Interview by Jorge Lara
Photography by Shannon Dorn
VIMMAG: People last saw you perform for not one but two bands for Life is Beautiful, how was that experience?
CoCo Jenkins: What a blessing. I am so proud to be part of Rhyme N Rhythm & Sabriel’s project. I believe in the music 100%. It was an honor to be part of Life is Beautiful’s inaugural festival. This business is all about exposure, and between both bands I played 6 times within 48 hours! It was definitely a high point in my career.
VIMMAG: You are originally from the Philippines, how has your family supported you in your musical endeavors?
CoCo Jenkins: My mom is Filipina, and she has definitely expressed discomfort with my career choice, but she also loves to show off any magazine articles or anything featuring me.
VIMMAG: As well as being a musician you are also a teacher. What made you decide to go into that field? Any special stories you can tell us?
CoCo Jenkins: Originally, it was a “safe plan”. I always have and always will want music to be a part of my life, so a degree in teaching music would guarantee that. Fortunately, I have grown to sincerely love teaching music, or anything for that matter. It is an unmatched feeling when a student comprehends something because you laid down the building blocks. It is a hard job and requires a lot of passion for little monetary compensation. Right now, I do not teach full time in the school district. I substitute teach in order to allow me the flexibility to play with both my bands with ease. If I started sharing stories, this interview would turn into a short novel.
VIMMAG: Let's talk more about your musical inclinations, what bands or musicians have inspired you? Any local?
CoCo Jenkins: My list of international bands or musicians that have inspired me might not be so obvious, but I LOVE my local scene.
One of my favorite bands of all time is GDB (Goldfish Don’t Bounce). They were my first introduction into what Vegas has to offer musically, and their ska/reggae/soul sound will always have a special place in my heart. GDB played with a band called Holding On To Sound (HOTS) who I also loved for their amazing live show and raw energy. When we started doing shows with them and some musicians from GDB (Jordan the drummer, especially) it was like playing shows with artists who I consider legends.
There are plenty of individual artists I admire too, for all the same reasons—passion, legit talent, lyrics, music, and stage presence. The stage presence of artists like Reallionaire Jream, Isaac Sawyer, Interstate Fatz, and Samantha Mendoza is so large. They are never boring to watch, but it’s not like it makes up for lack of talent, it just adds to the whole package.
Also, let me not forget the poetry scene. Artists like Misty Reign, James Shahan (who could also be included in that last section), LaToya Thurman, Kismet, Amir Rikkah & so many others bare such vulnerable parts of themselves and in an eloquent way, too!
VIMMAG: Your band RnR has quite a following here in Vegas, how did it all begin ?
CoCo Jenkins: Long story short, through UNLV and other various ways. Our first show was an event called “I <3 HipHop” at Beauty Bar. They then booked us to play for New Years Eve, and after that we played with all kinds of genres of bands which is why our following is so diverse. I love that.
VIMMAG: You're the bassist for Sabriel's band, how has that experience been?
CoCo Jenkins: I had actually heard of her before we met so I was honored when she asked me to be a part of her band. We are both all about women supporting women, and I think we just have a tremendous level of respect for each other.
VIMMAG: What has been your favorite songs performing with both bands?
CoCo Jenkins: RNR’s “hit song” is a song called “Ridiculous” that we close with frequently. It’s just the cherry on top after a night of our music. I dunno what to tell you if you’re not sweaty and out of breath by the end of that song. I also love playing “Double Clap” and “Jesse Owens”.
Sabriel has a song in 6/8 meter called “To You From Me” that is beautiful and “Garden” which has a quietly eerie energy.
VIMMAG: We have quite a diverse and dynamic art scene that mixes cultures and heritages, are there any local artists, poets, performers that have inspired you?
CoCo Jenkins: Maybe now I can shout out the local dancers I love so much. I am really spoiled by going out with them because if I ever go to the club or something, it can get boring quickly. MP Art, Alex Sky, Cheerio, Raquel, Crykit, Miquel, Dezmin, Joe Styles are just a FEW of the people I love to watch! Sometimes they even let me dance with them and tell me that I’m a decent dancer.
VIMMAG: What do you think of the music scene in Vegas overall, anything you would like to see come to fruition in the next couple of years? Is there a festival you have wanted to play?
CoCo Jenkins: Can I shout myself out? I loved how COCOchella went—the fusion of genres and art forms was something that I’d love to see of more in general. We have so much talent in different subcultures, and there has to be a way to fuse them together. There are a few of us in the overall scene who promote and show up to not just our own events, but the events of others. Just to show love. That needs to happen more. Also, more support from the strip would be great just on the monetary aspect alone.
Speaking for RNR, we’d love to be a part of the festival circuit and play Life is Beautiful again of course.
VIMMAG: So when can we expect your own album of music?
That does need to happen, doesn't it?