Below is a Joseph Ruiz interview conducted with local Bakersfield singer/songwriter Isaiah Navarro. The article was submitted on Oct. 26, 2011.
J. Ruiz:When did you realize music was your calling?
Navarro: I just started playing music when I realized it was the only thing I was good at. I hated sports for the most part. My idea of a fun time growing up was playing this little keyboard my mom bought me. Music has always been in my family. You know how there are households where the father played football and the grandpa played football and his grandpa played football. That's how it is with my family but with music. You can look at pictures of my family and they’re all holding guitars or a tambourine or something. (Laughter). Music has always just felt right.
J. Ruiz:What inspires your music?
Navarro: Feelings and emotions. Maybe some of the vices I fell into as a teenage boy. Moments in life that you probably don’t want anyone to know about, I guess. I mean everybody is quick to write about the really rad parts of their life, but I think good, honest music comes from the down side. If you can really bring that to the surface you’ll always win people over because everyone can appreciate honesty. Artwork and movies inspire me as well, but one of my biggest inspirations is probably women. Things like that. All the typical vices that come along with being a teenage boy.
J. Ruiz: What is your creative process when writing music?
Navarro: I don’t think I have a creative process when I’m writing. I wouldn’t say that I have some formula or something. I don’t want to sound like a nut, but it’s something thats beyond my control. I think that all art is beyond our control as humans. There have been times when I pick up my instrument and play the first thing that comes to my head and its like, a song... And at the end I’m just thinking to myself where did that come from? Like I didn’t even know I had that in me. Sometimes I just feel the presence of something literally taking my hand and writing or literally talking to me through the music. It's a beautiful feeling you know. I think that's why people like producing art. Because you don’t really know where it comes from.
J. Ruiz:What is your ultimate goal as a musician?
Navarro: My ultimate goal is to get my music out there to as many people as I can. Getting signed and living in a big house with a bunch of cars, would be mosts answer but I think that is really unrealistic. If you get there fine but thats not really where my head is. I just want to keep making good music and make sure people can dig it.
J. Ruiz: What bands inspire you?
Navarro: The Doors. I remember hearing The Doors for the first time at my cousin's house and just being blown back. I mean the organs! I could have sworn I heard a bass but I guess there was no bass. (Laughter). I was just blown away. And when I heard Jim Morrison singing that was it. I saved up my money to buy a Doors record and my life was just changed. There are moments in people's lives when you know nothing is going to be the same afterwards and that was definitely one of those moments for me.
J. Ruiz:Can you tell us about your new album “Ten en su Memoria”?
Navarro: I decided to only put five songs on my new album. Some will argue that it's not an album, it’s an EP, whatever that means. In my opinion any more or any less would have made it completely different. I felt like those 5 songs, even though one I didn’t write, collectively made up “Ten en su Memoria.”
J. Ruiz:How did you come up with the title?
Navarro: I called it Ten en su Memoria, even though I know it isn’t proper Spanish, because the first time I had read that saying it really dug itself deep inside my head. I’m only 19 years old, but sometimes I feel like my strong religious upbringing maybe warped my head into always feeling... I guess guilty is the word? I remember visiting a mission with my mother. There was a section of the monastery on display where the Padre used to sleep. I remember walking up to it and seeing the phrase “Ten en su Memoria: Jucio, Infierno, y Gloria” scratched out in a red substance over his bed. It roughly translates to “Have in your mind: Judgement, Hell, and Heaven.” It really struck a chord with me. The first track on the album entitled “Juicio” is also taken from that phrase.
J. Ruiz:What can listeners expect from “Ten en su Memoria”? Its much different than your previous work with The Rozzes...
Navarro: For this album I really wanted to dig as far down into myself as possible and pull out influences that I kind of ignored throughout my teen years. My most bare, raw, and primitive influence for this album is church music. When I say church music I don’t mean happy, stomp those feet, and sing the choir music. (Laughter). I mean somber and eerie. Catholic church music. I have spanish blood and I guess that music is just engraved in my DNA. I hope people catch on and understand. This album is me coming clean, hiding nothing, and baring everything. Now that I’ve learned to dig that deep, my next release is something I am very excited about.