Oct 12

Q&A: Jose Fever talks art & music, pan dulce and his love affair with Boyle Heights

Photos by Photojeninc

Cesar Chavez and Breed St was the first José José print I saw in Boyle Heights. I didn’t know what to make of it. I knew the man’s music, mostly from watching Siempre en Domingo as a kid with my parents, but I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a fan of the Mexican crooner.

Once I started spotting more pieces around the hood, it was intriguing. I realized I had seen other stencils and wheat-pastings in other parts of town as well. I asked myself, “What kind of person has an obsession with José José?”

His name is “Fever… Jose Fever” he says. Tonight, Jose Fever will be showing a few prints at the grand opening of Espacio 1839, a collective providing books, radio, vinyl and tapes, and clothing.

Although he plans to attend, he will remain anonymous. So if you’re on the hunt for Jose Fever this is the hint he gave on Facebook: “Ladies don’t be fooled by guys saying they’re Jose Fever at the show. Say no to Pirateria! One way to be sure its really me, check the abs, if they’re rock solid and have a tattoo on them that say “wash clothes here” that’s me!”

We managed to squeeze out a bit from the self-proclaimed romantic… Check it out!

MN: Where did the name Jose Fever come from?
JF: From an emotion I felt after rediscovering Jose Jose’s music and not being able to detach from it. When things escalate to an uncontrollable fire that continues to spread I call it a fever. It could be anything from a current type of food you’re into at the moment that you must keep having, to a crush on someone that you can’t remove from your mind- it’s called running a fever.

In my case it’s the daily celebration of listening, enjoying and dissecting Jose Jose’s music. I am a romantic and passionate person and so are his songs and that combination is Jose Fever.

MN: What’s your obsession with José José?
JF: I admire his vocal skills. His technical abilities at his prime were unmatched. I personally connect with pretty much all of his songs. They describe situations in my life. He is a man that has been through the toughest times hitting rock bottom with drugs and alcohol but turned his life around during the darkest time of his life to stay clean and live a humble, spiritual life. The level of kindness, compassion and humility he practices are an inspiration to me.

MN: Where was your first Jose Fever piece posted?
JF: Crenshaw and LaBrea

MN: So you like to remain anonymous, why? Will that change at Espacio 1839’s opening tonight or ever?
JF: I do not want to interfere with the original goal, which is to bring awareness of this living legend through my artistic abilities in the streets and to contribute some of my cultural upbringing into the mix. Things always change and considering the love I am experiencing from Boyle Heights/East LA and the tight family community it is, well it seems natural to contribute in person and every day I grow eager to reveal myself and join in on the fun.

MN: Will Friday be your first-ever showing?
JF: This event is more about Espacio 1839’s grand opening, a collective of brilliant and talented people that bring quality products and events to the community. I was invited to show a selection of the posters that I am putting up in the streets at the moment. It was a last minute invitation and I said yes because I am currently experiencing a romantic love affair with Boyle Heights and I want to help Espacio 1839 and the community anyway I can. This is not a Jose Fever solo show but we have hinted at one possibly next year were I can have ample time to produce originals as opposed to just street posters and prints. I am actually happy to say that along with the street posters and prints I was able to finish an original canvas that I just delivered to Espacio 1839.

MN: You like to use quotes from Jose Jose songs in your work, what’s your favorite song? Quote?
JF: I have 5 top favorite songs. “Lo Dudo” El triste” “Voy a Llenarte Toda” “Almohada” and “Amar y Qeurer.” My favorite quotes that I seem to keep writing are “quisiera gritarte que vuelvas conmigo que si aun estoy vivo solo es para amarte” “Tu no debes quererme yo soy pecado” “El que ama no puede pensar todo lo da, todo lo da” “Esa noche entre tus brazos cai en la trampa” and so many more I cant think of right now!??

MN: Tell us a little about yourself– where did you grow up, what do you call home (specific LA area), when did you begin street art?
JF: I was born in Los Angeles near Pico Union. When I was a kid I would look forward to our weekend trips to Boyle Heights were my pops would take us to a park known as “El Hoyo” and we watched soccer games and he bought me ice cream and we loaded up on Pan Dulce from la Mascota for the week- the chorizo from there was bomb too!

I’ve been doing art for a while. Under Jose Fever, the idea started towards the end of 2008 but I went forward in 2009.

MN: What’s your favorite spot to eat in Boyle Heights?
JF: There are a few but I’m still looking. Please have your readers recommended some spots to me!

MN: Can you list other artists you admire?
JF: I try to have an open mind when it comes to art. I listen to a wide variety of genres when it comes to music so I approach art in the same manner. I can go from Diego and Siquieros to Kofie and Basquiat. Currently it’s Jaybo Monk and Paul Botello.

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