This week's feature is XICLON, a three-piece band from Dallas, Texas. The band is made up of Juan C. Martínez (vocals/guitar/accordion), Vicente Tapia (bajoquinto), and Mathew West (guitar). For those wondering, "XICLON smashes American alternative rock and Latin-American sounds, primarily Mexican norteño, to deliver a voice of an under-represented Mexican-American alternative culture."
On December 5th, XICLON will release their first single "Que Difícil" which "serves as a statement for their vision, interlacing contemporary rock patterns and huapango cadences, and driven by a melodic accordion hook, heavy guitars, and bajosexto rhythms." It truly is catchy and a testament to the band's roots. Remarkably, this is only the beginning for the band and 2020 will bring even better things for them.
We were lucky to have Juan was able to answer some questions for us earlier this week.
D.OM.E (Desert of my Eye): What is XICLON, what does it mean to you and what is the correct pronunciation?
Juan: I, and the other members of the band, have a very diverse taste in music, and we tend to pick up influence and ideas as we hear music we love. That leads to our music being a sort of storm or cyclone of elements from different genres and styles.
We adjusted the spelling in order to give it some ambiguity. Over time, we want our band name to take a meaning of its own through our music, rather than be tied to a pre-defined word. Plus, it allowed us to remove the language-specific spellings of either “cyclone” or “ciclón” — We pronounce it both ways.
D.O.M.E: You mentioned that you are first generation Mexican-American songwriter/producer. How did you know that you wanted to do music and how did your parents react to that decision?
Juan: I’ve had an interest in music since playing trumpet in middle school, but I really began taking it seriously shortly after graduating film school (film was my original career choice). I think dedicating your professional effort to creativity isn’t the easiest thing to grasp but thankfully, I’ve always had the support of my parents. I think the biggest surprise to them has been deciding to do something so non-traditional with XICLON after spending half a decade playing norteño music almost exclusively.
D.O.M.E: What is "Que Dificil" and what can you tell me about the song?
Juan: Que Difícil is the first song we’re releasing after about a year of planning, writing, and producing, so we’re really excited to finally put something out for the world to hear. It was the first song I wrote for XICLON, and it has serves as a sort of musical statement for us, as it plays across our spectrum of contemporary rock/alternative grooves and traditional Mexican rhythms and elements.
Lyrically, the song externalizes the challenges and frustrations of accepting a failed relationship. I think sometimes we tend to treat failed relationships as something to suppress/ignore or to feel self-pity for, when in reality it should be something we accept, analyze, and learn from. To me, this song represents the moment right before getting back on your feet after a tough fall.
D.O.M.E: Are there any bands, songs, or artists that influence you at the moment?
Juan: Probably too many to name! Recently, artists like Charlie Puth, Mon Laferte, Jonaz, Highly Suspect, Badflower, Billie Eilish, Chicano Batman have inspired me to chase my own sounds and experimentation lyrically and musically.
Some lifelong standouts that have had a heavy influence on me range from American artists like Linkin Park, Deftones, Panic! At the Disco, and My Chemical Romance to Latin artists like Maná, Invasores de Nuevo León, Rigo Tovar, Los Bukis, and Juanes.
D.O.M.E: What are the band's plans in the near future?
Juan: We’re currently working on our live band/show and also have plenty of music ready for release over the course of 2020. Que Difícil is only the beginning!
D.O.M.E: Anything you would want people to know about XICLON?
Juan: The idea of merging elements of American and Latin/Mexican music isn’t just a musical statement, but also a cultural one. I’ve experienced firsthand the sort of identity crisis caused by growing up between a traditional Mexican household and an American society. The feeling of having to choose between cultures is pretty rampant, and I don’t think it’s indicative or representative of who we are as Mexican-Americans. I believe it’s worth embracing everything that influences us and doing it unapologetically.
A big thank you to XICLON and make sure to stay tuned for what they have in store!
On November 2nd, Making Movies will take part of the Fantasma festival at the Rio Hotel and Casino alongside their friends: Los Rakas and Las Cafeteras. This will make for a very unique experience because of all the blends of genres and sounds that are unique to each band. Additionally, they all carry powerful messages in their respective music.
Making Movies is touring as part of a joint venture with Los Rakas called "Panameri'kana". Both of these artists have Panamanian roots. "Panameri'kana" is a play on word of panamerican. As Enrique Chi of Making Movies mentioned, this "different" spelling of "Panameri'kana" kinda forces one into the right pronunciation of the actual word. This will be the first time Making Movies play in the Sin City and they are beyond excited.
This weekend I got to speak with with Enrique Chi (lead singer and guitarist). As a band that is constantly on the road, Enrique said that life has been great. Their favorite thing to do on the road is to grab some of the local food of wherever they are playing and sort of become "flies on the wall". Through touring they have also met amazing communities of artists.
Enrique was quick to say in addition to touring that, "we can play in Latin America, to a Spanish-speaking crowd, and appeal to Americans in the U.S. and share these messages." He said that to someone who is Latinx, they understand the band's message and they don't have to constantly explain themselves whereas someone who isn't Latinx, might not not understand the message right away. I asked Enrique if he is ever worried that the "right" people won't be listening to their message, especially during a time of political chaos and confusing to which he said, "The chaos. Locura Collectiva talks about that. Music is the space where I find encouragement. It unlocks a lot in people. You can trigger that political thought with music. If you can use music to tell a story, it calms their defenses. It's trippy. Music opens up the human part in ourselves."
Music is a powerful key and it is the answer to almost everything. "Music is key to human survival" as Enrique mentioned. It is always refreshing when musicians utilize their music as a tool and actually make a change. Making Movies has had great and positive impact with their "We Are All Immigrants" message and this is only the beginning.
As a band that has been involved in a lot of projects since the last time we got to talk, they have done collaborations with musicians like Las Cafeteras, Rubén Blades and others. I asked Enrique if there is any advice or anecdotes of sorts that these collaborations have left them with. He mentioned that working with Steve Berlin of Los Lobos has been very inspiring from the beginning. Enrique noted that even though Los Lobos would get boo'ed in the early days for playing certain songs, they wore their identity proudly and navigated hardships. That really resonates with Enrique.
Another lesson learned was from none other than Rubén Blades who told Enrique to approach his music as if it were a book. There is the title, the chapters and the stuff that goes in those chapters. It's what you decide to put on those pages that create that impact. It was "eye-opening" for the band. Something else Enrique mentioned later in the interview is that it is important to have a mentor in the music world whether it is for connections or anything else.
Lastly, as the phone conversation came to an end I asked him what inspired the band lately outside of the political turmoil we see everyday and to that he said that the band is working on a song about being in the moment. There is nothing more inspiring than being present.
For more info on the band: mkngmvs.com
I recently got to speak with Kordelya. She's a vibrant artist who is driven by the sounds of percussion and synths. Her wardrobe as well as her music, draws inspiration from Mexican Indian Tribes. Kordelya will be playing at the Peppermint Club in Los Angeles tomorrow and you don't want to miss out on it.
She told us a little "secret" and mentioned that she will debut "Consentido", a single that will be premiering on all platforms at the same time she plays it on stage, and another new song she did not name. Definitely don't want to miss out!
I mentioned that Kordelya draws inspiration from Mexican Indian tribes and it coincides that two days ago she posted on Instagram saying that her favorite cartoon character growing was Pocahontas. I asked her about that, she giggled and mentioned that "Colors of the Wind" was the first song she learned. She added that her parents would play her a lot of these movies when she was little and thus helped her learn English better. It was that song that indicated to Kordelya herself that she could sing! Not only that, but Pocahontas, as Kordelya pointed out, is a strong female figure and such a "free spirit". That admiration for Pocahontas definitely reflects on her today.
As stated, percussions and synths are something very present in Kordelya's style and to that I asked her if she had a specific writing process and she said that she tries to approach each song differently. Part of it is in effort to make each song very unique and not have her material feel redundant. That response was what lead into her almost-released new single, "Consentido". She made it clear that the usage of the word consentido refers to a vice, which is the central focus of the music video of the song.
Quien es tu consentido?
The direction Kordelya is taking with this song and the album itself is very interesting. Almost like a self-reflection of sorts. When asked, Kordelya said that each song on the new album Mal Hecha will focus on an imperfection. Being that it's written by her, it will focus on what she considers her own imperfections, which takes this new album on a whole new personal level. I think that that type of introspection in music is what makes a piece of music feel so relatable and human. It's truly great. We all have are flaws and we need to recognize it and what better way to self-reflect than when listening to music.
Cuco came to the Sun City not to long ago for the "El Paso Firme: Action Against White Supremacy". A special event in response to the El Paso shootings. The event consisted of artists like Cuco, La Santa Cecilia, Ana Tijoux, DJ Trillo and more. I know I don't speak only for myself when I say that it is amazing when artists take time out of their schedule to not only comfort a community in pain, but also play for an important cause. It wouldn't be the first time Cuco has done something like this. Earlier this year he played at the Selena for Sanctuary, a concert in support of immigrant rights. Chicanx artists like Cuco is what gives me hope for the future. Someone younger generations (and older) can look up to.
For those that are hearing about Cuco for the first time and are looking for something to do tomorrow night, he is a 21-year old self-taught musician and self-produced musician that has been gaining more and more popularity by the month! I would describe Cuco's music as a daydream indie-pop with a touch of psychedelia here and there. Not to mention, some bilingual lyrics as well! He recently released an album called Para Mi, which was released via Interscope records. This album really shows a maturity in Cuco's sound and an expansion on the types of genres involved. For example his single, "Bossa No Sé", which intertwines the Bossa Nova genre with the Cuco touch.
Tomorrow, Cuco will take the Lowbrow Palace stage. A stage (depending if it's the UTEP or downtown location) that has been graced by acts like The Marias, Helado Negro, La Santa Cecilia, Phantogram, and Girl Ultra whom Cuco has a song with! As someone who has seen Cuco before, you don't want to miss out on it. It will be full of all the right kinds of energy and Cuco's fans are the best when it comes to just being in that moment. See you there!
Since the release of their first EP, Fools Like Me has been really active in the local music scene. They have become a frontera staple in a sense. Although it's been a while since they released new material, they recently blessed our ears with three new singles. I talked to Eric over the phone and we discussed the new EP as well as some of the themes present within.
The new EP is set to come out on October 18 of this year. There will not only be a digital version of it, but a vinyl as well. The EP will consist of seven songs, four of which include: "The Charmer", "No Safari", "I Still Belong To You" and "No Genius." The EP was all produced and arranged by Eric unlike last time which included the help of Manu from The Chamanas. Additionally, there will four live session videos being released as well.
"We basically made these three singles in the same week which makes them different to the rest." Eric added that it all stems from a theme regarding a "crisis of loneliness". He also added there is a mysticism and psychedelia around it. I agree with the description after listening to the singles.
"I Still Belong To You" involves a character who thought that everything was going good, but that is not the case. Just as the cover depicts, the shower of stars falling on him (in a sense) is a metaphor for the way he feels: the sensation of the world coming down on him.
On the other side, "The Charmer" is a song based on desperation. "It's cathartic and painful". Eric emphasized, "this person is talking to a Shaman who is draining their pain. He has a "oh wait" moment during that and he no longer knows whether it's a dream or reality.
Eric also talked about "No Safari" who he marked as his favorite. It's about falling out of love. To add to that, "No Genius" will be released in two weeks. Eric said that it's his first comedic take on a song and it's about the time four different guys hit on him and he kindly declined. Just a light-hearted song.
Please check out the guys on social media as Fools Like Me and on Spotify!
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Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.