For the last couple of years, the quartet has been been making a name for itself on and off campus. Today, the band is ready for its moment in the spotlight.
By Martin Haro ’05 | Photos by Doug Garland ’10
Johnny Rez has rock star dreams – and he is determined to achieve them.
Together with three other Panthers, the computer science student has spent the last 18 months jamming on and off campus as Rezolution, a pop band influenced by their church backgrounds and their different musical tastes, which include gospel, hip-hop and smooth jazz.
The band is a mishmash of non-music majors. Recent biological sciences grad Thomas Sebastian ’12 is the band’s pianist and back-up vocalist. Then there’s civil engineering student Michelo “Chelo” Milfort on bass and economics major Cameron Young as the keeper of the beat on drums.
The boys of Rezolution have come a long way since their first gig in the GC Pit at Modesto A. Maidique Campus. They’ve played at Miami landmark Tobacco Road and they recently won the Battle of the Bands contest during Homecoming 2012. They currently are in the process of cutting their first EP of original material.
Rez & Co. recently shared a bit about themselves, their music and their aspirations with FIU Magazine.
Tell us about your musical backgrounds a little since none of you is actually studying music at FIU.
Thomas Sebastian ’12: We all have church backgrounds, actually. I always wanted to be in music, so I got involved at my church, St. Mary’s, where I still play the piano.
Michelo “Chelo” Milfort: My family attends Salvation Army services, and I’ve been doing music since I was 9. My father was a pastor, so I was always involved through him, playing different instruments. I can play the drums, the bass, brass. I played the trumpet for a while, and the tuba. But bass is how I do my thing.
Cameron Young: I go to the Church of Jesus Christ. I’ve been doing music there since I was 8, playing the drums. I was always musically inclined. I grew up watching my family play instruments. Music was all around me: my dad played the piano; my uncle played the trombone….
Johnny Rez: Church and music have always been a part of my life. Even when I was doing drugs years ago, God was working and preparing me for the things to come. He used music to get me on the right path. And that’s really how we got our name .
How do you mean?
Johnny: Well, my full name is Jonathan Perez, but I go by Johnny Rez, so that’s where it comes from. But it also comes from the idea of making a decision to change for the better, which is something everyone can relate to.
Chelo: He literally puts the “Rez” in “Rezolution.”
What kind of music do you like to play? And do you write your own songs?
Thomas: Johnny and I co-wrote a song called “Shooting Star” about this girl I met when we were working in FIU’s office of Multicultural Programs and Services who shall remain nameless.
Johnny:I lean pretty much toward pop. But when we get together to rehearse, we do spend a lot of time bouncing different ideas off one another. We’re recording “Shooting Star” as a demo, as part of an EP.
Thomas: I like hip-hop and R&B.
Cameron: Me too. I like the grooves of hip-hop. But I also like gospel.
Chelo: I’m a smooth jazz man.
Johnny: I’d say our sound is a blend of pop and smooth jazz with lots of chord and melody changes. When we cover a song we like to re-create the original, so you only half-recognize it.
Thomas: Rehearsing this semester has been harder than before because of our schedules. I don’t live in Miami anymore [he is working on a master’s in health administration at FAU], but we get together twice a week. We rehearse a lot – until our fingers and hands get numb. And like Johnny said, we’re always writing something.
Johnny: I really want to get serious about that, about our own songwriting.Listen: “Hopelessly Intertwined” by Rezolution
What else interests you? What do you want to be when you grow up?
Chelo: I’m an entrepreneur, and I just finished a short neo-noir film. I’m launching two Web apps. One is a social network that rewards usage at the end of the year and the other one will allow students to sell their used books to one another directly and set their own prices.
Cameron: I wanted to be an accountant, but my freshman year I was too into the ladies, so I started college on the wrong foot. So I switched to economics. I want to get better at the drums. Mostly, I just wanna be happy.
Johnny: I definitely aspire to be a professional musician and recording artist. I want to go into the studio and be on the road and do concerts. That’s my dream. There’s no doubt about it.
Thomas: If we don’t get a record deal in the near future, then I plan on being a health administrator for a private practice facility. My dream is to be a music producer behind the scenes, though. I hope it happens.
Are you parents supportive of your music?
Cameron: They’re down. Right now I don’t think I’m in a hurry to finish school because I’d rather focus on the music, but they say my education is something no one can ever take away from me.
Thomas: My dad wasn’t sold on it – and he’s a musician himself who tours with this Indian superstar. He would prefer I focus on school, but my mom’s my biggest fan.
Chelo: My pops understands that hard work pays off. He gets it. So he encourages me to work hard. My mom supports me, too, but she’s a mom. She worries that I’ll do too much band and not enough school.
Johnny: My parents are really supportive, but they definitely keep me in check, make sure I got my priorities straight. My mom’s always looking for places where we can play.
Cameron: And she provides the food when we rehearse.
Thomas: We rehearse at Johnny’s house a lot.
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