In titling his dynamic and infectious debut album Social Jet Lag, singer, songwriter and nylon string finger style guitarist Felipe Tarantino isn’t commenting on our culture’s addiction to social media – or even the hard work and tireless sacrifice it has taken to establish him as an emerging independent artist. The phrase was actually coined decades ago by sociologist and anthropologist Ruth Hill Useem in reference to her revolutionary studies of Third Culture Kids—children of parents from one culture who are raised in another society, or as Tarantino sees it, “the joining of two cultures together to create a third one.”It’s the perfect way to explain the multitude of influences—including blues, pop, rock and Latin music that the multi-talented Los Angeles based performer brings to his unique status as a musical citizen of the world. Born in Santiago Chile to Brazilian parents, Tarantino’s father worked for a multi-national advertising company and moved his family frequently, allowing the young musician to immerse himself into numerous cultures, from Puerto Rico and Madrid to Mexico City and Miami.
Continuing his unique journey, Tarantino studied in Switzerland (where he first learned guitar at age 16) and later went to Babson College, a business school in Boston – during which time he also studied for a year in Australia. He returned to Miami, where he set up a small home studio in his parents’ house and began writing his first songs, including “Hummingbird,” the easy rolling pop-rocker about letting go of an enduring first love which appears on Social Jet Lag. He worked in digital distribution and marketing for EMI and Sony before deciding to leave the corporate side of the industry behind to pursue his musical dreams in L.A.
Taking a major risk in starting his education over at age 24, Tarantino attended Musicians Institute and graduated from their guitar program (GIT) while further developing his own expressive and emotional songwriting skills. He had a literal world of influences to draw on, from Brazilian legends like Tom Jobim and Ellis Regina to Bob Marley and rock icons The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews, Jeff Buckley and Led Zeppelin. Tarantino connected so well (almost autobiographically) to Zeppelin’s classic “Going To California” that he includes a whimsical acoustic interpretation of it on Social Jet Lag.
Also complementing his nine colorful, heartfelt originals is a seductive and bluesy rendition of “Crazy Love,” celebrating another great influence, Van Morrison. Beyond specific artist influences, Tarantino’s multi-faceted style draws from personal life experiences that have spanned three languages and multiple generations and continents. Social Jet Lag is produced by longtime Supertramp guitarist and veteran studio and touring musician Carl Verheyen; and Jorge Costa, whose own experience as a Mexican born and raised Chilean connects well with Tarantino’s own cultural blend. A handful of veteran L.A. session musicians were invited to help Tarantino realize his vision, including Walfredo Reyes, Jr. (drums and percussion), Cliff Hugo (bass) and Jim Cox (Hammond B-3, Wurlitzer, Electric Organ). Verheyen also plays acoustic and electric guitars.
“The 11 songs definitely showcase a fusion of genres and styles that I draw from, starting with blues and rock and expanding from there ...”
“The 11 songs definitely showcase a fusion of genres and styles that I draw from, starting with blues and rock and expanding from there,” says Tarantino. For me, these are all avenues that I draw from to create meaningful songs. Typical of a first album it’s a mix of very recent compositions, more developed versions of older songs I had written, and other fresh compositions that evolved from simple riffs or song ideas I had been gathering over the past few years. My evolution as a songwriter has included becoming more personal with my lyrics, expressing things that I have experienced in an honest and genuine way. That’s the vibe I want people to get from me – that I’m being truthful in my songs.”
The two year period in Miami that Tarantino worked for EMI, then Sony, taught him a lot about challenging elements of the current industry that later inspired him to become a fully independent artist. “This has been a transitional period in the industry because of the changing technology,” he says, “and the old business model is no longer viable and consumers are discovering music in many different new ways. One of the drawbacks I witnessed in the Industry was the potential for mismanagement of artists and a mentality towards the art form that cared more about commercialization than developing true artists. In this environment, it’s harder for artists to reach their full potential. So I decided that when I became an artist, I would make it happen by writing from the heart and creating a more organic production style. That’s what Social Jet Lag is all about.”
Other original Tarantino tracks include the anthem-like, Santana flavored “Hey You,” about the dangers of letting society drown out one’s inner voice to the point where individuality is a moot point; the easy swaying and balmy, Latin flavored “Hey Down,” about the increasing disconnect that happens between childhood friends as they grow older; the poetic and romantic acoustic piece “Singing Love”; and the collection’s potential first single, the spirited, classically influenced acoustic pop flavored “Room For Change,” a multiple story song about learning to grow gracefully – and realizing that sometimes, the best teacher in life is the pain we go through to eventually emerge as stronger people.
“The greatest joy for me is working with amazing musicians who help me create something magical in the studio that didn’t exist when we walked in ..."
“It’s beautiful just being part of the experience where music emerges and takes on a life of its own. It ties in perfectly with my evolving musical career since I took the chance and moved to L.A. It’s not the easiest business to succeed in, as any independent musician can tell you. But I continue fighting through the challenges because I want to wake up every day and be living that dream.”