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The Rocks Off 200: Jess Walker, the Pride of Pride Houston

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

The Rocks Off 200: Jess Walker, the Pride of Pride Houston
Photo by Hussain Najeeb

Who? Since 2012 Jess Walker has been slowly but steadily making a name for herself in pop music. Her voice is a potent combination of R&B/soul mixed with the high-energy electro-pop that Houston used to manufacture so well. It's standard dance floor fare, sure, but Walker has a penchant for classic production sounds that sets her apart from the flavor-of-the-day crowd. There's a difference between tricks and techniques, and Walker is the latter.

"Steady Pace," her most notable hit at the moment, is the best example of that skill. Walker wrote it for Venice: The Series, which was featured on the most recent Daytime Emmy Awards. The attention has her planning to jet out to Los Angeles for a fan event for the show and perform for the Hollywood crowd. She's become a true Houston pop export.

Home Base: She's a bathroom writer. Walker does her best work in the tub, bouncing her amazing voice of the acoustics of the tiles. Her favorite place to sing in Houston isn't a place at all, but an event. She's performed at the Houston Pride Celebration two years in a row, and looks forward to doing so every year.

Good War Story: "I spent a total of three years creating my EP," Walker tells us. "In those three years, I spent every weekend in the studio writing and recording which left me no time for my family and friends or just to relax.

To make a long story short, my blood, sweat, and tears were almost all for nothing. There were no contracts signed and the price to complete my EP just kept getting higher and higher to the point where I was given an ultimatum -- pay by this date or I will be forced to sell your songs.

So I created a crowd-funding campaign to raise the money and my amazing fans came through to help me make my dream come true. It was such a heartbreaking experience for me to think that what I had worked so hard for could be gone in a matter of days.

Now, I'm so grateful for every day I get to make music and keep pursuing my dream because it could all be gone so fast.

Why Stay Do You Stay In Houston? "I stay in Houston because it's my hometown and I love it!", Walker says. "But also, I can feel the city changing. I really feel that in a couple of years the music scene in Houston is going to explode and we'll slowly become another hub for music like LA and New York."

Story continues on the next page.

 

Music Scene Pet Peeve: Walker gets annoyed when someone sells the person and not the music. Though she's in the same line of work as Beyonce and Rihanna, she resents the feeling that she should aspire to tall, skinny, hyperfeminization. She feels it closes a lot of doors to women like her when music-industry people only know how to sell one kind of female pop star.

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • Jessi J, Alive
  • Paramore, Riot
  • John Mayer, Continuum
  • The Script, Science & Faith
  • The Fray, How to Save a Life

Best Show You've Ever Seen: "Forgive me, but I can't decide on just one show. I can however, narrow it down to two. The two best shows I've ever seen are the Fray's 'Summer' Tour in 2009 and The Script's 'Science & Faith' tour in 2011. The talent that both of these bands have is astonishing.

"Both shows were simple, no fireworks or crazy changing stages, and that's what I loved so much about them," continues Walker." They made their shows about the music and not the people on stage. However, I may also be biased because both of their albums at those particular times in my life were speaking what my heart was feeling."

First Song You Ever Fell in Love With: "Whitney Houston, 'I Will Always Love You'"

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and a link to the Rocks Off 100, on the next page.

  THE ROCKS OFF 200

Phil Peterson, AR*V All-Star John Janatsch, Mayor of Houston Rock City Frank Ortiz, Synth-Pop Served Perfectly frank. Optimo Ram, Online Radio Jefe Meagan Chambers, Don't Gag Her Gorgeous Guitar Justin Nava, the Voice of thelastplaceyoulook Donnie Houston, Halftime Entertainment Chase Harris, Deep Cuts' Rather Deep Thinker Dave Callier, Grindcore Guitar God Mlee Marie Mains, the Heart of Hearts of Animals DJ Navo, Bombón's Boundless Body-Mover Breelan Angel, Dirty Little Secret Keeper Michael Dauzat, Sr., a Rabbi and a Hate Nick Greer, a G Among G's Chingo Bling, H-Town's Own Versace Mariachi Quenton Rockwell, Melody Man in the Shiny Darks Southerland Nights, An Army of Accolades Stacy Hartoon, Rudz's Punk-Rock Heir Apparent Bowen Lyons, Keeper of the Trimms' Groove Chris Gore, Electronica Guru of BLSHS John Alton, the Madness of Cosmic Bug Loaf Reko Trill, of the Almighty Trill Brothers Jo Bird, Bow-Caster of Fiddle Witch & the Demons of Doom DJ Nando1, Who Fights to Keep the Party Poppin' Randall Hopkins, Featherface Drummer and Brilliant Video Director Roby Deaton, Open-Mike Pocket of Cool Nosaprise, Hurrah! for the Blushing Bridegroom Tony Vega, the Big Easy's Barnburner Leslie Krafka, Onward Through the Fog Michael Anthony Shanks, Houston's Merry Shankster DJ Baby Roo, Vegetarian Hip-Hop Veteran Rachel Bays, Filming Them Softly Punk-Rock "Newcomers" Screech of Death Erin Rodgers, the Keys to Glass the Sky Alex LaRotta, Crate-Digging Fistful of Soul Brother Alycia Miles, Triumphant Soul Singer DJ Piam, Poison Girl's Bacon-Fat Funk Specialist Mister Insane, Host of The Insane Show Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back Santos Pastrana, Sound Engineer and DJ Ninja Heading Upstream with RIVERS' Chris Tamez DJ Dayta, Keeper of That Good Good Matthew Davis Buehrer, Runaway Sun's Globally Thinking Bassist Fat Tony, Third Ward to "BKNY" Noon, Rapper With a Lot on His Mind Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC

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