Being a singer/songwriter can be tough, and Jaik Yanez can vouch for it. Going solo for 5 years and playing in bands since he was 15 years old, he knows all about the struggles and excitement of performing cover songs for various crowds while still trying to promote original music. “Obviously the cover shows pay the bills, and you got to do that if you want to be a working musician. If you strap on a guitar, you’re going to be doing those kinds of things. But I find that [it’s important to] really make a connection with one person at a time and announcing that you are going play an original song.”
The struggle is particularly evident in a small music community such as San Antonio. He compares the city’s musical growth to that of a teenager in a period of existential crisis. “We don’t have a particular musical identity here. We are not exactly like an Austin or Dallas that pulls in really big names all the time.” It’s as if San Antonio is stuck in a “time warp,” he says. Recounting a recent experience at a cover show, Jaik tells me how an audience member was thrilled when he played Incubus’ ‘Drive,’ coming up to him post-show and commending him for playing new music. “While there’s a ton of new stuff, I don’t want to downplay that, coming out, people are slowly warming up to it, it’s definitely a slow warm up. People don’t want the next new thing. [They want] 90% songs they know and just a couple of new things.”
However, Jaik does recognize the strides that the San Antonio music community has taken to create a welcoming environment for new musicians. “[San Antonio Sound Garden] is doing a great job of educating musicians in how to get what you’re worth. How to book shows, how to improve your brand, how to be a real 21st century musician, and that’s really great.
Although Jaik plays a lot of cover songs at his shows, his original songs are ones to really listen to. Ranging from personal struggles to recounting a recent snowy trip to New Mexico, Jaik pours his heart into his lyrics, especially during his performance. In our B40 studio, Jaik sang about the pain of losing a best friend to suicide in, ‘Empty.’ When describing how it’s affected him both personally and musically, he said: “The big thing that bothered me was that my expectations of what reality is like, were not correct. I felt like he was going to get through this but he wasn’t. It’s made me realize that anything can happen at any given moment. So when I look at my situation, I look and I see things that I want to be there that aren’t there. Whenever I think that things are really hard for me, I do that thing where I zoom out and go ‘wow, it’s not that bad right now, you can do this.’
His most played song, ‘Carlsbad, New Mexico, metaphorically speaks of life’s ups and downs. Jaik wrote it after a trip back from Colorado that went awry, due to bad weather, landing him in the small town of Carlsbad.
“I know there’s got to be more to life than this
How come every road we go down leads us to this God-forsaken town”
However, Jaik says that after writing it, he realized that the song had a larger meaning. “No matter where I go, I always end up in San Antonio. I always end up in this particular point in this career. It’s definitely a refrain of frustration.” Jaik is one of the many artists who have found that this city doesn’t exactly have an ideal community for growth, and dream of going to Austin, or even Los Angeles, to place immerse themselves in a hustler’s environment. But he is content in staying in San Antonio for now, seeing as how the city is making an effort to grow its artists by increasing the live music scene. “There’s so much going on here, we’re like the biggest little city. I’m excited and we’ll see how the music scene goes; right now were making good steps in the right direction.”
As far as continuing to grow his own music, Jaik says with a laugh that he will continue his “political campaign.” “There really isn’t any other formula to it. It’s just like campaigning, shaking people’s hands. The human condition and the psyche behind getting someone to like you—there are so many ins and outs to get them not to like you that you have to figure out who you’re talking to and what to do. If you want the guy in the Iron Maiden t-shirt to like you, maybe don’t do a Taylor Swift cover. It’s a lot of trial and error, and it does feel like winning one person over at a time. No one is going to give you the show, you got to ask for it and keep asking. Like being a high pressure salesman but you’re the product.”