This Wednesday, February 21st, Money Chicha and Dos Santos will preform at the Lowbrow Palace as part of their Southwest tour in support of the release of their 7" vinyl "Summit Sessions". As the title suggests, this is the 4th Chicha Summit. However, this is the first one taking place across the Southwest. I recently had the opportunity to talk to Alex from Dos Santos and Greg from Money Chicha about the bands and the Chicha Summit and what it means to them. The following will be split in two parts, one being with Alex of Dos Santos and the other with Greg of Money Chicha and each part relating to their bands and what they had to say.
Dos Santos is a band based in Chicago and they fuse psychedelia, cumbia, Afro-Caribbean Salsa alongside many other genres. Dos Santos is made up of: Alex Chavez, Peter Vale, Daniel Villareal-Carillo, Jaime Garza, and Nathan Karagianis. The band was formed in 2013 and since then they have played around the U.S., including festivals like SXSW and Pachanga Latino Music Festival.
I started off by asking Alex how the collaboration between Dos Santos and Money Chicha came about. He mentioned that he had known the central members of Grupo Fantasma, which make up Money Chicha, for a long time. "We are similar in sound and Money Chicha is more instrumental while Dos Santos is half vocals and half instrumental." Alex said that the collaboration only made sense. "We are like-minded folk."
With that being said I asked Alex where Dos Santos gets it's musical influence from to which he answered that their influences come due to the band members different backgrounds. "Our trumpeter is from Puerto Rico so he brings that Salsa influence. Our drummer is from Panama and he is fan of all types of music like: cumbia, tamborito, and calypso rhythm which anticipates reggeaton. He is just an audiophile. Our guitarist is from Chicago and he is actually Anglo-Greek and he is from a jazz background. Our bassist is transnational. He is from San Luis Potosi but lives in Chicago. His influences include Jazz, Mexican folk and even Puerto-Rican Salsa. I'm originally from Texas. I grew up with border cumbia, Xavier Passos, and Tex-Mex. Not only that, but my father played music for a long time. He was playing musica grupera in the 80s and he also grew up with cumbias." Alex and the his band members have a broad number of influences. I like how Alex mentioned each band membe's influences due to their background rather than list bands.
Last but not least, I asked Alex what he hopes people will take from this Chicha Summit. After a short pause, Alex said that people are each going to take things differently. There is a new musical movement going on. "We are both bands and we don't do electronic music so that in itself is a whole new experience. It's an onda. We recorded a 7" split and for me there is a notion of musical camaraderie. We record together but we display this fellowship as well. "
In this next part of the interview I talked to Greg of Money Chicha. Money Chicha is a band from Austin, Texas and it's an offshoot of the Grammy-award winning Grupo Fantasma. Money Chicha is also an offshoot of the band Brownout. Greg said that Money Chicha has been around for seven years and added that, "our other bands are larger and we wanted to do something smaller. The idea was to start a small band and play Chicha music. We discovered Chicha through a compilation that came out a decade ago. It has Latin rhythms with psychedelia. Chicha speaks to the Andean people." Not only does it speak to the Andean people, but it spoke to them as well.
The band is heavily influenced by "the sound of Peru and Colombia in the 60s and 70s", which is evident when you hear the band. Greg added that, "we respect and acknowledge that sound but we tweaked it (Chicha) and made it our own sound." He continued and gave me a little history on the word Chicha. He said, "Chicha began as something and it turned into something else." Greg also mentioned that Chicha means moonshine in Peruvian and it was an indigenous fermented drink made from corn. He said that the drink was far from good, but the people drank it anyways. They did it within their communities.
If there is something I can take away from this interview is that these bands hope people can appreciate the music they make. They are very talented individuals and they clearly know where they come from and where the music they play comes from. I hope everyone can go check them out at the Lowbrow Palace tomorrow. It is a must!
San Ligre is an indie rock band from Cuidad Juárez. Being from la frontera is not the only that makes this band unique! San Ligre combines rock with with electronic elements alongside other unique tweaks. According to their site, San Ligre has shared the stage with bands like Babasónicos, Kinky, Instituto Mexicano del Sonido, Plastilina Mosh, Austin TV, Belanova, Nightdrive, Parallels, Young Fathers, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Baths, The Chamanas, Los Tigres del Norte, Timothy Brownie, Dorian, Division Minuscula, Maserati, White Arrows, along side others. This band is made up of Daniel Barraza (vocals), Jorge Aguilera (drums), Luis Sanchez (guitar), Sergio Rosales a.k.a Checho (guitar, keyboards), and Sergio García (bass). The guys are currently promoting their latest material "Where Are We?" and they hope to release more soon.
San Ligre started around 2011 and upon asking about the band's name the guys mentioned that their band name was inspired by their ex-bassist. According to Sergio García, "the ex-bassist chose Ligre because it is a mixture of Tiger (Tigre) and Lion (Leon) and he liked that name. We thought it was cool: Ligre. Once we started playing live shows and adding some electronic to our music, the band took a different route. We ended up mixing more rock with alternative. Also, due to copyright issues for something that already had Ligre as their name then we added something. We found San and we really ended up liking the name San Ligre."
I asked the guys what current projects they have and where they plan on taking it and Checho mentioned that under the direction of Manuel Calderon and Eric Coughanour they started recording some EP's a while back. "Honestly it has taken some time because of personal reasons regarding each member of the band, but now we are all in that final stage where we are checking up on masters and making sure what we release is good. We are looking into the art work and possible videos." Checho also mentioned that they are also planning on releasing that new material this year and that they even have a lyric video on Youtube. They really hope to release that new EP soon. He added that they are not sure whether they want to release it as one EP or two or even an LP.
The new material that San Ligre will put out is a clear collaboration of all the band members. There is no one specific theme to it. The themes of the songs are different and everyone in the band writes from a different perspective. I asked them how living on the border has affected them in any way regarding their music and Checho said, "living on the frontera you have the Mexican music, gabacho, family and friends. We (Juárez and El Paso) are separated by a fine "line" but that doesn't matter to us. We like to write in English but it doesn't mean we don't like music in Spanish and it comes naturally. Living on the frontera is an like an alphabet soup. There is influence from all over."
A big thank you to San Ligre for their patience and time. Make sure to go check them out! Their Instagram is: sanligre
"It's is part of my personality. It's a natural mixture. I don't know what my genre is but just like my personality, it's a little bit of everything."
Hector Guerra is a Spanish-Bolivian rapper with a vision. About eight years ago he embarked on a journey that would result in his trilogy of albums "Amor Desde El Infierno": Amor (2012), Gracias For Existir (2015), and Desde El Infierno (2018). After talking to Hector there is something I have for certain, he wants to make a difference through his music. He wants to convey a message and it's that message that has driven him to make this trilogy of albums. Hector embarked on a spiritual journey through three indigenous communities before making his albums. He was guided by and given permission by Shamans in these communities and he used their medicines and traditions in order to enlighten himself and better understand a vision he had. Hector became a voice of interpretation for los abuelos. (He is referring to the spiritual leaders, Shamans, of the indigenous communities he visited).
As the last album of the trilogy, "Desde el Infierno", did not disappoint. It's full of good beats and danceable rhythms. Not only that, but it has cantos de poder, which Hector got special permission from los abuelos. For those of you who are not familiar with Hector Guerra's work, he fuses: cumbia, trap, electronic, reggeaton, and ritmo Spanglish along with others which is why it's so fun to listen to! In regards to that fusion and why he choses to mix all that, Hector says, "It's is part of my personality. It's a natural mixture. I don't know what my genre is but just like my personality, it's a little bit of everything." This new album has many themes running through it and each song is it's own character with it's own unique twist. Different genres are overlapping each other to form the song's "personality". From the uplifting song "Vida" featuring MARIEL MARIEL with it's lyrics reading "hay tantos motivos para disfrutar la vida" to the song U.S.A Es México ft. Dr. Shenka, Mellow Man Ace and Aztek 732 with it's political undertones with even an intro featuring Trump saying " I love Mexican people" followed by a sick beat.
I asked Hector to walk me through his decision to make three albums and after he finished telling me his story, it was no wonder why he felt compelled to embark on this adventure. He said, "I was in Spain with my collective of musicians at the time and a Cuban brujo came up to us and he made do breathing exercises for seven minutes. It was like a trance and I saw a message. I knew that I had to come to México. It felt so real and I saw an Eagle on fire!" Hector mentioned that wasn't the only sign that he got about going to México. He said that around that time his girlfriend entered a photography contest and she won and part of the prize was two tickets to México and there was no doubt that Hector's destiny was to go to México. Once in México he began his journey to search for the Shaman he knew he had to find. Hector found him, he found Hector and that marked the beginning of what would end up being this project.
I asked Hector what he wishes his fans would get out of this album and he responded, "I want people to see the messages of the los abuelos. They gave me their blessing. I am their voice. A lot of these abuelos are old and many are dying. Their messages need to be heard." Their messages will definitely be heard. The video for the song "Vida" is a great example of the messages Hector is trying to pass on. The video begins with someone asking el abuelo why reggeaton is a popular form of music and el abuelo gives a wise answer saying that the reason why people love the genre so much is that it uses the rhythm of the African drums and THAT is in our DNA. I asked Hector whether he had heard that from an abuelo or whether it's a made-up story and he said that " those are all their words. I am just the interpreter."
As it's pointed out, the album touches on themes dealing with life and love, but there are some political undertones like that of track U.S.A Es México. I asked him why he decided to do that and he gave a very metaphorical explanation. "Europe is the great mom and México is the dad. Imagine that! Imagine a body. The United States is the head, the neck is the border between the U.S. and México, and México is the body. Right now the neck is sliced open. It's hurt and wounded. We need to fix that as soon as possible. We are all from "el miso pueblo", the world needs us to heal and work it out." Hector continued to explain his metaphor and gave great insight on why it's also important to spread this message. He has made it his mission and it's more than clear at this point.
A big thank you to Hecto Guerra for his time, music and insight! Go listen to his latest album "Desde El Infierno"!!
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Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.