Coquí: New American singer songwriter talks about his life and music

Friday 26th April 2024

With COQUI's "Today" landing on the Cross Rhythms playlist, now seems a good moment to find out about Puerto Rican/American artist. He talked to Lance Brown.


Coqui, real name Samuel Jacob Lopez Jr, has just signed with major US Christian label Dream Records. The Puerto Rican/American has quite a bit to tell Joe Public.

Lance: Tell me about yourself.

Coquí: I started writing music when I was probably 16, but I didn't start writing about my faith until a few years ago when a series of events led me back to the Bible. I grew up in a Christian household, but wasn't always living by faith. Years of losing myself to pride, selfishness and sin lead me to a dark place where I didn't even recognize Jesus. It was when I hit rock bottom, I finally woke up to the truth. God had revealed to me what I had known my entire life but chose to bury it in sin. From that moment on I made a promise to God that I would only make music that would please him and help others find their way back to him, like he did for me.

Lance: What's it like to be a Jesus follower in LA?

Coquí: The same as it is anywhere else. It's the road less travelled. I don't go out much these days so I don't really run into any weird stuff... but I will say I've definitely seen some crazy stuff back in my worldly days. The overall mindset of LA is super liberal and most people that come here desperately just want to fit in, even if they don't necessarily agree with the politics or social standards. I honestly used to be like that too, until God opened up my eyes to the truth. Now I don't feel the need to fit in. I'm content staying home, working on music most nights, spending more time with my family, skateboarding during the day, occasionally going out for BBQ. You won't find me at many social gatherings these days. I just enjoy the simple life now.

Lance: How did you come up with the name Coquí?

Coquí: It's actually the name of the world's smallest singing frog from Puerto Rico. Funny enough, it was a nickname my grandfather had given to my mom when she was a kid because she was the youngest of five siblings. My dad also owned a Puerto Rican clothing line in the early 2000s called Coqui City Designs. So it's always been a word that reminded me of my family in some way or another. When I started writing for this project, it just seemed like the perfect word to repurpose.

Lance: I was listening to your stuff on Spotify and I really liked the songs "My Lord Provided" and "Ven Con Migo." Can you tell me about those songs?

Coquí: Yeah, those songs were the first two songs I wrote after finding Jesus again. "My Lord Provided" was a song I wrote as a testimony of my faith. It was my version of worship without being a traditional "worship" song if that makes sense. I just wanted to pour out everything that was happening to me at that moment in time.

"Ven Con Migo" actually came from notes I had written after listening to an incredibly powerful sermon by John Macarthur of Grace Community Church. I was completely floored by his sermon and had written paragraphs and paragraphs of notes on my phone. That evening after church I went home and was so inspired. I had a beat that's been sitting on my computer for a while but had no lyrics. That night I sat down, I just started reading off my notes and the song came to life. About 90% of that song was taken straight from that sermon, and the other 10% taken from the Bible. I just knew this song was something that needed to be said. Little did I know, so many people would resonate with it on social media.

Lance: You have just signed to Dream Records and will be releasing your debut single "Today". What are you hoping people learn from the song?

Coquí: This song is all about finding your way out of worry and darkness by leaning on faith and patience. Not to hurry through life, but to believe that everything will work out when it's meant to. It's about the journey of feeling trapped and held down by stress and anxiety to finally feeling joyful and eager to face what comes next, all by letting go and trusting in something bigger than ourselves to lead the way.

Lance: You self-produce your own music. How did you learn to do that?

Coquí: Honestly, YouTube and lots of practise. Never went to school for music recording. Just paid attention to every detail anytime I was near someone that knew how to record. I would soak up as much as I could and then go home and try it myself. After a while, I started to develop my own style and bag of techniques I had learned over the years. but honestly, I still refer to YouTube anytime I don't know something. Just about any music recording question you might have, there's an answer for it on YouTube.

When writing music, I typically start with the instrumental, playing it loudly as I mumble melodies into my iPhone, imagining a live performance. This helps me figure out exciting, natural melodies. Then, I jot down any lyric ideas, usually drawing from a list of potential song titles and phrases stored in my notes app. I'll refine the mumbled sounds into words and develop them into verses or hooks. Occasionally, a spontaneous chord progression on my piano or guitar might inspire a song, usually resulting in my best work, but these moments are rare.

Lance: Any parting words before you go?

Coquí: Read the Bible! If there's anything to take away from this interview, it's that all the answers are in the Gospel. Don't take my word for it, go check it out! CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Lance Brown
Lance Brown is the General Manager & Partner of the Dream Label Group in Los Angeles.


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