"During the making of this I was questioning my abilities and my sanity. The mind is a powerful thing, but making these songs were my therapy.” - Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes.
Le Butcherettes is a Mexican garage punk band that was born in 2007 in Guadalajara and is currently made up of the captivating Teri Gender Bender (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Alejandra Robles (drums), Rikardo Rodríguez-López (guitar, synths), and Marfred Rodríguez-López (bass). Le Butcherettes has recently released a video for their song spider/WAVES along with an EP called struggle/STRUGGLE. They are also currently getting ready to kick off their tour next week as they play with The Flaming Lips in Chicago.
I had the opportunity to see Le Butcherettes last year when they opened up for At The Drive In at the El Paso County Coliseum. Se me cayo la baba. Teri came out with a green one piece and red heels and as soon as the first notes were played and she began singing, it was mind-blowing. During the performance, Teri took off her green on-piece to reveal her stage staple, red dress and red tights, never distracting away from the performance. She is truly a force to be reckoned with. Not once did the energy go down and even when Teri’s keyboards fell down the show went on like nothing had happened. It was all raw energy. I could never put into words (and still cannot) how awesome seeing Le Butcherettes live was.
This past week, I had the honor to be able to have a phone interview with Teri Gender Bender, wicked front woman of Le Butcherettes. It started off with a timid “Hola” on both sides, but it soon turned into a wonderful conversation.
Throughout the years, Le Butcherettes has under gone changes with the band members so the first thing I asked Teri Gender Bender was, “who is Le Butcherettes in 2018?” She answered right away, “the band right now, is a line-up made up of all Latinos. Throughout, the years we have had a lot of different cultures within the band, but now we are talking more in Spanish and going back to our roots. We are in a good place right now. It’s about being in the moment.” It is evident the band chemistry is good and organic at the time and so far it has produced awesome content like spider/WAVES and the three versions of struggle/STRUGGLE.
Talking about their latest singles, I asked Teri to walk me through spider/WAVES, including the music video because Le Butcherettes is known for using a lot of symbolism and metaphors within their work and after watching the music video many times there is no doubt it is full of them.
Previously, Teri mentioned that she wore a Chichimeccan warrior outfit in honor of her grandmother, but I asked her about the rest of the video like regarding the milk-filled tub she was in as well as other scenes. Teri laughed, “according to myself, when I am alone in the video I am trying to be a mannequin, but there are also bad people there that want to hurt me. I don’t have my parents taking care of me at this point.” She then started explaining that the milk in the video is a nasty substance that she is drowning in as part of the bigger meaning of the video. “There is a point in the video where I am in the car with three dead bodies. They happen to be the bodies of my band mates and I am this stuck with guilt and it represents the guilt I carry and one carries. There is a spider in the video and I am scared of spiders, but making this video was cathartic and it helped me channel and deal with a rage I was feeling inside."
Teri Gender Bender, has always had most control over the creative process when it comes to producing her music. It was always mostly she, her songs and a producer. Yet, there is something different about the new material and I asked her how the process for this latest EP differs from Le Butcherette’s previous work, especially since the band is now signed to Rise Records.
“Normally, I would write the songs and then once they were done I would give the band members their own parts, but this time it was different. When I worked on my songs with Jerry Harrison (producer and member of The Talking Heads) it was a new experience. He is a genius! Es un cabron, un maestro! He taught me to be patient. He taught me that it is okay to be stuck on the same song for five hours as long as the process is going right. During the making of this I was questioning my abilities and my sanity. The mind is powerful, but making these songs were my therapy.”
At the beginning of the interview I told Teri that I don’t always have the honor to interview a Latina front woman and as a final question I asked her what her experience with the music industry has been as a woman and as someone who has had control of her work. “I think that in order to have a project and grow, there has to be uncomfortable conversations with your team. Talking is key. At the beginning, I would let people step on me and use me like a “towel”." Teri mentioned that she, however, became assertive in her project decisions and communicates often what she needs. She said that as a business woman it is okay to micro-manage. “Do what you have to do.”
I want to give a big thank you to Teri Gender Bender for this interview. Follow up on what the band has going on under @lebutcherettes on Instagram! Stay tuned for some awesome new things!
"Just inspire the world and show them that you are not inferior. That is a state of mind. If we believe we are divine as we think we are then that is what we will spread to the world."- Edna Vazquez
A few days ago I had the honor of interviewing the lovely ladies of Flor de Toloache, the first and only all female Mariachi band from New York City! Not only that, but these 2017 Latin Grammy winning females have worked and collaborated with different artists whether it is individually or as a group. A few of those collaborations include Chicano Batman's "Freedom is Free" and Not Te Va Gustar's newest album "Suenan Las Alarmas". Flor De Toloache is also known for fusing mariachi music with jazz, cumbia, country and so much more! It's no wonder why these ladies have found so much success in what they do and have been able to transmit that to different audiences. They are never afraid to experiment with other genres, which truly creates a magical hearing experience.
This past Sunday, Flor De Toloache played at the Chamizal National Park (U.S side) as part of the Music Under the Stars series that takes place every summer in El Paso, Texas. The girls were a few minutes away from going on stage and giving a wonderful performance and I had the chance to ask them a few questions.
I started off by asking the ladies what they thought about the border region considering all that has been happening on the news lately and bearing in mind the fact that this is their first time playing in El Paso. Mireya said, "when we were driving in we could see the border, you know, it reminds you of everything that is going on. We have been touring for about two months now and you know, you create this bubble in where you are doing music, moving people and connecting to people and there is definitely a safe space when share music together. When you are here and see this border, it's a reality check, but it is so special to be so close to Mexico. We are really excited to share our music with this community. It's outside so that is cool too."
It was indeed a special evening and I am not only speaking for myself when I say that. They played some of there original music and covers of well known songs like a medley of Juan Gabriel songs, a cover of "El Rey", a Selena medley, and a mariachi cover of "I Wanna Dance With Somebody".
Going into that interview, I wanted to know "who is Flor de Toloache?" and "what does it mean to them?" Also, for the longest time mariachi has been seen as and stereotyped as a male-dominated genre so I wanted to know what that all meant to them as Flor de Toloache. Julie said, "for us it's empowering. To be in the position we are in and surrounded by sisters, we support each other and we have also come to see how we are supported as well by all varieties of different communities around the world. It's special to see how supported we are. Yeah, there is the whole male thing and all that, but we are breaking those walls little by little."
At the beginning of the article I mentioned a few of the collaborations Flor De Toloache has done lately, but the most interesting part is that they are not all within the same genre. I asked them whether they had a specific way of choosing collaborations.
Mireya responded with, "It all started when Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys) invited us to tour with him and open up for his other solo project, The Arcs. That kind of opened the door for new collaborations like with No Te Va Gustar and recently with Diamante Electrico. There is also another special collaboration coming up, which I am not going to say yet. It is a big one and you will see why it's so special when it comes out. We are really excited about that and it's going to put our music into another genre."
She added that collaborating with new people always makes it more fun and more special to them. It makes it special not only for them, but it allows them to connect to different crowds. She mentioned that that is why they decided to do bilingual songs as well. We will have to wait patiently for that next collaboration to come out, but in the meantime it is always exciting to see Flor touring and working with artists in other genres!
Last but not least I asked the girls why music is so important to them and why it's so much fun for them and they all gave fantastic responses:
Mireya: "For me, as I mentioned before, it's connecting to people that don't even speak Spanish and seeing how they connect to our music. It's a safe space where there is no judgement and people come together and be happy and just be moved. It's a little bit of culture through our music too. There is still the essence of mariachi and people connect to their culture through our music."
Julie: "It's a way to spread love. It's definitely my favorite thing about playing and performing, and sharing whatever gift I have."
Neomi: "I agree with what she said. We do it for love, you know, love is what we are made of. We will always be reminding ourselves and other people of that. We are love and music is love and vibration. We need to be doing it all the time."
Edna: "Same frequency. Just inspire the world and show them that you are not inferior. That is a state of mind. If we believe we are divine as we think we are then that is what we will spread to the world."
Flor de Toloache gave a beautiful performance and their voices are unbelievable! I want to thank the ladies for their time and I encourage anyone that has not heard their music to go check it out!
In 1992 Aterciopelados was born as a project between Andrea Echeverri and Héctor Buitrago. This duo from Colombia has been successful from the very beginning and they continue to be an iconic Latin-rock band. They are most known for their songs "El Album", "Baracunatana", and "Luz Azul" amongst many others. Throughout their career they have been nominated for several Grammy's and have won several Latin Grammy's. It's the unique dynamic this duo has and heir amazing talent that has allowed them to thrive and keep spreading their music throughout the world!
It's 2018, twenty-five years since the release of their first album and Aterciopelados has recently released their eighth album called "Claroscura". It's so good that I have been playing it on loop all week. It definitely reflects the "sound" that Acterciopelados is most known for, but it also reflects this element of contrast and contradiction that the album title suggests. Besides reflecting "light" and "dark" elements, there is a maturity that surrounds the album and there is political consciousness as well.I could not have put it better, but "the album is a delicious sancocho (stew) where contemporary sounds are mixed with down-beat cumbia, Andean airs, electro punk, Bogota rock, and futuristic sounds."
It also reflects on experiences like that of being a woman. It also empowers women, especially in the song "Despierta Mujer", which says :
"Despierta mujer, suena el wake up call
Sal de la mátrix, siente tu matriz
A sembrar maíz, me llama el país
De amarte a ti, recuerda tu rol
Salvaje mujer, echate a correr
Esos arquetipos hay que abandonar
Hora de crecer y de florecer
Tu templo y tu piel vas a atesorar
Van las poderosas, las valerosas, las generosas"
The song "Piernas" is a fantastic and humorous song that speaks about self-love no matter how one is. Cellulite and all. "Soñemos un Bosque" is peaceful throughout and it's full of hypnotizing chanting of the song title itself. "Duo" is a rock-pop song that is very catchy in itself. You will finding yourself singing, "dúo dinámico, surrealismo mágico, dúo dinámico, somos un clásico" over and over.
Overall, "Claroscura" is a fantastic album and it is so enjoyable whether you are a long-time Aterciopelados fan or a firs-time listener! It's a must!
Co-led by the energetic Helen Vargas, Dulce Mal is a four piece band from the border region that is ready to share their music outside of la frontera. Dulce Mal fuses pop-rock, funk, cumbia, bossa nova and reggae which happens to give the band a unique touch, besides Helen and Gabriel's vocals.
This band made up of Abraham (bass), Helen (vocals, melodica), Gabriel (vocals, guitar), and Alan (drums and percussion) has opened up for bands like Golden Ganga, Enjambre and Jenny and the Mexicats. They recently played at Festival Sin Fronteras in Ciudad Juárez, the Neon Desert Festival in El Paso, played at La Parada, and participated in last week's "Local's Week" for local musicians in the city of El Paso!
I had the pleasure of catching up to Dulce Mal during one of their rehearsal's a few weeks ago and had the opportunity of asking them a few questions including their origins as a band and what they have planned for next.
Dulce Mal has been a band for about two years and the journey began when Helen met Gabriel while he was still in another band. A few years passed and they reconnected again and that led to the beginning of the what would soon be Dulce Mal.
Helen had some songs written down and she wanted someone to help her interpret them musically and she though that Gabriel was the perfect choice because she thought he was talented and knew her well enough to trust him. They made one song, then another and another and eventually that led to the start of Dulce Mal. The first open mic that they did as a band was at the 306 sessions. Helen recalled that she was nervous to do so because it was nothing like doing covers, instead she was sharing something personal to her which are her songs.
After gaining some confidence and with the encouragement of Gabriel, Helen and Gabriel did more and more shows together. Helen said that, "one time we had the opportunity that one of our favorite bands, Golden Ganga, was coming to Dallas, the closest show to El Paso. We initially thought of driving up there as a fun road trip between the two of us to go see Golden Ganga and by then we were already invited to play over there as Dulce Mal. So I got a band together, pulled some strings, and we were able to open up for Golden Ganga in Dallas. Golden Ganga ended up asking us to open up for them Houston as well and that helped us get our name out there." Gabriel interjected to what Helen was saying and said that, "once we got back to El Paso, we started looking for band members that would officially be part of Dulce Mal." They were telling me that they started with two other individuals for bass and drums, but they left for personal reasons.
Alan mentioned that after those other members left, he reached out to Gabriel several times to mention that he would love to be part of Dulce Mal and eventually he became the official drummer for the band. Alan also said that this has been the best band he has been in due to the dynamic and brotherhood that Dulce Mal has. It's evident that the relationship between the band members are very organic and it's no doubt that that's why they have been able to make such amazing music.
Dulce Mal is currently working with Siren Sound Production. They have recorded some songs, but they are now working on mastering, an album cover, artwork, logo, and so much more! I invite anyone to go check them out and follow them on Instagram as @dulcemalband to follow up with what they have going on!
This year the Argentinian Spanish Rock icon Fito Paez released an album and it's called "La Ciudad Liberada". Fito Paez is not only a Latin Grammy Award winner, but he is also a pianist, lyricist, singer song-writer, and even a film director! Paez released his first album "Del '63" in 1984 and now, this new album will mark his twenty-third. Wowza! This man never stops and he is definitely a visionary!
"La Ciudad Liberada" is an eighteen track album that is full of political themed rock songs as well as love songs. Fito Paez has never shied away from themes like that of religion, politics, love, hate, and even sexuality. As one can see from the album cover below, it is Fito's face with a woman's body. Thought provoking for many reasons. It taps into breaking gender norms, gender labels, sexuality, modesty, and the comfort of being naked. Even as the title suggests, "La Ciudad Liberada" translated as "the liberated city" can mean many things.
This eighteen track album has songs that feel like they belong in a different genre but they all work together. The single "La Ciudad Liberada" is the main anthem for the album and a video was recently released for it. The video shows a city and a girl walking through it. Fito surrounded by a cardboard city and he starts singing:
"En parque Patricios, la cuidad de Buenos Aires
Existe un refugio para la gente que no tiene a nadie
Vivir y morir en la calle, allí siempre fui feliz
Vivir y morir en la calle, que delirio sin ti"
She looks like she is in a suffering state, which reflects on what Paez's lyrics are saying. As the video progresses, this woman crawls into a cardboard fort and turns into a warrior. A warrior for herself and her city. As the girl walks through the city in her new warrior suit, Paez's cardboard city get destroyed by him and bursts of color as he chants "quiero vivir en la ciudad liberada". This video is really a treat and I recommend for anyone to go check it out.
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Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.