Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently, we happened across a performance by Ira Perez, last year's winner of the Houston Press Best Female Vocalist award. It's hard to say exactly how fitting that award is until you've heard her live, because she somehow manages to sound better amid the hustle and bustle of a crowded venue than she does within the confines of a recording booth.
Her voice is bright and vibrant and, without being too hyperbolic, probably what it'd sound like if chocolate made noise. And since there's a very stringent Artist of the Week policy re: artists that require off-kilter food metaphors to describe their sounds, we stole a few bits of Ms. Perez's time to talk about tigers, her new album, tigers, Marcus Manchild, tigers and Filipinos.
Rocks Off: Standard opener: Tell everyone everything they need to know about you and your music in exactly six words.
Ira Perez: Spread the word! Word is love.
RO: How has your life changed since you won the Best Female Vocalist award last year at the Houston Press Music Awards? Did you buy a tiger? You bought a tiger, didn't you? You crazy woman, you.
IP: I wanted to buy a tiger, but my new apartment doesn't even allow pet hamsters. There was also some discussion of animal rights; I don't know what that's about. Anyway, since winning the award last August, life has changed quite a bit.
It opened up a lot of doors for me and helped create more of a buzz in the Greater Houston area about my music. I also started my first semester at the University of Texas in Austin, although I spent nearly every weekend in Houston performing and/or recording my album. It's been hectic, but I love it.
RO: Your new CD, Higher Education, just came out. If you could only play one song from for the entirety of your remaining life, which would it be? Why?
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IP: I would probably choose "The Night Song," even though it's not one of those songs people immediately identify as their favorite. Most of the songs I've written, like "Sandcastle" and "Wait," have definite memories, images and emotions attached to them. But the meaning of "The Night Song" changes over time and grows with me.
RO: You recently performed at SF2 with rapper Marcus Manchild. How exactly did that relationship come to be? Did it involve a tiger? It involved a tiger, didn't it? You crazy woman, you.
IP [laughs]: There was no tiger... this time, at least. The folks from Authintik Music Group (AMG) heard about me being another up-and-coming artist by word of mouth from different Houston music producers and others involved in the city's entertainment industry.
With Marcus Manchild and I having such different and yet compatible music styles, the potential for a really cool collaboration was definitely there. AMG contacted my manager and it's all history from there. I'm really happy with the final products, and I'm excited to see where it goes.
RO: Long as we've been writing this column, we've yet to come across any other Filipino female musicians in town. Can you point us towards some? Or do they really not exist? And if they don't, are you ready for the responsibility of being the first?
IP: I'm not aware of any other solo Filipino female musicians in town, but there are definitely Asian and Pacific Islander musicians in Houston. Kollaboration Houston is a great organization that is searching for Asian/Pacific Islander talent around the city and the state of Texas, so be on the lookout for their showcase this summer.
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I had the opportunity to compete in the sold-out show last summer, and winning the competition was only one of many great aspects of my involvement as I was up against several very talented, wonderful people. At any rate, if I am the first Filipino female musician to get some space in the Houston Press, I am very honored, to say the least. I'm proud to be from Houston and to be a part of its diverse music community.
RO: Is there anything else that you'd like to make sure gets mentioned? Now'd be the time to do it.
IP: I play multiple instruments: guitar, piano, and bass. I'm also a world-class finger-snapper and trash can percussionist. Just kidding. I really appreciate your time and the opportunity to be interviewed by the Houston Press. I hope tigers can be involved in the next time.