Jamina is a musical family, with the rebirth of a trinity brotherhood. This five-member band features melodic, Metal. The mezzo-soprano vocals, poetic lyrics and intricate compositions are sure to make waves!
By Kreig Marks, August 2020
TRR: Hey guys. Welcome to Tru Rock Revival Magazine. Let’s get this started. You are all from Miami where the music the past 25 or 30 years has focused on the likes of the Gloria Estefan sound. Finally, some hard rock coming out of Miami. It’s been a long time. And, from a Latin based band too! How did you all break away from that conga sound to loud guitars?
JAM: Beyond being fans of rock and metal, our underground metal scene inspired us. We felt compelled to fill the void where Miami needs more than just Latin, Hip Hop and Electronic music. MSM took the music around them and blended it to create the conga sound, we have taken the styles of rock we all like to create the evolved sound we call Jamina.
TRR: Well, from what I've heard, you've all done a kick ass job. Jamina is rockin it! What’s been the reaction to people you grew up with who were fans of the Miami Sound Machine and now hear you guys?
JAM: People we grew up with that style, are typically supportive since they knew we’ve all had eclectic tastes through the ages. We hear that it’s refreshing to hear something out of the norm. Mainly some of our parents were MSM fans and they like the contrast of heavy music with the powerful clean vocals delivered by Brittany.
TRR: Right now, we’re in this pandemic where live shows are basically non-existent. What are you doing to keep the fans' attention?
JAM: These past months we’ve had the opportunity to perform in a couple Facebook livestream shows for rock radio stations in North and Central Florida. We actually had our album release show in June, via a livestream performance hosted by Orlando’s Rock station. We are rather active on our social media platforms. Soon to come are, online play-throughs of our music and more in the works to keep the fans happy, entertained and engaged.
TRR: What are some new things you’ve learned about yourself and from the band from this quarantine time?
JAM: We each have different workflows when it comes to writing, practicing and perfecting our craft. A couple of us like writing in jam sessions to be around each other and feel the vibrations from drums and cabinets, so we’ve learned patience.
TRR: I think we've all learned patience from this experience.
JAM: Absolutely. Some of us have learned to use free time to better ourselves in multiple areas like health and fitness so we have a clear mind to create in solitude.
TRR: What are some odd things you’ve realized during quarantine?
JAM: A couple of us are homebodies and have realized being home is exactly what has been needed to rejuvenate our minds. There’s a balance, though. Too much time away from everyone can help and hinder creativity. There are waves of creativity and other waves of writer’s block and lack of motivation. We all agree we’ve gained perspective; both human contact and alone time is very important.
TRR: That's great you all are remaining so positive during this pandemic. Your band gets to speak to the people about the virus, what would they say?
JAM: We would bring awareness to all who are not taking this pandemic seriously. Be kind and respectful to each other. Be like your favorite superhero or luchador and wear a mask. We need to care enough about each other that we actually follow all protocols. Take care of yourself, stay healthy and stay safe.
TRR: Now, tell me about the band. Who are the players and how did all of you come together, especially in a town like Miami, which hasn’t been known for hard rock music for quite some time.
JAM: Brittany Valera is our lead vocalist, Paul Valera’s on lead guitar, Gus Pena’s on rhythm guitar, Tony “Annemal” Rodriguez is on bass and John “ChopStixx” Westbay is on drums and percussion.
Despite Latin, Electronic and Hip Hop being the predominant genres in South Florida, Miami never really lost the underground Rock/Metal scene. We have a great community which has been strengthened over many years.
In 2005 Paul, Tony and Gus were introduced to each other by a mutual friend. The three of them clicked right away and from then on played under several band names and lineups, but the trinity always remained the same.
In 2016, Gus and Tony were in a band but wanted to start an additional project for which they called Paul. Jamina was formed. Paul and Brittany were married the previous year and completed the band as a package deal. A couple of years in, ChopStixx joined after being close friends with the Valera’s for almost a decade.
TRR: Have you all always been rockers? Who were you listening to as kids?
JAM: Gus, ChopStixx and Brittany originally listened to Rap and Hip Hop before middle school. ChopStixx, Brittany and Tony moved into heavier rock and metal around sixth grade. Being near Miami, freestyle, pop and R&B were also Paul and Brittany’s music of choice. But Paul and Tony were raised in Rock.
Paul was exposed to Otis Redding, Gene Chandler & Dion DiMucci; 70’s rock with UFO, Black Sabbath, Kansas, Kiss; and 80’s hard rock/metal like Guns n Roses.
Tony grew up listening to The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and moved on to heavier rock like Korn, Slipknot and Mudvayne.
Brittany is a bit younger than the rest of the group, so her coming-of-age was marked by Nu Metal, Alternative metal and Symphonic metal like Evanescence, Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, Within Temptations.
TRR: You guys were listening to a lot of great stuff. And, from one extreme to the next. Very cool. What is the first song you all wrote together as Jamina? Do you remember details about this writing session?
JAM: “Place to Rest” was our first song based on a song originally written by Paul, Tony and Gus years prior. It was originally called “What’s Left Inside”. We rearranged the song a bit and updated the style, but the foundation is still there. Brittany created lyrics and melody within an hour, so we all agreed this would be the first one. Musically, “I Don’t Know” was also one of the first songs created in a jam session.
TRR: "Place to Rest" seems to really showcase everyone's individual talents in the band and brings it all together very tightly. And, congratulations on the song.
JAM: Thank you.
TRR: Every band has that one crazy personality. Who fits that mold on or off-stage?
JAM: Honestly, a few of us have crazy personalities. Most of would say Tony, including himself. Second would be ChopStixx and third Brittany.
TRR: If you and the band had a week off, no shows, yet you go away someplace to hang out for one week, just you guys, where would you guys decide to go hang out, and knowing how you guys are, what do you think you’d be doing?
JAM: We’d rent a house by the beach, probably in the Keys, kick back and lounge. The trinity would probably be playing video games and messing with their guitars while ChopStixx and Brittany enjoy the Sun.
TRR: Sounds like a cool little vacation. Keep it in mind. “Jamina is the musical rebirth of a trinity brotherhood.” Explain that.
JAM: Tony, Gus and Paul have been playing, writing and performing together since 2005. Around 2010, Paul moved to Orlando for a couple years while Tony and Gus continued in the South Florida metal scene. The three always kept in touch because they are best friends above all things. It took one night of jamming between the three of them to know that the bond was still there when Jamina was birthed and the “trinity brotherhood” was reborn.
TRR: Do your family’s support your career choice and musical style?
JAM: Yes, for the most part. Each of us actually have full time jobs outside of music for the time being. Our family and friends who might not normally like rock and metal enjoy our music. We are very fortunate to have family and friends who very much support us. One of our moms never listens to metal, but is loudest one at our gigs and wears our shirt.
TRR: Go Mom! How do you all pass the time now during the quarantine?
JAM: Quarantine has been like the Renaissance for some of us. We all have been practicing our music. Other hobbies like staying fit, writing and drawing have received more time. A couple of us go into work and like to relax afterwards with video games. Paul, Brittany and ChopStixx have been working from home with their pets, which is entertaining on its own.
TRR: The pandemic ends tomorrow as if it never existed. What’s the first thing you do?
JAM: Start organizing live shows and looking at the possibility of touring! Beyond music, going to games, concerts and theme parks have been missed.
TRR: Same question as above. What’s the first restaurant you run to?
JAM: Pincho Factory is one of our favorite local spots for sure!
TRR: Good food?
JAM: Great food!
TRR: Noted. Your debut single, “Place to Rest.” What’s the band’s reaction the first time you hear it fully mastered?
JAM: It was a really cool experience listening to it together! There was pure excitement and pride! Paul teared up finally hearing a song he wrote years earlier completed and mastered.
TRR: Who in the band is the biggest critic of your music?
JAM: Paul and Tony are tied for that. While in the writing stage, Tony is always pushing us to think outside the box or re-track something until he feels we nailed the track. Paul, on the other hand, is really particular about our sound live. We are all critical of our own parts, constantly striving for perfection.
TRR: How are you all promoting your music since you can’t get on stage right now?
JAM: Social media; namely Facebook and Instagram. We also have been grateful for partnerships with radio stations and our endorser, Maverick Apparel Company.
TRR: Maverick is a bunch of great guys. They really care about the artists they represent.
TRR: Your band gets to play with any idol doing a LIVE HOUSE CONCERT. Which one or two artists do you guys jam with?
JAM: Most of us agree to Alter Bridge and Breaking Benjamin. We all have so many influences the list can go on.
TRR: Anyone you all want to thank or give a shout out to?
JAM: Thank God, all our families, friends and Jammers—the fans. Shout out to everyone in the South Florida Metal Scene! Thank you: our boys from Dyne Side for all the support, the gentleman in Maverick Apparel Company, Supa Dave from Native Noise (101.1 WJRR) in Orlando, Brain and Shannon from Rock 98.9 in Jacksonville. Our dear friends, Dale Williams for helping design the album cover, 767 for mixing and mastering our album and providing countless advice, Matt Forest for making sound possible for many live shows. Everyone who has come out to support, you keep us going. Much Love & Respect!
"Beyond being fans of rock and metal, our underground metal scene inspired us. We felt compelled to fill the void where Miami needs more than just Latin, Hip Hop and Electronic music."