Irvys Juarez is a Venezuelan-born musician who has been living in TT since 2000. When she was five years old, she started playing the Venezuelan cuatro by watching her father and grandfather play the guitar and cuatro on her breezy gallery in her childhood home.
She also taught herself to play the guitar and mandolin.
A trained Emergency Medical Technician and Health, Safety and Environmental professional, Irvys says her true life’s passion has always been music – whether it be composing, singing, or playing different music genres such as Reggaeton, Merengue, and Bachata.
Her musical journey in Trinidad started with her involvement in Parang music, and she joined and performed with local bands Levantamientos, Dulzura Caliente, and Fuego Caribeño of which she was a founding member and the lead singer for 12 years.
Fuego Caribeño won Parang On The Hill two consecutive years, and through Irvys’ selection of songs for the band, they developed a wider repertoire that included Latin songs, reggae, and pop which expanded the band’s followers and fans. She also produced and edited Fuego Caribeño’s first album, “Mi Anuncio”.
In July, Irvys took another step forward in her music career when she decided to branch out as a solo artist under her brand #vozmusic. Since launching her solo career, she has already won the Underground Artiste award at Drop the Mic in August, as well as had a successful first “Latin Show” in September where she performed live.
In December, the she hopes to release two songs and accompanying music videos, and in the future, she plans to focus on composing Latin and Reggae songs with crossovers into Soca and Calypso through #vozmusic. On December 13t, she will be featured at Kaiso Blues Café’s “Unplugged & Chill” series, where she hopes to continue to reach audiences as a solo act.
Today, Irvys talks to WMN about the ways TT culture has influenced her music, some of her most memorable musical moments, and what audiences can expect from #vozmusic’s upcoming show at Unplugged & Chill.
How has being in Trinidad for the past 17 years influenced the music you create?
When the audience comes to one of my shows, the Trini influence will be clear. It’s a combination of cultures and personality that just happens. I can’t put it into words, it has to be seen. I love calypso music and my favorite is extempo. I love parang music as well and I lean more to liking the groovy soca tracks. In 2018 I am planning to try and keep the traditional Parang music alive with the upcoming generation, maybe through workshops in schools. This is something that much planning and dedication needs to be invested in as sadly I have realised that young adults and children cannot differentiate between traditional Parang and the modern soca parang music and I feel very strongly that we should not let traditional Parang die.
And what about your experiences as a Venezuelan living in Trinidad – how has it been for your music and your personal life?
When I first visited Trinidad I totally fell in love with it: the people, the music, and the food! I don’t know any other home than Trinidad and Tobago. I am the type of person that can adapt easily so it was really no effort for me to feel at home when it came to Trinidad and Tobago.
Please tell us more about #vozmusic and your decision to start your solo career this year – what is your unique brand and style?
#vozmusic was a long overdue career move for me. My music, how I wanted things done when it came to the music I sang, arranged, composed, and performed… for me, sometimes as a band member, I felt that my efforts and commitment seemed to go unnoticed. I felt held back from greater things which is what I am trying to achieve now.
What can folks expect from your Unplugged & Chill performance on December 13? What will you be performing and bringing to audiences?
For Unplugged & Chill, #vozmusic will be performing a live set. I will be backed up by a select group of musicians that I have met over the years here in Trinidad and a few new ones I met when I started my solo career. #vozmusic will perform various Latin genres, from Salsa to Cumbia, to Boleros and Bachatas. We will even touch on some Reggae as well. As #vozmusic’s motto says: We go out to play music, dance and have a good time, every time! So that’s what the audience can expect for the performance so don’t forget your dancing shoes!
Professionally, you are trained in the field of medicine. Can you tell us more about this, and what would you say about having such different passions professionally and personally? Does one influence the other?
When I was in high school I remember my dad once asked me what I wanted to do when it came to higher education. I told him that I wanted to study music and he instantly shot me down and made a remark about choosing something else. I got kicked out of military school, and that’s when I met Judith Francis (a Trinidadian living in Venezuela). She took me under her wing and made me join her English class. She saw that I liked music a lot and so the way she chose to teach me English was through music. Judith and I are very close, she is like a mother to me, and she always has helped me develop myself in any way that she could. Through her help I was able to go to the US and study to be an Emergency Medical Technician. Later on when I returned home (Trinidad) I took jobs as the Medic on job sites, and that’s where I also developed a passion for Health and Safety. The only link that I can make to my passion for music is that ever since I can remember anything that I wanted to achieve, I worked towards it and made it happen. And though I am not a perfectionist, I like things done with love and passion and to the best of my ability. Always.
Check out #vozmusic Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube