Getting To Know: Eddie Fuentes

Eddie Fuentes

Eddie Fuentes is passionate about music and bringing it to the DMV community. In addition to being in several DMV bands, he is the Director at Crescendo Studios, a "community based, teacher-centric music school" whose goal is "to provide education in a welcoming and individualized way." He created Crescendo to be a hub for all things creative in Northern Virginia, a place where people can come to learn, grow, and be a part of the music community.

Over the past year, I've seen more and more coming out of Crescendo that is fueled by love and providing the opportunity for growth. Not only through their student community, but through the shows they have put on in their Black Box theater, their livestreams that discuss music through the decades with thoughtfulness and deliberation, and their excitement about sharing their space, both physically and mindfully, as a community center for learning and growth.

Starting tomorrow night (July 24), Crescendo Studios and DC Music Review are hosting a Drive-In Concert Series to take place in the Crescendo Studios parking lot, to allow for social distancing and a safe way to enjoy live music and support local DMV artists. Artists include Nah., Carly Harvey, The Bruno Sound, The Last Rewind, Modell, Soderstorm, & James, Ashleigh Chevalier, Two Ton Twig, and S.N.R.G. to name a few. 

I had the chance to catch up with Eddie to get to know him a little better, learn about what motivated him to open up Crescendo Studios, what is behind the Drive-In Concert Series, and what he thinks the future of the DMV music scene will look like.


Eddie, thank you so much for connecting with me!

Thank you so much, I appreciate it, too! 


So one thing I know about you is you have a lot of music facets in your life, from starting Crescendo Studios to playing in bands, teaching, and doing some very cool livestreams about music history. Tell me a little more about you specifically and how you got into music.

I got into music around the age of twleve. I believe that there was a talent show that my friends wanted to play and they didn’t have a guitarist. Naturally, I got selected to help them out which meant I had to learn guitar. “Smells like Teen Spirit” was the first song I learned and during our performance was the first time I broke a string — something that would be a trait of mine for years to come. 

After the performance, I continued teaching myself guitar which eventually led to other instruments and audio engineering. At the end of the day, music became a form of expression for me. It allowed me to tap into something I couldn’t put into words but still needed to express!


I can totally appreciate that. What instruments do you play?

Guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, and I also do audio engineering.


And what bands/music projects are you involved with?

I’m in a couple of bands in the area playing different instruments. I Am The Kaleidoscope is a three-piece rock band that I play guitar, sing and song write for. The NRIs is an eight-piece group that I play bass for. And I am also in a great cover band called Take The Cake with some amazing musicians in the area!


I just saw The NRIs perform at the Wammies ceremony online, you all were great! So talk to me about Crescendo Studios: your role, how it got started, the studio, the school, the philosophy, and what makes it special.

So I worked in music education for about four years prior to starting Crescendo Studios. What I got out of that time was that there is not one singular way to teach or to learn music. I was self-taught because when I tried to do private lessons, my instructors didn’t teach me in a way that got me excited for music. I was listening to a lot of Punk Rock at the time but being forced to learn things I had no interest in. 

When starting Crescendo Studios, I wanted the focus to be the student and teacher relationship. I hired amazing teachers with experience and knowledge that helps them approach each student as an individual and help them achieve their goals while getting a well-rounded education. 

As the Director, my aim is to create an inviting place that takes education seriously but allows students to feel like individuals. There is no standardized curriculum because art forms are not standardized themselves. “Community and haven for all musicians. The only requirement is passion!” That is what Crescendo Studios stands for.


I love that. And I’m sure students are very grateful for that focus on self-reflection and individualism. That is the stuff that fosters creativity.

Exactly!


So I know DC Music Review and Crescendo Studios are collaborating on a series of Drive In Concerts that start this Friday.  How did that come to be? What will it be like? What does it do for the community?

In early March I was put in contact with DC Music Review through the band Pleasure Train. They wanted to do a live video and wanted to use our Black Box as their stage. When I heard about it, I offered up my services as an engineer to make it sound as great as possible.

That collaboration led Will Urquhart, who you obviously know from DCMR, and I to do more streams and projects. As the summer approached, Will and I knew we wanted to do something innovative without sacrificing safety. Our Drive-In Concert Series was the result of those brainstorming sessions. 


So talk to me about safety. How will you achieve it and how will this all work?

Our audience will be in our private parking lot where we hang a 180” screen, 100% separated from the performer. The band will be playing live on our stage with only the videographer and audio engineers. The video signal is then sent to the outdoor projector and the audio signal is broadcast to the audience’s cars via an FM transmitter. This ensures that everyone can keep to their area and still enjoy a high caliber show with high-quality audio. 

We will be using text messages to get information to our audiences and set up facility usage to ensure that everything is low-contact and incredibly safe for our audiences, artists and staff.

We hope that the community will embrace this new form of show. Unfortunately, it looks like it will be a while until we see shows like we used to have so we are committed to figuring out the “new normal” for a “show”. We believe there is always room for improvement but where we are starting from, is a great jumping off point.


On that exact note, as you know, this year has been challenging on so many levels. Tell me about how this year — the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the struggles we are facing — have affected your music and your life.

This year definitely has been an interesting one. I think when you live in a world like we do, moments like these become inevitable. Obviously the system is broken, obviously it is unfair and obviously it is going to be an emotional experience for all. Change only happens when we make it happen and the perfect storm of events that led us here, happened. 

So now what? Now we keep uplifting voices that need to be heard, we keep up the fight that has been fought for decades and we do not let up. In June, I felt the weight of everything heavily. I had to stop and allow myself to absorb the moment and see what I was going to do about it. For me, I look towards the future. I see today’s fight and think about how the next generation will suffer or succeed because of today’s actions and that motivates me to continue my work with Crescendo. Our kids and our future generations look at us, our behavior, our morality and our compassion as a template for themselves and I want to lead by example. 


Well said. And tell me, with all that’s going on, what are you doing to take care of yourself these days?

I think mental health is incredibly important at all times, but even more so in this climate. Everyday, I try to take the time to just remind myself that isolation, daily mask usage, not seeing loved ones with compromised immunities, is a necessity so we can all heal and move forward, together. I, also, put a lot into the work I do. It makes me feel like I am useful if I can provide my community with tools to move us all forward.


Agree, and I’m glad to hear you are taking care of yourself these days, and others by your actions.

So more about you, this is like the twenty questions part of the conversation (laugh).  Name three local musicians or bands that you are listening to these days or that you admire.

Even before I joined The NRIs, I really enjoyed their music and energy. I joined in October of last year and they were already established but I was always a fan.

I’d have to say Pleasure Train has also always been on my radar. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them perform multiple times and love the way their music grows and changes with them.

And Jahnel Daliya is an incredible songwriter with fantastic songs. I’ve always related to her songwriting because I feel it is similar in feel to my own solo material. It was icing on the cake when she asked me to be in her music video for “Gold”!


Oooh, love Pleasure Train too and I’ll need to check out Jahnel’s video. Glad you mentioned you had a role in that! So what show were you most looking forward to going to before it had to be cancelled?

Bonnaroo Festival! It was going to be my wife’s first time at a festival and we were incredibly excited at the prospect.


That is a bummer. But, I’m hoping next summer we are in a healthier “new normal” place where we can go see live music and festivals safely again.

So broadly, name three influential musicians or artists in your life. 

I would have to go with Radiohead, Elliott Smith, and The Mars Volta.


I dig. And name three books or songs or movies that changed the way you think about things.

The Beatles song "Because," The Mars Volta song  "Eunuch Provocateur," and The Doors song "Riders on the Storm."


And last question, and this is the one that is hard for everyone, although truth be told, there is a theme to all the answers people share. 

Here goes: What do you think the DMV music scene will look like in 2022?

Man...I don’t even know. A big part of me hopes that things will be back to how they were before but another part of me knows that would be challenging and maybe even irresponsible. What I do know is this — musicians are some of the MOST adaptable kind of people. That alone gives me hope that whatever the scene looks like in 2022, we are still supporting each other, building ourselves up and loving the powerful artform that we chose to dedicate ourselves to.


I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. And really appreciate you sharing with me today, it was great to get to know you better!

Thanks so much to the whole DCMR team. I’m excited for these shows and really appreciate you taking the time to chat, it was a lot of fun!

Additional Resources

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About the author
Nina Goodman

Nina Goodman

Nina Goodman is a music lover, dancer, artist, keyboardist, and an avid ukulele player. You may even see her up on stage performing with local DC bands. Above all, Nina is a fierce supporter of the Washington DC local music scene. Nina's talents are mostly behind the scenes where she maintains and curates our event calendar and conducts interviews with local artists. If there is music playing in the DMV, you can expect to see her attending or at least making sure that our audience knows about it.