Roughly five minutes before game time, Jacqueline Jaquez stepped in front of 55,118 rabid baseball fans at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minnesota. The 7-year-old was about to sing the national anthem before Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, a Twins-Braves matchup that would soon go down in history as a classic.
Jaquez was unfazed.
“By the end of the song, even the Braves fans seemed to like it,” she says with a laugh. More than 25 years later, the artist is stepping into the spotlight once again, this time with a plan to shake up electronic music.
Jaquez grew up in Minnesota, the daughter of a guitarist/singer and the granddaughter of a migrant worker with whom she sang her first song. When she was 3, Dad bought her a karaoke machine, and Jaquez and her grandpa sang along to tunes by Debbie Gibson and Linda Ronstadt. The artist still cites those two performers as major inspirations for her work, but now, acts like De La Soul and Halsey have joined her list of influences.
“I’ve always admired artists who mix things up,” she says. “If I can sneak in something different, then I’ve accomplished my goal.”
After her World Series gig, Jaquez enjoyed a successful stint as a singer-songwriter for cartoons and children’s programs, and she'd released a Spanish-language album by age 10. She caught the attention of Prince producer Bobby Z and started performing in various venues around town while honing her skills across pop, rock and country. She’s never been interested in just one genre because, in her words, “How can you know what you really love until you try it out?”
After brief stints on Broadway (an Annie understudy) and as one-third of the pop/rock girl group Tres, Jaquez shared the stage with Shiny Toy Guns, Passion Pit, Krewella and a host of others.
She ultimately moved to Dallas for a job at an indie label in Cedar Hill. There, she met eventual manager Justin Villarreal, and her fluid style continued to develop as she forayed into electronica. Villarreal says the progression into electronic music was natural for Jaquez, who now goes by jACQ (pronounced like “Jack”).
“She’s open to everything, as long as it’s not just one thing,” he says.
jACQ refers to her style as “no cliques, all genre.”
“Good music is good music, and as long as it feels right, I’m up for it,” she says.
The songwriter fell into electronic music because she saw an opportunity to strike a harmony between production and lyrics.
“People expect a certain thing from this style, so I want to experiment with that.”
To begin that experimentation, jACQ teamed up with Montreal-based producer June Nawakii and set up shop across four Deep Ellum studios: Track It Audio, Rock It Lab, Left/Right Pro Audio and Audia Creatives. The result is Cosmic Affair, a four-track EP that drops Friday, June 30.
"Cosmic Affair is about two things: my undying love affair with music and my personal growth,” she says.
Nawakii calls the EP “cinematic.”
“If I had to sum it up in a word, I’d say ‘soulfulness,’” he says. “In a world where electronic music often sounds premade and square, she brings out the emotional side to it all.”
Villarreal says Nawakii and jACQ’s connection was so powerful that they didn’t need the Deep Ellum studios to concoct their cosmic tunes.
“She’d make chord progressions or write lyrics on her phone, then send it to June, who’d add the music, or vice versa,” Villareal says.
jACQ gave fans a preview of the impending released when she shared her first, aptly named single, “This Is the Time,” via SoundCloud on April 28.
“It’s about finally letting go onstage,” she says. “'This Is The Time' is an invitation to join in on my musical adventure.”
The songwriter will debut the rest of the EP at an open release party Friday at the Cinderblock Sessions studio near Fair Park. After that, she plans to start her own label to release all different kinds of music. The label will be called No Cliques, All Genre.
She’s released electronic records with Sony, Armada Music and Ultra Records. But this time, she's doing things her own way.
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“I want to make music that connects people and gives them that happy anxiety. My goal is to get your heart racing,” she says.
jACQ is ready to step back out in front of World Series-sized crowds. As always, she’ll refuse to be pigeonholed.
“Don’t tell me what I should do,” she says. “Let me show you what I can do.”
Cosmic Affair Release Party, 8 p.m. Friday, June 30, Cinderblock Studios, 4622 E. Grand Ave., free, RSVP here.