Q: What do you both do in Los Angeles?
Katie: I’m an attorney. I work as a contract specialist for AOL in the multi-touch attribution division. So I work with really smart people — data scientists that code and do all sorts of amazing things with advertising. I make sure all their contracts are squared away. I also do a lot of work with AOL.
José: I’m a musician, a film composer, sound designer, and producer. I’m working on film projects for other people, shorts mostly. Probably have a TV show coming up. I also work on my own music — rock music. God’s been good to me. I’m the only Hispanic person, besides Santana, to be interviewed for Classic Rock magazine. But, It’s a job. I don’t let any of this go to my head. I know what it’s like to be without, and I know where we are now. The key to success is being a normal person. I used to clean toilets, now I live in Beverly Hills. God is good!
Q: Why did you come to Hollywood?
K: We moved to Chicago after [Hurricane] Katrina, but are originally from New Orleans. I went to law school in Chicago, while José went into music full time, and he started doing film scoring. We lived there for eight years and had been going back and forth for work, NAMM Shows, and building our network. We would meet people when we traveled, and all roads seemed to lead us to L.A. We didn’t want to live in L.A. — didn’t care for the city much. We did enjoy the Beverly Hills area, which is where we live now. We thought L.A. people were flaky. My dad always said that the country tilts and all the nuts roll to California. So we really didn’t see ourselves here, but we knew Chicago wasn’t home either. We knew we wouldn’t be back in New Orleans, so we prayed about it, and God changed our hearts and led us here. We’ve been here about a year and 3 months.
J: We were driving through Beverly Hills to the NAMM Show for a meeting or something — I don’t remember — and I felt, “This is your home.” I was like, “Give me a break! I’m from Panama. Beverly Hills?” It doesn’t feel right in my mind. Like telling a homeless guy he’s going to be driving a Ferrari. It doesn’t make sense — you know? But I felt it in my heart, and Katie felt the same thing. It took three years of preparation for me to be sure that this was God and prepare my music. Remember, everybody thinks that it’s going to happen, and they don’t want to prepare, but you have to make it happen! You have to put in the effort into it and study and train. Learn your craft to be sure you present the best. Anyway, I took a couple of years and finally it was the time. It took faith. Remember, we left New Orleans for Chicago for eight years and then left everything behind to start over here.
K: I was in-house counsel at an ad agency in Chicago, and he was doing his music. We were successful. Moving here, I knew I would have no job; he would be doing music, but it was truly complete faith to pick up and leave everything behind and move again.
J: We came here to rent an apartment, and everything moves slow here, so we couldn’t find anything. We came in December to rent for April, and they said “No, too far ahead.” It was the day we were supposed to move, and people were moving into our place—
K: (Interrupts) And we didn’t have a place to live. We had the truck, we were packed, everything was going, and we just didn’t have a place to live.
J: But, when God tells you something you do it. If you think about it, it will sound stupid, so just do it. So God told me to write the address of the apartment we applied for on an envelope as the return address and put a stamp on it. Two days later, Katie called, and we got the approval. The same address I wrote on the envelope. I use that as a diving board for the next time God tells me to do something. God blesses you all the time. So we are here, and we really didn’t know anyone. Maybe one person… no real friends. It’s been a year and three months, and in that time we have more friends than we did in eight years in Chicago.
J: L.A. is not for everybody.
K: It’s true. You have to be solid and rooted.
J: There is a lot of compromise here. A lot. That’s why we are very careful who we hang around with. You have to protect yourself. You have to be around people that lift you up.
Q: How has your perspective changed after living here? Do you like LA more?
K: We like where we live but I don’t know if our perspective has changed at all really.
J: For me personally, it’s that L.A. is full of normal people with dreams that do things that they aren’t supposed to do. There is a lot of opportunity in this town. A lot of broken people also.
J: I’ve seen so many broken hearts; financially, relationally…
K: Honestly, we’ve done more here in a year than eight years in Chicago. So from that perspective, it’s better than we thought it would be. We’ve had so much more opportunity here sooner!
J: Yes, it’s happened very fast. I think the time of preparation was very important. Everybody wants to look like they spend time at the gym, but nobody want to go. Nobody wants the preparation. Success takes a long time. Traffic is crazy. Everyone has challenges. What’s life without challenges? All the personal challenges I’ve had — music, moving — I was scared and wondered how I would do it, and I just have to trust that God brought me here and that I need to walk it through.
Q: What are you watching, reading and listening to?
K: I am reading Tom Clancy chronologically right now, so I’m on The Bear & The Dragon. I’m also binge watching Blue Bloods right now, I’m on Season Three. As far as music, I’m listening to anything but country.
J: Reading the Bible, a book about Pink Floyd — behind the scenes stuff and learning why they were so successful. Right now I’m listening to Steven Wilson; he’s a member of the band Porcupine Tree. Other stuff you’ve probably never heard of. Watching Seinfeld and King of Queens.
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