How ‘X-Factor’ Inspired Jennel Garcia’s Single “Life Starts Now”

When rock artist Jennel Garcia first performed on X-Factor in 2012, she was scared out of her mind. “But it all worked out well!” she told us, and ever since, her music career has only gotten better. Now 21, she opens up about her experience on X-Factor, what she learned from working with Demi Lovato, and how even greater things are ahead.

Cliché: You performed in a lot talent shows when you were young.  Were there local talent shows for you to participate in or did you have to travel?
Jennel Garcia: When I was a kid, all the talent shows I did were local. My parents were never really “stage parents,” so if it was nearby and it was convenient, then I was there! Although, I did compete all over the country with my dance team. I sang and danced at different talent competitions for most of my life until I graduated high school. The team is like my second family to this day!

Growing up, who were some of your musical influences?
I went through a stage where I wanted to be Jennifer Lopez, then Alicia Keys, then Pat Benatar, then Hayley Williams, and even Steven Tyler and Michael Jackson. There are so many influential artists out there. You name them, I probably had a poster of them in my room!

How would you best describe your music?
I would say my music has a very colorful classic pop/rock feel to it. For my upcoming record, I used all real instruments that were manually played and recorded, so that kind of helps with the classic feel. But I also have a few tunes on there that you can dance to that kind of give it that pop vibe. It’s lyrically relatable, it’s punchy, it’s emotional, but it’s also my first record, so who knows what the next will sound like! I’ve done a few country collaborations because I love country music, but I think I’ll always stay true to my roots, which is that rock feel.

You have an absolutely beautiful voice and are so talented. Has it always come natural or has your voice evolved and transformed over the years?
Thank you! I must say, I think singing is a natural God-given gift. I’m so incredibly thankful for it because I truly love singing so much. But I have trained for a majority of my life. I wasn’t ever taught how to be just a good singer though. Singing lessons aren’t to teach people how to have a good voice, it’s to teach people how to use their voice without hurting themselves. Singing can be dangerous if you’re doing it wrong. I was born with vocal nodules, so I had a lot of work to do to get rid of them. I constantly lost my voice as a kid and was given the option to have them surgically removed, but after years of voice therapy, I no longer have cysts as of a year ago! So yes, yes, yes to vocal training!

Was it always a dream to perform on X-Factor? How did auditioning and participating come together?
My best friend asked me to go with her. At the last minute, my dad decided to take me; we only got around three hours of sleep and we headed to Providence, Rhode Island. I didn’t really take it seriously. The whole auditioning process was long and it was raining and there were thousands of people in line. But one audition after the next, I kept getting a “yes” from the producers, and one day turned into three days, and on my graduation day from high school, I got the call saying I made it! Everything from that point on was a dream. Performing my heart out was just the best part of it.

Most aspiring artists can only dream about working with a mentor or someone they truly admire.  What was it like working alongside Demi Lovato?
Demi was the first concert I remember ever going to. I loved her growing up. Like, SO much. Meeting her, alone, was a dream, let alone getting to work with her and have her mention me. I got to sing for her and work with her and it was such a blessing. She taught me things like how much of a role I might play in a fan’s life. She taught me that my singing and my art may be someone’s escape and that I no longer just sing for me, I sing for them. That, to me, was a special moment. I’ll never forget it.

You’ve experienced so much at such a young age. Can you tell us about a challenging situation or circumstance in your life that really affected you? How did you overcome it?
About two years ago, I lost all of my music. Fresh off the show, I wrote and recorded an album. It was a huge challenge for me, so those songs meant everything to me, but I was in a situation that I was extremely uncomfortable with. I went through something no young woman should ever have to go through, and I had to chose to either deal with it and keep my music or walk away and protect myself. I chose to protect myself and I spent a few months hiding away without working at all. It was really tough and I was really upset, but I eventually pulled myself together and I wrote my upcoming record that will be out this spring! I guess you could say I overcame it by being strong. Being strong was the only choice I had and I’m glad that I’m back on my feet now.

Let’s talk about your music. Do you write your own songs or do you work with others to write them?
I write my songs! If I don’t write them myself, I collaborate with my producers Zack and Kenneth. They’ve helped me grow as an artist so much.

Tell us about your latest track, “Life Starts Now.” The title invokes that you’ve overcome challenges or hardships and are ready to make a fresh start and beginning.
Thanks exactly what the song means! “Life Starts Now” was something I said at my X-Factor audition to my friends and family. That day meant a lot to me and my life truly started that day, so I wrote about it!

Do you ever get nervous before a performance? How do you prepare yourself to perform?
I think I always get nervous when I perform. Everything seems so scary before you go on stage, but then you get on and then you’re fine. I think the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life was my X-Factor audition. I was such a crab apple the whole day because I was absolutely petrified! I look back at it now and it’s so funny, but it all worked out well!

Is there someone you would love to collab with in the future?
I would love, love, love to sing with Steven Tyler at some point in my life. It’s a pipe dream, but you never know! It could happen!

Do you take an active role in business-related items or do you have business team in place to help? What have you learned from the business side of things that could help other aspiring artists?
The business side of the industry is NOT my forte! But I think it’s important to stay in touch with the business. You as an artist are indeed a business within yourself, so it’s smart to know a few things and read a few books to stay on top of your business. I like to keep on top of all of that with my manager. I think it’s always good to have a sense of self management within yourself, but it’s also very important to have an organized, trustworthy manager. My advice would be to take charge, be the captain of your own ship, and always accept help from trusting people.

Who are some of your favorite artists right now that you listen to?
Right now, I’m really big into The 1975 and Walk the Moon, but other than that, I just listen to my classic Aerosmith, Paramore, Mötley Crüe, and Alanis Morrissette tunes!

Do you have plans for college and have you considered any careers other than music?
I’ve never in my life planned on going to college because I have no idea what I would go for. I never even took my SATs! I did really enjoy marine science in high school and I love animals, but I don’t think I could ever make a career out of it. Music is stuck with me for life!

What are your plans in 2016?
I have many plans for 2016! Nothing is 100% set in stone, but until they are, I’ve been working on a few new projects and getting my ducks in a row. For starters, I want to release my EP and get back in the studio to get a full length album going. I’m working on a few tour ideas as well. And I want to start a consistent YouTube channel! I love music and I love covering songs and making them my own, so I’m excited to do that. So, those are a few things that are in store for this year.

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How ‘X-Factor’ Inspired Jennel Garcia’s Single “Life Starts Now”: Photographed by Heather Bozzone

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