Student musician plays first live show on campus

Nooner+check-in+poster+promoting+Joaquin+Paez.

Cristina Lombardo

Nooner check-in poster promoting Joaquin Paez.

Joaquin Paez performed 11 original songs at the second Nooner event of the fall 2021 semester. 

The Aztec Student Union hosted the event on Oct.8. 

According to the official website, Nooner is an opportunity for people on campus to hear a local artist for an hour, in the Aztec Student Union. 

Paez is a junior at San Diego State, majoring in psychology. He had gone to the nooner performances during his freshman year and said he was always jealous of the performers but unsure on how to perform. 

“I was at a party the other day and I met Lindsay,” said Paez. 

Lindsay Scholbrock, the Music and Entertainment Chair for the Aztec Student Union. A conversation emerged where Paez showed Scholbrock his music and she showed support for it before they got onto the topic of the Nooner series. Paez then found out Scholbrock ran the music events at SDSU. 

Paez said he comes from Ecuadorian heritage and lived in New Jersey before coming to SDSU. He has two songs up on his verified Spotify account. He performed both of these songs at the Nooner. One of the songs,“Prescription Medicine,” generated a lot of audience feedback. 

“And are we enough to save each other? Enough to save ourselves,” Paez sings in “Prescription Medicine.” “I know we’re broken, but sleep now I’ll call you in the morning. The phone ring reminds me we’re still breathing and your voice is like prescription medicine.” 

Paez said the song was inspired by a relationship he had with a girl named Bella, which is the name of his other song on Spotify.

“It’s about us both being in a very dark place, and finding hope with each other and like only with each other,” said Paez.

Both “Prescription Medicine” and “Bella” make lyrical references to pills. 

Paez said this is both a metaphor for their love, but also an allusion to the love-hate relationship he has with his depression and anxiety medication. 

“I knew I had chemical imbalances in my brain that I needed to take care of,” said Paez, “A lot of my songwriting reflected this desire for medicine or like an external form of help and then, once I did get on medication it was a big war for me in my head kind of like hating medication and also being grateful that it’s kind of helping me.” 

Paez said he likes to reflect his internal struggles in his songs. 

“Emotional pain is 100% my biggest inspiration,” said Paez. 

The independent artist started learning how to play the guitar in the eighth grade, but he said he didn’t start taking it seriously until his sophomore year of high school. 

“When I discovered songwriting, I became addicted to it,” said Paez. “I wanted to write about everything that I was going through.”

For Paez, that trend has continued. He was a part of Aztec Music Group during his first year at SDSU and was inspired by artists like Jeremy Zucker. Music is a therapeutic process for Paez, and he said he feels like his Spotify is outdated since he has changed in many ways recently. He’s also been inspired by his time in quarantine. 

“They’re all very ruminative, like I’m having a conversation with myself in my head,” said Paez, “And that’s one thing I like about songwriting is I can talk to myself or about myself.”

Paez performed 11 songs during his Nooner set and he felt his song "Bella" was received best.
Paez performed 11 songs during his Nooner set and he felt his song “Bella” was received best. (Cristina Lombardo)

Paez had friends in the front row, listening in on his performance. 

Andrew Valencia, a junior majoring in biology, was amongst them. 

“I was walking by the Union and I saw the billboard of him come up,” Valencia said, “It was so dope because it looked so professional and gave him a lot of attention.”

Valencia said he had chills and that it was nice to see Paez show so much passion. 

Bryce Mendoza is a third-year financing major, who was in charge of mixing the sound for Paez during the event. 

He said he felt the event went well. 

“It was the first event I had been able to run for a while so that was exciting,” Mendoza said.  

Paez said he felt relieved after his performance, because he was really nervous beforehand. 

“I’m glad I didn’t mess up too bad,” Paez said. 

Paez was happy about the crowd support. Out of the 11 songs he performed, he felt “Bella” was the best received. He was also excited to perform an unreleased song at the end of his performance. 

“I have that bridge where I haven’t really done something as intense before so I enjoyed that one,” Paez said. 

Paez ended his performance with a resounding message. 

“Thank you so f****** much to everyone that came, and I’m glad people are willing to listen to my s***,” Paez said.

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