When you first look at Jackie Cruz, you’ll see a beautiful brunette who radiates a lethal combination of fearless determination and effortless charm; but if you stare a while longer, she may start to look more than a little familiar.
Cruz had a brief appearence on the reality show Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami as Koutney’s art class buddy. But besides kissing a Kardashian girl and liking it, this fierce female has been making quite a name for herself all on her own. Her songs come as a pleasant surprise, as they blend folk, pop, rock and more importantly, a raw honesty that isn’t always present in mainstream music.
Angelique Picanco: How long have you been singing? Did you always know that this was what you wanted to do?
Jackie Cruz: When I was eight years old my mom took me to see The Bodyguard when I lived in the Dominican Republic. After I saw the movie I told her I wanted to be a singer just like the girl from [the movie]. I started to sing the movie’s soundtrack and my mom heard me. When I was 15 my mom and I moved to California so I could become a singer. I went to High school at Hamilton Music Academy in Los Angeles and took summer classes and night school so I could finish school early to start my singing career.
AP: You mentioned that you sing about real experiences. How do your lyrics help represent that?
JC: I wear my heart on my sleeve, so I’ve had a few broken hearts. Writing about them really helps. When I sing I want people to feel the pain or that love that I felt at that moment. I think real life experiences gets that passion out of me. It’s sincere, you know?
AP: Let’s get this out of the way – some people may recognize you from a couple episodes on Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami. Were you randomly at a painting workshop or did you have to audition to be part of the show?
JC: I always wanted to take art classes and I always passed by this art school on Lincoln road. I decided to sign up and Kourtney was in my class. It was all very random. I thought she was really funny and we hit it off quite well.
AP: Having appeared alongside one of the Kardashian’s in a reality show, do you think that it a positive or negative impact on your career?
JC: I definitely think it had a positive impact in my career because people got to know my name and what I was doing in my life. Kourtney is such a sweet person, and yes we are still friends. Now and than we text each other to see how we are both doing.
AP: You’re primarily a singer/songwriter. Can you describe your musical style and maybe give us an idea of who your influences are?
JC: My style can be described as folky rock. It’s sounds confusing I know, but I write music from my heart and my life experiences – painful or positive. I believe folk music brings out those emotions and you can hear the passion in their voices. Rock music has been a big influence in my life, so I wanted my music to have some of that sound as well. My big idols in music are Led Zeppelin, Elvis Costello, Billy Holiday, Whitney Housten, Aretha Franklin, Tracy Chapman, Fiona Apple – the list goes on.
AP: I read that your mother and aunts raised you and that you overcame a nearly life threatening car crash. How has it had an impact on your music?
JC: My mom had me at a very young age and she wanted to become a doctor, so when she was in school my aunts took care of me. I was very loved and I had everything I ever needed in life. My car accident happened at the age of 17 and I believe everything happens for a reason. This experience made me a stronger person. These challenges I had to overcome made me who I am today. I am grateful and aware of each moment. My songs are written through my life experiences, near fatal car crash, heartbreak, love, and whatever life brings my way.
AP: Your EP is called Hollywood Gypsy. We heard that it’s about the fact that you’ve moved around a lot in your life. Can you explain a bit more?
JC: I was born in New York, but after five years I moved to Santiago, Dominican Republic. I went to an American school there called Maria Monegro. My mom wanted me to have a better education in the states, so when I started high school I moved to upstate NY with my moms close friend Diana who is like an aunt to me. After those two years of missing my family, my mom decided to move us to Los Angeles, so I could follow my dream.
My mom always believed in me which always helped me throughout the years… she’s my backbone. After that I decided to move Miami for a change. I stayed there for nine months. I wasn’t really getting any music done, so I had this great opportunity to move to NYC. I took it and here I am. Moving around a lot made me very independent and it helped me find myself. I fit in anywhere I went and now I have a best friend in every place I’ve lived.
AP: A fan of yours mentioned to us that you recently got signed to a label. Are you able to discuss that a little?
JC: Yes, I have waited almost 10 years for this moment. My label is indie and called Phase One Communications. They have a lot of resources and I think we are gonna make a great team. I have creative control, which is very important to me… and they believe in me.
AP: We love food here at Bitchin’ Lifestyle and since you’re Dominican-American, we know you must have grown up around some pretty bitchin’ food. Tell us, what is one of your favorite dishes?
JC: Dominican food is amazing. My aunt makes the best Pastelon de Carne Molida. That is sweet plantain casserole with cheese and ground beef. So delicious!!
AP: What can fans expect from you next?
JC: Right now I’m working on my first album, so I’m writing a lot. I believe it will be released in February of 2012. I’m so excited for this album. I am letting my heart out. Thank you so much for your interest in me. I appreciate all of your support.