Fernando Montoya

“Music is an ebb and flow, this is one of the reasons why I love it. There is always something new to learn and hear.”

S: Tell me about yourself. Where are you from?

FM: I am a 31 year old musician and cyclist. I was born in Anaheim,California and grew up in the SoCal area. I moved to Bakersfield in 2001 and have lived here ever since.

S: What instruments do you play and how long have you been playing them?

FM: Bass (electric and acoustic) has been my main instrument since 2001. I also sing and play alto saxophone. I also play flute, trumpet , trombone, piano, and guitar. I have been off and on with the latter 5 instruments for the past 7 years. One of the reasons why I play different instruments is because I can play a song, then play that exact song on a different instrument and find a completely different feel for it.

S: Did you study music? What was your major or emphasis? Do you plan to continue your career with music?

FM: I studied music at Bakersfield College and music education at the California State University of Bakersfield. My emphasis was on music education, jazz studies, and composition. I believe that I will always have a career in music, mainly because I’ve quit before and my life felt empty without it.

S: What style of music do you play?

FM: I play all styles of music. My current genres are jazz, pop, cumbia, and prog rock.

S: Does music run in your family?

FM: I’m a second generation musician. My mother’s siblings had a family band and my dad has been performing in the SoCal Latin music scene since the 90’s. 

S: Where do you draw your inspiration from in regards to playing and producing music?

FM: I draw my inspiration from music across all genres. I love incorporating different aspects of music to try and make new but familiar sounds. I really want to produce music no one has heard before.

S: How long have you been performing music?

FM: I have been performing music since elementary school. Singing in classroom choirs as a group. In the traditional sense I have been performing for live audiences since 2003. 

S: What projects are you currently involved in?

FM: I am currently the main bassist for the Jay Smith Group. I sing and play bass in my band The Akoustiks, I play saxophone in Latin rock band Velorio, and I am the house bass player for the Bakersfield Jazz workshop. I am also beginning a prog rock band; I believe we are calling it GSD.

S: What do you think is the status of jazz today? What do you think is the status of jazz in the Central Valley?

FM: Jazz to me has become the underdog of music. Within the genre it has incredible players, but I feel they lack the ability to make an impact in the forefront of music. This could be to the fact that we as humans try to compartmentalize everything. Jazz to me is all genres. It was the pop music of its day. Somewhere along the lines I feel that the musicians have forgotten that.

Jazz in the Central Valley, at least from what I have heard and seen, has always been prominent. I feel it has decreased a bit in the past few years but I think it is starting to make a resurgence.

S: What do you think is the future of jazz?

FM: The future of jazz is building. Many modern jazz bands have started an almost cult following and have begun to incorporate pop music into their repertoire. Music is an ebb and flow, this is one of the reasons why I love it. There is always something new to learn and hear.

Interview by Stephanie Barraza