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JLoryn Finds Her Footing as a Solo Artist

Look out for JLoryn's debut solo project, coming early next year.
Look out for JLoryn's debut solo project, coming early next year. Jonathan Lobato
Colorado native Jessica Lobato (née Bolden), aka JLoryn, has been singing since she was able to talk. As a member of her church choir from age four to 24, she blew people away with the depth of her soulful voice. At times, though, she wondered if music was really her calling.

"It's always been something that people deemed me great at, and over time, I think after doing it for so long as a child, I kind of had to find myself, and if that was really my passion," she says. "Now it's very much an extension of me. It's something that's going to be a part of my life for the rest of my life." At 33, Lobato has just released a ’90s-inspired music video for her song "Coolin'," the first single from her upcoming debut album.

Before blazing her own trail as a solo artist, Lobato dabbled in multiple genres, from singing in a gospel group to recording background vocals for a rock band and a country singer. "It wasn't until my later twenties — I would say 28 — that I actually recorded my very first song just by myself," she says. "That was kind of the start of me shaping and molding myself into what I'd like to consider myself today: a singer-songwriter.
JLoryn steps out of the background and into a solo career.
Blake Jackson Photography
"I never put myself in one pocket when it comes to music," she continues. "I do enjoy all different genres, but if I had to be specific on what motivated my sound, I'd say it's been compared to the likes of Aaliyah, Jhené Aiko, Corinne Bailey Rae. When I think about defining myself as an artist, I'm definitely in the pocket of those women, as well as Lauryn Hill. I have more of a soulful voice, I've been told. It makes sense, being raised in the church, but I kind of put a little bit of a twist on it. Overall, if you hear my music, it would most likely be compared to more of a soulful R&B sound, more old-school soulful than new-school R&B that you hear today."

Lobato's music is also deeply personal. "I pride myself on saying I've written just about all of my songs. A lot of my material comes from things I've personally experienced in my life, whether they be in the past or present," she explains. "Definitely just the mood that I'm in in the moment when I'm writing — and I find that I write more when I'm in not the best of moods, so it's kind of like therapy for me, as well."

After putting out two self-recorded singles in mid-2020, Lobato was introduced by her now-husband to hip-hop artist, songwriter and producer Ramond, a fellow Colorado native who recently relocated to Phoenix. The industry vet proved to be an invaluable creative partner to Lobato: "Ramond took me under his wing and really helped me cultivate my sound a little bit more, so I could package it in a way that would be appealing to my listeners. Not to give him all the credit, but my husband is the reason behind a lot of what kickstarted my move. I was working with a few different people, but once I met Ramond, I was able to narrow in on the vision that we had for the future project, and everything just fell together."

Lobato slowly warmed to the idea of recording songs Ramond wrote, a departure from her previous emphasis on writing all her own music. Although she was hesitant at first, she grew to love some of the songs after hearing them in her own voice. That includes "Coolin'," which was released on July 8. The track was written and executive-produced by Ramond, produced by Malik Carter (Produced by Carter), and engineered by Stevie Buggz of Bright Future Media.

"[Ramond] actually wrote this song for another artist he had been working with, and it never happened," she recalls. "So he was like, 'I know you say you write all your own material, but let me just let you hear this.' So I listened to the hook, I kind of let it marinate for a few days, and I said, 'You know what? Not really my cup of tea, but let's do it. Let's see what we can make of it.' And as soon as I hopped on that track and started to record it in the studio, I fell in love with it. I'm so glad that I stepped out of my box of rules and gave a little bit of energy to that."

During the recording process, "Coolin'" took on a life of its own, inspiring the video, which dropped on November 12. "As we started to record it, it just developed into this ’90s nuance vibe, to where every time we would go back to mix it or master it or lay down a verse, it just started to form a story of its own," explains Lobato. "That's when we decided to take the direction from a song that gave you this ’90s R&B feel to 'Let's create a story here.'"
JLoyrn in the studio.
Jonathan Lobato

With the help of Denver-based videography company Dreamersday, Lobato created a brightly colored, energetic visual collage of ’90s pop-culture allusions, from Kangol bucket hats to iconic TV characters. "Essentially, we were hoping to capture a few themes from different '90s TV shows and just kind of spread them throughout the video," Lobato says. "So you're really going to have to be polished up on your old-school ’90s nostalgia to get the references, but I think I created that video for the ’80s babies — everybody that misses The Martin Show and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. If you know, you know."

"Coolin'" is the first single off Lobato's upcoming debut project. "It started out as an EP, but it's probably safe to call it my first album, because there will be seven songs on it," she says. "It's not so much an early premiere as it is an album now, just given the time that has gone into it. It's going to give you a lot of different facets of who I am as an artist. It will give you more than one sound. The name of the album is going to be Mood Swings, so I'm hoping to take you up and then bring you back down toward the end. Everything is strategically placed."

Before she releases Mood Swings early next year, Lobato will release another single in late January that features a verse from Ramond. Titled "Memories," the song conjures an entirely different mood than "Coolin'," one that's more somber and contemplative.

"That song actually started out as a song that I wrote for my mom," Lobato explains. "My mom passed away three years ago. It was me in my own grief, kind of like [Tupac's] 'The Rose That Grew From Concrete' — very much in this really low place — and music really helped me get out of that. Me and Ramond connect so well on that song because we have so many similarities to put into it. It's one of those ones we hope tugs on the heartstrings as a listener, because it's a really deep, emotional song, and a lot of personal grief and growth went into that."
Lobato's sound has been compared to that of Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill and Corinne Bailey Rae.
Blake Jackson Photography
"Coolin'," by JLoryn, is available now for streaming and download on all music platforms. Watch the "Coolin'" music video on JLoryn's YouTube channel.
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Cleo Mirza is a real-life Daria Morgendorfer who worships at the altar of Missy Elliot. She left the East Coast to live vicariously through Colorado's drag performers, and only returns for the pizza. Cleo has been a contributing writer for Westword since 2019, covering music, arts, and cannabis. She loves white wine, medical marijuana, and her possessed chihuahua, Rudy.
Contact: Cleo Mirza

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