Joanna Glass: Half a rock band

She sings, plays three instruments, and writes music. Photos by Zack Perez of Astral Media

Joanna Glass is half of a two-person pop and rock band called Glasspirits.

This Filipino American dynamo who grew up in Long Beach, California is a guitarist, a keyboardist, and a classically trained violinist. On top of that, she does vocals and writes songs. Abe Perez, the other half of the band, is a Cuban-born musician who plays drums and other percussion instruments.

While  not as common as a quartet, like the Beatles or U2, with versatile musicians, a two-person band can sound pretty much like a bigger group. What is unique about Glasspirits is that Joanna, with her modified guitar, and Abe can switch from one instrument to another as she is doing her vocals, making it possible for the duo to sound like a full band with four or five musicians.

 “I’ve always felt the band would be a two-piece band from the very first day I called Abe,” Joanna told The FilAm. “I told him, ‘I want to be in a two-piece band with you and only you!’ It was a very strong feeling that I didn’t let cloud.”

“A lot of people are surprised and impressed that it’s just us two as our sound is very full. I’ve modified my first guitar in the band to have more bass frequencies. I currently have a custom Gretsch guitar that was modified by Joe Carducci, Product Marketing Specialist at Gretsch Guitars, and it has a bass and guitar sound,” she continued.

Glasspirits has released its debut LP, “Mysteries of Rhythm: Dusk,” in June of 2016. In 2017, they produced three music videos and a documentary while making their rounds in the Los Angeles club circuit and perfecting their live shows. One of the music videos for their hit song “Strangelove,” a DepecheMode cover, won Best Music Video at the Long Beach City College film festival.

All in the family

It was in her Filipino home where Joanna’s love for music may have grown roots. She remembers her parents singing Beatles songs when she was a little girl. “I was pretending to be a drummer, tapping on pots and pans,” she told a Long Beach newspaper.

Glasspirits’ Joanna and Abe: ‘Our sound is very full.’ Photo by Josh McGiffert

“My parents both love music. Growing up, my mom would take me to the music store to buy musical instruments and supplies,” she told The FilAm. “While they both love music, it is my mom who has more of a refined talent. She played the drums in her school band and she sings very well.”

At first, her father wanted her to be an engineer, like him. “Even though he did not want me to pursue music, he still drove me to my violin lessons. I took some science courses in college and quickly got bored and he accepted it was not for me. In the recent years, he’s finally come around and says he just wants me to be happy. My mom has, for the most part, been very supportive of my music endeavors.”

At an early age, Joanna went to school to develop her budding talent. She learned the violin when she was 9 years old and continued studying until she was a Violin Performance major at Cole Conservatory in Long Beach. She has since played in many orchestras, recording sessions and toured in the UK with British artist Betty Steeles. At 14, she attended Long Beach City College’s Recording Engineering program while she was in high school and graduated from their program in 2005.

Glasspirits has  performed at colleges and universities, on television and radio stations, and some more unique places like music stores, outdoor food halls and car dealerships.

She added, “We have played shows with Filipino artist  Ric Junasa, formerly of the popular Filipino pop band South Border. He is now with his new band Browndition.  We have played at the University of Southern California’s Cultural Art Expo that celebrated multiculturalism.”

They play mostly original music, usually written by Joanna, plus some occasional covers. She has designed their album cover as well as edited Glasspirits’s music videos.

One thing she has yet to accomplish is write a Tagalog song. She said, “Not yet, I would love to.” – With Cristina DC Pastor

© The FilAm 2020

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