“Nobody knows my story,” says John before his Contrast interview.
JAB the ZORRO; who is he and what does he have to say? Growing up in the most racially diverse county in the county in New York, Queens, JAB always felt motivated by the idea of a Latin superhero.
Born as John Anthony Bonilla, JAB is the quick one, two, literally. The ZORRO comes from having an attachment to action stars or superheroes. Being that there are so few well known Latin characters, it felt like a natural inclination to hold on to. As a positive symbol to continue pushing the movement further, leaving more room for the next generation at a greater advantage.
JAB was born in Elmhurst, Queens. Not your usual story. He was homeschooled all his life. After leaving New York during his teen years, he had his heart set on coming back. After retuning to his hometown and graduating with a BFA in Graphic Design, it would seem it was all figured out, but it was far from that. Although creativity seemed to be up his alley, it was not entirely fulfilling. Acting became the next venture that then lead to music. Throughout his time of rediscovering his passion, there were sparks here and there. He would record melodies, rhythms assuming one day he could pass it on to someone. Never thinking one day it’d be him self performing.
Picking an interesting time to start a music career to say the least, during COVID. It’s been bittersweet. Pre-COVID, he was hustling and in high gear getting his first single, Dale, ready to go. Once quarantine started, it was a bit of a double edge sword. Now all the time was available but the inspiration was not. The surroundings, the vibe, and the social aspects that influence him had come to an abrupt stop. He believes in the energy of the sun, so it wasn’t until the weather started picking up that he became active outdoors again. He was able to get back into the groove and start creating Impulso.
JAB explained DALE was the kick-starter to his career. In the Latin world, the word “perreo” is used to describe grinding, dancing. He used it as a metaphor TO GO, since it literally is an action of moving forward. The creation of it came about when he was in “full throttle”, so the record made sense. It was purely in the moment. Everything was just beginning for him and he wanted to transfer that mentality into a track. It’s the start for who he is, his sound, his flow, his talent, his persona and most importantly JAB the ZORRO, the artist.
On to his upcoming single, Impulso. It came about in a time where COVID was at its full peak. Therefore the name of the song is literally how it was made, impulsively. Everyone was and is still living day by day, some week by week, due to many on going changes. Referencing his acting lessons at Anthony Meindl’s studio: to act on instinct & impulses. The birth of Impuslo was exactly from that, from random bursts of creativity. The main inspiration for it was the JLo TikTok Superbowl mix. The use of throwback and newer records fused into something new and fresh is exactly what he wanted for his own song.
JAB cited Beyonce and Jay-Z as his main influences. Whether it’s their style or flow, he admits to always to checking on their work before starting his own. Also mentioned are Bad Bunny, J Balvin for being at the top of their game and even The Foo Fighters as his favorite band.
June 2020, JAB interviewed Tainy for our June cover story. As a newer Latin artist, I asked how that felt. He stated how inspiring and motivating it was. As he began to hit a creative block, it was Tainy’s work that allowed him to push and finalize Impulso. They both had a common ground of the sounds that inspire them. That gave JAB different perspectives on him, realizing they both think very outside the box. It allowed him to find the missing link in his track. Acknowledging Tainy’s tracks Fuego and Nada as a master example of melodies and beats. It went hand in hand when I also asked who he’d like to collaborate with. Tainy was at the top of his list due to being in the artist forefront and also a producer. Also mentioned were Beyonce, Rihanna and Jay-Z, Bad Bunny, J Balvin and another “hometown hero,” Cardi B.
JAB the ZORRO is one a kind deal. His background, his upbringing, his personality, it’s a unique mix. Aside from this he, always wants to keep Latino rights in mind, equality and human rights, that some may not deem necessary for other cultures. As well as, making a career in entertainment more accessible for the next generation of talent.