TEMPOREX is the indie, DIY musician San Diego has been sleeping on
Midtown resident Joseph Flores gains momentum with release of second album, ‘Bowling’
With his sophomore album “Bowling” finally out, 21-year-old Joseph Flores could be on the fast track to indie stardom.
Flores, better known as TEMPOREX, has been making music out of his bedroom since 2015. “Bowling” comes nearly four years after his debut album “Care,” which was released when he was a senior at Point Loma High School.
Unlike other San Diego artists, Flores doesn’t have a substantial following in his hometown. But thanks to the internet, he was able to share “Care” with a wider audience. He’s since built a nationwide fan base, and is beloved in the indie music circuit for his lo-fi sound and DIY approach to production.
Before music, Flores pursued another creative outlet: graphic design. While taking a 2D art class in high school, he saw potential in his unconventional approach to design and decided to start a clothing line. However, the venture flopped.
“I barely had any Instagram followers, and I didn’t have any friends,” Flores says, laughing.
This flop isn’t entirely surprising, though not because Flores lacked talent. The young musician, who was raised in Barrio Logan and Mission Hills, had trouble forming connections with like-minded people in San Diego when he was growing up. Rather than socialize, Flores spent a lot of time alone in his bedroom working on projects.
In addition to graphic design, Flores also began messing around with music software when he was a sophomore. His dedication to music grew after he abandoned his clothing line, leading to the November 2016 release of his debut album “Care.”
The 11-track album “Care” exudes a calming, ethereal feel and clocks in at only 20 minutes. Produced entirely in his bedroom, it’s about as bedroom pop as you can get. (The vocals were even recorded on the microphone of his Apple earbuds.)
His secluded approach to making music hasn’t stopped him from performing live shows, accompanied by his laptop and featuring dance moves he practices in his bedroom mirror. However, while Flores has played various venues around San Diego, he hasn’t quite found his footing on the local music scene yet.
Instead, the solitary artist found his community online. Now at over over 46,000 combined followers on Instagram and TikTok, Flores has been able to use social media as an apparatus to find his fanbase and secure gigs, primarily outside of San Diego zip codes.
The influence of the internet on the Gen Z musician is no surprise. Flores gravitates toward making shorter songs, some only a minute long; his album promotion takes the form of TikTok dances. Even his stage name, originally TEMPORE, is shaped by social media — the ‘X’ was added simply because he needed an available username on Instagram.
Though TEMPOREX might be a product of the internet, it’s not in a copy/paste, algorithm-conforming way. Flores is known for his almost entirely DIY approach, including teaching himself new software programs, creating his own music videos and designing his own shirts and other branded merchandise.
His decision to tackle everything himself is largely out of financial necessity, along with a deep-rooted desire to learn and develop new skills. It’s also, he admits, a product of his obsessive nature as a self-described “perfectionist in moderation.”
“I need that level of control ... I don’t really know why,” he says. “I feel like I need to represent my imagination in the best way that I can and execute all of my ideas the way that they’re in my head. And I feel like the only way to do that is by doing it myself.”
One thing Flores does not have control over, however, is how his audience will respond to his work. When Flores was in the beginning stages of writing his follow-up to “Care,” doubt crawled into his mind. Despite his supportive following, he became concerned that straying too far away from his debut album would disappoint listeners.
“I got to the point where I was projecting onto my fanbase,” he says. “I was telling myself: ‘No, they want this — they want love songs, they want cutesy/childish songs, they want the xylophone chords.’”
Flores says he slowly realized that “no one was complaining in the comments” when posting snippets of new songs that deviated from his original work. So he started experimenting more — “making music twice as fun and so much more enjoyable” — resulting in his sophomore record, “Bowling.”
Though the album definitely takes more risks, “Bowling” doesn’t go too far outside the lane. The lo-fi, dreamy feel of “Care” definitely carries over, along with his instinct to gravitate toward shorter songs. The album’s first single “Delayed,” for example, clocks in at barely two minutes.
“I never want any song to overstay its welcome,” he says. “It would make me really sad to hear that someone was listening to my song and when it got to a certain part, they skipped it. So I don’t want any filler on my tracks.”
With a June 2021 release, the majority of “Bowling” was recorded during the pandemic. Yet for Flores, who half-jokingly characterizes himself as “reclusive and hermit-y,” quarantine didn’t change much for him. Bunked down in his bedroom for months, his creative process was nearly identical to “Care” — the government stay-at-home mandates only reinforced his habit of self-isolation and independent approach to producing music.
“I don’t even think (COVID-19) really inspired the lyrical content of the album, because I was already social distancing myself from everybody else,” he says, laughing.
Lyrically speaking, Flores says his goal is to evoke a certain feeling for the listener, building songs out of a collection of “little incidents” that happen to him versus taking a more traditional storytelling approach.
“Each song is basically me trying on a different outfit and seeing how it feels to wear it, metaphorically,” he says. “I’m trying out a bunch of things; putting myself in different environments and exploring things.”
On the music front, the album stays true to Flores’ DIY approach, but evolves his lo-fi sound to be more sophisticated, drawing on influences ranging from Cocteau Twins to Prince.
“Every song is a different mood,” he says, adding that decision allowed him the freedom to mix it up.
On Oct. 31, Flores will bring “Bowling” to the Voodoo Room at House of Blues and perform a Halloween show. Pandemic-pending, he also hopes to take the album on the road later this year, as well as form a band to accompany him on stage. While Flores has found the majority of his following and past gigs outside of San Diego, he’d like play more venues in his hometown — perhaps, one day, headlining The Observatory North Park.
“It would feel really good if I could fill that entire venue up with people — especially with it being in San Diego,” he says. “It would mean a lot to me ... it would be very validating.”
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