NEXT UP: Josue Lora
Musician, Film Director
Origin: Trenton, New Jersey
We were lucky enough to sit down with an extremely versatile artist, Josue Lora. From making music to owning his own studio, Josue Lora discusses it all. Check out a snippet of the interview on our IGTV / Youtube or read the full interview below.
For those who don't know, introduce yourself like what do you do?
I'm Josue Lora. I'm of Dominican descent. I live in Trenton, New Jersey, and I am a Latin alternative music artist, and filmmaker. I'm the founder of an audio-visual company, and I own the recording studio in Trenton. I produce, write, record, mix/master my own stuff, and I direct all the videos for it. And I do it for other artists as well.
It takes a lot of work to do what you're doing. How did you develop your style in regards to just music?
I wouldn't say I developed it, I just saw. I like different things. Whatever I liked, I just did it. It came together from growing up in Dominican Republic, staying in New York, a lot of living in Trenton, listening to different musical styles, going to a lot of concerts helped me appreciate sound a lot. Listening to different things caught my ear and growing up in a church where music was a big part of it. I watched like MTV, like for 12 hours straight, when I was growing up. All I did was watch MTV. So that's how I got into film. And then my uncle would watch a lot of movies with me. That's how I enjoyed the cinema or getting into film itself.
Got your inspirations from there?
I got my inspiration to actually write when I heard a Vico C CD and Daddy Yankee's first album. My mom had the CD player and those were the only two CDs that it had so I know both albums from top to bottom.
I give your videos a lot of props. I genuinely enjoyed them and the quality is top tier, especially for an upcoming artist. How did you get there? (in regards to quality)
Everybody will say "having a good eye" but I would say I have a really good eye for good things but I also have a really good eye for bad things, even if it's my own stuff. When I did work that I wasn't really proud of, I always knew that helped a lot. As far as starting, I started filming my friend Sonic Asaad when we were 13 and we would just walk around with a really crappy camera and then play around with it. And then one of the first things I learned was color correction because I like color grading. I spent all of my high school (sophomore until I graduated) trying to learn how to color grade things well. I would mimic the things I watched. If I saw a shot that I thought was cool, I would try to recreate that shot. I was having a good eye. I watched MTV for years. I watch music videos. It was almost in my head 24/7. After seeing, professional music videos for a long time, I just started learning about cameras and I did everything from sound design to shooting myself to editing to directing. I learned a little piece of everything. And I think that made me get even better.
Like I said, not a lot of upcoming artists have that opportunity. You're doing everything on your own and that's really, really, hard especially being from Jersey, let alone from this area. It's extremely hard and that's why I did it. You said a lot of artists don't have those means. I definitely didn't have them. And that's what pushed me to get really good. The first paycheck I ever got was like 500 bucks. The first thing I did was I bought a Canon TTI and a 50mm lens when I was 15 but it was because I couldn't afford to shoot stuff that I wanted or pay anyone else to work on my own thing. The older I get, the more I like to build a solid team and get more help. And I realized that it's cool to be able to do everything and you should absolutely know what you're talking about but it's even better to work with a really good team. I think that was one flaw I had, I wanted to do everything on my own. The more I let go, the better stuff started looking.
So back to your music, is there something specific you always aim to convey?
I think music is your story. For me, I'm very selfish with my music. They're all either stories about me or something I thought, maybe even something that I saw happening to somebody else, but it has something to do with me. I always try to keep a very neutral positive message. Every song is different. I wouldn't say I try to portray or convey something, each track is different. I do always try to not say anything negative or offensive, which I think is always a good thing. I always take the approach that my grandma probably wouldn't like that. And she listens to my music. At the same time, you should definitely express yourself but whatever works for everyone. What works for me, doesn't work for everyone else. And I'm extremely critical of art. Art is subjective. I'm usually the guy that they call a hater in the studio when we're working but most times when I say something is really bad, it's really bad because again, I know when something looks bad. But then again, that might look bad to me but might look good to somebody else.
Tell us a little more about your past projects, “Morir Soñando":
I have two albums out. They're both with my buddies, Nota G, and he's also Dominican. We both live in Trenton. Our first one was Teoria, which was really fun. It took us a long time to make. A lot of it was written when I was in high school or starting college. And then we recorded it years later. With Morir Soñando, you saw the progression a little better. We definitely were more mature writers even though production on this is really interesting. We linked up with this guy who produced half the album. His name is Ivan Barias. He appeared on "Simple", "Vaco Lleno", and "Nadie". He's produced for a bunch of people in the music industry. He's a 28-time Grammy nominee. Anyone you can think of he has worked with. Being in the room with that guy was definitely "word, we're that good to work with this guy." He showed us a lot of stuff. I feel like from the first time I met with him to now, I learned so much and was just from having long conversations with him.
Working with him was definitely a fun trip because we sat down with him and we really didn't even talk music, we had a conversation while he and Nota G basically got drunk. It was definitely an 8-hour conversation but it wrote the album. Everything came together from that one conversation. He's also Dominican and we started talking about different topics. And I think everything we spoke on that night, all those topics, all those stories ended up being the album. A lot of it is produced by him. A lot of it is produced by me and then Nota G. The other producers on the album is this guy named Gas Lab. We got these guys named Trap Rabbit to play. We played around with a bunch of different stuff. We arranged a lot. And then we mixed the whole thing ourselves and then we got it. We mastered it here in our studio. It was definitely a growing process. From the first track, we recorded to the last. We upgraded studios. We invested a bunch of money. By the end of the album, the last record we recorded sounded amazing and we really didn't need to do much as far as mixing because we upgraded the equipment and we knew a lot more. It was a cool journey. The album deals with just living your dreams. Do whatever makes you happy. Whether the cup is half full or half empty, it's just how you look at things. It's a fun album. I really like it. It might be one of my favorite albums maybe because I'm on it.
What’s next for you/ what are you currently working on?
The new stuff we're working on is a more "radio-friendly" mixed with a lot more musical aspects and more stuff from our roots. We're experimenting a lot with that because we can. People like to put people in a box. Like "this guy makes trap. This guy makes alternative music". It's like you can do whatever you want. I think that should be a point. I don't see many people doing that.
A lot of it is done. I think I'm gonna just record a lot more visuals for the album. I for one, hate how people release things, and they feel like they gotta release more stuff right away. And that's where we're at because people just release things really quickly. You should market to different people.
How has quarantine been affecting you as an artist? more creative or less?
I don't know, I watched a bunch of movies and a bunch of different things. I lost a lot of money and opportunities. Of course, I think like everyone else, but at least I'm healthy. I have just been hanging out, eating a lot. We had a bunch of plans and they just stopped so I had to readapt and I almost forgot that's a thing that you should consider having.
Don't forget to check out Josue Lora on Instagram!
The basics: what do you do, where you're from, etc.