A passion for pop music free from convention
It seems apposite to be talking with Jackie Mendoza about her debut EP on the night before Valentine’s Day. Entitled ‘LuvHz’ – pronounced ‘love hurts’ – its six tracks variously deal with unrequited love, navigating long-distance relationships, and unhealthy infatuations.
These lyrical preoccupations have been the bread and butter of pop music from its inception onwards; what is fresh and intriguing with Jackie Mendoza is the way in which it’s presented.
Tracks have abstract structures in which Latin-driven dance beats skitter to the surface, twinkling ukulele pans from left to right, and synths shimmer and float into the middle distance. These elements are grounded by Mendoza’s Spanish and English vocals, and a love of pop music that means the lack of convention is always reeled in at the point of collapse.
“I think it’s what comes naturally to me,” she notes of this fusion from her home in Brooklyn. “Because I love pop and I love having that in my music, but also mixing some less traditional sounds and beats, and I want to get the Latin influence into it. But I always lean towards the pop structure because I like it.”
This openness to inventive sounds and ideas is perhaps best observed on ‘Puppet Angels’; the most aggressive dance track on the EP. It came about when Mendoza was in the studio with her producer, Rusty Santos, and they basically took the beat of another song, ‘Loco Flow’, and made something else.
She chose to work with Santos because of her love of Panda Bear and Animal Collective, both of whom he’s produced. As someone with Mexican heritage, she was also interested in the fact that he’s starting to work with more Latin artists. “I could see that he was really excited about working with me,” she says. “He helped me out a lot with production and just adding his own little flair to it.”
She’s planning to collaborate with him again on an album that’s scheduled for release in 2020 through Luminelle Recordings. “I’m trying to mix and match poppy with more experimental for it,” she says, “and push myself to step even further away from the poppiness and try new structures and new sounds.”