Jermaine Oppong at the Lost in the Woods concert at Eastdown Warehouse, September 23.

Rock stars of K-Park

Maybe, one day, when these teenagers have kids of their own, they'll tell them about their wild days making music in high school. These six K-Park students are all currently making music -- and to them, nothing has been more satisfying.

September 23, 2016


 

Vincent Ponce

Goes by: Vince Isley

Grade: Senior

Genre: Rap

Inspiration: Travis Scott, Young Thug, Lil Yachty

Find his music on: Soundcloud (Username: Vince Isley)

This summer, Vincent Ponce rarely saw the sun. Every day he would wake up at 4 p.m. and go to the studio, work on his music all night with his friends, and then go home and back to bed around 5 in the morning.

Ponce is part of a budding rap scene in Kingwood and one of several rappers and musicians enrolled at K-Park. In 2013, Ponce and Jermaine Oppong began to meet in the back room of Seth Crowe’s home, where they would rip beats off of YouTube and make rap over them.

Soon, the group met Cesar Lozano, who graduated from K-Park last school year. Lozano has a music studio in his home, where  they were able to mix and master their own beats. They became serious about their craft, rather than treating it as a pastime.

While the rappers in Kingwood have close ties, each is an independent artist. Ponce described the music he has made previously as not very deep, really just existing for the purpose of sounding good. But as his name has spread and he’s become more serious about his work, he’s begun to make music with more serious themes, less of just songs for parties.

“A lot of people in Kingwood are making music,” Ponce said, “and we have something going on really.”

Alexandria Andrade

Goes by: Alexandria Andrade

Grade: Sophomore

Genre: Indie

Inspiration: The Frights, Panic! At the Disco, Regina Spektor, Rusty Clanton

Current Projects: “Cheers” (album)

Listening to music can help during a hard time, but for sophomore Alexandria Andrade, writing music is what has helped her. Andrade has been playing guitar since 2014, and recently began production on her first album, titled “Cheers.”

Andrade began the album at the end of last school year after a bad breakup. Her genre — a conglomeration of several different styles — is hard to pin down, but the songs on her album deal mostly with struggles she has overcome in her life.

Andrade is producing the album with the help of her guitar teacher at School of Rock music school, recording her songs on her phone. The bootstrap production hasn’t discouraged others from enjoying her music however, as some of her friends already downloaded her songs on their phones and have told her that they listen to them often.

Her dad has been exceptionally supportive of her music endeavors, exposing her and her brother to music at a young age and making her take music classes.

“I think the best feeling ever is finishing a song, and listening to the final product, with all the pieces fitting together,” she said. “It’s really great,” she said.

Jermaine Oppong

Goes by: Jae

Grade: Senior

Genre:  Hip Hop and R&B

Inspiration: Post Malone, Travis Scott

Find his music on: Soundcloud (Username: Jae الحب)

Synthetic beats and slow rhythms give way to the lyrics in senior Jermaine Oppong’s single “Famous.” With more than 3,000 views on Soundcloud, it is his most successful song to date.

His inspiration for his hip hop and R&B stems from artists such as Post Malone and Travis Scott, both successful musicians coming out of Houston.

Oppong, who has been writing music since he was 14 and recording since his freshman year of high school, hopes to follow in their footsteps.

“They were in the same position as me one day,” Oppong said, “and they found a way.”

Oppong is finding his way to the top by playing small shows at places like the White Swan in downtown Houston. The club is a small, run-down structure with the words “I let a boy kill me” graffitied on the side and a wooden sign with a white swan painted in black ink.

The up-and-coming musician is determined to play more shows as he spreads his music, pushing forward in his career and in his life.

Music is a way for him to express himself, a way to find himself, and his supporters and fans see that in his music.

“They are slow viby music songs you can listen to in the car at 12 a.m at night,” Oppong said.

Oppong has written many songs by dabbling on the piano he has not yet mastered, but still has seemed to find the words he wants to portray, including his favorite lyric:

“Don’t eat with the clique if you ain’t starving with us.”

Positive feedback – anything from comments on how talented he is to finding a fan who listens to three of his songs every day – has made him realize what he’s found.

Oppong has found something he enjoys doing alone and along with friends. His music is what he’s strives to improve, something that challenges him and changes him for the better.

“It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something positive with my life,’” Oppong said.

Many musicians grapple with doubt and struggle. Not Oppong. When it gets hard, it just motivates him more.

“I’ve never wanted to give up I just wanted to make better music,” Oppong said. “I do it because I truly enjoy it. Everyone has something they truly like and not everyone is gonna be interested in the same things – but music is my interest.”

Seth Crowe

Goes by: Seth Crowe

Grade: Senior

Genre: Alternative

Inspiration: Frank Ocean

Find his music on: Soundcloud ( Username: Seth セス)

Sitting with his back slouched against his seat and his face brightened by a slight smile, Seth Crowe shares his passion for music. His eyes gleam with pride after each word. His demeanor reflects his songs: relaxed and content.

Crowe, once part of a rap group called Typicalkids, is now venturing off into his own sound. He traded rap for alternative grooves, finding inspiration through the events of his life.

“I like sharing my stories with people and releasing what I created, like this is my own thing,” he says.  “I did this and I get to share it with all these people.”

Making music sets Crowe apart from the rest of the world. It’s his way of sharing himself and showing individualism. The work he puts into each lyric is his art. He pieces  together words and beats until the song feels alive in the shabby production system stowed in his closet.

While Crowe hasn’t received as much reaction out of his music as he wishes, he’s still hopeful. Music is something he loves and wishes to continue to make. And with the pride that gleams in his eyes, there is also a hope for his work to pay off.

Zach Jukola

Goes by: Chaotic Warrior

Grade: Senior

Genre: EDM (Dubstep / Trap)

Inspiration: WRLD, Tristam, Stephen, San Holo

Current Projects: “Dance on the Devil’s Street” (Album)

It can be hard to parse the meaning of a song without words, but that’s no problem for Zach Jukola, who’s played music without lyrics since sixth grade. He’s played the clarinet in band since middle school, but only got into his genre of choice — EDM — around five years ago, and began composing songs around two years after that.

Jukola’s goal is not to “make it big” with his music. Once he finishes his first album, which he has been working on off and on since he began making music, his one wish is to have it published under a record label called Monstercat. The label is specifically for lesser-known EDM artists across the world, many of which are favorites of Jukola’s. Fame and money are secondary to him, as his hope is not to reach lots of listeners, but rather to have a smaller fan base who connect with his music on a deeper level.

This leads into Jukola’s favorite part of EDM: how the music can mean something different to each person. The album he is currently making has a detailed back story arcing over the course of the album, but he understands the value of finding the unique meaning of an EDM song, as it relates to one’s own life.

“A lot older folks say [EDM is] just a bunch of noises, and granted to a degree that is true,” said Jukola. “But that’s what the media wants you to think. You have to go past the media, ignore that and find it for yourself. Because when you find it for yourself, it’s an adventure.”

That’s why Jukola says he makes music. To make his own adventure.

 

Jackson Ward

Goes by: Auto Made It

Grade: Senior

Genre:  Rap

Inspiration: Nas, Yung Lean, Travis Scott

Find his music on: Soundcloud ( Username: AUTOmadeIT)

Jackson Ward steps onto the dusty orange stage, smoke pouring out of each side of the theater. The rumble of the cheering crowd sends a bolt of energy through the Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Young Jackson gathers up his might and shouts, “Are you ready to rock with my dad?”

This was his life growing up. Going from one stage — like the famed venue in Denver, Colorado — to another.

Music has always been a part of Ward’s life. His dad was in numerous rock bands, and brought Ward along for his many of his shows, creating a desire to perform in Ward. By the time he was in eighth grade, he met a group of people who were beginning to understand music and together they created songs of their own. This is where Ward’s love for music flourished.

Ward began to generate rhythmical rap beats for people to get excited to. He combines the experiences he has gone through and the experiences he wants to go through in the lyrics of his songs.

He creates his music to make people feel.

To feel happy, energetic, sad or excited.

Each song is his way of proving himself through his music, showing that he is capable of being one of the best.

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