Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
With thick black hair, a handsome smile, and a guitar in hand, 19-year-old Carlos Perez can easily be mistaken for John Stamos’ son. However, judging from his talent, the world may come to know him for his own fame. Carlos Perez was born and raised in North Bergen, New Jersey, but his true home is the stage.
When Perez was a young child, he had a toy guitar that he took with him everywhere and had wanted to learn how to play guitar since he could remember.
In the 7th grade, Perez first attempted to play guitar, but according to him, he “couldn’t get the hang of it.” Not until late into his freshman year of high school did Perez attempt to play again. Without being able to take guitar lessons, he dedicated his time to watching videos on YouTube and trying to replicate his favorite songs. The result? Success. Perez now plays rhythm guitar and sings for indie rock band Fiscal Cliff.
According to Perez, Fiscal Cliff is a melting pot of a variety of influences and genres, with each band member having different musical backgrounds.
“I like folk and acoustic rock, my other guitarist loves jazz, indie, and some hardcore stuff, my bassist is a funk master, and my drummer likes a mix of things, but I guess his favorite is classic rock, if you ask me anyway,” he explained.
Perez discussed the excitement he felt when Fiscal Cliff released their first official EP, Convalesce, this past spring. He was impressed with both the words of encouragement and the financial support from those who enjoyed the album. This, Perez said, is what makes Fiscal Cliff able to keep making music.
“It’s a beautiful thing and a great exchange. If the world wasn’t so expensive these days, music would all be free, but you know studio equipment and time is expensive!” he exclaimed.
Perez finds inspiration in two of his favorite musicians, Dave Matthews and Ben Howard, and the emotion and love they have for their craft. He was also inspired by students at his former high school, High Tech High School in North Bergen, New Jersey.
“Everyone was a musician or some sort of artist. I was constantly inspired. Envious, too, probably,” he laughed.
Perez currently owns 5 guitars – A 1970s American Telecaster handed down to him from an old friend, 2 Fender Stratocasters, an Epiphone Semi Hollow Dot, and a certain guitar whom he loves more than most people.
“My favorite is my Martin acoustic guitar,” says Perez. “She’s basically my girlfriend.”
However, she may have to watch her back because Perez is currently saving up for his dream guitar, a Fender Jazzmaster.
Not only can Perez be seen rocking out on stage, he can also be seen acting on it. He talked about seeing his first theatrical production at his former high school and how it was one of the biggest events to have ever had an impact on him.
“My first experience seeing a production in my high school was a crazy shift in my life. The amount of magic and inspiration that went on in that black box is indescribable. It completely changed my life. Seeing the joy and the beauty of that first production made me think I needed to give it a shot,” he declared.
According to Perez, both music and theater are communal experiences shared between an artist and his audience.
“It’s always great to be part of something more. Theater and music isn’t about just you, it’s about everyone – the people on stage and the people watching or listening,” he explained.
The difference between the two art forms for Perez, he says, is the unexpectedness of a live concert as opposed to a scripted theatrical performance.
“It’s weird being in a band sometimes because you never know what to expect from a show. There are no lines and no ‘for sure’ comical or dramatic moments. It kind of just happens magically…or fails tragically,” he laughed.
Among all that he has accomplished as an artist, Perez is most proud of the fact that he’s done it independently.
“My parents are old school and from Cuba originally, so they don’t completely understand how things work here. So growing up, I kind of figured most things out alone and never really had that ‘push’ I always wished for. But now I am in college, living away from home, playing and writing music, and working in the theater whenever I can. In all those things, my dedication and my obsessions are the only reasons why I am where I am. That’s the main thing I’m proud of, but nonetheless, I love my parents for all they do,” he stated.
Perez continues to strive for success. He is currently a sophomore at Rutgers University and majors in English which allows him to carry out the storytelling he does on stage through a different medium.
Most recently, Perez founded Bushwick Sounds – a production company that offers live sound engineers and rentals as well as musical production and recording ranging from small concerts, coffeehouses, theater productions, live sessions, and studio time. Photographers and videographers are also available on timely request.
“Our mission is to help those artist gain the recognition they deserve, by providing an artistic outlet for them. With the expenses of life piling up, productions usually as well cost a fortune, and we are here to help fix that,” the company said in a statement.
In addition to Perez’s artistic endeavors, his response to what his dream future looks like shows just how many goals he has for himself.
“There are so many things I dream of being and becoming, so it’s hard to decide. I love film and photography. I love theater and sound engineering. I love music and inspiring others. And I love to write and connect with others. So maybe I’ll become a professor/musician/sound designer/ photographer/writer. I’ll just continue changing my life around as I do now anyway in a perfect world,” he said.
Perez gave inspiring words of advice to anyone who wishes to pursue a career as an artist.
“Do what you love because one day we won’t be around anymore, and then all we have left are the memories of us and all we became. It isn’t about the money, or the car, or the nicest house on the block,” he said. “It’s about being yourself, and being proud of that.”