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Meet Yasmeen (Zzay) Lopez of East Of The River

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yasmeen (Zzay) Lopez.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In the mornings as a kid, my mom would wake us up softly with 94.7 The Wave. It was probably the only thing she’d ever do in a soft manner. My parents were both very young, and struggling with 3 kids and money. But they both deeply loved music and all spectrums of it. My dad was a DJ as a teen and collected vinyl all throughout my life.

Although my mother never pursued music, everyone knew about her voice. Through my parents, I found a deep love for the pain and intensity found in oldies, the heaviness of jazz and soul, and of course, the flavor of hip-hop. I saw separation within the family at a very young age, During my parents’ divorce my 2 siblings and I endured a 3-year custody battle and it became really hard to deal with moving back and forth and in and out of homes.

I think during this time of constant uncertainty and anxiety of having to deal with 2 schools, shared holidays, SPLIT holidays, 2 birthdays, and a few shared unhealthy relationships my parents’ were involved in after their divorce, I found a comfort in writing down what was going on around me and how it was making me feel. I soaked in all of the chaos around me and escaped in music as cheesy as that may sound.

But even in things like elementary school and middle school–the teachers knew I could land solos, and they knew I wasn’t afraid to get up on stage and sing. And they knew I also wasn’t gonna fuck up lol. I sang in high school, college, and still found this shine.

This immense feeling of confidence onstage, knowing that no one in the choir could do it better. I still feel like that now sometimes. I became friends with Mescal (Viva Mescal) a couple years back at a show in Corona; I was tossed onstage to DJ as a last minute resort and he was headlining. This show had been rained on and about 7 people were in the crowd. But he was still one of the dopest acts I had ever seen. I was living in the inland empire at that time, but still found my ways around LA and SD for shows.

I opened up for Blu of Blu and Exile in Pasadena and that was a catalyst for about 200 following shows. In 2015, I did 200 shows in one year, and in 2016, I performed at over 100. I think because of this, EOTR was very welcoming when it came down to me being apart of the crew. With this union, I was able to finish my project Botany, which ultimately took about 4 years to completely conceptualize and direct. But by being apart of a motivating, competitive group, it forces me to be on my toes. It forces me to really go into my emotions when I’m writing and write what’s real. Because that’s what everyone in EOTR does–writes what’s real.

I am still writing the best of my music, and the best of my voice is still developing. I used to run away from pain and fear and not being certain of my next move. But now I embrace it, music allows me to embrace what I once feared. I hope that my music allows me to assist the black and brown communities.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s been FUCKING tough lol! I think about it like, damn man. Not a lot of people could handle it. The constant search for creativity, and finding a balance between doing it for money and doing it because it’s your outlet and doing it because you love it.

Money is a huge issue if you don’t already have it. I think it’s tough trying to fulfill a 9-5 paycheck and still be an artist at the same time. I did it for a while but it’ll never work out. If you love music and want it to thrive it’s like a baby, you have to supply it with love and food and attention and change it and all that. It needs your full attention. It gets in the way of relationship, with your significant other, your family, your friends.

They get tired of coming to shows, of you being in the studio, of having to deal with the same things. But I’m pushing for a breakthrough. And the real ones will be around when it happens.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about East Of The River – what should we know?
I am a member and curator of EOTR and I am the Engineer, DJ and host of Eotr Radio. I am the singer of our 11 headed machine. The group calls me the SZA of our TDE, and ill gladly take it!

I’m proud of us because EVERYONE keeps each other working and striving. We are setting a new face in the Latinx Music movement. We are changing the culture in a positive light. We are changing the voice of Xicano rap.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I feel that having an open mind is super dire. When you come into this industry with a closed mindset, your less comfortable with change and critiques. I also feel that confidence is super needed. I’ve seen way too many talented people hinder themselves because of their inability to break out of their shell.

Contact Info:

  • Website: Radioespacio.org
  • Email: zzay92323@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @zzay92
  • Twitter: @YeahYeahYazzzzz

Image Credit:
Yesica Magana (Red Heart Media), Daisy Noemi (LA Zine Fest)

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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