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Check Out Ken Sarmiento’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ken Sarmiento.

Hi Ken, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I wanted first to thank Voyage Houston Magazine and Michelle Huertas for reaching out. Thank you for your excellent work in supporting Houston artists.

I am a Filipino-American born in Chicago, Illinois. My family moved around a lot during my youth, but I spent most of my childhood in Northeastern Ohio. My mother introduced me to the piano early, and I learned to play the piano by observing my brother and mother take home piano lessons. I wrote my first song on the piano around the 4th grade. I also played in several rock bands through high school.

After finishing high school, I moved to Houston to study at the University of Houston. It was around that time I co-founded the band PHUZ. Playing shows around Houston venues like Fitzgerald’s was a lot of fun, but working with other independent artists at the Project Row Houses in 3rd Ward exposed me to spoken word, hip-hop, and soul genres, which opened up my guitar playing.

Around the early 2000s, I bought this cheap Radio Shack synthesizer with these cool sounds, which helped me create the soundtrack theme for the Phuz single, Water. Phuz did some notable tour dates with Sade and Tony Bennett around the country to support our Water album 2001 release, along with opening for other national acts. In its height, Phuz broke down barriers and showcased live music with some top H-Town DJs around Houston. It was fun filling up live venues, bars, and coffee houses, creating a unique scene with people from all backgrounds.

Toward the end of Phuz, I started getting into music production. I produced and released an album, Transitions, with singer/actress Julin around 2007. I eventually created the rock band Channel K and released two EP albums, Human Beings, and Super Queen. Channel K also played some stellar shows around Houston, including at venues like House of Blues, Warehouse Live, and Scout Bar.

After retiring from Channel K, I started a new pop and R&B band called Comp Lex and another music project called Zenjii. I recently released a new Zenjii track, Phlow, which began as a graduate project in Dr. Floyd Richmond’s class at Tarleton State University. Phlow recently earned an “Excellent” rating in the 2022 TI:ME Composition Festival. I am hoping to do a live show with Comp Lex soon.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I don’t think it is a smooth road for any independent musician that writes their music. Writing original music for many years with different bands and then promoting an album or a show can be challenging because of the amount of time spent outside of writing music. I wish it were more manageable so I could focus solely on songwriting. On the plus side, I have always enjoyed playing shows and have never taken each moment for granted. The people I have met over the years and the other artists I have shared evenings with can be one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a musician.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
In addition to writing music and playing the guitar, piano, and drums, I have taught elementary music education in public schools for over 14 years. I co-direct children’s programs/musicals and children’s choirs too. Teaching children guitar through guitar clubs is also a lot of fun. I also have taught private guitar lessons. I am currently a graduate student at Tarleton State University and working on a master’s in music education. I am always challenging myself to reach newer levels as a musician. Working in the recording studio and producing music at my home studio can be a lot of fun. Some projects I’ve done include commercial work like the music for commercials or producing mixes for other artists.

The guitar is my main instrument, and I have had several endorsements/sponsorships/partnerships over the years. I helped launch a new line of guitars (Diane model) for CMG Guitars. I’ve been with Comfort Strapp, which produces comfortable guitar straps, and Warehouse Speakers, which makes excellent guitar speakers, for several years.

What am I most proud of? I don’t think there’s one thing I can pinpoint. However, I feel grateful to be able to help touch people’s lives through music. Growing up as a minority and having challenges with ADHD during my childhood was not easy. But, the priceless gift of music helped me in life.

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Check out my official music page @ The new Zenjii track, Phuz, Julin, and Channel K albums can be found on all the major streaming platforms, including Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. YouTube Scenic Video:

Thanks so much! I appreciate the support.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Nilo Aranzamendez
RJ Roxas
Marcus Aguirre
Barry Dolton

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