For more nostalgic, mysterious portraits, follow @thomgregory on Instagram.
(This interview was conducted in Spanish.)
José Juan Hernández Loza (@thomgregory), has a constant whirlwind of ideas running through his head. The 23-year-old farmer, who lives in San Julián, Jalisco, in western Mexico, writes them all in a notepad before going to bed or talks about them when he is having dinner with his family (he has 10 siblings).
Much of his imagination is focused on people. “I have a passion for portraits because I want to capture that moment when you can show how beautiful a person is,” says José Juan, who often uses fruit or other objects as a veil in front of his portraits. “I really like to cover the faces because I love the mystery. I like when people see my photos and wonder what’s the meaning behind them.”
José Juan hopes that through his images people will see that in photographs, as in life, there are no limits. “When you do what you like, you are happy. All your dreams can come true if you work for them.”
Love, Yoga and Singing Lead with Songwriter Raquel Sofia
To see more of Raquel Sofia’s videos and photos, check out @raquelsofia on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.
And now, a short, musical fairytale…
A guitar-wielding, jazz-obsessed Puerto Rican teenager attends an acclaimed music college in the United States, becomes a backup singer for Shakira and Juanes, then steps out of the shadows to release her own songs and debut album, gaining a small but devoted group of fans in the process. This is the story of Raquel Sofia (@raquelsofia), a Miami-based singer-songwriter with a love of music and yoga. Experience and success aside though, she is still finding the whole emerging rock star thing a bit surreal.
“I hate using the word fans because I still can’t believe it,” she says. “That’s the craziest part, when you hear people singing your songs. The other day, a producer from Mexico sent me a text: ‘I am working on this new artist’s album and I asked her what her reference album is, and she said, Raquel Sofia’s album, she’s my favorite artist.’ Like, hearing stuff like that, I can’t believe it. I just love that people are connecting.”
Finding that personal connection is imperative for a new artist, particularly when their first album deals with a topic as complicated and toxic as love — and Raquel’s record, Te Quiero los Domingos (I Love You on Sundays) explores it in spades, from the happy and cheesy puppy-dog love, to the love filled with anger and pain.
“It’s a super bipolar album,” she says. “I just think we talk about the same thing a lot, and love is so complicated with so many dimensions and so many different colors. I just want to talk about the different sides of it.”
On Te Quiero, those sides are punctuated with a mix of rock and jazz harmonies and reverbed drums. But the record’s personal nature has also inspired Raquel to spend time performing stripped down portions of tracks around town with her guitar. Laid bare, they feel even more intimate.
“I did little snippets of songs because, to me, it’s super important for people to realize I am a songwriter,” she says. “I wrote these songs, they are about my life, I can play them. They are super personal. So I wanted to do those snippets while walking on the streets.”
To build a following you have to get personal. And though Raquel has a fan base now, she knows there’s still more room to grow, more places to see and more fans to reach. But she’s ready for it. Even when she was singing backup for Shakira, she was preparing for a moment like this.
“In my head I never stopped being a frontperson,” she says. “I was still focused on writing my own songs, still writing my own music, which would eventually lead me to getting signed and opening up. I was still very much focused on my career. Those gigs [with Shakira and Juanes were] amazing gigs, and you travel and you’re with a great team, and you could easily stop to think, OK, I will stop here, this is great. But I just always knew I wanted to be songwriting and doing my own stuff.”
[FA] Last night GOT7 and 2PM had bbq at the restaurant. GOT7 went back to their dorm around 2.30am. Jinyoung and Mark were drunk last night. Mark couldn’t walk straight and had a red face. Fans surprised him with a birthday song. The fan noticed that Jinyoung was more drunk than Mark was. Video x (it shows Mark, Jackson and Minjun)