Jenni and Jace: “We hang on to what we really enjoy doing”
In BOP faces we talk to local legends: the people of Punta Cana that make this place so special. In this edition: Artists Jace and Jenni on their love for performing hip hop and r&b, hostel life and getting their spot in the Punta Cana music scene.
“Baby if you give it to me, I’ll give it to you, you know that I want, oh baby, baby.” Sounds familiar? It is the hitsong from Mariah Carey and Busta Rhymes, I know what you want. You rarely hear this song performed live in Bavaro Punta Cana, but when Jenni (33) and Jace (36) are at an event you might listen to this in one of their sets.
This duo is keen on performing hip hop together with R&B songs live. They even throw in some dancehall tunes from Shabba Ranks sometimes. Jenni (jenni4real) and Jace perform at weddings, corporate events and throw their own parties. They both DJ separately, but as the Rewinderz, they sing and rap live. Now, they are establishing a name for themselves in Punta Cana, but this was not always the case.
“Sometimes we were broke as hell,” Jace explains. “But we hang on to what we really enjoy doing,” Jenni says.
Coming to Punta Cana
Jenni born in Santo Domingo came to Punta Cana 4 years ago as a Yoga instructor. “I was getting bored in the city. It became unmanageable and there is so much pollution. I dreamed of being able to walk from my house to the beach while I developed myself as an artist.
5 years ago Jace took the decision to move from Canada to Punta Cana. In his home country in the late 90s he was already into music. He was dancing hip hop, b-boying but also doing some rap. In Punta Cana he came to seek for musical opportunities. It is there that Jenni and Jace met each other 3 years ago and discovered they had the same passion for music.
“We did not even know we were neighbors! We met through a mutual friend and found out that we were living in the same building.” Jace and Jenni look at each other. Their little black dog Blinky rests in Jenni’s arms. Jace continues: “I was involved in another project and we were performing. Jenni was dancing a lot. So, I told her that I would keep her informed of our shows for the next time. I also wanted her number. We started dating and we shared the same passion for music and we both love dancing.”
Focus on music
From that moment on the couple decided to fully focus on music and to work together. First Jenni joined Jace’s project by occasionally singing with him and his band members, but soon they also started performing as a duo.
Jace: “Our first show was at Our Republic two and a half years ago. It had another name in that time. We had a very good reception. We did songs like ‘I am still in Love with You’ from Sean Paul and Sasha. I was very confident. Jenni was less forgiving of herself because she is not trained professionally as a singer. You see, we are more DIY. We trained ourselves. Also, we were doing something people were not used too.”
“A yoga instructor and a rapper, who both decided to pursue singing” Jenni adds.
You can’t make money with music in Bavaro
“Someone told me: ‘What you are doing. That is never going to work here. You can’t make money making music in Bavaro. It is better that you go and look for a job at a surf camp.’ In Punta Cana, people are more used to singers who sing hits like Bruno Mars. More poppy songs. We came with hip hop, R&B and dancehall classics,” Jace says.
“We made the decision to not give up. We kept pitching and cold calling. We almost hit rock bottom,” Jenni says.
To spend less money, Jace and Jenni lived and worked in hostels, which forced them to give up a lot of their privacy.
Jenni: “There are always people around. You really have no privacy.”
“I talked to so many people. I think they know so much more about me than I know about them!” Jace says laughing. “We also lived in Macao hostel. The surroundings are beautiful, but food choices are limited and we wanted to be closer to the music scene,” Jenni elaborates.
The hostel days are over for Jenni and Jace. Now, they reside in IFA Bavaro where they built a steady base for themselves. They are also able to live of their passion.
“Here you need to know people in order to get more work. We got into a hotel because someone was not able to do a booking and thought of us. That is how it goes. They need to know you,” Jace explains.
“One of my best events was last week when I DJ’d for a group of Canadian businesswomen. I was wildin’ out. Doing the shuffle and reminiscing and talking with them. They gave me so much energy,” Jace says enthusiastically.
“Mine was at an independent award ceremony for 150 people. I DJ’d for 7 hours. I felt really in my element. I played on a big stage with lights dazzling around me. Played all kinds of music from soft jazz to party music on the end.”
Living in Punta Cana and favorite spots
“I felt welcome in Punta Cana,” Jace says. “Here you can walk around safely,” Jenni adds.
Jace: “Our Republic is one of our favorite spots in Punta Cana. Balicana is always awesome for the lunch special and enjoying the local music scene. Also wanted to shout out the NOIS parties for giving us a space to dance after our events! But to be honest, where you can find us the most is the Supermarket Jumbo on Tuesday! They have a promotion on their fruits and vegetables on that day. But also, the virgin beach close to Bibijagua. Oh no that one is a secret!”
Jenni: We are established here for now. Punta Cana has treated us well. And Blinky likes the beach so we’ll be here for at least a little bit longer!”