For singer-songwriter Jess Sylvester, growing up in the Bay Area and discovering Mexico has allowed him to create music that brings together diverse and seemingly disparate influences that reflect on chicanx realities. Jess grew up listening to artists such as Malo, Santana, and Trio Los Panchos, yet his musical world expanded into artists like the Beach Boys and the Beatles. He began playing in local punk and hardcore bands like Tiger Uppercut!, Violet Change, and Crisis Man. Then, Jess co-founded Francisco y Madero after meeting new friends on a destined trip to Guadalajara, which gave him new ways to articulate his own experiences, exploring chicanx and pochx perspectives with the group’s “cholo-fi” sound. His newest record, Tròpico de Càncer (on San Jose’s own Needle to the Groove Records), recorded under the solo handle, Marinero, is a further composite of all his musical influences and experiences, including a love for Brazil’s Tropicalia movement. More so, however, he says this is the first record where he turned more inward and is his first honest cry for what is going on with him.
“Before I even picked up a guitar I wanted to be a songwriter. I don’t know why, as I didn’t have [role] models or friends that were songwriters. Spending time in México really helped me grasp my own concept of identity, both musically and personally. It allowed me to make latinx music and pull from influences that I grew up hearing in my home.”