Sitting with Jennifer Hernandez, aka JWords, in the Dekalb Food Market in Brooklyn with house music playing in the background was the cherry on top of our first interaction on record. After chowing down on some bomb pad thai, JWords began to share her journey with us from rapping over beats to producing her own.
This past Valentine’s Day, which also happened to be her birthday, JWords released her first-ever EP, Sín Señal under the Never Normal collective and label formulated by music mogul-entrepreneur, Suzi Analogue. In correlation with the new launch, JWords celebrated with a release party at Lower East Side record store, the Commend, on February 14th with guest performances by Maassai and MIKE, who are featured on the EP, and a DJ set by Amani Fela.
JWords was smiling from ear to ear as we spoke about the process of creating Sín Señal which she said took about two years to complete. “It was like a back and forth process figuring out what songs to pick for the EP … I say two years because it took a while to develop my sound, so like I had songs before that was supposed to be Sín Señal, but I ended up just tossing those songs and starting a new batch. That’s why I’m releasing it now.”
Sín señal, translated from Spanish to English, means no signal. We definitely get that vibe based on the cover art as well as the variety in the drum and bass sounds she uses in each individual track. JWords became fascinated with drum patterns as the lead vocalist in psychedelic rock band, Jumanji, at the age of 17.
“I rapped a bit in the band and then I picked up an instrument, piano, and then from there I just kept playing. I always wanted to be like a producer for an artist, so like in the band, I didn’t want to be the vocalist anymore…I gave up that role and was just going to play piano and be in the background. The band broke up and I was forced to make my own music, which I didn’t know was a blessing in disguise. I got to make my own beats. I didn’t know how to make a drum loop before I was in a band, but now I do…”
It wasn’t until the New Jersey-based band broke up when she started experimenting more with different loops and weird timings outside of the 4/4 lock. From time to time, she switches things up between club and footwork drumming but ultimately feels like she’s coming up with her own shit. Some of JWords’ biggest influences in the music she makes, especially in Sín Señal, are her friends who are also musicians themselves.
She tells HangTime, “we get to do this together and we’re like here together and we’re all getting recognized for it. I feel as of lately, that’s just been my biggest influence, my friends. Artists. Community. Seeing everyone thrive. But outside of that, I’ve had so many different influences that got me to where I am now. Seeing them create great music inspires me to keep doing it.”
While Sín Señal is a solo project debuting the many talents JWords has to offer, she is also excited for projects to come in the near future. “This is my first one ever! As an artist, for me it took a while to release an EP or anything for that matter…I’m releasing something and I feel like I unlocked something. So now I can keep releasing. I have more music coming out, I have an album with Tah. He and I have a whole album. Me and my friend Maassai have a whole tape coming up.
“I have so many different songs that I made with my friends, that I just want to make a compilation album and just like all the songs that we made together, even if I’m not on it like just have a big compilation of music that artists everyone loves come together. I feel like it’s good to see.”
Aside from music and production, JWords dedicates a portion of her time at Building Beats, as a workshop leader. To JWords it’s more important to pay it forward because as she puts it, “it’s not about me, it’s about giving back.” She continues, “I probably taught a program to a kid that will be using it forever. That means a lot to me and they’re all young, they’re going to remember it forever.”
Similar to those kids, we’re also going to remember the impact JWords made with her music forever. You can listen to Sín Señal on all streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp.
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