around on stage and jumping off my amps to Sam going ballistic on his drums, we are definitely a band that will stand out compared to any other band we play with.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Well, I live in Artesia which is a small little city on the outskirts of Los Angeles near Long Beach and Compton. Unfortunately there is not much of a music scene out here.  We have tried to get a scene going and have backyard shows but it usually gets shut down relatively early. So that’s unfortunate. Along with that, I’d say one thing I don’t like about the inner city is the parking.  As a musician, it’s inconvenient to drive down, set up and play our hearts out and still have to pay $20 for parking every time we play. It gets expensive.

I do like going to the inner city just to enjoy the sights though. Taking the train to LA for 30 minutes and being able to walk around. I find that there is always something to do out there. Be it find a record store, go to a music venue or visit a museum. These things I really do appreciate about Los Angeles as a whole.


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Image Credit:

Taylor Lopez, Luna Ferreira, Frankie Jimenez, Sky Nickell, Michael Haight

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