No Vibe Killers Allowed
UNE Spotlight: Fernando Sez
The youth shall inherit the earth. Fernando Sez does just that in his newest single and music video, “NVKA,” which stands for “No Vibe Killers Allowed.” Accompanied by a short film, Las Mañanitas, Sez crafts a production of personal meaning and youthful resistance. Although media has portrayed immigrants, and in this case, Mexican-immigrants as an invasive and a criminal presence in the United States, Sez portrays the early mornings and long work shifts his mother is subjected to, all for the purpose of making a modest living for herself and her loved ones. Her alarm is triggered in the early dawn and plays a tune, “Desatino” by Los Diablos. Moreover, the title of his short film also makes reference to a song called “Las Mañanitas,” which is a song widely known for celebration, the celebration and remembrance of life. In context to Fernando’s video, the early mornings of his mother is a realization that the “American Dream” is not so sweet nor accessible for many, but one may also interpret this as a reminder to stay strong and to see each day as something worth living and existing in. For many immigrant families, they see the United States as a place for their children to prosper and seek more opportunities. Fernando Sez uses his artistic vision not only as a form of entertainment but also a means to voice messages about the treatment of his community and more closely, his immediate family.
Shortly after the film, the video transitions visually and sonically to Fernando Sez, standing alone and surrounded by an ominous beat, self-produced as is the video, songwriting, and direction of the video. This is NVKA. His first lines already encapsulate his intent:
First off, Donald Trump / Guarantee I’m not a criminal / And neither is my mama / Working while her health is critical / My brother’s a lawyer, and he’s a voice for the people / The ones who built the building where you shout illegal, not equal
I had the opportunity to interview Fernando Sez regarding his upbringing and his vision for his brand, moving forward in this sociopolitical climate.
Q: Give me a quick breakdown of who you are, the school you are attending, where you’re from, your identity.
A: Right on. My name Fernando Sez. I’m 21 currently and attending San Jose State University. I was born in Mexico; I came into the United States in August 13, 1999. [I] Made moves out here. I came to a small town called Arbuckle, California. It was the middle of nowhere, very distant from a lot of outside culture that surrounded the area. It was nice coming from a place like that and coming to San Jose State University where it’s just diverse and open. Now in the Bay Area, I’m all over the place. It’s nice.
Q: It looks like you have your hands dipped in a lot of mediums of art and creative media. What was your first love? How did you come across music, graphic design, photography, and everything else?
A: Right. I do like wearing many hats. I like dipping into anything I can creatively. I remember the first time I was even mentioned with anything arts-related. My mom used to tell me that we had a f*cked up little sidewalk outside of my house where I would just sit down and draw anything. Since then I’ve been drawing and moved up to design, which is why I came to SJSU for. Unfortunately, all the design classes I needed to sign up for in SJSU as a freshman were filled up. They [his counselors] said, “Oh, that’s not supposed to happen. Take a photography class; figure it out.” I fell in love with photography after that.
Q: Tell me about your short film prior to NVKA, Las Mañanitas.
A: Las Mañanitas is loosely translated as “dawn.” It’s just early mornings in the way I used it. Anyone who speaks Spanish knows a familiar song titled, “Las Mañanitas.” It was kinda wordplay off of that. That first short film, I wanted to title it that because a lot of immigrants know those mañanitas, those early mornings. I wanted to put that into media because I never saw that perspective from anywhere else.
Q: That and your music video was a great response to everything that has been happening around us. I understand you released that song seven to eight months ago, prior to the visual. What urged you to write the song, and what compelled you to create the visuals for it?
A: How the song [NVKA] started is just an expression I always used jokingly with my friends just because it’s a vibe. You know, don’t be arrogant or killing anyone else’s mood to elevate yours. It’s all love. It’s all positivity. If you come out here with that negativity, we don’t want none of that. As time passed and as our current political state our country is in, I had completely different lyrics. As time progressed, it changes because there were things I wanted to say and say more.
Q: Who are some of your artistic influences?
A: Man, I have to get out my phone for that one. As a person, J. Cole. That reason is because when I was in junior high, I wanted to be J. Cole before I even knew who he was. Where I’m from, the middle of nowhere, there’s nothing. You had to drive 45 minutes to get to Walmart. It was outlandish being out there. The only way for me to get out was college. I tried applying to UCLA, but they didn’t take me. I came to San Jose [State]. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Something I’ve always gone by is “Work with what you’ve got until you get what you want.” I started making beats on a slow Compaq Windows 2000 computer. It was taking hours to work.
Q: Do you have any general messages to the people and the world?
A: I heard this a while ago. I feel it’s definitely appropriate now. It’s “Listen to understand before you listen to reply.” I feel like people just want to listen in order to say what they want and what they want to get across. That’s not the way to communicate. I’m guilty of it myself. It’s not an overnight change, but I feel like that’s the way to go.
Q: Last thing, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
A: I do have a project I plan on releasing that’s in the works. In 5 years, I want to be on time!
Whether it’s music, graphic design, photography, or maybe even the silver screen, expect to see Fernando Sez and his brand push forward and be a part of many production credits!
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