I came across Xinxin (IG: @xinxin) on Spotify in May of 2019 by randomly perusing artists. The first song that I heard was “ T D H F A R (Things Don’t Happen For A Reason).” It is a song that has managed to creep into my playlists because of its jazz fusion influences, heartfelt vocals and distinguished instrumentals. Janize’s (IG: @chocopoolatte) vent at the beginning stood out to me as the theme of the song; a metaphorical and literal venting of a lost relationship. Each chord progression and lyric being a step forward toward moving on.
How I saw them live initially was purely out of coincidence. My intent originally was to see Los Retros (IG: @losretross) and Daniel Ferreira (IG: @velvetlune) at FTG Studios in Santa Ana. I had seen both of them at Loudest Fest in Corona on 4/20/19; a small backyard show that has them ranked as one of my favorite musical experiences ever.
I’ve made the mistake in the past of only showing up for headliners, but never again. This was a fruitful night of bands; it was skillfully curated by local promoter Brandon Villa of Black Box Transmissions (IG: @blackboxtransmissions). Cooli Ooli (IG: @cooliooli) was the first band to take the stage and I instantly became a fan of them when Victor Padilla’s (IG: elwolverine_inspanish) banter and rapport with the audience had me reeled in. Shortly after their performance, I got their autographs and spoke briefly with them about their musical journey.
In the course of my conversations with members of Cooli Ooli, Xinxin took the stage and was blasting on to the walls as I was listening just outside of the building. I had no intent on going back inside as the heat and mustiness had broken my will to reenter. Warm bodies were packed in like human sardine can. I asked Victor who was playing to which he uttered “Xinxin.” A name that sounded familiar, but had not registered in my head.
I went home that night feeling fulfilled, adding on to my growing list of artists I enjoy. Although, I was set on finding out why Xinxin sounded so familiar. When I returned home I searched through my library of songs and found that I had “Reset” and “T D H F A R.” I became rather jubilant upon finding this out because I was learning that Southern California was stacked with bands.
In the coming months, I saw them perform at Viva Pomona Fest. My first real opportunity to enjoy their music with my undivided attention. Shortly after performing, I went up to Janize and had a brief word. Nothing more than introducing myself and pointing out how much I love Xinxin’s music. My memory is a bit hazy when speaking to Carlos (bass, IG: @carloselias_music) and Stephen (drummer, IG: @error.ship). Nonetheless, my sentiments were the same in appreciating their artistry and musicianship.
I often look back to that festival and regretfully see how much tunnel vision I had. There were so many great bands to see that day. The Pantones, Strawberry Army, Jackie Mendoza, Ginger Root, and many more. But the band that was in my blindspot was Brainstory. However, my objective was to see a full set from Xinxin.
Retrospectively I wonder if the conversation for Brainstory’s (IG: @00brainstory00) album release show started at Viva Pomona Fest because Xinxin and Los Retros played the same day.
Fast forward to December 27, 2019, I see these 3 bands sharing the same bill once more. A little coincidental if you ask me. Regardless, it was a show I highly anticipated since the day it was announced. It was my chance to see Xinxin in a traditional music venue, The Morrocan Lounge. So naturally, I showed up an hour or two early just to make sure I was dead center to take in all the musical ambiance.
My efforts were rewarded. I was drenched in Stephen’s pulsating drumming on the Morrocan Lounge’s PA system. This coupled with Carlos’s buttery smooth bass lines, Jonah’s (IG: @jone_bones) playful keys, only to be topped off by Janize’s jangly guitar and full-hearted vocals. A musical sundae, if there ever was one.
In addition to Xinxin’s exceptional performance, this night had numerous revelations. I learned that Jose Cruz of Twin Seas (IG: @twinseasmusic) did audio engineering that night and is also good friends with the members of Brainstory (which is why he was probably there in the first place). Gemma Castro (IG: @gemmacastro) was someone I had heard but not seen in person until the night of this show where she provided backing vocals for Brainstory.
This leads to Xinxin’s performance at Karen Joyce’s Stage Fright event. (IG: @yellowstainedblue & @honeybobadoh). A community event that is driven by local artists and vendors that I absolutely adored. The attendees, artists, vendors alike were amicable and supportive. Of course, I spot Gemma Castro, who she was there to see would be speculation on my part. However, it reiterates the constant weaving threads that make this the fabric of Southern California’s music community.
Aside from my scatterbrained thoughts, I was completely blown away by Karen because she multitasked organizing, curating, and performing all on the same day. Not to mention her impeccable taste in music had the likes of Yungatita (IG: @yungatita) and Xinxin on the same bill.
In this instance, I got to see a side of Janize and company take part in and support a friend’s cause, namely Karen’s zine release event. A wholesome sight to see a tight-knit community lifting each other up. I seized the moment and asked if Xinxin could sign on the page they were featured on, to which they were delightfully surprised. I always appreciate it when an artist is kind and humble about how talented they are. It meant the world getting their autographs, I have no doubt that their talent and hard work will lead to a brighter future.
For now, I am enjoying their new single “Trust” in anticipation of an EP or album.