Once you know your calling, it’s impossible to ignore it. It’ll come to you in the purest form and stick to your intuition. That’s what happened to Jaylene Terrazas, a nineteen-year-old from El Centro, California.
Ever since performing in her sixth-grade talent show, Jaylene Terrazas, now known as Jay Roxxx, knew that she had to keep pursuing her singing passion, even if, at the time, it seemed to be out of character. Growing up, she was known as the “shy girl,” but once she turned 15, she decided to let go of her old persona and become who we are now discovering as Jay Roxxx.
Fast forward a few years, Jay Roxxx is now signed to Nastyboy Records alongside the record labels owner MC Magic who she coincidentally met through an Instagram live, and has recently released her debut album “Princesa.”
BELatina News recently had the chance to catch up with everything important in her life: from her inspirations to the need of showcasing her Chicano culture to being her authentic Latina self, even while singing in Spanish and not fluently knowing the language.
All in all, she maintains her head up high by repeating her dad’s favorite saying: “The sky isn’t the limit; it’s just a view.” And it surely is for this young and emerging Latina singer-songwriter. Here’s what she has to say!
You have such a powerful voice — who is your inspiration? What sort of vocal practices and artists do you look up to?
The answer to this question is going to sound funny because my two biggest artistic influences of all time are actually rappers: Eminem and XXXTENTACION. Eminem — because he doesn’t care what other people think. He does what he does for those that love it, and there’s nothing more to it. X because he, in my opinion, was the true definition of an “artist.” He attacked every genre, had a cult fan base due to his intense connection with his fans, and he did everything with passion. I love both artists with all my heart. But my ultimate influence is my younger self. All my life, I’ve felt like an underdog. Never being “popular” or the typical “pretty girl,” my success was constantly downplayed. I feel like each elevation in my career is proof to my younger self that she was always right.
I love that you are open to working in different genres. It’s clear in Princesa that you aren’t afraid of jumping into new sounds – what are your favorite genres to listen to?
Yeah, I feel that limiting yourself to one genre completely wipes out the “art” aspect of creating music. MC Magic always says, “There’s only two types of music: good music and bad music.” When it comes to recording, I would say my favorite genre so far has definitely been mariachi. One of my strengths is the power in my voice, and mariachi really highlights that. It’s so passionate.
What’s your creative process like when you sing in Spanish? We know you don’t know the language fluently – but you sing it so deeply!
Writing in Spanish is actually a lot more fun than writing in English. Everything sounds more passionate in Spanish, which is why I prefer it. Most people assume that I don’t write my own music, but the writing process is just MC Magic and I… and sometimes my dad! I usually just tell them what I want to say, and they help me translate. I ask for all the different ways to phrase what I want to write, and that’s pretty much it. The memorization part is easy for me because I’m not just memorizing but learning as well. Writing in Spanish has immensely expanded my vocabulary.
Obviously, being fluent in languages doesn’t really make a difference when creating your art. What is your message on this? How did you decide to sing in both languages without growing up being taught Spanish?
I was just randomly listening to Bad Bunny one day and was thinking, “who or what would even stop me from writing a song in Spanish?” (This was when I had first started getting into Spanish music like reggaeton, mariachi, etc.) When I presented the idea to my dad, a.k.a. my manager, he thought I was crazy and didn’t make any sense. I thought he was crazy for thinking I had to limit myself to one language. I had then studied different Spanish songs/sounds, specifically MC Magic’s, and decided I wanted to emulate something like that and call it my own. That’s when I randomly forced my dad to help me write “Mi Amor” at 9 p.m. on a weekday. That song forever changed my life because it’s the original I had sung for MC Magic on Instagram live that later collided with our world.
What drives your interest in Chicano culture?
I grew up with Chicano culture, but I was always too young and careless to truly appreciate it. After my tata passed away (On July 4th, 2020), it was a huge wake-up call. Specifically, because my tata was the human embodiment of “brown pride.” I then started getting back in touch with my culture. All cultures are beautiful, but there’s just something about Chicano culture that I feel deserves recognition on a mainstream level. Mainly because most people in society see us as a joke or everyone classifies us as “cholos,” when they know nothing about how it really is. I just believe that Chicanos need a bigger face in society, and I plan to do that with my music. For example, my biggest hit is my oldie record “I Belong to You.” It tells the story of a classic Chicano love. The song was also a dedication to my tata (since he loved oldies), which makes the song even more special.
Are there any pressures about singing in Spanish without knowing the language? Any challenges you’ve faced?
Coming from a predominantly Mexican community, I feel that there’s a lot of stigma around being a pocha. I personally take pride in being a pocha. However, many people use it as a derogatory term. And for me, to basically be attempting to be the face of Mexicans of this generation is challenging at times. People hit me with the “fake Mexican” comment all the time… But that’ll never take away the fact that at the end of the day, we all bleed the same, and we’ll always be categorized the same.
What are your goals and message to the public? Any advice to Chicanas/Latinxs that are thinking of a music career?
I just hope that I can inspire people to be 100% unapologetically themselves. More often than not, the average human is lost. I want to show people that being yourself is what’ll lead to your purpose in life; it’s a simple concept, really. “What is real will prosper.” And as far as advice for Chicano artists trying to make it: I’ll just say we don’t dominate the mainstream music industry at all — it’s harder for us. That’s why I’m trying to change that.