Tanned, fit and blessed with lush chest-grazing jet black locks, Samuel Jacob Lopez Jr. is not just another scruffy-faced suave California skater boy. Artistic and ambitious, the 31-year-old Los Angeles-based musician has cut his teeth with bigger names in the music industry such as 30 Seconds to Mars, whom he is touring as their go-to Ableton Tech man. Not only did he catch the ears of his peers, hotshots such as Red Bull were instantly hooked by his danceable beats and airy vocals. With that voice, strong lyrical penmanship, laid back personality and warm teddy bear eyes, we are forever trapped. It’s no secret that he’s been able to lock down the hottest clubs of Sunset Strip!
If you believe that this interview is our first encounter, this is not the first time I reached out to Lopez. In the summer of 2015, I was interning at a startup music company, where my boss assigned me to e-mail Lopez, who was previously in Little Wolves, to link up with him. Three years later, the alluring Aquarian randomly slipped into my mind. One night, I pulled up my Instagram, stalked his page and liked a bunch of photos. Much to my surprise, Lopez slid into my DM! Starting anew with his new project Coquí, it brought me to feature him in my column.
Although both of us have yet to meet in person, his aura, warm energy and super duper fly personality lights a spark inside my soul. We chat about (
(P.S. If you want to take him out for dinner, this very single bachelor is actually vegan!)
Music defines the phases we go through in life and as humans, I feel like we’re literally wired to hear it everyday. What made you fall in love with music?
Samuel Jacob Lopez: Well[,] I grew up with music from a really young age. My dad was a DJ throughout the 80’s and early 90’s, so there was ALWAYS dance music playing in the house. My dad actually taught me how to mix records when I was about 10 years old and I was obsessed. Me and my little bro would wake up almost every weekend to the smell of chorizo and eggs and insane low end coming from the living room. My dad had everything from imported disco [and] house to salsa [and] cumbia to old school funk…you can imagine how lit our house was. I guess love for music has always been in my blood.
While we’re mainly familiar with Little Wolves, Coquí is the next evolution. How did Coquí start and what does the name mean to you (as an artist)?
SJL: Coquí actually started as sort of an alternate creative outlet from Little Wolves. We had been working on a record for about two years and towards the end[,] we started having some major creative differences. I had been wanting to experiment more with hip-hop/R&B type stuff but[,] it wasn’t exactly the vibe for Little Wolves. So[,] I decided to just started making stuff on my own just for fun and the more I wrote, the more I began to really enjoy making music again. So[,] I decided to stick with it.
The name is actually taken from my mother. It was her nickname given to her by my grandfather when she was little. My mother was the youngest of 6 siblings and was very small and petite when she was young. My grandfather named her Coquí after a tiny frog that lives in Puerto Rico. I always loved that nickname and so when I decided to start this project[,] it was the perfect way to pay tribute to my mother. She’s my #1 supporter. ❤
It seems like these days, everyone’s dropping singles, mixtapes or EPs. Which one do you plan to release first?
SJL: For now[,] just singles. I plan to write a lot this year and release as much music as I can. Once I have a few tunes out then[,] I’ll prob start thinking about an EP. Who knows, I might change my mind tomorrow and put out a whole record.. Oops.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve fallen for musical men because to me, their talent and charisma are hot. As a man, what’s the sexiest trait of a musician?
SJL: Confidence. If you’re confident in yourself, anything is possible. When I see that in any person, I’m immediately like, “damn, they’ve got it dialed in”.
I’ve noticed that the Jesus aesthetic is becoming a trend (thanks, Jared Leto!). What products do you swear by to maintain your hair and beard?
SJL: Raw Organic Coconut Oil… that’s all I use.
Los Angeles is such a career-minded city and TBH, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to deal with people who wanna latch on to me for the connects. I mean, almost everyone dates everyone in the same industry there. Since you live in LA, what’s the biggest challenge about dating there?
SJL: I think one of the biggest challenges is that not many people take dating seriously anymore. Almost everyone in LA is on Tinder, [B]umble or some other dating app.. even if they’re not single! So I feel like it makes it difficult for real relationships to grow because now[,] almost anyone can have a back up option the second their current relationship isn’t working out the way they want it to. Also, so many people look at social media and the way other relationships “appear” and have this sort of make believe ideal of what a perfect relationship is. So when they run into something they don’t like[,] they automatically write it off. The disconnect is really weird.
I’m just tryna find my next girlfriend at the skatepark. Skater girls, get at me. 😉
What I love about L.A. is that you can meet anyone anywhere, but at the same time, I notice that everyone’s on dating apps. Do you prefer to meet a girl in person or on an app?
SJL: IN PERSON 1000000000000%
What was the worst date you’ve ever had?
SJL: Haunted Horror Nights at Universal Studios a few years ago. I don’t do well waiting in line at theme parks. Especially if I’m sober. We went on about 3 or 4 rides, each about an hour wait. We obviously didn’t get the front of line pass (HUGE MISTAKE) and they had ZERO vegan food anywhere in that theme park. It was a real life living nightmare.
If you have to take a girl on tour with you, where will you two go?
If I HAD to? I guess depends on where the tour is going. If I had the option to choose… probably eastern Europe. I had the pleasure of touring out there this past year and it was an absolutely amazing experience.
You’ve been on tour with 30 Seconds to Mars (lucky you!). What is it like to be on tour with them and who’s your favorite band member?
SJL: It was definitely an incredible experience. Getting the opportunity to tour with one of the biggest rock bands in the world was truly a blessing. We were playing for about 8,000 -20,000 people a night, filling up arenas and stadiums so you can imagine the venues we all pretty decent. Played with some of my favorite bands too! Chvrches, The Neighbourhood, Muse, Smashing Pumpkins! The list goes on. Never imagined I’d be sharing the same stage as these legends. Definitely a big step up from touring small clubs and theaters. My favorite member of 30STM would definitely have to be Shannon Leto. He’s just the most down to earth dude and absolutely hilarious. He’ll come kick it in catering with us and within a few seconds will have the whole room laughing their asses off. Without him, this tour definitely have been WAY less fun.
Since you’ve worked with Jared Leto, what was the one lesson you’ve learned from him?
SJL: There’s ALWAYS a harder way to get something done.
Apart from music, do you plan to pursue any other career?
SJL: I’d actually really love to get more involved in the skateboarding industry. Obviously not as a pro skater, but maybe something in brand design or even event planning. I just love skateboarding so much. It’s the only thing besides music that I couldn’t live without. Yo skate brands, hit me up!
Lastly, what’s your motto?
SJL: Everything happens for a reason.
Photos by Leire Baztarrica