Jessica Hernandez talks new album, playing in Detroit, and hating Donald Trump 

Hometown glory

Jessica Hernandez hates Donald Trump.

"I'm a Mexican-American, so it's scary to see someone like Donald Trump make it this far in this election," Hernandez says. "I'm a first-generation American, my dad is an immigrant, my grandparents are immigrants, everyone in my family is an immigrant. When I see someone say these awful things while my dad is someone who came from Cuba, started all these businesses, gave people jobs, and uplifted a neighborhood, it's just a slap in the face.

"That's why I'll always say, 'Fuck Donald Trump' at my shows until this election is over."

The business Hernandez speaks of is the Mexicantown staple Armando's. Her family bought the restaurant some 30 years ago, opened Mexicantown Bakery in 1995, and lived in the neighborhood until moving to Southfield in the '90s. Her heritage and this election season have been exponentially influential on her downtime between touring and making a follow up on her critically acclaimed debut album Secret Evil.

Right now, the band is touring North America, but they don't have any new music to promote. While it's unusual for a band to hit the road without a new record to sell, Hernandez says she's been antsy to get back on the road.

"I honestly just love touring," she tells us after her recent energy-fueled show at Riot Fest Chicago. "I really wanted to test a couple of the songs on the road and see the audience's reactions and start to get a buzz going. The people who are going to come to these shows will be the hardcore fans, so I'm excited to play for them."

But what about Hernandez's biggest fans? The ones who live right here in metro Detroit? The band has no date booked for the Motor City, a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed.

"We are going to play two nights at El Club in Southwest at the end of the tour," Hernandez says. "We'll be playing the album in its entirety, so it will be a mix of English and Spanish songs.

"We just wanted to blow some steam off with this tour and get back to things and then just have the best nights ever in Detroit. Plus, I haven't been to El Club yet."

And there is no better place for Hernandez to make her comeback to Detroit than at the city's newest and most buzziest venue, El Club. With its DIY-aesthetic and Southwest neighborhood location, Hernandez and the Deltas will feel like home there.

"My dad and his friends go to El Club probably more than anyone else in the city," Hernandez says as we both laugh at the thought of her dad partying it up more than she does. "He will send me photos of him and his friends with the bartenders and staff there. He'll even tell me that I'm better than the bands they are playing. Like, total dad move. He was sending me videos of when Sleigh Bells performed there a few weeks ago and I'm like, 'How is my dad at a Sleigh Bells show and I am not?'"

But that just shows the level of coolness Hernandez's childhood was saturated with. And it oozes out of her when she performs. Being one of the few female acts playing at Riot Fest that weekend, Hernandez completely owned her femininity, all the while giving zero fucks about being "ladylike," whatever the fuck that means.

During her set, she gave the middle finger to the audience while making her now signature declaration: "Fuck Donald Trump." She sat on the edge of the stage and caressed a Riot Fest security guard while singing to him. She played well over her allotted set time, giving in to an audience that was pleading for "one more song ... one more song!"

As far as her new album is concerned, Hernandez says the Detroit shows will reflect what she's been working on in the past couple months.

"The record has been completely recorded, so we're just in the final stages of mixing and mastering," she says. I really wanted to be more involved with this record, so I co-produced it and had a really strong hand in the entire process."

Her first album is full of angry love songs, happy love songs, and hopeful love songs, all the while the Deltas back her with a soul/pop groove inspired by her Detroit roots, as well as the late, great Amy Winehouse.

"Detroit has influenced so much of my music, alongside growing up in Southwest so I wanted the new album to really reflect that," she says. "We recorded it at Rust Belt in Royal Oak and I just decided that I wanted to do a record in Spanish too. So we went down to Mexico City and recorded Spanish vocals so we could release a double album."

She and her band played in Mexico City a few years back and completely fell in love with the city. They've returned many times to hang out with friends, and she says it just felt natural to go down there again and create more music.

She debuted one of the songs at Riot Fest: "Telephone." The band sounds tight and groovy as Hernandez whispers sweet Spanish melodies that are straight up hypnotizing. You can tell by her stage presence that these Spanish-infused songs suit her naturally, and the crowd didn't seem to care that most of the song was in another language. Her performance alone was enough to draw in any fan.

Life has been a whirlwind for Hernandez in 2016, and it seems that it's only about to get busier. She and her longtime boyfriend (and muse for most of her songs) tied the knot this past April in front of family and friends.

"It's just like, 'You're 30. I'm 28. We've been together for six years. We should just do this, right?"' she says. "I still feel like we're kids though. We live in my parents' basement when we're in Detroit, and we stay at his dad's when we're in Orange County. It's like I settled down, but not really."

Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas play El Club on Thursday, Nov. 17 and Friday, Nov. 18. Tickets go on sale Sept. 28.


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