When did your love for cello begin?
I first became inspired by my cousin, Erica, who [is] 5 years older than me. She was playing cello in high school and I had seen her play in concerts; so I just felt really called to do [the same]. I started off in 5th grade strings like a lot of students in San Antonio. I’ve been playing for 13 years. I learned classical, throughout school and through college. In college, I met people who worked in a coffee shop that were very humble and sweet to me. They had [invited me to join] a band that they were starting, and it was an indie-folk band. I was scared because I never thought about improv – sprouting from my creativity, I always followed the pieces of paper in front of me that had the articulation and dynamics written down. I had never gone out of the realm of the sheet music. So them asking me to improv with their original music, I was terrified! They were so kind [though]. I still play in that band (Winter Fires), 4 years later, and it has now evolved to more progressive rock.
Do you ever compose on your own?
I definitely have the desire to do so. I’ve experimented with different kinds of pedals and phasing and things like that. So bringing another side to it – it’s been hard to set time aside for myself to express myself that way. It’s definitely something I want to delve into because I also really love to sing! I once saw this band that was touring from Ohio and their front woman was a cellist and she sang at the same time – I was start struck, head over heels, I thought she was incredible! If I find the time, I want to see if I could pull that off and make my own music.
What inspires you?
There are a few bands that inspire me. One of them has to be Modest Mouse. They just have so much going on – live on stage and in studio. They incorporate orchestral instruments and rock band instruments. The energy they have on stage is electrifying. So usually, when I’m heading out to gigs, I find myself listening to them heavily and jam out to them in my car. It’s really just the energy that captures me and makes me want to showcase that same kind of level on stage. Because gigging and playing for people can’t just be a personal experience – you really have to show emotion to the crowd, because if you’re not into it, it will be lackluster. There would be nothing for them to grab on to other than what they can hear orally. In terms of melody, and layering, and harmonies, – I look to Foxing. Their music just really pulls at my heartstrings and has made me more in tune to myself and my instrument. The imagery they create, not only with the lyrics, but with different unorthodox sounds and strings and brass [instruments] is just beautiful.
Do you have any other creative outlets besides music?
Music has been such a large part of my life, but if I had to choose something – I really like to bullet journal. It’s basically like graphing; there’s no structure to it – it leaves the writer up to doing whatever they want with it. So I bullet journal about my day-to-day plans, monthly goals, track things like my water intake per day. It’s very mundane, but I use the spreadsheets to get out my doodles too and things that are on my mind and add quotes and pictures.
Are there any particular rituals you do before you gig?
The only thing I do before I gig is I stretch a lot. I don’t play on a daily basis because I have a lot of things going on, but stretching is super important. It gets me warmed up – as musicians we use small muscles and [stretching] can really make or break my gig if I’m not ready for it.
What other bands do you play for besides Winter Fires?
Deer Vibes – the front man, Mikey, has partnered with YOSA [Youth Orchestra of San Antonio] before and put on a really big concert with the students in YOSA which is incredible. They’ve really branched out. The Freebies – which is very contemporary and incorporate a lot of unconventional instruments within the band as well. They’re very fun to play with, it’s not a typical set up. Harvey McLaughlin – this is a recent band I’ve been playing with and have been fortunate to record with them and [I’ll] be on their next album.
Who are your biggest supporters?
Definitely my parents. I’m very fortunate to have a good relationship with them and have them in my corner. There are some parents who aren’t entirely supportive in their child pursuing this kind of style, playing in bands, and [mostly] for free. But, my parents believe strongly in the bands I’m in and for a long time, they were at every gig I had – so they came to coffee shops and bars to make sure I knew they cared. It really means a lot.